By Glenn Gifford
Being a Bills fan is torture at times. I cannot believe how much I wanted Fred Davis to be a Bill. News has just flashed from multiple media outlets that Fred Davis will remain a Redskin for the 2013 season. I get it Fred, you live there, you have an up and coming quarterback in RG3 and you signed a 1 year deal. This one year deal will allow you to prove to the NFL that you have recovered from your Achilles injury and in a year’s time you can hit the Free Agency market again for a chance at a big pay day. All signs were pointing to a Redskins return for Davis. I feel like the Bills were once again “Tyson Clabo’d”.
Waking up from my Davis hangover I think we need to be a little realistic. An Achilles injury is a major injury that is difficult to rehab from. Davis has some personal issues that may worry some GM’s around the league. It was not like he was visiting several teams. The best case scenario is that he would return to his quality tight end status and keep his nose clean. Worst case scenario, he re-injures his Achilles, gets picked up for smoking pot and cannot contribute. Bills fans were pinning our hopes on the former. We also were willing to pay a bit more money for a two year deal. I think we are saddened that players just don’t want to come to Buffalo unless we ridiculously overpay our free agents. Is this statement true? I’m starting to think it is! With all of this Fred Davis business behind us we wake up this morning with a Tight End hangover. Yes Bills fans, with only six draft picks we need to fill another hole in the draft, the tight end. Again we only have six picks and are well aware that we already need a QB, WR, LB, OG, and SS. I will examine the Tight End prospects available this year from the 3rd to 6th rounds. I am now sure that Buffalo will draft a TE. But who could it be? Let’s have a look.
Personally, if Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert were available at pick #41 I would run to the podium (as Buddy usually does with our picks). He is a great receiver and a very good blocker. He is the type of player that Buddy described earlier this year as a guy you can throw to who can go up and get a ball. Eifert is a type of receiver who is open even when he is not open. Eifert represents the new breed of Tight end in the NFL. Passing up on him if he were available would be a mistake in my opinion. Somehow in my head I don’t see him falling. Even worse, if available, I see the Bills not taking him because of other more pressing needs. A similar argument can be made for Zach Ertz as well. The Stanford Tight End has similar qualities and he and Eifert are seen as the 1 and 1A entries of this year’s Tight End class. Again, I see Buffalo passing on both of these guys for the simple reason they have other, more complex needs. So who will be there from the 3rd to 6th round?
Mid-Round Tight End Gems
Vance McDonald – Rice
McDonald’s stock is on the rise. He had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and his Pro day did not hurt his chances either. He is 6”4” and weighs 267 pounds. That is one big boy. He is also “lights out” when it comes to blocking. I think he would be ideal in a Marrone offense. What about his hands you ask? Well they are just the thing that made scouts notice this kid at the Senior Bowl. He caught everything that was thrown at him. So with Vance McDonald you get a big blocking Tight end with good hands and decent 4.6 speed. While I do not claim to have inside information, my limited sources have told me that the Bills like this kid as well. The sad part of all of this is that some draft experts have given McDonald a late 2nd round Grade. If true, Vance could be gone by the time we draft in the 3rd. If he is still available in the 3rd, get the card in!
Travis Kelce – Cincinnati
I’m pretty sure that pre Senior Bowl hype was the expected performance of Cincinnati TE Travis Kelce. Only problem, Kelce was injured with a sports hernia and did not participate in the Senior Bowl. It was Kelce’s injury that prompted the McDonald rise up the draft boards. It does go to show us that the Senior Bowl can sometimes do wonders for a players draft stock. For Kelce it did not. His measurable are all in the same area as McDonald. He is 6’5” 255 and runs a 4.58 40. He had 45 catches for 722 yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s a warrior in the trenches and is a decent receiving Tight end. He is another candidate who would fit well in a Marrone/Hackett Offense. He has a 3rd round grade on him but because he did not participate in the Senior Bowl or the Combine Kelce might slip until the 4th round. If he does, run to the podium. Don’t walk, run! This isn’t Derek Fine!
Jordan Reed – Florida
Reed is a junior who has decided to enter the 2013 draft. He had a good year for the Gators and is a converted Quarterback. He is 6’3” 235 and runs just under a 4.6 40. He had 45 catches this year for 559 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he may not be the type of blocker that McDonald and Kelce are, he displays a bit more athleticism. Comparisons have been made to Aaron Hernandez. Now, like you, I feel that is a bold statement, however he is a polished route runner and is a bit more fluid off the line. I think we will need to start to look at what Marrone and Hackett want from their tight ends. My guess is that they want a big bruising Tight End that will help the Power O. This may not be Jordan Reed, but he may have many other intangibles that coaches covet. He currently has a late 3rd to 4th round Grade.
Gavin Escobar – San Diego State
Escobar is another junior who has declared for the NFL draft this year. He is another tower of a man at 6’6”. He weighs 254 pounds and runs a 4.7 40. He led San Diego State in receptions this year catching 42 passes for 543 yards. He had 6 touchdown catches. Escobar is another prospect that has a load of potential. Yes, I am aware of the Bill Parcells quote about potential. “Potential means you aint done $h!! yet”! Well scouts have given Escobar’s unique blend of blocking, size and receiving ability a 3rd Round grade. Seems many in the NFL world are looking at Escobar as one who may break from potential to results in the NFL. Please feel free to have a look at some video tape on Escobar. He really does look like a player at the next level. Please last until the 4th Gavin.
Dion Sims – Michigan State
Sims bio reads like the Eastwood movie The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Here’s the good. Sims is 6’5” and ran a 4.68 40. He has a nice blend of size and speed. He is very athletic and has good hands. He is a workout warrior and recorded 26 reps on the bench of 225 pounds. As a sidebar, that is a lot of weight to be pushing up 26 times. He improved his bench as well as his 3 cone numbers between the Combine and his Pro day. This shows me he wants to improve and impress scouts. To put his bench press in perspective he benched 225 pounds about 2 times as much as any other Tight End listed above. It just shows that Sims is a powerful man and this could help in the trenches. The Bad, Sims has battled nagging injuries his entire career. The Ugly, Sims pleaded guilty in 2010 to receiving and concealing stolen property. This felony was later expunged, but it is a concern for several NFL teams in the area of character. Sims is a paradox. He is a gifted athlete who has excellent skills but also an individual that has injury and character concerns. He is a real feast or famine project with a 4-5th round Grade.
I’m going to stop it here folks. The reason I am not going to go into any detail on 6th round or UDFA Tight End gems is simply because I feel that Buffalo needs to draft a Tight End this year that can come in and start. That said; I feel Buffalo has really painted themselves into a corner this year in the area of Tight End, Quarterback, Wide Receiver and Linebacker. We need all 4 positions badly. We have yet to address any of these positions via Free Agency. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Guard, until just now. The players listed in this article I feel are the best Mid Round Tight End prospects that can come in and beat out Lee Smith and Mike Caussin for the starting Tight End position. If we take care of QB and WR in rounds 1 and 2, look for a guy like Vance McDonald, Travis Kelce or Gavin Escobar to become a Bill. Hopefully one of these guys is available in the 4th round. Why the 4th round? Because we are still in need a linebacker as well. So many holes, so few picks! Here’s hoping Mr. Brandon is still attempting to leave no stone unturned. My suggestion: start turning stones Russ, start turning stones!