NC State's Audie Cole: A draft steal? (Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE)
I’ve told you before about Fansided’s awesome NFL Draft/College Scouting blog, NFL Mocks. If you’re not reading NFL Mocks every day for the latest Draft info, you’re missing out.
As he’s done before, NFL Mocks Co-Editor Jesse Bartolis took some time recently to answer some of my questions about some issues facing the Bills in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft:
1) What’s your take on Boston College LB Luke Kuechly? There seems to be a growing sentiment among Bills fans that he should be Buffalo’s pick at #10? (took out this other part where you steal all my thunder)
It really depends on what the Bills are looking for. Kuechly plays the middle and is projected in the middle, but he’s more of an ideal weakside linebacker in today’s N.F.L. People wanted to say Kuechly was unathletic, but that was never the case. He’s a bit thin for a linebacker. Kuechly’s greatest strength is directing traffic, getting the defense set and that’s not as necessary in the N.F.L. with the headsets and all the veterans. Kuechly also makes very few splash plays, more of a chase down and tackle guy. But if the Bills are looking to find a dependable LB who will rack up a 100 tackles a year, but not change games than Kuechly makes sense.
I’d go in a different direction though.
2) In a recent BLD poll, our readers overwhelmingly made Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd their ideal choice for the Bills at #10? Would he be a good investment there?
I had the opportunity to represent the Buffalo Bills in a witter mock draft that took place prior to free agency and I took Michael Floyd over Quinton Coples–so yes. To me he’s a good investment there. As you know from many of our conversations last year I was pretty down on the overall talent of the Bills WR corps. Floyd, on the field, is the best WR in this class. What does he have going on his head though?
3) I’m not terribly impressed with Buffalo’s tight ends behind starter Scott Chandler, and I think the team will look to upgrade their #2 TE situation in this draft. Any mid-to-late round TEs who have impressed you?
I think the best one is Michael Egnew who might be available early in the fourth round. He’d be a nice pickup. Doesn’t hae great hands, but has good upside as a pass catcher.
Another guy I like is Michigan TE Kevin Kroger who has a lot of tools, but playing with Denard Robinson didn’t afford him a great opportunity to showcase all of his abilities. Solid developmental prospect who could be drafted in the 6th round.
The Combine wonder James Hanna is also a potential guy who is more in the mold of an Aaron Hernadnez type player (no he’s not Aaron Hernadez, just that type of player). I went back and watched some Hanna, definitely has upside as a receiver.
4) While the Bills certainly haven’t drafted all that well in recent years, the team has done a nice job unearthing some late-round gems. WR Stevie Johnson (7th round), DT Kyle Williams (5th round), departed OT Demetrius/Demetress Bell (7th round), and CB Justin Rogers (7th round) spring to mind. Can you give us a few guys who are going to go late in this draft who might emerge as diamonds in the rough?
If you look at Profootballweekly’s draft value chart
North Carolina State LB Audie Cole is listed as an early 7th round value. He’s a 3rd round pick to me. If he has a Greg Jones like fall he could really be a terrific pick late. I think he can start as a SAM Linebacker this year.
Former Tennessee Safety Janzen Jackson who played at Mcneesee State in 2011 had the potential to develop into a 2nd round pick had he been able to stay out of trouble at Tennessee. He has enormous upside for a 7th round pick.
Sticking with this theme Kansas State RB Bryce Brown originally went to Tenneessee before transferring-for personal reasons. He was not kicked off the team. Coming out of high school he was extremely well regarded rated as the number one player in all of high school football.
I’m a fan of Southern Miss QB Austin Davis as a developmental QB prospect.
5) We’re pretty excited here as Bills fans for the upcoming season. The talent upgrades on the defense line (Mario Williams, Mark Anderson) and the re-signing of Stevie Johnson have made for the best offseason in years in Western New York. What’s your take? Are we right to be excited? Is this a playoff team in 2012?
Yes. Mario Williams is a player who can instantly improve all three levels of a defense. How are you suppose to block the Williams gang, Dareus, and Chris Kelsay/Merriman/Anderson/Edwards/Batten whoever else might end up as the other defensive end? That’s mighty impressive. The secondary is talented and has intercepted a lot of passes over the last few seasons, and the LB corps has two solid players with Barnett and Sheppard. The defense could be pretty good this year.
No on the downside, the starting QB is still only an average player so he needs some more help on offense. The continued improvement of C.J. Spiller, a 100 percent return of Fred Jackson and Eric Wood, another WR option, and filling out the LT spot are all important.
The problem with the Bills last year is that they had no depth and couldn’t withstand injuries. That shouldnt’ be a problem this year as the depth is much better than it was a year ago. I think if the Bills draft well I’ll have them ahead of the Jets and Dolphins in my pre-season rankings and they should compete for a playoff spot.