The 2014 NFL Draft is only 10 days away and the intrigue will only increase with every waking hour. The Buffalo Bills finished up all their pre-draft visits, they just brought all the scouts back to Orchard Park and the pre-draft luncheon is now in the past.
Throughout the next two weeks, the Bills will be finalizing their board and going through every single scenario possible, so that when the draft finally arrives on May 8, they’ll be ready for any situation coming their way.
Perhaps the most notable situation to prepare for is the ‘doomsday’ scenario that would yield no quarterbacks selected in the top eight picks. If that scenario came true, it would involve the following eight players being selected ahead of the Bills (alphabetically arranged):
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
You could make the case for the Bills being interested in each one of those players. And with all of those positions, there is a perceived drop-off that would have some hesitate in taking any of the next-best players on the board.
So what would the Bills do if this scenario came to fruition?
Well, the easy answer is to trade down. If no quarterback is selected in the top eight picks, the Bills could be in prime position to acquire some additional selections so that a team could move up to secure the first quarterback in the draft.
However, as Bills GM Doug Whaley said on Friday, it’s not that easy. You need another team willing to make the move up. So, for the purposes of being difficult, let’s say the Bills can’t move out of the ninth overall pick. Then what?
Some will argue that the Bills should go for one of a pair of Alabama defenders, either linebacker C.J. Mosley or safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Others will even bring up Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, who appears to be a Kyle Williams clone. While any of those could help down the line, the Bills’ draft goal is likely to help EJ Manuel on the offensive side of the ball in some way, shape or form.
LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is another one to consider. Although he isn’t the imposing physical presence that the Bills are lacking on their roster, he is an outstanding weapon for both the slot and as an outside receiver. However, nine might be a touch too early for him, especially with what the Bills have on their roster currently.
So if not those four, then who?
With no big receivers or tight ends within range of the ninth overall pick, Bills fans, meet Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.
A four-year starter for the Fighting Irish, Martin has been protecting the left edge for 50 of the school’s past 52 contests. He wins consistently with his technique, footwork and aggressiveness.
The only problem, however, is that some view him as a guard due to his 327/8-inch arms, and that has driven his perceived stock down to the mid-to-late first round. Everything else is positive for Martin, though.
Next to Jake Matthews, Martin has been said to be one of the cleanest offensive line prospects available in the draft. Not a lot of refinement is necessary for his game at the professional level.
But the length could be an issue for some teams if they want him to play tackle. Under Whaley, the Bills have yet to select an offensive tackle so no precedent has been set. However, head coach Doug Marrone has said they want to get bigger along the offensive line, which is vague in what he’s looking for.
Despite the lack of length the Bills have shown interest, though. They had him in for a pre-draft visit, and during their draft luncheon on Friday, Buffalo’s director of college scouting Kelvin Fisher proclaimed that he believes Martin is a tackle first in the NFL.
Consider another opinion from someone in the league. In his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King revealed the top 10 of one team that isn’t picking in the top 10. Although the order of the players isn’t known, take a look at which player snuck in:
“Two quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles), four tackles (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin), one defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), two pass-rushers (Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack), one wideout (Sammy Watkins).” - Peter King
Of course, just because one team thinks Martin is a top 10 talent does not necessarily mean the Bills feel the same. However, Fisher’s comments about Martin on Friday and this thought revealed on Monday from an unnamed team should at least start spinning the gears in one’s mind a little bit.
The Bills have to be hoping for at least one, if not two, quarterbacks to be selected within the top eight. But if doomsday becomes a reality, perhaps there will be a fourth offensive tackle selected in the top 10.