I’m publishing mock drafts at Buffalo Sports Daily for the fourth consecutive season. Those who have followed along from day one know my feelings about mock drafts; plenty of fun to discuss and debate, but ultimately as close to useless as it gets.
It’s rather silly to publish a mock draft before free agency begins. Everyone knows that, yet we all read, so who am I to deny you a few minutes of entertainment and/or anger?
I’ll probably do three mocks— this pre-free agency collection, one at the end of March and a final mock a day or two before the actual NFL draft on April 25.
Lastly, I keep my draft completely unbiased, as evidenced by guys in the first and second round I’d have rather slotted to Buffalo but were unable with them off the board.
Without further ado.
1. Kansas City- Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M): The trade for Alex Smith and likely free agent departure of Brandon Albert make this seem like a slam dunk. However, don’t discount Eric Fisher joining the conversation here.
2. Jacksonville- Sharif Floyd, DT (Florida): At nearly 300 pounds this kid ran a 4.92 at the Combine. By the way—he can also play. Jacksonville can go in a variety of directions as Milliner and Fisher could be in the mix, but Floyd ultimately will be the pick.
3. Oakland- Geno Smith, QB (West Virgina): Sorry, Bills fans. Carson Palmer doesn’t cut it anymore and the Raiders got no one else behind him of worth. Smith may not be the next Andrew Luck but he’s clearly the best quarterback in this draft, and the Raiders aren’t going to let him pass by.
4. Philadelphia- Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon): Not only is he is a Chip Kelly guy, he’s a huge need in Philadelphia. If he happened to fall to eight the Bills would jump all over him.
5. Detroit- Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama): Assuming he even makes it to this spot, he’s the easiest forecast of this entire mock. Detroit would sprint to the podium to hand in their card with his name on it.
6. Cleveland- Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU): He’s really come on since the Senior Bowl gathered, hasn’t he. The Browns can do almost anything with this pick and it wouldn’t be surprising. In this spot they’re hoping they have the next Aldon Smith on their hands. Many think Cleveland will take a quarterback but without a second-round pick, they need an instant impact player.
7. Arizona- Eric Fisher, OT (Central Michigan): Everyone expects the Cards to take a quarterback first, but Fisher is too good to pass up. They’ll come back with a quarterback in round two and if they like one enough, trade up ahead of some teams from that spot.
8. Buffalo- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee): This was not an easy pick to conclude and since this is a Buffalo-based blog, I’ll take more time to explain how I arrived there.
Smith, Jordan and Milliner would all be locks to get selected ahead of Patterson here, but in my mock they’re all gone. I’m also tempted to add Fisher to this list on the premise the Bills would have two excellent tackles in he and Cordy Glenn, but again, I have him off the board as well.
Quarterback is the most discussed need, but I don’t think Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib or any of the others are worth the eighth pick. After research I’ve arrived at the conclusion that two of the top five quarterbacks will be available with the 41st pick. Plus, the Bills have the ability to trade back up later.
Kenny Vaccaro, Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Barkevious Mingo could all be very tempting at eight on the defensive side of the ball, but I think Buffalo is going to pour enough financial resources on defense via free agency that they won’t use a high draft pick on that side.
That has me arriving at Patterson. First, let’s get the negatives out of the way. He only had one real season of college productivity at the D-1 level, something Buddy Nix has openly frowned upon in the past. There’s also reports that Patterson interviewed extremely poorly at the Combine, which concerns me more than the first part. Lastly, Patterson can be inconsistent in catching the football, which is never good for a wide receiver prospect.
But here’s what sticks out at me—a quote from Buddy Nix. A few months ago when Nix described what kind a receiver he’s looking for he said (paraphrasing) a guy that’s open even when he’s not. That is Patterson to a tee. He has the size, speed and athleticism to be special and he’s dangerous every time the football is in hands.
How badly do the Bills need that? Bad enough to use the eighth pick on Patterson. There are some big-ticket options in free agency leading to the draft, but I don’t see Buffalo landing any. That makes this pick a little easier since it’s safe to assume Brad Smith won’t be starting alongside Stevie Johnson.
9. NY Jets- Lane Johnson, OT (Oklahoma): The Jets need a lot and quarterback is always a possibility, but Johnson is a much safer pick.
10. Tennessee- Chance Warmack, G (Alabama): He’s by far the best guard in the draft. No need to add much more than that.
11. San Diego- Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri): These write-ups are about to start getting shorter since they don’t involve Buffalo. Richardson is a good pick in this spot.
12. Miami- Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State): It wasn’t long ago Werner was projected to go top five. If the board plays out like this, it’s Werner, a cornerback or wide receiever.
13. Tampa Bay- Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington): Tampa needs help in the secondary and the younger brother of Marcus Trufant can provide it.
14. Carolina- Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah): There’s no way he’d last this long if his heart condition wasn’t an issue.
15.New Orleans- Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia): Can he have a healthy NFL career? If the answer is yes, this kid could be special. Too risky for the Bills at eight.
16. St. Louis- Kenny Vaccaro, S (Texas): I’m not a fan of high draft picks of players from Texas but Vaccaro makes sense.
