With the grading process still ongoing, I figured I would still put out my ideal draft class for the Bills come April. I just want to emphasize that this is a realistic mock. I mean, I’ve seen some mocks with 2nd round prospects falling until the 5th-6th round.
Without further ado, here it is…
1. CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
This would be my ideal scenario, though there is a very good chance he won’t get past Denver. At this point, he’s on top of my draft board. Although Fairley has the potential to be the more dominant player and fills the bigger need, I’m a bit weary of his work ethic. On the field, he doesn’t give consistent effort on every snap and I’d rather go with the safer choice in Peterson, given the choice.
2. OT James Carpenter, Alabama
This is a bit of a reach, with most projecting him with a 3rd-4th round grade. However, I’m thoroughly convinced James can be a franchise tackle at the NFL level. Skill set and talent aside, just look at the intangibles. The guy transfers over from Coffeyville CC to the Alabama Crimson Tide and is asked to fill the shoes of Andre Smith. He’s immediately thrown into a starting role in the SEC. How does he respond? He starts every game for the National Champions at LT. Now, that’s a guy that can adjust on the fly.
3. OLB Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
Now, I’m really torn between Jeremy and Oregon ILB Casey Matthews with this pick. It’s 50/50 whether or not Beal will be sitting on the board here. The scouting community seems to feel he had a less-than-spectacular Senior Bowl week in practice, which could drop him to this pick. Beal doesn’t do anything great, but I feel he does a lot of things well. He has average speed, but he plays technically sound, is stout against the run, and finds ways to get to the QB, be it the bull rush or taking the corner.
4. TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee
The prep high school basketball player will finally answer our prayers for a threat at tight end. He’s not an overly fast guy, but he has stick-em hands. He’s tough, physical, and has shown an aptitude for making the catch when the money is on the table. Stocker is my #3 rated TE (behind Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph and Wisconsin’s Lance Kendricks), and he’d be a steal in the 4th round.
4. WR Austin Pettis, Boise State
In my opinion, this is a draft that is loaded with mid-to-late round potential for WR. While the Bills could stand to add more speed to the position, Pettis is too good a talent to pass up here. He has average speed, but other than that the guy is a player. He’s a hands catcher that shows good concentration when being battled for the football. He’s a tough guy that’s not afraid to go over the middle and take a hit. He has the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes and he’s a competitor. He can definitely contribute to a roster and I feel he has the potential to develop into a solid #2 WR at the next level.
5. K Alex Henery, Nebraska
A kicker? Really, Matt? I know it may sound crazy, but stick with me for a minute. First, let’s evaluate current kicker Rian Lindell. There are mixed thoughts on his abilities out there, so I’ll give the stats to back up my position that he’s, maybe, an above average kicker at best. Back in 2006, he was money, nailing 92% of his kicks. Since then, he has been a mixed bag, including a 76.2% season in 2010. Now, you can make the argument that he only attempted 21 kicks, but he’s becoming more and more inconsistent. You can’t really make the clutch argument, because he’s missed at least as many big kicks as he’s made. I feel that warrants bringing in some competition at the position. Henery can bust the laces off the ball with his leg, with his career long being 57 yards. He provides versatility as well, being able to punt when necessary. His special teams coach describes his play as “the moment never gets too big for him.” Case in point: That aforementioned 57-yarder? Game-winner with under two minutes to play. I usually don’t get excited about kickers, but Henery can become one of the league’s best.
6. RB Allen Bradford, USC
Here’s one of my sleeper guys. I feel that Bradford has been dogged by injury and circumstance during his career as a Trojan. He runs with power and uses his body as a battering ram. For a physical back, he shows explosion and burst. He’s got the vision you love in a running back and he’s a team-oriented guy. He didn’t call a press conference complaining when his touches got reduced. He just did his job. The Bills spent last year scouring the waiver wire for a short-yardage type back and Bradford is a good fit. I think he has a lot of upside to become something more than that.
7. ILB Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State
Lemon is an intriguing guy. The former high school QB is now the QB of the defense. He’s an intelligent player that can diagnose plays quickly. He’s a text book tackler and is considered the leader of the defense at Oklahoma State. There is a concern that he blew out his knee in ’09, but I feel he still plays faster than his timed speed. He can get to the corner. I don’t believe he’s there yet, but Lemon has the potential to start down the road.
I realize that this draft is offense heavy, but I’m going for the best players available that fit a need. If we’re trying to get better, it’s about the long-term as opposed to the short run. I’m not going to take defensive players for the sake of it, and I hope Buddy and Co. feel the same way.