Buffalo Bills Draft Needs
Posted by - Jimmy Boyd
The Buffalo Bills were hoping to contend in the AFC East last season, but instead they finished tied for last in the division at 6-10 alongside the New York Jets. The failure to live up expectations after what many thought was a strong offseason, led to the firing of head coach Chan Gailey. The Bills went out and replaced Gailey with Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, who was an assistant in the NFL for several years. Many might remember Marrone from when he was the offensive coordinator with the Saints under Sean Payton from 2006-2008. Buffalo avoided major holes in the secondary by re-signing corner Leodis McKelvin and using the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd, but there’s still plenty of areas that need to be improved. Here’s a look at the five positions I believe the Bills should target in the upcoming NFL Draft.
This is a no-brainer. Buffalo has released starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving them Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Smith as their top two options on the roster right now. The majority of the other teams with quarterback issues have decided they were better off addressing the situation via free agency or trades. With the No. 8 pick overall in the first round, Buffalo will likely have an opportunity to take West Virginia’s Geno Smith. While Smith has tons of potential, he’s far from a sure thing. It will be interesting to see if the Bills gamble early or wait and target either USC’s Matt Barkley, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel or Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib (played for Marrone at Syracuse last year) with their second round pick.
Buffalo thought they had solved their outside linebacker problems when they went out and signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in the offseason last year, but neither player was all that effective in 2012. There’s still plenty of hope for Williams to turn it around, but there’s not a lot else on the roster that will have opposing defenses worried. If Buffalo wants to contend with the Patriots, they have to find someone who can consistently put pressure on the quarterback.
I was shocked that the Bills didn’t do whatever it took to re-sign left guard Andy Levitre, who is now a member of the Tennessee Titans. Levitre was the one offensive linemen Buffalo could rely on and not having him up front could cause some serious problems if they don’t address this need in free agency or the draft. If Buffalo opts to pass on taking a quarterback with their first round pick, I think it would be wise to go after Alabama’s Chance Warmack or North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper if they are still available.
The Bills have one of the more underrated wide outs in the league in Stevie Johnson, but he’s the only wide out opposing teams have to gameplan around. There’s still time for 2012 3rd round pick T.J. Graham to develop, but so far he hasn’t looked like he has the makeup of a No. 2 pass catcher. Add in the loss of Donald Jones and it becomes even more of a priority that they add some help here in the draft. There’s typically a lot of talent to be found in the later rounds and it would be wise for the Bills to use a pick or two at this position.
The Bills still have tight end Scott Chandler, who finished second on the team with 43 catches and tied Johnson for the team lead with six touchdown receptions, but he tore his ACL in week 16 and it’s uncertain if he will be back to start the season. Even if Chandler is healthy, I think it would do wonders for whoever the Bills new quarterback is to have a couple of solid options to rely on at the tight end position.
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