As you might suspect, I get a lot of questions about the Bills draft and what they might do. I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you my answers to the most popular questions.
1. Should the Bills trade up? Probably not. I'm not normally a fan of trading up to begin with and there are two other factors that make me say no to that idea in this draft. First, the Bills only have six picks. Buffalo traded its sixth round choice to Tampa Bay in return for wide receiver Mike Williams. Secondly, they might have to give up their 2015 first round pick, depending on how high up they want to go. If season number two doesn't go well for EJ Manuel, the Bills will need that selection for a quarterback. If its a small move up the Bills would likely have to give up this year's second rounder but in my plan, that pick is used for an offensive tackle so I would hang on to it.
2. Should the Bills trade down? Yes but only in the "Doomsday Scenario". That scenario would have Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Eric Ebron, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson, Jake Mathews and Taylor Lewan all off the board. I would move down a few slots at that point to pick up another selection in this draft but its possible the Bills would stay put and take offensive tackle Zack Martin.
3. Should the Bills draft a quarterback in round one? That question might have popped into your head while reading about the "Doomsday Scenario" since all of the quarterbacks would still be on the board at that point. I still wouldn't take a QB because this draf,t and the off season for that matter, are about doing whatever you can to help Manuel succeed. Using the first round pick doesn't improve Manuel's chances of success this season. You might think the competition would make him better but I don't think lack of motivation is a problem for him. But the first pick should be used on offense. More on that in a moment.
4. Does the trade for Mike Williams mean the Bills shouldn't consider a wide receiver? No. Even though the Bills have numbers at the position, there are some questions about the long term future for some of those receivers. Williams is clearly a gamble. He's talented but had numerous off field issues in Tampa. With some awfully big salary numbers coming due beginning in 2015, Williams is clearly here on a one year tryout. Like Williams, Stevie Johnson becomes more costly in 2015 when his base salary goes up from $3.65 to $5.5 million. A release of Johnson after the 2014 season would save the Bills about $3 million in cap space. After the first two years of his Bills career, the jury is still out on T.J Graham and I don't think anyone would be surprised if the Bills moved on from him even coming out of training camp later this year.
5. What is your ideal draft for the Bills? I'm glad you asked. With the first round pick, I would take a wide receiver or tight end. I'd prefer Mike Evans over Sammy Watkins just because he brings in a dimension the Bills don't have. The Bills web site lists Johnson and Williams at 6'2" and Robert Woods at 6'0". Evans is 6'5" with 35 inch plus arms and a 34.5 inch vertical. If Evans is off the board, my pick would be tight end Eric Ebron from the University of North Carolina. For years now NFL teams have been trying to add athletic tight ends and the Bills have yet to do so, although they hope Chris Gragg might fit that bill. Rather than wait on a 7th rounder and hope he develops, go get the best tight end in this year's draft. The 6'4, 250 pound Ebron runs a 4.6 forty and had just under 1,000 yards receiving for the Tar Heels last season. I would go offensive tackle in round two and the best defensive player on the board in round three. I would consider taking a QB in the fourth round in part because Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel don't appear to be an answer if Manuel doesn't work out. It would also be nice having a guy in the system for a year. He could be an option as a starter in 2015 or at least in competition with the guy the Bills draft in the first round. If the Bills don't take a quarterback, I'd look at running back since both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will be free agents after this season. In round five take a cornerback, unless that was taken care of in the third round. If it was, then draft a linebacker. In round seven, go after a position that needs some depth and perhaps bring in a player who can help on special teams coverage units.