When you’re a fan of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999, that team being the Buffalo Bills, there’s really no better season than mock season. Well, that’s not true. At the start of each season there’s always that glimpse of hope and confidence that the Bills will impress and finally supplant the New England Patriots and win the AFC East. But by around the middle of the season, that hope and confidence is all but another tick on the clock waiting for the off season.
More specifically, NFL mock draft season.
It’s always fun for people to try to predict who their favorite team is going to draft to hopefully become the next star for their team. The round all people at least attempt to predict is the first round. Unfortunately for Bills fan’s, the team doesn’t have a first or fourth-round pick in this years’ draft after making a deal to move up last year to select Sammy Watkins.
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With that being said, and after watching the Reese’s Senior Bowl, these are six young men I believe head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley will be targeting to be the future of the Bills.
Round 2, Pick 18: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana University
It’s time for the Buffalo organization to move on from both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in 2015. Both have been great contributors while they were on the field but that’s been the issue; neither back can stay on the field long enough to have a productive all-around season.
Coleman can step in right away and take over as starting running back for a Buffalo offense that will have a run-first mentality. The junior out of Indiana didn’t receive the recognition he deserved throughout a break-out campaign that ended him in second place in terms of rushing yards in the nation (2,036) behind Heisman runner-up and B1G counterpart Melvin Gordon (2,587).
Round 3, Pick 17: Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke University
The football program at Duke has been on the rise the last couple years and Tomlinson may be the next to benefit. While his play during college didn’t turn many heads, he did get an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and turn heads is all he did. His play through bowl practice and the game boosted his stock after proving he can block against the best draft-eligible defensive tackles.
”There’s times when he and big Danny Shelton got together where it looked like a Transformers fight. It was big-time stuff – NFL.com analyst Charles Davis”
Drafting a guard, as evidenced last season when Cyrus Kouandjio was drafted in the second round, on day two doesn’t warrant any guarantee that he can step in a produce right away but the position needs to be addressed and Tomlinson would be the best option.
Round 5, Pick 1: Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State University
After a very average 2014 campaign, Mannion isn’t getting the respect he deserves from many draft experts. The four-year starter (43 games) for the Beavers threw for 13,600 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career, his best season coming in 2013 when he threw for over 4,600 yards, 37 touchdowns and completed 66.3% of his passes.
His best asset is his experience playing in a pro offense under head coach Mike Riley. That experience will transition well into what Ryan will want him to do at the NFL level.
Round 5, Pick 19: E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State University
It’s about time for Buffalo to start looking for a future replacement for Scott Chandler. Unfortunately for them, the tight-end class in this year’s draft is very spotty and there’s no player that really stands out. At this point in the draft, Bibbs is the best prospect in the draft with some real potential at developing into a solid player at the NFL level. Look for him to compete very well at the NFL combine.
Round 6, Pick 18: Martrell Spaight, OLB, University of Arkansas
Nov 22, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Ole Miss Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) carries the ball as Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Martrell Spaight (47) tackles at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Razorbacks won 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
After going offense in the first-four rounds, Ryan will hit on his favorite side of the ball to round the draft out. Spaight, a first-team all SEC selection, was invited to the Senior Bowl and impressed on game day by accumulating five tackles (three solo) on the afternoon. The linebacking corps for Buffalo is very good so Spaight would be solely used on special teams and depth in the beginning of his career while he has time to develop.
Round 7, Pick 17: Troy Hill, CB, University of Oregon
After Ifo Ekpre-Olomu went down with a knee injury while preparing for the Ducks’ Jan. 1 contest against the Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl, Hill was given the green light to take over as the leader in the secondary. He played fairly well in both the win against the Seminoles (eight tackles) and then the loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes (five tackles, forced fumble) but did nothing to overly impress. A player Ryan’s defense, especially one with the athletic ability like Hill’s, will have an opportunity to exceed.