One of the most popular names linked to the Buffalo Bills by way of various mock drafts has been Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. He's often grouped into the top three offensive tackles available in the 2014 NFL Draft and some believe he might even be off the board by the time the Bills go on the clock.
Offensive tackle that has been the one most often position linked to the Bills' first round selection that it's easy to see why Lewan and Buffalo would be logical partners. If you believe in trends and the ones that have been evident at One Bills Drive over the years though, that pairing of player with team would snap a streak that has been going for the past four years.
C.J. Spiller, Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore and EJ Manuel. What do they all have in common? Besides the obvious answer that they were Buffalo's first round picks of the past four seasons, all four men made a pre-draft visit to One Bills Drive in the month leading up to the actual event.
In April of 2014, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin all made official pre-draft visits to Orchard Park.
Out of those names that have been consistently linked to the Buffalo Bills, the one player that is notably absent from that pre-draft visit list?
Now, to play devil's advocate so that this piece of evidence isn't used incorrectly, the Bills have a general manager in charge that will be running his first NFL Draft. All 32 teams keep a close eye on each other's pre-draft visit list so perhaps some misdirection is in order for their truest of intentions. Also, the Bills very well could have met with Lewan at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis during February or during his pro day.
However, pre-draft visits are valuable tools to teams and how they approach the draft. They welcome in players to their building, get them for most of the day and try to gauge how they fit the personality dynamics inside their building if they were to draft them. It's also important for the medical side of things, making sure everything checks out if they were considering drafting them.
If you look at it from an historical perspective, the Bills could have signaled to the NFL that they're just not that into Taylor Lewan. Or, they could be trying to dupe them all.
The one thing that is certain, is that if the Bills select Lewan with the ninth overall pick, a trend will be stopped and the 2015 pre-draft visit list won't be as heavily analyzed as it has been each of the past few seasons.