With the 2013 NFL Draft less than a month away, the Buffalo Bills need to address quite a few holes after a relatively quiet free agency period. At BillsMafia.com we decided to put together a “Big Board” with a twist.
While a Big Board is generally listing the top prospects by their overall grade, this one will rank them based on both grade and the player’s relation to positional need.
Note: These rankings are based off of Rob’s own personal analysis of the following players, so feel free to comment with any players you believe should be higher/lower!
1. QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Buffalo Bills’ biggest need entering the 2013 NFL Draft is at the quarterback position. Geno Smith has been not only the consensus No. 1 option at the position for months, but he’s also regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in the entire class. Smith is likely the Bills’ No. 1 target in the draft.
2. DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
With new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine announcing that the Bills would be utilizing a “hybrid” front similar to the 4-3 “under” scheme he ran with the Baltimore Ravens, Oregon’s versatile pass rusher Dion Jordan is a perfect fit. Jordan wouldn’t line up as a defensive end in a three-man front, but he can rush the passer from the linebacker position and has the athleticism to successfully drop into coverage.
3. WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
General Manager Buddy Nix has expressed his desire for a big-time, playmaking wide receiver since the end of the year and no wideout is more explosive than Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson. A boom-or-bust player, Patterson was arguably the most electric receiver in college football.
4. LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
With the Bills going through another scheme change on defense, Arthur Brown is an intriguing prospect for the team. A middle linebacker in Kansas State’s 4-3 defense, Brown is an exceptional athlete that projects well to inside linebacker in a 3-4 front, and weakside linebacker in a 4-3. Brown is the best non-pass rushing linebacker in the draft, and with the Bills’ stout defensive line in front of him he could easily earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
5. OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
While Buddy Nix said the team was “set” at offensive tackle in his embarrassing recorded phone call, Joeckel is still one of the best prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. If Nix is worried about losing Andy Levitre at the left guard position, Joeckel could be an option, allowing Cordy Glenn to slide inside.
6. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
While the Bills extended Leodis McKelvin during the offseason, the cornerback position is full of question marks. Stephon Gilmore performed exceptionally as a rookie, but McKelvin and Aaron Williams have been too inconsistent to rely on. Dee Milliner is the best cornerback prospect in the draft, and adding him to the team would create a Jets-like secondary for years to come.
7. OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
While North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is my No. 1 graded guard, Warmack fits the mold of the offensive linemen currently on the team, and fits the height-weight requirements of the offensive linemen Doug Marrone has coached in the past. More of a right guard, Warmack would be a true road grader for C.J. Spiller.
8. QB Matt Barkley, Southern California
Much has been made about Matt Barkley’s “weak” arm and his connection to the historically poor play of USC quarterbacks in the National Football League, but Barkley is a perfect fit for the Bills’ new west coast-based offense. Barkley is one of the more accurate and intelligent passers in the draft.
9. OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Georgia’s pass-rushing phenom Jarvis Jones is surely on Buddy Nix’s radar after taking the SEC by storm, recording 28 sacks, 45.5 tackles for a loss and forcing nine fumbles over the past two seasons. Jones has been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, a condition Nix is all-too familiar with, as Marcus McNeil (a former Chargers left tackle who Nix compares Cordy Glenn to) was forced to retire early from the condition.
10. OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
A defensive end for the Louisiana State Tigers, Mingo didn’t jump off the stat sheet, but he has the potential to be one of the better pass rushers out of the 2013 draft class. He doesn’t have the bulk or strength at the point of attack to play defensive end in the National Football League, but is a relentless pass rusher that projects well to outside linebacker in a 3-4 front.
11. QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
The connection between Ryan Nassib and the Bills is obvious, and is surely in the discussion as a possible quarterback for the team. Coach Marrone has worked with Nassib for four years, giving him a jump start on picking up the offense the team hopes to run.
12. DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah is one of the more intriguing players in the draft, as he’s only played football for a handful of seasons after moving to America from Ghana. However, he’s a versatile player that fits pretty much anywhere in a front seven in nearly any scheme. Ansah is a risky prospect but has an extremely high ceiling to produce in the NFL.
13. CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes may be a better fit for the Bills’ defense than Dee Milliner in terms of experience in a press-man defensive system, but isn’t as athletic as the Alabama product. Rhodes is a big and physical corner that consistently jams opposing receivers out of their routes and would be a nice addition opposite Stephon Gilmore.
14. DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
While defensive tackle isn’t a need by any means as the Bills have two dominant ones in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, Floyd would be a perfect fit at the three or five technique (3-4 DE) in a three-man front.
15. S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
After releasing strong safety George Wilson, it’s hard to believe the Bills’ front office is confident in Da’Norris Searcy being an every-down player. Texas’ safety Kenny Vaccaro is versatile and athletic enough to play both free and strong safety, even playing some slot corner during his collegiate career. He compares favorably to Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ safety Mark Barron, who the Bills reportedly had high interest in last year.
16. QB E.J. Manuel, Florida
E.J. Manuel is a risky quarterback prospect as he’s more of a project at this point. However, his upside is unquestionable as he has all of the physical tools necessary to be a successful player in the league. He’s a big player that is a threat to run, which will boost him up draft boards given the recent success of the read-option.
17. OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper is the prototype left guard. He moves better than any offensive linemen in the draft and is an elite pass protector that consistently gets to the second level in the run game. He would make a seamless transition to replace Andy Levitre.
18. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins is one of the more underrated wide receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft, despite hauling in 206 passes for 3,020 yards and 27 touchdowns in his three years with the Clemson Tigers. He’s a playmaker that plays bigger than his size indicates, and he truly is the “go up and get it” receiver.
19. LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree has been hyped as a premier talent throughout the season, but while he isn’t a blue-chip prospect, he has potential to be a solid player in the league. Like Arthur Brown, Ogletree fits best as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 weakside linebacker, which makes him an attractive option for the Bills who need help at both spots.
20. TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert is another stud tight end to come out of Notre Dame, and with Scott Chandler’s injury the Bills really need to find an upgrade at the position. Eifert isn’t productive when blocking, but with the emergence of pass-catching tight ends taking over the NFL, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Thoughts? Comments? Share yours below!