BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis
The 2014 NFL Draft is less than a year away and the Bills are now less than 100 days from their 2013 season opener against the New England Patriots.
While it’s not possible to know where the Bills will be picking next May, there is talent throughout the first round that would fit be a good fit for Buffalo.
Let’s take a look at six possible first-round selections for the Bills, broken up by ranges where the Bills could end up drafting in 2014.
1-5: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney is a once-in-a-generation talent with an elite blend of size and speed. At 6’6” and 270 pounds, Clowney ran a 4.50 40-yard dash time during winter workouts, according to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.
His pass-rushing skills are very solid and he’ll continue to refine those skills as he matures. Despite seeing constant double teams throughout the 2012 season, he still notched 13 sacks which was second-most in the Southeastern Conference.
His run defense abilities are not as refined as his pass-rushing, but he is able to use his length and superior athleticism to defend the run. He will need to refine his run defense more as his athleticism will not be enough to consistently beat the stronger and faster athletes of the NFL.
Clowney played end in South Carolina’s 4-3 scheme, but his athleticism allows him to be moved around the defense. Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine greatly values versatile athletes because he likes to put players in different roles and different looks.
Clowney would likely play at outside linebacker most downs in the Bills’ 3-4 alignment, then put his hand down at the end of the line to rush on passing downs.
6-10: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
There are three offensive tackles who will likely be top-10 picks in 2014: Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. All three may even be top-5 picks, but it’s very likely at least one of them slips in the out of the top-5 in the draft.
The most likely of those to slip would be Lewan. He is a mountainous left tackle, listed at 6’8” and 308 pounds by Michigan’s official website, and he’d be an ideal blindside protector for EJ Manuel.
Lewan wasn’t an ideal fit in Michigan’s run-first spread offense with Denard Robinson under center. When Devin Gardner took over at quarterback and Michigan played a more pro-style offense, Lewan flourished.
He even held top prospect Jadeveon Clowney without a sack in the 2013 Outback Bowl despite suffering leg cramps.
Lewan uses his good footwork, size and technique to effectively stop pass rushers. He plays with a good base and can stand up to power rushers in college football. He’ll need to get stronger to fully stand up to NFL rushers.
Cordy Glenn played well at left tackle for the Bills in 2012, but the right tackle position needs to be addressed. Drafting Lewan would allow Glenn to slide over to the right side, which would be a better fit for his skill set and give Buffalo arguably two of the best young offensive tackles in football.
Lewan vs. Clowney from the 2013 Outback Bowl