The Buffalo Bills are on the clock in this segment of my top six picks for the upcoming NFL Draft. It appears that the Niners Nation community is on board with me in regards to the top two picks. Both Cameron Newton (to Carolina at #1) and Marcell Dareus (to Denver at #2), won overwhelming majority in the coinding polls.
It is important to note that the first two picks of the 2011 NFL draft can easily be projected this season. I find it hard to believe that it wouldn't play out the way we have indicated in the first two segments of this series. That said, the Buffalo Bills pick is a little more difficult to project.
So, onto the Buffalo Bills....
Buffalo Bills 2010 Team Statistics
Passing Yards: 197.4 (24th NFL)
Rushing Yards: 107.5 (18th NFL)
Passing Defense: 192.0 (3rd NFL)
Rushing Defense: 169.6 (32nd NFL)
This team needs a lot of help at nearly every position. By my estimation the only positions that they are somewhat set in are; RB, ILB and CB. That leaves a lot of areas of concern for a team that won four games last season. That said, Buffalo played themselves right into many games. The Bills lost six of their games by a total of 25 points. So, needless to say they are not in as bad of shape as the two teams picking before them. That said, they do need to find talent at multiple positions. Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the front offices opinion on Ryan Fitzpatrick makes this selection a bit more difficult. Personally, I am not a huge fan of Fitzpatrick's, but he may be serviceable enough for them to pass on Gabbert with the 3rd pick. The afformentioned stats obviously show that Buffalo really isn't in need of any secondary help, but could use some bulk in the front seven.
#1: Defensive Line: Some may question me having the d-line as their #1 need, but let me explain. Buffalo gave up an average of nearly 170 rushing yards per game, by far the most in the NFL. And, this wasn't because of poor LB play either. They just don't have a lot of talent on the front side of their defense, it is that simple. A starting rotation of Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson isn't going to get it done. Listen, I understand that Williams has a chance to be a standout NT in the NFL, however, he has been extremely weak against the run early in his career; and that is not something you are looking for in a starting NT. That said, if you give him more talent on the ends, that weakness could be disguised a bit. The problem with this equation is that fact that Nick Fairley may not be a good fit for their scheme, then again he may fit perfectly. This all depends on who you ask
Top Available Defensive Linemen
1. Nick Fairley, Auburn
2. Robert Quinn, North Carolina (DE/LB)
#2: Outside Linebacker: Despite getting torched in the running game, Buffalo also had issues getting to the QB on a regular basis. Kyle Williams led the Bills in sacks with 5.5, and we is an interior linemen; that is not the production you are looking from the OLB group. Chris Kelsey can be a solid pass rushing OLB, but he is nowhere near as consistent as he needs to be, and Buffalo can't wait much longer for him to progress to that point. Again, Buffalo is lacking talent and youth in the front seven, and need to address that in this draft.
Top Available Outside Linebackers
1. Von Miller, Texas A&M
2. Aldon Smith, Missouri (DE/LB)
#3: Quarterback: Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the answer? This is the question the Bills front office has been throwing around since the beginning of January, and we have yet to hear from them one way or another. In fact, we may not fully understand their confidence in Fitzpatrick until the #3 pick is made. You also have to look at the fact that one or more of the following may be available to the Bills in the early 2nd round; Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker or Colin Kaepernick. Are they that big of a drop off from Blaine Gabbert? My answer is yes! But, many insiders believe that there really isn't that large of a drop off. Once again, we are being kept in the quite as it pertains to this.
Top Available Quarterbacks
1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
2. Christian Ponder, Florida State
3. Jake Locker, Washington
Niners Nation Poll Results
1. Carolina Panthers: QB- Cameron Newton , Auburn
2. Denver Broncos: DL- Marcell Dareus, Alabama
3. Buffalo Bills:
6. Cleveland Browns:
My Pick: LB- Von Miller, Texas A&M: The fact that Buffalo could possibly get a top tier QB in the early part of the 2nd round leads me to believe that they will pass up on Blaine Gabbert here. This leaves believing that Buffalo will be choosing between two defensive players with the #3 pick; Von Miller and Nick Fairley. I really don't think that Nick Fairley fits great into what the Bills are trying to do on defense. Considering their secondary is pretty solid the addition of Von Miller would add a whole bunch of matchup problems for opposing offenses. If Buffalo can get a consistent pass rusher the secondary is going to make huge plays. Leodis McKelvin, Drayton Florence, Jairus Byrd and Donte Whitner all have playmaking ability. If you give them solid pass rushing from the front seven, they are going to come up huge in 2011. Von Miller brings that pass rushing ability, plus some. He is a giant among boys, someone that will create errant throws, timing problems and miscommunication. All the variables that a secondary needs to come up with big plays.
Note: This will be the first time that I include players in the poll option that are not on my top three area of needs for Buffalo. I decided to do this because of the fact that Patrick Peterson is so highly rated and the fact that A.J. Green may actually be an option for Buffalo.