Last week, Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) released his (pre-Bowl season) 7-round mock draft projection of the 2013 NFL Draft. We shared it with followers of our Twitter account (@TheBillsMafia) and received some strong opinions in response.
So who is Matt Miller exactly? Matt is Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Lead Writer and the founder of the NFL draft site New Era Scouting. His work has been featured in Madden 13, on ESPN radio, SiriusXM, NFL.com, SI.com and USA Today as well as utilized by NFL, CFL and AFL teams. Matt was also the secondary and special teams coordinator for the three-time league champion Joplin Crusaders of the Central Football League. He is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Matt was gracious enough to agree to a Q&A with BillsMafia.com and speak to the state of the Bills in light of his work over at Bleacher Report.
1. What do you see as the top three greatest positions of need for the Buffalo Bills?
A lot will depend on free agency, but quarterback, right tackle and outside linebacker stand out to me as the team’s biggest needs. The defensive line has come together nicely, and the secondary has a ton of talent, but that outside linebacker spot needs beefed up. Sam Young is a good backup, but as a starting right tackle they need more than Young or Chris Hairston.
2. We linked to your 2013 mock draft last Wednesday afternoon, and the overall opinion of the replies we received regarding Matt Barkley as Buffalo’s first choice off the board was, let’s say, less than enthusiastic. If Buddy Nix and co. decide to go in a different direction at that position in April, what other options at QB might be viable in the second (or later) rounds?
I’m not a big Matt Barkley fan either, so I can understand fan disappointment with that pick. That being said, it might be something to prepare for come April.
Other options in Round 2 would be Ryan Nassib from Syracuse, one of my favorite players in the class, or Aaron Murray from Georgia should he decide to enter the draft. Round 3, you could be looking at a Logan Thomas or Tyler Bray — both talented kids with a ton of upside, but neither was coached very well or developed in college.
3. Dovetailing off the previous question, if they choose to select a player other than a QB in the first round, what other realistic possibilities exist for Buffalo?
The first round lacks elite names this year, but the overall depth is very good. The Bills could be in play for C.J. Mosley to play linebacker, or Jake Matthews to step in at right tackle. You also can’t rule out going best player available to improve the overall talent level of the roster.
4. Two of the first five selections you have Buffalo selecting are at the WR position. What are the key attributes that Terrance Williams, Baylor (2nd round) and Josh Boyce, TCU (5th) bring to the table that make them a good fit for the team?
I’m a big fan of Terrance Williams. He’s a bigger receiver at 6’2″, but he has the quickness of a smaller player. It is a nice problem to have, and would give Buffalo a viable option on the outside other than Stevie Johnson. Williams has the size/speed ratio to either catch-and-run or stretch a defense vertically.
Boyce is a sleeper for me. He’s not had great production due to some poor quarterbacking, but he’s a tough receiver who would open up the underneath passing attack. Again, this is a selection where you’re trying to upgrade the talent level of the roster.
5. With Buffalo’s front four on defense finally beginning to gel, and with the selection of Stephon Gilmore 10th overall in last year’s draft, the linebacker corps is widely considered the weak link on that side of the ball. If the draft were to pan out as you predict (addressing the position with only one selection — in this case, Johnathan Brown of Illinois), what alternate options might be available in free agency to address the need?
Free agency doesn’t look good yet for 4-3 defenses, so if this is indeed the team’s identified weakest link, they would be smart to consider making this more of a priority than I did in a November mock draft. It is always tough to fill every need in one draft class, though, so if they look to free agency, guys like Philip Wheeler (Oakland) or Daryl Smith (Jacksonville) would be the top options.
6. You had Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre ranked rather high in the B/R NFL 1,000 last year. Byrd was ranked 3rd overall among free safeties, and Levitre was 4th among left guards. Both are pending free agents in 2013. If they were to hit the open market in March, what kind of compensation do you see them receiving?
Both Byrd and Levitre will be high-priority free agents. Byrd will likely be working off Eric Weddle’s deal signed in ($40MM/5 years). While he may not get that much, that’s reasonable for him. Levitre doesn’t have the name recognition of Ben Grubbs, but he can look at a Grubbs-like deal on the open market ($36MM/5 years)
Thank you, Matt, for taking the time to answer these questions. Really looking forward to this year’s Bleacher Report NFL 1000!
Thoughts on what Matt had to share about the Bills? Express them in a comment below.