BBD Editor: Dan Hope
As the name would suggest, Pro Football Focus’ “3 For 3” mock draft series is to consist of three projections, each three rounds, of the 2014 NFL draft. In a more accurate and realistic simulation than one person writing a mock draft on his own, the selections are made by 32 football writers, one representing each team, who select each of their respective team’s picks in the first three rounds.
I have the privilege of selecting for the Bills in each of the three mocks, the first of which was held over the past week following this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Personally, I came away thrilled with all three of my selections for Buffalo, as I feel as though I got terrific value on all of them, but I’ll have to let you the reader be the judge.
Round 1, Pick 9: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Realistically, landing Jake Matthews at No. 9 overall would be the best-case scenario for the Bills. While I would have also given strong consideration to another Aggie from College Station, that being wide receiver Mike Evans, Matthews’ value was simply too good to pass up here.
The draft’s most well-rounded offensive tackle—perhaps its most well-rounded player overall—Matthews can be an immediate fixture on the Bills offensive line at right tackle, where he played his first three seasons at Texas A&M. He can be a massive upgrade over Erik Pears, especially in pass protection. The addition of Matthews would enable the Bills to more adequately keep pressure away from young quarterback EJ Manuel, and give Buffalo, along with left tackle Cordy Glenn, one of the league’s best pair of young bookend tackles.
Round 2, Pick 41: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Yet again, I feel as though the Bills truly landed the best-case of any realistic scenario by having Kyle Van Noy fall into their laps at the No. 41 overall pick. A top-10 talent on my board, I believe Van Noy deserves legitimate consideration at No. 9 overall if Matthews is off the board, but should have Buffalo running to the podium if he’s available at its second-round slot.
The Bills need another impact player at linebacker, and that’s exactly what they can get out of Van Noy. He can also provide exceptional versatility, as he can play any linebacker spot in the Bills’ expected 4-3 defense while he could possibly also kick down and pass-rush situationally from defensive end. Bringing in Van Noy could give the Bills another three-down impact player at linebacker, as he excels at making plays in space and in coverage, and make one of the league’s most talented defensive front sevens even stronger.
Round 3, Pick 73: David Yankey, G, Stanford
It’s unlikely David Yankey would have fallen this far prior to his poor performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. While his stock took a legitimate hit in Indianapolis, he remains one of the top guard prospects in this year’s class, and has the experience and polish needed to be an immediate upgrade for the Bills at left guard.
Yankey came with great value as a third-round pick and the 14th offensive lineman off the board, while he also addresses arguably the team’s biggest need at left guard, where he can add more power, technical prowess and overall blocking ability than Doug Legursky, the team’s current starter at the position.
By adding both Yankey and Matthews, the Bills could solidify their offensive line by addressing both of their positions of weakness, which can greatly improve their ability to pass protect for EJ Manuel and open up running lanes for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Projecting Ahead to Day 3
While these mock drafts are only going three rounds in the interest of completing them efficiently, that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to know how the Bills could continue this draft, or me from thinking about what I would need to do next.
Considering many believe Buffalo should use its first- or second-round pick on adding a big receiving target at wide receiver or tight end, that would certainly be a priority going into Day 3. While the top talent is off the board, some bigger wide receivers I would keep an eye on would include Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman, Pittsburgh’s Devin Street, BYU’s Cody Hoffman, while tight end possibilities could include Georgia’s Arthur Lynch, Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen and Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Another area on which the Bills are likely to use a Day 3 pick is at safety, as they will look to stockpile options to compete for playing time following Jairus Byrd’s likely departure. A few possibilities could include USC’s Dion Bailey, Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri and North Carolina State’s Dontae Johnson.
Some other players on my Day 3 radar would include:
David Fales, QB, San Jose State - The Bills should be all-in on EJ Manuel going into his second season at quarterback, but they would be smart to add a young backup to the mix. Should San Jose State’s David Fales still be available in the fifth round, he would be a smart choice in this scenario (other available quarterbacks who could be looked at could include Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd).
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington - I would have had to strongly consider him if available at Buffalo’s fourth-round draft pick. One of the two best all-around running backs in this year’s draft class, he might not address an immediate need, but could be groomed as a young talent in a backfield with an uncertain future.
Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida - Lynch’s production has not matched his hype or potential in two collegiate seasons with two different programs, but the potential would make him well worth a look for a team that might look to add some length at defensive end. Another intriguing defensive end option could be small-school standout Ethan Westbrooks of West Texas A&M.
For a full recap of Round 1 of the first “3 for 3 Draft,” visit Pro Football Focus (Round 2, 3 recaps to be posted at PFF on Wednesday, Thursday).
For a full look at all the draft’s selections, visit the draft spreadsheet.