Joe_Buffalo_Wins_GM

Well, it is April now and it is time for the most overhyped event in the world…The NFL Draft. As I’ve written in multiple posts in the past, I hate the draft. I understand the importance of it and how you build teams through it, but I am not a fan of what precedes the event. I’m not a fan of experts who give passing/failing grades after the draft, even though these kids haven’t even played a down yet! I don’t like how Mel Kiper (“Jimmy Clausen is awesome! I’d put my reputation on it!”) or Todd McShay (“Aaron Maybin is a steal for the Bills!”) think that every player selected in the 1st round is going to be a gamer. History says they won’t be, which makes it all propaganda.

I hate mock drafts. I hate when a player’s stock rises because he can bench press a car at the combine or his stock drops after being caught with his shirt off, showing he’s out of shape. It doesn’t make any sense to me why draft boards change when football games haven’t even been played since the bowl season. The NFL Combine seems to be nothing more than a reality TV show for the NFL Network. I just hate the whole thing. And because I hate the whole thing, I hardly start paying attention to it until a week or two before the whole thing goes down.

Teams are lucky if they draft someone who is an impact player right away. Quick: Which rookies had an impact on the 49ers, Ravens, Giants and Patriots this year? It takes a few seasons for these guys to make an impact, but in Mel Kiper’s world, they are all going to help your team right away.

Of course, I’m only biting the hand that feeds me now, as my plan is to just go through all the main drafting websites (IE: CBS Sports/ESPN) to figure out who I am drafting. Yes, I’m a hypocrite of a GM.

Look, I have no choice. I don’t exactly follow collegiate sports. I’m going to use CBS Sports.com prospect rankings as my draft board. So, if you have a problem with my drafting, talk to Tom Modrak, AKA, CBS Sports.

I’m not going to try and fake it as I’ve watched maybe 7 college games this year. Hell, I already forgot who won the National Championship. (Editor’s note: Rooooooooooll Tide Roll!  First attempt at college was there. -HB) Everyone pretty much says the SEC is where NFL stars come from. I like that advice. Anyway, I’m sure most of you know more about the NFL draft than I do. My draft theory is as follows:

  • Rounds 1-2 will be for players who will probably start from day 1.
  • Rounds 3-4 will be for players who will start in two years (hopefully).
  • Rounds 5-7 will be just throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping it sticks.

Offensively, I feel pretty good about the additions I’ve made so far. I think I’m loaded at WR. However, I’m a little worried about my offensive line. No. Not this year but for next. Andy Levitre is a free agent and we all know that offensive linemen can get HUGE raises (see: Dockery). I may be interested in drafting someone early to groom as Levitre’s replacement. I’m not a big fan of giving raises to guards. Plus, I have Eric Wood coming off another serious leg injury so, maybe adding someone who can play both center/guard would help. Fred Jackson is gone. I may think about spending a mid-round pick on his replacement. I like Spiller, but I’m not so sure about him being a every down back. I also need to find a tight end at some point. I have no interest in drafting a QB. Fitzpatrick is my guy for this year. If he falls flat on his face, I’m using a 1st round pick in the 2013 draft on a franchise savior.

Defensively, I’m happy with Osi Umenyiora, but I want one more defensive end. Alex Carrington is penciled in as a starter, but I think I can make an upgrade at that position. Besides Kelvin Sheppard, my linebacking corps is kind of long in the tooth. Barnett and Morrison are in the twilight of their careers, and I feel I have to find some heir apparents there. As for the secondary, I know a number of fans want some new guys, but as I’ve maintained all along, I think the unit is fine and were compromised because of a terrible pass rush. If you can’t get a pass rush, your secondary is going to pay for it. Of course, I may have to look for Jairus Byrd’s replacement since he’s a free agent next year.

All in all, the Bills have 9 draft picks (two in the 4th and 5th rounds).

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10th selection (1st round): Quinton Coples, DE from UNC:
Somewhere, our own Michael Necci is yelling, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Sorry, Mike. CBS Sports.com has Coples rated as the 8th best player in the draft for this year while Courteny Upshaw is ranked 22nd. That’s a reach and I’m not a fan of doing that. Frankly, I would be down to trade out of this spot and maybe go to the 18th or 19th spot, but I think it would be kind of unrealistic for this post. Alright, it is already bordering on that, but I’m going to keep going as planned. This is what the National Post says about Coples: 

A tall, long armed, athletic defensive lineman with a strong looking frame, he’s pretty much how you want to draw up the ideal defensive end prospect. Played a lot inside on the UNC defense because of depth issues, and displays the initial burst off the snap and pad level to surprisingly hold up well inside. Has a tendency to get upright through contact at times, which will cause him to get washed out of plays sometimes. However, he possesses natural flexibility sitting into his stance and has good snap awareness, a great first step and solid consistency extending his arms and gaining leverage. Has the natural power to anchor inside one-on-one and is a bear to block through the play because of his length. He needs to do a better job disengaging quicker, at times is slow to react to the inside run, but certainly has the skill set to do so. Is a strong anchor player on the edge vs. the run game.

