With less than a week to go before the 2011 NFL draft, it’s time to make our big board. Before scrolling down to the bottom of the page to view in its entirety, please review the compiled list of notes directly pertaining to it.
♦ This board is clearly not indicative of the best 34 players in the NFL draft. What should jump off the page immediately is that neither A.J. Green or Julio Jones are on it anywhere. The rationale is quite simple— I don’t think there’s even a remote the chance the Bills select a wide receiver in the first two rounds. Everything I hear indicates that not only is Lee Evans going nowhere, but the organization is mile high on Marcus Easley, who is in tremendous shape after missing his rookie year with a knee injury. The Bills don’t have a lot of top-end talent currently on the roster, but receiver is the exception, so there’s no sense of putting one on this big board.
♦ The same goes for running back, as Mark Ingram doesn’t appear on the board though he’s certainly among the top 34 talents. With Fred Jackson the starter and 2010 ninth overall pick C.J. Spiller likely to see an increased role, the Bills will probably use a low key pick near the end of the draft, if at all, to bring in another running back.
♦ You’ll surely notice I have Da’Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, two elite talents, deep down this big board. I don’t think there’s any chance the Bills would select either with a top ten pick and frankly, I’d be surprised if they drafted either in any scenario. The strong feeling here is the front office is scared away by Bowers’ knee and Fairley’s character. The only chance either could end up in Buffalo is if the Bills traded down twice (there’s no way they’re going from the third pick to No. 19 with one deal).
♦ I have a large amount of defensive linemen on this board, 14 to be exact. I think Buddy Nix will be hell-bent on landing a defensive end, preferably one who excels at the five-technique, within the first two rounds. If the Bills end up drafting Von Miller third overall as many suspect, they will start praying that a guy like Ryan Kerrigan, Cameron Heyward or Adrian Clayborn slip out of the first round. In fact, I think they’d take one of those prospects over a quarterback in round two and push that off into the third.
♦ Expanding on the defensive end point, I don’t think any of the aforementioned prospects will last until the 34th pick. Should that happen, they’ll probably take a quarterback in round two. I’ve got six of them on this board, and none are named Ryan Mallett. One of these guys should definitely be there to take and if Buffalo likes one enough, they could move up as well. New England sitting one pick ahead of Buffalo in the second round is dangerous— they’re highly likely to trade the pick to a team wanting to move up for a quarterback they didn’t get in round one.
♦ I don’t have Mallett on this board at all for two reasons. Firstly, I think there’s more than just smoke to his character concerns. More importantly, I don’t think his style suits a Chan Gailey offense well at all. Mallet is never, ever going to beat you with his feet and making throws on the run. I love the kid’s arm strength and swag, but the intangibles to excel in a Gailey offense aren’t there… at least in my view.
♦ I got a plethora of offensive tackles on this board because if the Bills miraculously play the trade down game multiple times, one can be in play anytime after the 12th pick. I also have Mike Pouncey on this list even though he’s a guard, because he’s simply that good…. and Kraig Urbik isn’t a lock to be a stud guard.
♦ If the Bills stay true to the board, and assuming Cam Newton and Marcell Dareus are the first two picks, the selection should be either Miller or Robert Quinn. I’m sure Patrick Peterson and Blaine Gabbert are getting strong consideration, but ultimately I don’t think Nix pulls the trigger on either. For all his talent, how much can Peterson really help in the first few years with a pathetic front seven in front of him? As for Gabbert, I think Nix ends up feeling he can find a quarterback comparable in the 27-34 range.
♦ Assuming Nix is blowing smokescreens and would like to slide down a couple of slots, Peterson and Gabbert could be their best chance. If a team makes the Bills a quality offer so they can grab their guy and Nix moves down three to six spots, I remain positively convinced Cameron Jordan will be the guy Nix covets.
♦ Jordan will probably be ranked higher on Nix’s board than any other in the league. In fact, if he doesn’t end up a Bill, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him last until the middle of the first. My nightmare scenario is him falling all the way into New England’s lap at pick No. 17.
Here’s our complete big board. As always, feel free to discuss.
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