Let me preface this by saying that this is a “worst-case” scenario. I’ll also discuss some trade possibilities.
Personally, I view us as having three options when we’re on the clock 3rd overall.
1) Draft DE/DT Nick Fairley: Scheme diverse player that can make an impact rushing the passer and stuffing the run. He fills the biggest need, but does come with some baggage. I’d like to interview him to get to know him, but from what I think he might have work ethic concerns for the next level. I’ve noticed that the biggest problem for most big men that are busts at the next level is that they feel their physical strength and massive size is enough to be productive. However, in the NFL, everyone is big and you need to work harder than the guy lined up across from you. He also publicly stated he doesn’t want to play in the cold, which was ill-advised considering 3 out of the top 4 teams are in “less-than-tropical” cities.
2) Draft CB Patrick Peterson: The Bills most certainly need help in the secondary. Despite being ranked 3rd against the pass, we were 31st in passes attempted against a game. McGee is 30 and banged up. Flo is 29 and has free agency looming. McKelvin can’t cover the Fridge at this point, if Perry put a double move on him. Peterson has all the measurables and can lock down half the field.
3) Trade down
I figured I’d get Option 1 or 2 about a week ago, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve always thought that Fairley would fill the biggest need, but I didn’t feel that GM Marty Hurney would want to deal with the potential criticism of taking a DT 1st overall. He’s getting enough heat for Clausen and the Panthers’ faithful is getting restless. After the Natty, I think Fairley soared up the draft board and will go #1. I think that Denver views their options the same way I have outlined above. With Fairley gone, Denver opts for Peterson.
Now the Bills are sitting on the clock with no clear pick. I have only two other players graded out to be worth this pick: WR A.J. Green and RB Mark Ingram. Obviously, Ingram is out of the picture for us. Green is a good talent and it would be nice to add the playmaker from Georgia, but he’s not the prospect that Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald were coming out of college (in my opinion, though there are personnel men that would differ with me on that point). Green is worth the 3rd choice, but the Bills have so many other pressing needs it would almost be a luxury pick. You also can’t justify taking a need player if they don’t grade out to warrant the 3rd selection.
Maybe we could trade down with Cleveland, who could use an A.J. Green to pair with young QB Colt McCoy. This would ensure that no one would move up ahead of them to take him. That’s wishful thinking, though. Nobody likes moving up in the draft anymore thanks to the salary cap repercussions to do so, let alone the picks it would take to move up. This sounds counter-intuitive, but if we want to get out of that pick, we might have to ignore pick value to get player value.
For instance, another possible trade partner would be the Cowboys. They are desperate for secondary help and I’m guessing they don’t want to miss out on Prince Amukamara if Peterson goes that high. They are choosing 9th overall. According to the outdated Trade Value Chart, our selection is worth 2,200 points and Dallas’ is worth 1,350. Thus, in order to move up those six slots, it would cost them their 40th overall pick (500) and their 71st (235). That’s still a 115 point difference, so maybe a 3rd rounder in 2012 as well. I would take that deal, considering we could get an additional three players and get out of paying for someone were not excited about. Again though, this scenario most likely won’t happen. The point I’m trying to make is, I would rather lose value and simply take a 2nd rounder if it meant that I could get out of overpaying for a guy that I’m not really thrilled about taking. Green is a good player, but WR is not our #1 priority.
My guess is, the best chance of moving down is trading with a team with big pockets. Jerry Jones and/or Dan Snyder (‘Skins pick 10th) would be willing to drop the hefty guaranteed money to get that big-name player. The reason I continue to name the Cowboys is because they were the most underachieving team this year. I feel they had the biggest discrepancy between talent level and record and I’m sure Jerry feels the same way. They are the classic team of believing they are one or two players away from a run and I think a corner would really improve the team. They could move Newman to safety and fill two huge needs. Of all the teams, the Cowboys seem like our best target to swap with. If the Cowboys don’t want to give up picks, they could also consider moving TE Martellus Bennett. He’s a headache and a character risk, but he’s got a lot of upside and the Bills need a tight end. I don’t think I would trade for him, but it’s an option.