The 2013 NFL Draft is less than a week away, but for the first time in a while, there isn’t a consensus No. 1 overall pick. This has led to non-stop speculation regarding which direction the Buffalo Bills will go with their No. 8 overall pick on Thursday night.
Following the Bills’ pre-draft luncheon/ press conference, it appears that the team is looking hard at quarterbacks Ryan Nassib and Matt Barkley.
While the quarterback position is the most glaring “need” on the team’s roster, here are 10 non-quarterbacks that you shouldn’t exactly be mad about if their name were to be called over Nassib/Barkley.
1. Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Following the 2013 NFL combine, Bills fans had jumped on the Cordarrelle Patterson train after the former Volunteer ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash. While raw, Patterson presents the most upside of any receiver in the draft.
Patterson has just one year of big-conference production, as he spent two years in junior college before transferring to Tennessee. However, that production was huge, gaining 1,036 yards rushing and receiving, scoring eight offensive touchdowns. Patterson was electric in the return game as well, tallying 772 yards and two scores as a kick/punt returner.
With wide receiver a huge need, you can’t fault Buddy Nix for trying to get the most explosive playmaker on the offensive side of the ball with the No. 8 overall pick.
2. Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins is the type of wideout Buddy Nix described when he told reporters he coveted a “ bigger guy that can line up out there and catch the ball when he’s covered.”
Hopkins isn’t the tallest wide receiver in the draft, but he does a better job locating and jumping to get the ball at it’s highest point than any other prospect. The 6’1” 200 pounder caught 206 passes for 3,020 yards and 27 touchdowns during his three years with the Clemson Tigers.
Even more impressive is that Hopkins became relegated to more of a No. 2 option with the emergence of Sammy Watkins, and still managed to put up huge statistics.
3. Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
Injured or not, the Bills have to make a decision on tight end Scott Chandler at the end of the 2012 season. Chandler is entering the final season of the two-year deal he signed prior to 2012, and is dealing with a torn ACL that he suffered in the final game of the year.
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is a big, athletic tight end that will be not only an offensive force, but a security blanket for a young signal caller that will be easing into the offense.
Eifert only has one and one half years of starting experience, but has caught 140 passes for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns
Eifert offers far more straight-line speed than Chandler (ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at the 2013 Combine), and is a bigger playmaker.
The tight end class is deep, but you can’t fault Nix for getting a quarterback a consistent and reliable receiving target
4. Alabama OG Chance Warmack
With the departure of starting left guard Andy Levitre and his backup Chad Rinehart via free agency, the Bills’ offensive line appears to have a big hole.
Alabama left guard Chance Warmack was a dominant force on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line over the past three seasons, paving the way for first round running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, before helping Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon combine for over 2,400 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2012.
Warmack is seen as the 1A guard in a draft that features two of the best offensive line prospects in years.
Warmack is a powerful, road-grading guard that would help solidify the identity at the position.
5. North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper
As Chance Warmack is the 1A of the offensive guard class, Jonathan Cooper is 1B.
Cooper is far superior athletically than Warmack and can play all three spots in the interior of the line, while Chance is probably best suited at right guard.
Cooper moves better than any player I’ve seen at his size and consistently finishes blocks in the second and third levels of the defense.
6. LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo
The Bills are transitioning to more of a hybrid defensive front, meaning pass rushers will be put at a premium. The team has large contracts in place for Mario Williams and Mark Anderson and they added Manny Lawson via free agency, but Mike Pettine might want to grab another.
Barkevious Mingo was a relentless defensive end for Louisiana State, where he recorded 119 tackles, 15 sacks and forced four fumbles over three seasons. He projects to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the National Football League and probably has the most upside of any pass rusher in the draft.
Mingo is a bit “raw” but there’s no denying his athletic ability.
7. Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones
Like Mingo, Jarvis Jones is a 3-4 outside linebacker that has proven he can pressure opposing quarterbacks. Jones led the SEC in tackles for loss and sacks in each of the past two seasons, recording 155 tackles, 44 tackles for loss, 28 sacks and forced nine fumbles in that span.
Jones was reportedly cleared to play after questions regarding his spinal stenosis came up. He’s strictly a pass rusher and won’t provide much in terms of run support, but there’s no questioning his ability to produce and get sacks on a big stage.
8. Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown
After transferring from the University of Miami to Kansas State, Arthur Brown emerged as one of the best non-pass rushing linebacker prospects in the 2013 NFL draft. In his two years with the Wildcats, Brown racked up 201 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and intercepted three passes.
Buddy Nix explained that he wanted a linebacker that can cover and Brown fits that. With the ability to play the weakside outside linebacker in 4-3 looks and inside linebacker in 3-4 looks, Brown would be an instant upgrade to the Bills’ linebacker position.
9. Alabama CB Dee Milliner
The selection of a cornerback in the top 10 for the second straight season would make many Bills fans irate, but when looking at the names on the depth chart behind Stephon Gilmore, you couldn’t really blame Buddy Nix for wanting an upgrade. Leodis McKelvin has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, and neither Justin Rogers, Ron Brooks, T.J. Heath, or Crezdon Butler has done anything to lock down the No. 3 job.
Alabama cornerbacks have recently struggled making the jump to the National Football league (see: Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie, Javier Arenas) but Milliner appears to be the real deal. He’s a big, strong defensive back that has more experience in zone coverage, but should be able to handle man-to-man duties.
Giving Mike Pettine another “shut down” option in the secondary would allow quite a bit of flexibility with blitz schemes in 2013.
10. Texas S Kenny Vaccaro
The last time the Bills had the No. 8 overall pick, the team selected safety Donte Whitner, which has (unreasonably) led to many fans arguing against a safety with the team’s first round pick.
However, Kenny Vaccaro is a much different player and prospect than Whitner was coming out of Ohio State. Whitner was more of an “in the box” safety, while Vaccaro has the athleticism and bulk to play anywhere from single-high safety, strong safety, free safety, to nickel cornerback.
In a division featuring Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Dustin Keller as major receiving threats in the seam, Vaccaro would give the Bills a solid line of defense against the tight end position for the first time in nearly a decade.