Was investigated by the NCAA about his attendance at a post draft party. Displayed some motor/passion problems as a senior, looked to be trying not to get hurt at times and wasn’t always invested in the game. Impression: Can be as good as he wants to be in the NFL. The game comes very easy to him and he can be dominant if he learns to use his arms even better to slip blocks in the pass game, but with more time I expect that to improve. The sky is the limit as long as he’s willing to work at his trade and keep his motor running.

To me, Coples seems like the prototypical defensive end I would want for the Bills. As for the issues with motivation, well, I’m sure there have been a number of players in the history of the NFL who started out with the same concerns. 

Look, rumors persist that Peyton Manning could be going to the Jets or Dolphins and we already have Brady in the division. The Bills need to have a stout front four. I think having a 4-line front of Umenyiora-Williams-Dareus-Coples will cause fits for the opposition. Yes, I’m copying what the Giants did on defense. They didn’t have the best secondary or linebacking corps in the world, but their attacking front four made up for it. You wanna double Williams and Dareus? Go for it! I’m sure Coples or Osi will love going one-on-one with a tackle or tight end. As far as I’m concerned, we have the potential to be a top 5 defensive front.

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41st selection (2nd round): Lavonte David, OLB from Nebraska:
OK. So I said I found LBs to be a tad bit overrated in a 4-3 defense, but I’m not sure about Morrison being able to play 16 games at a high level. Same goes for Nick Barnett. I’m also not sure what the Bills will have with Arthur Moats, who is now being counted on to play more in pass coverage in a 4-3. I think Morrison/Barnett are bridge gap guys to the next guy. Currently, Lavonte David is ranked as the 45th best player. Here’s what The Sports Exchanged said about him:

David is Mr. Max, as in maximum effort, attitude, results and, unfortunately, his size, which he cannot increase any more. NFL scouts aren’t sure whether to play him at linebacker or strong safety. But somebody will draft him, put him on the field somewhere and he will do what he has always done — tackle people. He worked hard to get this far, so being told he is too small won’t impress him. David had a sensational high school career with Miami Northwestern’s No. 1-ranked team, but due to low grades he played at Fort Scott Community College, where his team lost a national championship game to Cam Newton’s Blinn College. When he finally arrived at Nebraska, David proved he was a tackling machine by setting a school record with 152 tackles in 2010 and finished his career with 285. He has pass coverage and ball reaction instincts to be an excellent nickel linebacker. Intangibles: Good football work ethic and intelligence. Possesses strong character and humble attitude. Called “coach’s dream” by Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.

I think what impresses me most about David is that he can cover. I’m not particularly high on the pass coverage abilities of Barnett and Morrison. Plus, maybe David could be the Bills answer to covering tight ends. I don’t see him starting from day 1, but I can see him taking reps away from someone like Morrison.

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72nd selection (3rd round): Ben Jones, Center from Georgia:
As I wrote in my opening, I wanted to get insurance in case Andy Levitre (FA in 2013) or Eric Wood (FA in 2014) leave. I seriously doubt the Bills are going to re-sign both Wood and Levitre. Both guys will command some serious money. Of course, you can’t forget Eric Wood’s history of injuries. I think getting a center, normally a guy who can move to guard, will help the Bills in the long run. By most draft experts, Jones is being touted as the 2nd best center in the draft. Here’s what Rob Lang of CBS Sports says about him:

Started 48 games over his career — all of them at center. He was twice named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week in 2011, earning it in back to back games against Auburn and New Mexico State. Was named to Georgia’s Team of the Decade. Has been recognized throughout his career for leadership and toughness, including earning the offense’s True Grit award at the conclusion of 2011 spring practice. Graduated early from high school to enroll at Georgia in January, 2008. Jones lacks the elite size or athleticism that has forced NFL teams to use first-round picks on centers in recent years. His relatively low “ceiling,” could allow him to slip into the middle of the second day. There are few prospects at any position in the 2012 draft, however, with Jones’ “floor.” He may not be flashy, but should compete for a starting position immediately and has all of the intangibles to maintain that role for a long time.

