The Buffalo Bills held their ?th annual draft luncheon this afternoon, which lately has been one of my favorite Bills media events, especially since Buddy Nix started hosting them. For the unfamiliar, the GM and his lieutenants (Dough Whaley, Tom Gibbons, Chuck Cook, and Doug Majwiojljizojdowvwski) go to the podium and return volleys from the local media for 45 minutes or so. All NFL teams are very coy this time of year and the Bills are no exception, but Nix’s propensity to be honest combined with length of time they are talking means a tasty nugget or two is bound to slip. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting bits.
-There were at least two instances by my count where Nix started a statement before correcting him self mid sentence. The first was when he referenced the notion that people thought they would lose 13 games to get Matt Barkley, but now you can “probably- I mean you might” be able to get him later. To me this betrays the fact that Buffalo thinks there’s a strong chance Barkley will be available at pick 8. The other instance was when a reporter mentioned TE as a need, before Buddy interjected “There is-there possibly is- a need.” I’ve been beating the TE drum this entire offseason, and the Bills’ courtship of TE Fred Davis means I’ll be shocked if Buffalo doesn’t come away with a tight end from this year’s deep class. My guess is Gavin Escobar, but they’re all in play.
-Aaron Williams is moving to safety, which was one of the first personnel decisions to come from Pettine and the defensive coaching staff. Everyone seems to like this news, mostly because it means Williams won’t be playing corner much any more. But I think it’s a great opportunity for the (hopefully) former whipping boy of the defense. Mike Mayock, among others, had Williams rated as his number one safety in 2011, and Williams biggest problems at CB were related to pivoting, turning and running, and looking back for the ball. All of those things are much much easier to do at safety with the play usually in front of you. Williams is still a big, talented guy; the Bills needed safety depth, and it’s better than just cutting him next year. Good move.
-Buddy mentioned that Levitre’s departure doesn’t have anything to do with how they approach the draft and that if they draft Chance Warmack, it’ll be because they really like Chance Warmack. I have a hard time believing that a front office that’s turned waiver wire journeyman like Kraig Urbik and Chad Rhinehart into NFL starters is going to use the number 8 pick on a guard.
-Back to QB for a minute. My belief through this process has been that the specific flavor of West Coast Offense Doug Marrone is going to run will require a QB with quick decision making and superior anticipation, which describes two slangers’ more than the rest: Ryan Nassib and Matt Barkley. They are the only two that ran the West Coast Offense in college, and would be the most ready to command the offense early. Geno Smith on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily lack these skills, it’s just that Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid offense didn’t require the same type of anticipation throws that someone like Marrone’s did, thus the scouts got less opportunity to see them. Not that Buffalo will have the option, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise to this humble blogger if the Bills pass on Geno Smith if Barkley and Nassib are available (which they likely will be).
-Nix mentioned that the deepest positions/best positions to get a mid round player were safety, wide receiver, and tight end, which happen to conveniently align with the Bills needs list. In rounds 2-4, I’d be surprised if we don’t select a player from at least 2 of those position groups.
-Tayvon Austin was brought up, who is probably the most unique player in the entire draft. Nix re affirmed that the Bills are looking for a “open when he’s not” outside receiver, neither of which describe Austin particularly well (Nix said there are 3 or 4 of those). HOWEVAH, putting Austin in the same categories as traditional receivers is a disservice to the exceptional talent the West Virginia phenom possesses. Austin is a ridiculously talented athlete who would be better described as “playmaker”- one of a handful of prospects where the term is not a cliche. If the Bills aren’t thrilled with a QB at 8, taking Austin and letting Hackett dream up ways to utilize Austin with the line-up-anywhere-break-the-game-open guy already on the roster, CJ Spiller, is tantalizing.
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