17. Pittsburgh- Barkevious Mingo, LB/DE (LSU): Their defense is getting old and will have major turnover within the next few seasons.
18. Dallas- Jonathan Cooper, G (North Carolina): He’s not flashy but would help out Dallas (and Tony Romo) immediately.
19. NY Giants- Damontre Moore, DE/OLB (Texas A&M): I had offensive tackle slotted here until Beatty re-signed on Wednesday. Moore appears to be slipping big time after his horrible bench press showing at the Combine. I’m not overconfident this guy will go in the first round let alone this pick, so stay tuned, Giants fans for future mocks.
20. Chicago- Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame): There’s several teams over the next 10 selections hoping the athletic Eifert slips. I don’t see him lasting pasting Chicago.
21. Cincinnati- Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia): Just seems like a Bengals type of pick. Talent-wise he’s good enough to go in the top 10. In fact, I still wouldn’t be floored if Buffalo took a shot on him.
22. St. Louis- Keenan Allen, WR (California): No one talks about him because he didn’t perform at the Combine. They should.
23. Minnesota- Robert Woods, WR (USC): He really impressed me in Indianapolis. He’s not a blazer but he is going to have a solid NFL career.
24. Indianapolis- D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama): Help for Andrew Luck is never a bad thing, especially considering how bad he was getting beat up near the end of last season.
25. Seattle- Datone Jones, DL (UCLA): A fast defense gets even faster.
26. Green Bay- Eddie Lacy, RB (Alabama): The only running back I have going in the first round, Lacy could become their feature back from day one.
27. Houston- Matt Barkley, QB (USC): Whoa. I’m not sure anyone has Barkley slotted here, but I do. Matt Schaub, I think could be on borrowed time in Houston. Barkley is a good talent and in this spot wouldn’t be pressed into action. I’m not sure exactly how I arrived with Barkley here, but I feel like it could easily happen.
28. Denver- Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State): Anyone remember Joe Flacco scoring this secondary in the playoffs? I do.
29. New England- Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina): I love everything about this kid and at 313 pounds he’s a good fit on the Patriots defensive line. I expect the Patriots to re-sign Wes Welker and add another good receiver in free agency.
30, Atlanta- Margus Hunt, DE (SMU): He could potentially be the steal of the first round. A lot of teams like him, including the Bills.
31. San Francisco- Johnathan Banks, CB (Mississippi State): Even though the 49ers have Donte Whitner and for the moment Dashon Goldson at safety, the 49ers could look at that spot. But Banks is a solid corner and good value at this stage.
32. Baltimore- Kevin Minter, LB (LSU): I got him over Manti Te’o not because of the off-field stuff, but because Minter is the better linebacker. I’d be surprised if Ozzie Newsome passed on him here.
33. Jacksonville- Jamar Taylor, CB (Boise State): I was very tempted to give them a quarterback here, but I think Blaine Gabbert gets one more year with the benefit of a high draft pick not breathing down his neck.
34. San Francisco- Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia): Blazing speedster would be a great addition for Colin Kapernick.
35. Philadelphia- Sharmarko Thomas, S (Syracuse): After his combine effort I think he’ll leap Matt Elam as the second-best safety prospect.
36. Detroit- Alex Okafor, DE (Texas): Detroit needs to do everything they can to get better on offense. If If I’m the Lions my first five picks all come on this side of the ball.
37. Cincinnati- Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame): The slide ends here. With Ogletree going in the first round, can you imagine how good this defense could be if both guys work out?
38. Arizona- Mike Glennon, QB (NC State): Ahead of Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib? I say yes. Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball deep and something inside me tells me he’ll take Glennon ahead of the other two. Also, watch out for Tyler Bray in a bit of a shocker here.
39. NY Jets- Matt Elam, S (Florida): The Jets are soon to be very thin at safety. Elam would be a wonderful addition.
40. Tennessee- David Amerson, CB (NC State): You can never have too many cornerbacks. Plus, what else am I supposed to say about this pick?
41. Buffalo- Tyler Wilson, QB (Arkansas): Being unbiased, I’ve arrived at the 41st pick with three quarterbacks gone, but both Ryan Nassib and Tyler Wilson on the board. Under this scenario I’d be floored if the Bills didn’t take a quarterback, but which one?
Logic says the pick would be Nassib. He’s not only rated higher on some high profile draft sites, but there’s the extremely obvious Syracuse/Buffalo connection.
I’m still going with Wilson. He’s tough as nails, has underrate mobility and sufficient arm strength. A few people with far more knowledge of Wilson than me have told me he has some Philip Rivers traits in him. Everyone knows Buddy Nix is a Rivers guy. I also think he got an extremely raw deal at Arkansas playing behind a woeful offensive line.
For a lack of a better phrase, I simply can’t put my finger on it, but the feeling at this time is Wilson will be the better pro of the two.
I readily admit that taking Wilson over Nasib with Doug Marrone as head coach and Nate Hackett the offensive coordinator would be a huge upset.
Last point—there’s one guy who can change everything, and that’s Tyler Bray. I’m not sure how much the Bills like him yet, but something tells me he’s going to be heavily in the conversation at pick 41.
For now, I’m going with Wilson.