CBS Ranks him as the 65th best player in the draft. Let us hope he falls to us.

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105th selection (4th round): Michael Egnew, TE from Missouri:
Ladies and gentleman, meet your starting tight end. From what I read, this draft is pretty low on tight ends and because I don’t think highly enough of Scott Chandler (Note: I don’t care if Buddy Re-signed him, I’m cutting his ass again), I needed to find someone, anyone to start at TE. Enter Michael Egnew, who is ranked as the 3rd best tight end in the draft by most national pundits. Make no bones about it, he’s a pass catching TE. Here are some highlights from the CBS Sports write up:

Coaches finally got him on the field in 2010, and he repaid them with 90 receptions for 782 yards and five touchdowns in an All-American and first-team All-Big 12 junior campaign. He was also a finalist for the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, as well as Missouri’s Most Valuable Player. Egnew has shown nice athleticism for his size since being a football, basketball and track standout as a high schooler in Texas. That athleticism, as well as his height and strong hands, make him a valuable weapon down the seam as well as a red-zone target. In 2011, Egnew was a first-team All-Big 12 selection at tight end after reeling in 50 catches for 523 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. He was the Tigers’ second-leading receiver in terms of both catches and yards and averaged just over 40 yards a game. He enjoyed his best outing of the year against Baylor, posting 12 receptions against the Bears and had a 105-yard receiving effort on six catches against Iowa State. The two-year starter hauled in 147 receptions for 1,332 yards and eight touchdowns in 26 career starts for the Tigers.

147 catches in two years and he’s ranked as the 112th best player in the draft? Sign me up!

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124th selection (4th round): Janzen Jackson, free safety from McNesse State:
Yes, I’m totally going for my inner Bengals GMing by selecting a player with a past, but F-it. It’s the 124th pick in the draft. This goes back to adding depth and possibly finding a new starter in 2013. . I like the Byrd (Jairus) Man, but again, he’s going to be making something like 5-6 million bucks a year. Is he worth it? This is my insurance policy. Jackson can also play some corner and with Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin being who they are, we need some guys who can step in in case of injuries or Leodis being Leodis. Oh, did I mention he was kicked off the Tennessee football team and robbed a 7-11? Wohoo! We want football players here, not humanitarians! Here’s what CBS Sports said about my troubled safety:

Rated a five-star recruit, Jackson was pursued by virtually every team in the country as a prep prospect. Upon signing with Tennessee, he wasted little time in proving that the Volunteers’ run of All-SEC safeties didn’t stop with Jonathan Hefley and Eric Berry. He earned the start at free safety in just his second game and started 10 games, overall as a freshman, registering 37 tackles, a sack and notching his first career interception against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The best season of Jackson’s career came in 2010 as he started all 13 games, led the team with 11 passes defensed, the Vols’ defensive backs with 69 tackles, tied for the team lead with five interceptions, including one in the end zone against North Carolina in the Music City Bowl. A true sophomore, Jackson was the only Vol to be named to the coaches’ All-SEC team. His athleticism is freakish and his speed, quickness and ease of movement are at the very top of the athletic ladder. He applies all that athletic ability to the football field. He is just not a great athlete, but he can play a high level of football also.

Now for the bad…

Significant character red flags. Was arrested, along with two other Tennessee players for taking part in an armed robbery of a convenience store November 11, 2009 in Knoxville. Was ultimately released when prosecutors determined that he did not know the crime was being committed … Reportedly had multiple other run-ins with authorities at Tennessee for off-field concerns, including for substance abuse. Left the program to deal with “personal issues” in the spring of 2011. Was welcomed back to the team in July only to get dismissed from the team August 24 by head coach Derek Dooley.

Like I said, it is a 4th round pick and I’m willing to take a chance on him. Maybe we can have Thurman or Jim talk to him. Call Nate Odomes. George Wilson can save him!

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136th selection (5th round): DeQuan Menzie, Cornerback from Alabama:
This is normally the time of the draft when you just start drafting corners. I’m not banking on Terrence McGee to be the Bills 3rd corner this year. The dude gets hurt constantly and if it wasn’t for his reduction in salary, I would have cut him by now. McKelvin is a train wreck and this will probably be his last chance. Anyway, here are some notes from what Joe Buscaglia said about Menzie. Yes, I’m getting sick of CBS Sports.

