The first phase of the 2014 NFL Draft is over and the Buffalo Bills have Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins in their hip pocket after the first round. They moved up five spots in order to draft what many considered to be the top playmaker on offense available, but maintained their second round pick in the process.
With the “win now” mentality on the forefront of their minds for 2014, the Bills will likely have a chance to get an impact player with their second pick in the draft that could have a chance to start immediately for the team.
Just like every round (except for the sixth due to the Mike Williams trade), Buffalo owns the ninth pick. Going into Friday night the Bills could address one of likely four positions with their upcoming selection. What are the positions and who might those names be?
Here are nine names to consider, in no particular order:
Tight End (2)
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
- The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Niklas is one of the tight ends that made a visit to One Bills Drive. From his body type he draws many comparisons to Rob Gronkowski, but those comparisons need to be halted as premature. He is not a complete player at this point, but one with a good amount of potential if developed the correct way. A converted outside linebacker in his time at Notre Dame, Niklas only had one season of starting experience. He’s raw, and might not be able to contribute right away. However, his potential could draw a team like the Bills to investing a pick in him.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
- Listed at 6-foot-5 and 262-pounds, Seferian-Jenkins is another tight end that had a pre-draft visit with the Bills and is someone the team called a “complete tight end” during the pre-draft luncheon. He’s a big-bodied pass catcher that isn’t an elite athlete, but has outstanding hands and concentration along the sidelines. The lingering concern in his game is the lack of yards after the catch. Among the top tight ends, he had one of the lowest averages in yards after the catch in the 2013 season. Despite that concern, he’s a steady, security blanket type of target.
Offensive Tackle (2)
Joel Bitonio, Nevada
A borderline first-round talent thought by many, the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Bitonio was often thought of as a guard early on in the pre-draft process. Once he performed at the Senior Bowl and people started to watch him a bit more, teams became more comfortable with the idea of having Bitonio play at right tackle as well. He has long enough arms to play that spot on the line, and possesses a nasty demeanor on the field. His lack of a defined position might be a turn-off to some, but the Bills said at the pre-draft luncheon they believe he’s a tackle in the NFL.
Morgan Moses, Virginia
One of the biggest offensive tackles available in the draft, Moses fits the “we need to get bigger” line of thinking from head coach Doug Marrone to its very core. At 6-foot-6 and 314-pounds, Moses has some of the longest arms in the draft which have led some to believe he could play left tackle in the NFL. His best fit as it stands now is at right tackle, which is just what the Bills are looking for.
Defensive End (3)
Scott Crichton, Oregon State
- The only defensive end the Bills had in for a pre-draft visit in 2014, the 6-foot-3, 273-pound Crichton is a schematic fit for Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense. He displays terrific effort throughout his time on the field and has shown flashes as a pass rusher. He needs to work on becoming more consistent and develop more moves, but his speed-to-power move is one that can be effective for the Bills in the short-term. He could be well-suited for an early, situational pass rusher role as the third man in.
Kony Ealy, Missouri
- To many, Ealy is considered to be a ‘tweener which is likely why he has yet to be drafted. The 6-foot-4, 273-pound college defensive end hasn’t established himself as a pass rusher just yet, but that doesn’t ruin his value. A team like the Bills could look at him as a versatile style of defender that can be used all over the line depending on the situation. He could come in as an additional pass rusher on obvious passing situations and still be depended on in the run game. He’ll never take over a game, but he can be an immediate contributor in many different ways.
Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
- If the Bills are looking for someone that gives them a potential explosive pass rusher to be their third man, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Lawrence could be that player. About the same size as Jerry Hughes, Lawrence provides an explosive attack off the edge but doesn’t have a well-rounded game to this point in time. The prevailing thought is he has room to get stronger and that might be a necessary component for him in the NFL. Lawrence is versatile and explosive, which could take him off the board quickly in the second round.
Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
A college teammate of the Bills’ first-round pick, Breeland has ample enough size for it to not be a problem at the next level. Unlike Stanley Jean-Baptiste, the 5-foot-11, 197-pound cornerback by many accounts has the hips that teams are looking for in their cornerbacks. His speed, specifically in the 40-yard dash (4.62) is not ideal and that has caused him to tumble a bit. While he might not be ready to be a starter right now in the NFL, he could develop into a long-term starter with the right coaching placed ahead of him. He made a pre-draft visit to Buffalo in April.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
- A definitive projection pick, Jean-Baptiste is getting plenty of buzz around the draft community for his size (6-foot-3, 218-pounds) and how the new style of NFL cornerback fits his mold. He started off his college career as a wide receiver and then was transitioned over to the defensive side, specifically at cornerback. The knock on him, and most of the bigger cornerbacks, is whether or not he has fluid enough hips to turn and run with the faster receivers. There’s no doubting that the size is the NFL’s current cup of tea, however.
Other names to consider:
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
CB Phillip Gaines, Rice