Editor’s note: Say hello to our newest staff writer, Chris Brown. No, not that one. The other one. Chris expressed an interest in blogging here on the site and we were happy to welcome him on board.
As the NFL Draft approaches closer and closer, fans begin the excitement of trying to narrow down the list of possible draft picks that their respective teams may pick. The excitement of being in a General Manager’s shoes (in particular Buddy Nix) and going through the draft process is indescribable.
“Whose worthy of a Top 10 pick?”
“Should we trade back?”
“Should be trade up?”
I’ve compiled a small list as if I were the GM, ranking and analyzing potential draft picks for the 2012 NFL Draft.
First, let’s consider the draft needs of the Buffalo Bills in no particular order (LB, CB, WR, and OT). Each of these positions have their elite players but also those who can contribute on an every down basis. Let’s first take a look at the needs on the defensive side.
Luke Kuechly – Boston College v. Dre Kirkpatrick- University of Alabama
Luke Kuechly is rated as the top linebacker of this 2012 draft class and for good reason. Kuechly led the nation in tackles the past two years in college and has numerous awards for being the top defensemen at his position. He has great upside being an inside linebacker that can effectively play the pass. Luke has phenomenal ability to drop back in coverage and has been noted to be able to potentially play “every linebacker position” (Buddy Nix) at the NFL level.
The only knock on Luke is his ability to cover during man coverage. This could be exposed in the pass happy league that is the NFL. Luke has been compared to Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys but without the injuries. He would be a great fit in the Bills defense because he can play any linebacker position.
Overall, Kuechly is a “can’t miss” draft pick.
Keeping with the defensive side of the ball we take a look at the cornerback position. This is to be considered one of the deepest drafts for CBs in quite awhile.
Dre Kirkpatrick is rated as the third best cornerback in the draft behind Morris Claiborne and Stephon Gilmore. Kirkpatrick has played in an NFL style of defense for the past three years under Nick Saban at Alabama. His great athletic ability will allow him to be put on an island in man coverage. Known as a playmaker, Kirkpatrick is being described as a very lengthy corner, which helps him cover those fade routes to the corner of the end zone.
The downfall is that Kirkpatrick isn’t known for his physical abilities. Physical receivers may have a greater chance of success while going against him one on one. With that said, he would definitely help to add depth to the Bills secondary which was depleted to injuries last year.
Now switching to the offensive side of the ball, we take a deeper look at the wide receiver position. Re-signing Stevie Johnson to a long term deal allows the Bills to use their first round pick on the defensive side. Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd are easily first round talent and will more than likely be gone when the 10th pick rolls around. This is why I believe the Bills will wait until the second or third round to select a receiver.
Brian Quick – Appalachian State v. Jonathan Martin – Stanford
Quick just isn’t in the name, he can also do it with his feet. Running a 4.55 at the NFL combine in February shows great getaway speed. Brian has a great frame for an NFL receiver; his 6’3” stature not only allows him to be a down the field threat but also an end zone threat that the Bills have been seeking for years. Brian has great upside having played football for a short period of time at Appalachian State. A wing span of 34” allows him to stretch his catching radius, and his ability to snatch the ball out of the air gives him an unfair advantage against potential defenders.
Being from a sub-Division I college may hurt Quick’s development. Having not played top tier defensive talent could be the Achilles’ heel at his position. Quick would be a great addition to the Bills roster in a sense that he can stretch the defense down the field and threaten the back pylon. Quick could be that number two receiver the Bills are looking for to compliment SJ13.
Jonathan Martin is the second best offensive tackle in the draft behind Matt Kalil. Being in a pro like system at Stanford with former coach Jim Harbaugh as your coach can only benefit your draft stock. Having to protect the blind side to the #1 pick of the draft Andrew Luck will make you look even better. Martin has great toughness, only missing a total of two games his entire collegiate career. Protecting the blind side is no easy task, his ability to be technically sound allows him to get great footing and position on the more powerful defensive ends in the game. Jonathan is known for his ability to get up the field during running plays. Martin can get caught standing up too tall; thus will allow those quick and agile defensive ends to blow by him on the outside.
Many consider him as a right tackle and might be a good fit for those not looking to cover the blind side. Overall, Martin is worth the risk at the offensive tackle position. Bills might get lucky to see him fall to the earlier second round and get a steal.
Overall, this year’s draft will be very interesting with all the different possibilities that the Buffalo Bills have to choose from. We all try to play matchmaker and there will be those who agree with the pick and also those who throw their arms up in the air with fury. But, in all actuality we are all excited that the draft is near, which can only mean that the long journey to the start of a playoff season has finally come to the forefront. The NFL Draft is only the beginning… #BillsMafia
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