Pros: An excellent wrap-up tackler. Considering his size and position, Menzie might be one of the best if not the best tackling cornerback available in the draft. Flashes a good turn and run with the receiver while keeping an eye on the backfield. Aware of where the ball is going when in control. Cons: Does not have elite speed or elite burst. Will get beat deep if a receiver gets a step on him. Injury history: Had Achilles tendon surgery in 2010. Missed two games in 2010 due to a groin injury.

As I said, this is the point in the draft where you are just hoping something sticks long-term.

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138th selection (5th round): Terrence Ganaway, RB from Baylor:
This is where running backs should be selected. Late in the draft. Spiller is my featured back, but we all know what his limitations are. He’s not the best guy to be running between the tackles or over people. I’m a fan of having two running backs who can deliver two different forms of attack. I want a bruiser. I want a guy who can run between the tackles and knock someone over. Hopefully, Terrence Ganaway is that guy. Here is what NFLScout.com says about Ganaway:

At 5-11 and 241 pounds, Ganaway has the bruising size and natural power to work well between the tackles. But if he hopes to see playing time at the next level, he must improve his blocking. Ganaway has struggled in practice  in pass protection drills, showing poor habits and inexperience. He routinely drops his helmet and leaves his feet, allowing pass rushers to brush by him and get to the pocket. He had his best season in 2011 as a senior starter (12 starts), finishing with a conference-best 1,547 yards on 250 carries (6.2) and 21 touchdowns, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors.

Look, he’s a big back and he’ll be my short yardage guy. Needle in a haystack.

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167th selection (6th round): Andrew Datko, offensive tackle from Florida State:

Yes, the Bills are kind of thin at tackle with Hairston, Bell, and Pears being the main guys. But as I’ve alluded to since the season ended, I was fine with the play of the bookends. Anyways, Datko’s last name is kind of cool, so I’m drafting him. Alright, he’s one of those guys who had his senior year cut short due to injury and would probably be drafted higher if he was healthy. Here’s what CBS Sports says about him:

Despite being overlooked by many of the nation’s prep evaluators, Datko proved to be an immediate standout for the Seminoles, starting the final 12 games of his true freshman season. He started 36 of the next 39 contests heading into his senior campaign and had been quite productive, surrendering just three sacks over the 2009-10 seasons. A shoulder injury suffered early in 2011 ruined Datko’s senior campaign, sidelining him for the final nine games of the season. Having struggled with arm and shoulder injuries dating back to high school, Datko’s final draft stock will likely be determined by the medical grade he’s given from team doctors.

At this point, if I had a relative who played college sports at a division III school, I’d draft him as a favor. Hey! It worked for Mike Piazza and Tom Lasorda.

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200th selection in the 7th round: Marquis Maze, wide receiver from Alabama:

At this point, I may let my mom or Ralph’s wife make the pick. I’m pretty much picking Maze because he comes from a football machine known as Alabama. (Editor’s note: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer Roll Tide Roll! -HB) With Marcus Easley, Donald Joes, Brad Smith, and Ruvell Martin fighting for the 5th and 6th spot on the WR depth chart, I may as well add someone. Here is what FF Toolbox (WTF kind of name is that?) says about him:

Maze was a stellar four-year performer at Alabama. The speedy wideout improved each season, catching 11 passes as a freshman, 31 as a sophomore, 38 as a junior, and 56 as a senior in 2011. He caught 627 yards worth of balls last season and scored one touchdown. For his career he had eight touchdown receptions and he averaged at least 11.2 yards per catch in each of this four seasons (including 16.9 in 2009). Maze helped lead the Crimson Tide to the 2011 National Champion, as the team avenged its loss to LSU from earlier in the year. Maze’s value cannot be underrated, as he was way less than 100 percent in the loss to the Tigers and that was arguably the biggest reason for ‘Bama’s lone loss of the season.

Final word: My work here is done. Look, I’m not an expert in drafts. I just focused on what was important for me to fix. I pretty much split the 9 picks: 5 offensive and 4 defensive. I think I filled the appropriate needs. I helped the Bills out in case they don’t re-sign Byrd or Levitre. Coples will be starting from day one and will be coming into a situation where he’s surrounded by above average talent on the defensive line. I think any tight end is an upgrade over Scott Chandler. I think Lavonte David will be this year’s version of Kelvin Sheppard and replace last year’s version of Andra Davis (Morrison) at some point. If the 7-11 robber works out, I’m letting Byrd walk away next year. Any questions?

Next post: The final roster.