Let’s face it, the Bills have not historically been known to trade away their draft picks, no matter what the circumstances may be. They usually fall in line and pick where they stand, a strategy not altogether bad, but sometimes boring. Last year during the 2013 NFL draft, however, they made a splash trading away their top ten pick for more draft picks, and they still landed their coveted Quarterback with the 16th overall selection. Because of their trade, they were also able to draft the sensational Linebacker Kiko Alonso, who many viewed as a rookie of the year talent. Could those same tactics be used in this year’s draft?
When NFL teams prepare for the draft, they put together a draft board where they rank draft prospects. Teams that stick to their draft board and do not reach for players create a recipe for future success, so it is possible that the Bills will trade down IF there are no players left on the board that they have ranked high enough for the 9th overall pick. Let’s review some of the potential top ten players that the Bills may be interested in:
DE Jadeveon Clowney –
Clowney has proven in college that he is a force to be reckoned with and possibly a once in a decade type of talent. He is a physical specimen who boasts both raw power and speed coming off the edge. With the potential to become a sack machine and nightmare for offensive coordinators and quarterbacks, he is widely viewed as the number 1 overall prospect in this draft. The Bills will almost assuredly not have the chance to pick him unless they trade up to the number 1 or 2 spot.
OT Greg Robinson –
Widely viewed as the top offensive line prospect in a tight, three-way race, Robinson is an overpowering, athletic blocker. In his two years as a starter, Robinson has established himself as a powerful run blocker that has the potential to step in on day one and be an impact starter. If some team picking before Buffalo decides that Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan are better suited for them, and if Quarterback needy teams drive down the talent at other positions by picking signal callers, Buffalo could have a slight chance at landing Robinson with the 9th pick overall.
WR Sammy Watkins –
Watkins is popularly viewed as a day one starter and potential number one wide out. He has uncommon speed and decent size, as well as soft hands and the ability to challenge defenders down the field for big, impact plays. The Bills will need to trade up into the top 5 in order to get him, but there are some that believe he may still be around at the 9th overall spot. If that is the case, the Bills would be crazy to pass on him.
OT Jake Matthews –
Matthews is a born and bred football player; son of a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. He is widely viewed as one of the safest picks in this year’s draft, because of his sound fundamentals and techniques, as well as his versatility at playing multiple positions on the line. He may be available by the time the Bills pick at number 9, especially if multiple Quarterbacks are taken in the top eight.
OLB Khalil Mack –
Mack made his mark in college as an effective rusher, but also boasts amazing ability as a linebacker who can play all three downs. He has demonstrated dominance and great instincts on the field, and great versatility with the ability to line up at any linebacker spot, or even with his hand in the dirt. If he drops to the 9th overall spot, the Bills will be happy to take him, but he is widely viewed as a top five lock.
WR Mike Evans –
Possessing a rare size/speed combination, Mike Evans has the ability to make big plays down the field. In the red zone and on 3rd downs, he will be a match-up nightmare for defenders and coaches. While Sammy Watkins will most likely hold the honors for first receiver off the board, Evans may not be far behind, and his 6’5″ frame would be a welcome addition to many teams. The Bills would love to have a big receiver like Evans, and may be in a good spot to land him if Tampa Bay chooses to pass on him.
OT Taylor Lewan –
One of the top three Offensive Tackle prospects, Lewan is a finesse type blocker with an added mean streak. He may have the potential and ability to be a starter for years to come in the NFL. The Bills need a Right Tackle and many see Lewan as a good fit, but they may also be able to trade a few picks down and still be able to land him.
It is very possible that the six prospects above could be gone by the time the Bills pick at number 9, and if so the Bills will not want to reach and pick players to fill needs farther down their draft board. Instead, if the above players are gone, it may be a good idea to trade down to a mid-first round selection and get more picks in later rounds, similar to what they did last year when they targeted QB EJ Manuel. If they can score one of the above players, however, it would probably be within their best interest to stay at the 9th overall spot.