BBD Editor: Dan Hope
I’m never quite sure whether I should consider myself a member of #DraftTwitter—I’ve probably been branded in whether I like it or not—but I do enjoy participating in the online community mock drafts I get invited to participate in each year. I participated in three—#MockOne, #3For3Draft and #StatsMock— that each finished up or at least came close to it as Thursday’s draft approached.
In MockOne, I worked alongside two assistant GMs, Geoffrey Wightman and Pat Waters, to make the Buffalo Bills’ selections for all seven rounds. As the name suggests, the “3 For 3″ draft series was a Pro Football Focus initiative in which 32 NFL writers participated in a series of three three-round mock drafts over the course of three months—I served as the Bills’ GM for each of those mocks. The “Stats Mock” was a more informal mock draft, set up by Bleacher Report’s Josh Cornwall, in which a group of five NFL writers alternated selections—I did not make any of the Bills’ three picks in that three-round mock.
Let’s take a quick look at how the Bills fared in those three mocks and whether their selections were realistic. I like most of the picks since I called the shots for most of them, so feel free to let me know how you feel as well.
Trade: The Buffalo Bills traded the No. 9 overall pick to the Chicago Bears for the14th and 82nd overall selections and a 2015 fourth-round pick.
Round 1, Pick 14: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Round 2, Pick 41: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Round 3, Pick 73: Jack Mewhort, OT/G, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 82: Trai Turner, G, LSU
Round 4, Pick 109: Keith McGill, CB/S, Utah
Round 5, Pick 149: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
Round 7, Pick 224: Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
Our team strongly considered selecting Eric Ebron at No. 9 overall, so we—or at least I, as my assistant GMs didn’t like Ebron as much as I do—were excited to be able to trade down and still add a big, mismatch-creating pass-catching target to our offense. In doing so, we were able to bolster our defensive line with a valuable second-round selection of Kony Ealy, then fill needs on our offensive line by selecting Jack Mewhort and Trai Turner in Round 3.
I feel confident that in this scenario, the Bills would get great value with all of their selections. I would be surprised if Nevin Lawson was still on the board in Round 7, but the rest of these landing spots are all realistic, though all of these players have potential to be picked higher than they were in Mock One.
The Bills would fill their biggest needs in this scenario by adding size and athleticism to their receiving corps, rounding out their defensive end rotation and addressing holes on their offensive line. Mewhort is best suited to play left guard while Turner is best fit at right guard, so that might not be the ideal combination of picks to improve up front, but Mewhort has enough versatility to fit in at right tackle while Turner could compete for the left guard job.
Two cornerbacks might seem to be a bit of overkill at a position that isn’t necessarily in need, but McGill has exceptional size and the versatility to play safety, while Lawson was selected purely on value. The Bills might like to add a running back, backup quarterback or even a punter among their selections, but I think this is a scenario that would leave Buffalo with talent and value throughout its draft and make the team significantly better going into 2014.
“3 For 3″ Draft 3
Round 1, Pick 9: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Round 2, Pick 41: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Round 3, Pick 73: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Call me boring, but I made the exact same selections in the third “3 For 3″ mock that I did in its second iteration. Matthews, my pick in all three installments of the mock draft series, is an ideal selection who would be too good to pass up as an immediate upgrade at right tackle. In Round 2, Seferian-Jenkins would be a great fit as a big pass-catcher who could be a more dynamic receiving threat but also an excellent blocker over the middle. I’ll be more surprised if Borland is still available in the third round of the real draft, but he is a great football player, despite his lack of height and length, who could provide immediate depth at linebacker and potentially take over as the starting middle linebacker in 2015.
Since I made all of these picks previously in “3 For 3″ mock two, you can check out my full analysis of that mock for more on these projections.
Round 1, Pick 9: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Round 2, Pick 41: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Round 3, Pick 73: Dakota Dozier, OL, Furman
Though I didn’t make any of these projections personally, I think this would also be a strong three-round start to the Bills’ draft. Evans is another ideal potential selection at the No. 9 overall pick; he’s unlikely to still be on the board, but is an exceptional vertical target who could give Buffalo’s receiving corps the size it lacks.
Pryor’s game is a bit rough around the edges, but he is a ballhawk and hard hitter who could immediately compete for playing time and contribute at either safety spot.
With Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, North Dakota State’s Billy Turner and Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort all still on the board, Dozier wouldn’t have been my selection in Round 3. That said, the small-school standout would be able to immediately compete for playing time at left guard.
With three different mock drafts each netting none of the same results for the Bills, it’s clear how unpredictable this year’s draft is, and how many different routes Buffalo could go in. The common thread between these projections, however, is not only that all of them expect the Bills to prioritize drafting a pass-catcher and at least one offensive lineman early, but also that it’s easy how each of these groups would make Buffalo immediately better.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, 3 For 3, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Pryor, Chris Borland, Community Mocks, Dakota Dozier, Eric Ebron, Jack Matthews, Jack Mewhort, Keith McGill, Kony Ealy, Mike Evans, Mock Drafts, MockOne, Nevin Lawson, Trai Turner, Twitter, Yawin Smallwood