2011 Mock Draft Primer: Those Pesky BillsTwo teams down, thirty more to go. And now it’s time to move onto the Buffalo Bills, who pick third in the draft with these complete breakdowns of all 32 picks in the first round.
Well the positive spin on the Bills 2010 season is that they weren’t bad enough to pick No. 1 overall. But they still are arguably the team most devoid of quality NFL talent league-wide.
But I think they can make a significant boost to that talent with their selection of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with their top selection. Keep reading for the full explanation of why they choose Newton.
As they assess their draft needs, the Bills will favor addressing what was the league’s 28th ranked defense as their bigger priority. And their key issue is trying to find ways to pressure the quarterback.
The Bills employed what was mainly a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense last year. And while they plan to continue to use multiple looks, their GM Buddy Nix has indicated that the team will continue to focus on drafting 3-4 personnel because that’s their long-term plan for their base. With the Panthers nabbing Blaine Gabbert and the Broncos taking Patrick Peterson, that gives the Bills the pick of the litter as far as 3-4 guys are concerned in this draft.
And the first guy they will vet will be Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller. Miller’s stock has steadily risen since he had a strong Senior Bowl, and many experts think he’s going to be the next big thing as far as pass rushing linebackers go with comparisons to DeMarcus Ware. He would look very good coming off the edge for the Bills. But at the same time, the Bills feel relatively more comfortable with their outside linebackers than their inside guys on the current roster. Outside they have Shawne Merriman, Arthur Moats, Aaron Maybin, and Chris Kelsay. Kelsay is the only non-question mark, but the Bills may feel between the other three, someone will emerge as a capable starter opposite him.
Which could leave the Bills trying to address their front instead of the linebackers. With the recent release of Marcus Stroud, it leaves a hole up front in which filling with a player like Alabama’s Marcell Dareus makes a ton of sense. Dareus played in a 3-4 at Alabama but also got reps in a 4-man front, making his transition to the Bills hybrid defense fairly seamless. But the Bills might want to take a longer look at last year’s third round pick Alex Carrington, before adding another player into the mix. They also have talked about trying to get nose tackle Kyle Williams more reps at end.
The Bills also want to upgrade their secondary, so they would look at Peterson if he happened to still be on the board. But their concerns in the secondary aren’t nearly as pressing as those up front.
Last year, the Bills shocked a few people with their selection of running back C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick at a position where they already had two pretty good running backs on the roster in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. It shows that the Bills certainly believe in the notion of “best available player” which they felt was Spiller at the time.
So that means that when it’s all said and done, the Bills could potentially buck what is their biggest need and take the best player on the board. And that could easily be a quarterback despite the fact that they have a decent one already on the roster in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cam Newton is that possibility, or if available, Gabbert as well. While the Bills are content with Fitzpatrick as their starter, it’s no big secret that they don’t view him as a long-term option. And it seems likely that they will try and find their long-term starter at some point in this year’s draft.
A player like Newton would be an intriguing fit in Buffalo. Chan Gailey has in the past shown an affinity for mobile quarterbacks. And you’re not going to find another quarterback that better epitomizes mobility than Cam Newton besides Michael Vick. With Fitzpatrick already set on the roster, the Bills could afford to draft Newton and take it slow for at least a half season if not full year.
But one wonders how much better Newton is going to make the team in 2011? The Bills have a Top 3 pick, and are in a unique position to add someone that can really help their team this year and for the future. Drafting a quarterback that may be the backup for a full year would be really nothing less than blowing that opportunity. So at the end of the day, the Bills might have to ask themselves how much pressure is there to win now?
In the end, I think the Bills opt to take the best player available in Newton. All the while hoping they can fill their other more pressing defensive needs in the second round and later, as well as getting some contributions from some of their young, undeveloped talent already on the roster.