May 2, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review & Season Outlook: Buffalo Bills

#31, Jairus Byrd, FS, Bills

*Click on a team's logo to go to their draft recap and season outlook page. A few will be posted each day in alphabetical order.

Buffalo Bills
Division: AFC East | Last Season Record: 6-10

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The Bills certainly have some talent, but going into the draft they had a ton of needs that had to be addressed.

Kevin Kolb was projected to be the starter at quarterback, so drafting someone like Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley in the second round would make a ton of sense. Even though there isn't a sure fire franchise QB in this class, there are some good quarterbacks available.

Offensively, the Bills should find a number two receiver and another tight end very early, as well as some offensive line depth. Losing Andy Levitre means the Bills should try and find a starting guard in the middle rounds.

Mario Williams is currently their only reliable edge rusher, and this class has several talented pass rushers to choose from. They needed to come away with another starting linebacker, and add at least another corner and another safety.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Round 1

16. E.J. Manuel, QB
Experience: Senior | School: Florida State
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 238 lbs.

Analysis: Who would have guessed that E.J. Manuel would have been the first quarterback drafted? Geno Smith was the consensus top quarterback, and even Ryan Nassib or Matt Barkley would have been good fits and acceptable reaches, as both are NFL ready. You just cannot reach for a developmental quarterback like Manuel. He has the tools to succeed, yes, but he is a 3rd-4th round prospect, and a reach in the first round.

Grade: D-

Round 2

41. Robert Woods*, WR
Experience: Junior | School: Southern California
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 200 lbs.

Analysis: The Bills needed a receiver to pair with Stevie Johnson. Robert Woods is a very reliable receiver with underrated play making ability. When you draft a quarterback in the first round, you need to provide him with weapons. Woods is really good value here.

Grade: A-

46. Kiko Alonso, ILB
Experience: Senior | School: Oregon
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 234 lbs.

Analysis: Arthur Brown was still on the board, but they went with Kiko Alonso, who is a 4th round player for me, so this is definitely a reach. They filled a need, sure, but you have to understand value.

Grade: C-

Round 3

78. Marquise Goodwin, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Texas
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 183 lbs.

Analysis: Goodman was my 14th ranked receiver, and I actually had him coming off the board in this range. So it's not really a reach. I've warmed up to this pick because Goodwin is a vertical threat that wasn't utilized properly at Texas. The Bills needed to add multiple receivers.

Grade: B-

Round 4

105. Duke Williams, SS
Experience: Senior | School: Nevada
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 201 lbs.

Analysis: This isn't a bad pick. Duke Williams probably shouldn't have come off the board before Phillip Thomas and Shamarko Thomas, but this is the right range for him, and they need safety depth. He could possibly challenge Da'Norris Searcy for the starting strong safety job.

Grade: B-

Round 5

143. Jonathan Meeks, SS
Experience: Senior | School: Clemson
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 210 lbs.

Analysis: Meeks wasn't a draftable prospect IMO, but he does have talent. Still, reaching for another safety when you have bigger needs is not a good idea.

Grade: D+

Round 6

177. Dustin Hopkins, K
Experience: Senior | School: Florida State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 193 lbs.

Analysis: Dustin Hopkins is the best kicker in this class, and it's not really a bad idea to draft a kicker in the 6th round... unless you already have a good kicker. Rian Lindell was recently signed to a four-year deal. He doesn't have the strongest leg, but I seriously question them drafting another kicker.

Grade: C

Round 7

222. Chris Gragg, TE
Experience: Senior | School: Arkansas
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 244 lbs.

Analysis: A 5th-6th round prospect in the 7th round that also fills a need. Chris Gragg might be the best pick the Bills made in the draft. They needed another tight end, and Gragg could prove to be a solid weapon for E.J. Manuel in the near future.

Grade: A+

2013 NFL Draft Overall Review:

Analysis: The Bills don't seem to understand the draft. They constantly reach for players and don't get great value. Their biggest mistake could be drafting E.J. Manuel in the first round, but on the plus side, at least they filled a need right?

Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Chris Gragg should all be really good players in the NFL, and are the kind of weapons any quarterback would love to have.

Unfortunately, the Bills failed to add another pass rusher, passed on a future Pro Bowl linebacker in Arthur Brown, and double-dipped on safeties when they should have drafted at least one corner.

The Bills didn't have a very good draft, but it was still an inconsistent one. They reached to fill a need, then they would get good value the next pick around. There is a reason why the Bills haven't been very good the last 10+ years, and it's because they haven't quite figured out the draft.

Overall Grade: C-

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Da'Rick Rogers*, WR
Experience: Junior | School: Tennessee Tech
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 219 lbs.

Analysis: Wow. Da'Rick Rogers entered the year as a potential first round pick, and ends up going undrafted. He's one of the most talented receivers in this class, and if he stays out of trouble, he could be a star. I don't see how he doesn't make the team.

Nickell Robey*, CB
Experience: Junior | School: Southern California
Height: 5-7 | Weight: 169 lbs.

Analysis: Nickell Robey projects as a nickel corner at the next level. He can play, and I'm very surprised that he wasn't taken in the fourth round. He can provide immediate depth at corner.

Keith Pough, OLB
Experience: Junior | School: Howard
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 239 lbs.

Analysis: Keith Pough turned some heads at the East-West Shrine Game. I had a mid-round grade on him, so this is another great pickup for the bills. Their undrafted free agent signings look more promising than their draft class.

Other Free Agent Signings

Zach Chibane, OG, Syracuse
Jordan Dangerfield, FS, Towson
Kendall Gaskins, RB/FB, Richmond
Brandon Kaufman, WR, Eastern Washington
Vernon Kearney, CB, Lane
Jumal Rolle, CB, Catawba
Drew Smith, RB, Albany
Aaron Tipoti, DL, California
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
Ryan Turnley, C, Pittsburgh

2013 Season Outlook:

Analysis: Well, expectations should not be that high for the Bills. They should be better than the lowly Jets, but that's not saying much.

E.J. Manuel is very talented, and he has the size, arm talent, and physical tools to succeed at the next level. But based on the reasons GM Buddy Nix and Head Coach Doug Marrone chose him over other quarterbacks is ridiculous. (He impressed them at a windy workout in Tallahassee, FL).

If Manuel is thrown into the fire, he could find immediate success with the talent around him. Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods project as their top 2 receivers, and they have some good depth now with T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, and there is a good chance Da'Rick Rogers makes the roster. I also liked the addition of Chris Gragg alot.

The Bills have a solid offensive line even without Andy Levitre, though they still could have added another lineman for depth purposes. If this unit can stay healthy, they shouldn't have (m)any problems.

The interior of the defensive line is a strength, while Mario Williams is their only consistent pass rusher. Hopefully they're not counting on Mark Anderson, but that appears to be the case.

Kiko Alonso could be an immediate starter, and Nigel Bradham is expected to take the next step. If Manny Lawson can stay healthy and be that reliable strong side pass rushing linebacker, this unit could be much better.

The secondary features one of the top safeties in Pro Football, the ball-hawking Jairus Byrd. Even thought they lost George Wilson, Da'Norris Searcy looks ready to step up, and expect corners Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams to improve as well.

2013 Season Projection:

Analysis: Buffalo is currently picking 4th overall in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. They chose 8th in this year's draft. The Bills have a lot of talent believe it or not, but the quarterback position is still a question mark. Defensively, the Bills didn't improve their secondary or pass rush, so they could face a lot of problems.

Projected Record: 4-12 (Worst Case) | 6-10 (Best Case)

Projected Finish: 3rd in the AFC East; Result: Miss the Playoffs