Examining the Buffalo Bills Draft Needs


Examining the Buffalo Bills Draft Needs

The Buffalo Bills have made a number of upgrades to their depth chart this offseason, as the current roster is constructed with the kind of players head coach Rex Ryan and his coaching staff envision.

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  • But when you own a 15 year playoff drought like the Buffalo Bills do, any chance to add players to the depth chart is a valuable opportunity.

    With no first-round choice, it will be difficult for the Bills to add multiple difference makers this draft, but they should be able to add at least one. Over the past few years, general manager Doug Whaley has done a good job of adding immediate contributors in the later rounds, including Preston Brown, Seantrel Henderson, Robert Woods and Kiko Alonso, all of which were drafted in the second round or later.

    With no pick on Thursday, here is a look at some needs the Bills might consider targeting on Friday when they make their second and third round selections.

    Offensive Line

    Anybody who watched the Bills last season knows the offensive line was a major problem. In fact, it graded as one of the worst offensive lines in football according to Pro Football Focus.

    Luckily for the Bills, though, they have the flexibility to address their offensive line issues by taking the best available linemen in this draft. With Richie Incognito, Chris Williams, Kraig Urbik and Cyril Richardson at guard, the ideal choice is more than likely to draft a guard.

    Nov 29, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions tackle Donovan Smith (76) during the third quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium. Michigan State defeated Penn State 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

    But with the idea of moving Cordy Glenn or Cyrus Kouandjio inside to guard being discussed, the Bills might be able to fill that void internally. However, that would leave the team thin at the tackle position.

    Either way, the Bills should have a chance to select a quality lineman at No. 50.

    Some possible tackles who could be available include Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi, Oklahoma’s Daryl Williams, Pitt’s T.J. Clemmings, or Hobart College’s Ali Marpet. Oregon’s Jake Fisher would be a great fit, but I doubt he will be there at No. 50.

    Or, if the Bills decide to take a guard, Louisville’s John Miller, Duke’s Laken Tomlinson, or South Carolina’s A.J. Cann could all be available.

    One name to keep an eye on is Penn State lineman Donovan Smith. Smith is a versatile player that is capable of playing either guard or tackle, and has the kind of power to immediately contribute in the Bills’ run game.

    Secondary Depth

    In today’s pass-happy NFL, you can never have enough depth at secondary. With Stephen Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin entrenched as the team’s starting cornerbacks, the Bills are in decent shape on the perimeter. Plus, Corey Graham, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks and Ross Cockrell are more than serviceable backups.

    But when you evaluate the team’s safety position, you can’t help but notice the glaring hole at strong safety. After losing Jairus Byrd and Da’Norris Searcy to free agency in back-to-back years, the Bills are projected to open the season with Aaron Williams at free safety and Duke Williams at strong safety.

    While Aaron Williams is an above average free safety, Duke Williams is an obvious question mark at strong safety. Although it’s considered to be a weak draft for safeties, two players that stick out for the Bills are Utah’s Eric Rowe and Samford’s Jaquiski Tartt. Both players are good tacklers, versatile, and most importantly, scheme adaptable. In Rex Ryan’s multi-formation defence, having a safety that can play all over the field is a nice asset to have.

    Defensive Line

    On paper, defensive line is a strength for the Bills, as Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams anchor one of the best fronts in football. But with Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes both moving to the edge this year as 3-4 linebackers, they will spend much more time playing 5 — and even 7 — technique.

    Oct 18, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal defensive end Henry Anderson (91) against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first quarter at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    With both players shifting out on the edge, the Bills could use a versatile defensive linemen, or a gap controller that can hold the C-Gap for Williams and Hughes while playing 3 or 5 technique. At the NFL level that is no easy task, but a few players who fit the bill are: Florida State’s Mario Edwards, Mississippi State’s Preston Smith, Stanford’s Henry Anderson, or Iowa’s Carl Davis (Davis is more of an A-Gap/0 technique player that would allow more space for Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams up front).

    If adding another pass rusher is the Bills’ plan, Arkansas’s Trey Flowers is a perfect fit for Ryan’s scheme with his ability to play standing up, or with his hand in the ground. Another option is Utah’s Nate Orchard, who visited the Bills earlier this month.

    With the number of defensive linemen available this draft, I would expect the Bills to add a linemen with one of their picks.

    Tight End

    This is a tough position for the Bills to fill in the draft. Players like Clive Walford and Maxx Williams should be around at No. 50, but with a more glaring need along the offensive line, do the Bills really want to take a backup tight end with their first pick that would have to improve their blocking?

    Instead, the Bills could probably wait to draft a tight end like Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman in round three. If everything checks out well medically, Heuerman could be a steal of a pick, as he is more than capable of stretching the field and can line up in a variety of formations, which is something offensive coordinator Greg Roman loves to do with his tight end’s.


    Adding a linebacker for depth behind starters Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown is not a pressing need, but still one the Bills are likely to address with one of their five picks.

    The ideal player would be UCLA’s Eric Kendricks or Washington’s Shaq Thompson, but I highly doubt either of them will be available when the Bills are on the clock at No. 50. Instead, a player like Clemson’s Stephone Anthony or LSU’s Kwon Alexander seem more likely.