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Bills Need To Replenish Front Seven In Draft
Quarterback also on the to do list for the draft, but when?
by Steve Saslow
April 27, 2016

NFL DraftThe Bills have many holes to fill in this year's draft and as of now they have eight picks to start filling them. They were very quiet in free agency because of a very tough salary cap situation. Doug Whaley reasoned that they were active since they were able to hold on to Richie Incognito, Cordy Glenn, and Stephon Gilmore. They didn't bring in anybody of consequence with the possible exception of Zach Brown and Robert Blanton who add depth at the inside linebacker and safety spots respectively.

That still leaves a hole at inside linebacker thanks to the loss of Nigel Bradham in free agency. They also have a big hole along the defensive line in the new 3-4 scheme with Kyle Williams coming back from major knee surgery and getting up there in years. Depth is still needed at the safety spot despite the signing of Blanton. They need another talented receiver to lineup in the slot or opposite Sammy Watkins especially with just two receivers under contract following the coming season. Then of course Doug Whaley almost guaranteeing they will draft a quarterback since they only have two under contract right now and it is the last year of their deals.

The Bills have the 19th pick overall and the depth has been depleted on defense to the point where taking a guy in the front seven is almost a must with this pick. Lucky for them this draft has a lot of talent in those areas, so much that they may look to trade down and add more picks to fill more holes. If they stay put they will look for versatility among defensive linemen who can play the three technique, the five technique, or the nose this could allow them the opportunity to move Marcel Dareus around the line and take advantage of his incredible talent. The draft doesn't have too many pass rushers so if Shaq Lawson falls down to their spot they should pounce quickly. He would be a great 3-4 pass rusher and comes from Rex Ryan's favorite school as well. If he's gone they can take a defensive tackle like Alabama's Jarran Reed or Louisville's Sheldon Rankins. One intriguing and polarizing prospect is Mississippi's Robert Nkemdiche who has top five talent but has had big off the field issues. Rex Ryan loves reclamation projects so he would be tempted to take him. He has admitted to being lazy in the past but if he plays hard he fits this defense very well. If they decide to fill the hole at inside linebacker Alabama's Reggie Ragland is a possibility but he lacks some versatility that they covet. Ohio State's Darron Lee is also an intriguing prospect at linebacker.

So they have many options with the top pick but there is one thing we think they have to do and that is to take the best front seven player available and not take a quarterback there. They are built to win now and there is incredible pressure on Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley to get the team to the playoffs this year. That means they have to take a player that they can plug and play, a quarterback would basically be a redshirt player with the top pick and they can't have that. For the same reason I don't want to see them trading down because the lower they get the more chance on missing on a player that can have an immediate impact.

When they do get around to drafting a quarterback they should look for someone with upside that they can coach up to being ready to help out as early as 2017 if the Tyrod Taylor era ends because he either flames out or plays so well he prices the Bills out of the market. Christian Hackenberg is a name that has come up and with the Pegula's Penn State connection we can see them pulling the trigger in the 2nd round. That is if they feel the coaches can get the freshman Hackenberg and forget about the past two years. The other names being bantered around his Ohio State's Cardale Jones and Stanford's Kevin Hogan. They seem enamored with both prospects. Jones would likely have to be taken in the third round where they may be able to wait until the fourth round to get Hogan. If they miss out on these three guys than it may be another missed year of getting a quarterback that they have any realistic chance of developing.

The team will then look to fill out the draft with best available players with an eye on the other need positions. A young safety that can be a hybrid type player would fit Rex Ryan's scheme well. They can also look to find a diamond in the rough at tackle since the right tackle spot is in a precarious position. The draft is a crap shoot especially once you get to day three when very few prospects develop into impact players let's just hope the Bills are able to find a gem or too like they did when they plucked Karlos Williams out of the fifth round in last year's draft. If they can do that they may be able to replenish a very parse bench.


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