The 2012 NFL Draft: The Buffalo Bills Pass The Eye Test.


The dust on the 2012 draft is just beginning to clear and we are getting a better look at what Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have brought to us. Nine draft picks. One wide receiver, three offensive linemen, two cornerbacks, two linebackers and a kicker. A whole lot of hope.
Drafts should never be graded the next day. Or the next day. Or the next week, or month. In a lot of cases it shouldn’t even be graded in a year. Drafts should be graded in two years in the least. It’s rare when a player has a smooth transition from the college game to the NFL so quickly. If we were to grade the Bills draft as of now, they would get a solid “A.” But we try to be smart fans, so we will hold back and give them the usual “incomplete.”
Why do they get an “A?” Picks two through six should collectively look better than the team’s first overall pick. The Bills added depth and possibly a couple starters in almost every spot where they needed it: cornerback, linebacker and offensive line.
Some of the players the Bills drafted were projected to go much higher than the spot we took them in. Cordy Glenn was apparently going to be a top ten pick, yet we nabbed him at 41. Offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders and inside linebacker Tank Carder were supposed to go in the second to third round range and wound up almost back to back in the fifth to us.
The Bills kept the defense train rolling by adding Stephon Gilmore to an aging but still capable group of cornerbacks. This pick also built on the success they had in the offseason when they signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to bolster their front four. Nigel Bradham, an athletic linebacker from Florida State backs in on Buffalo’s defensive makeover.
The two positions that still left a lot to be desired of in the Bills draft were quarterback and wide receiver. We got our wide receiver in the third in NC State’s TJ Graham, and he fit what Gailey and Nix wanted. He’s a speed burner that can stretch the field and give Steve Johnson more opportunity for mid-range balls. However, did he warrant a third round selection, plus giving up a pick to move up? Most had him pegged as a seventh rounder, so it might be a head scratcher since Mohammed Sanu out of Rutgers was still there.
Quarterback wasn’t even addressed at all, but probably will with an undrafted free agent. I think they would have gone after a guy like Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson, but they were taken higher than most of us expected. I don’t think the Bills saw either of them warranting a third or fourth round selection. If either would have dropped to the sixth, I think you would have seen the Bills pull the trigger. Regardless, I think we should all be glad they didn’t waste a third or fourth on either of them. Also, Ryan Fitzpatrick will need competition. Not saying that he shouldn’t start, but every player needs competition and I don’t see Pigpen giving him any.
I have a rule. Maybe this is why I’m not a GM of an NFL team, but if I was I would NEVER draft a kicker or punter in the draft and that’s what the Bills did in the seventh round. This is after giving Rian Lindell a contract extension. You will read all the glass-half-full people talk about how he has a big leg and will be used on kickoffs and blah blah blah. Yeah, I get that argument, but I also argue how we probably could have had him as a UDFA. And even if he makes the team as a “specialist,” that would mean we would have two kickers and a punter on the roster. That’s one extra kicker taking up a roster spot that could be used on a depth position, and if you paid any attention to our injuries over the years, we need that depth.
These arguments may warrant a lower grade than an “A” for the Bills, but when I think of the value they got in the later rounds it points right back to the highest mark. Gilmore, Glenn and Graham could all be starting day one. Carder and Bradham are our future at linebacker and Sanders will offer excellent depth on the offensive line.
Other thoughts from the draft: Minnesota played Cleveland like a fiddle by nabbing a bunch of their picks for a guy they were probably going to take anyways in Kalil. Why does it not surprise me that the Bengals took Vontaze Burfict? Janoris Jenkins is the perfect example of why you fly straight if you’re a big time college football player. He might be a better cornerback than Gilmore, but since Gilmore stayed away from the green he was taken tenth overall and Jenkins fell to the second round. It doesn’t matter how good you are when you don’t play, and if I look in my crystal ball I see at least one suspension down the line for Mr. Jenkins.
The “What Are You Thinking” Award goes to Jacksonville for drafting a punter in the third round. A team that needs help in every area except for running back and they draft a PUNTER. In the THIRD ROUND. Amazing.
Overall, I think we had a pretty good weekend as Bills fans. Unfortunately nothing really happens from here on out for the next three months when training camp opens up. The only thing we can really do from here on out is pay attention to OTA’s like they are training camp and hope no one gets hurt or arrested. No holdouts as well. Go Bills!