With the 2016 NFL Draft five days away, teams will be looking to finalize their draft plans soon and don’t be surprised if there are several more trades, prior to the Los Angeles Rams deciding which quarterback to take with the No. 1 overall selection on Thursday. The Buffalo Bills are one team, specifically, looking to move out of their current draft spot, according to the Buffalo News.
Buffalo, coming off a disappointing 8-8 season in season one under coach Rex Ryan, hold the No. 19 pick in the first round and would benefit from adding additional draft picks in this year’s draft as they have several holes to fill. This could be why Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley told Mike Rodak of ESPN that trading down is a much more intriguing option than trading up.
Bills GM Doug Whaley says trading down would be "more intriguing" than trading up. https://t.co/gF8edDxoek— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) April 20, 2016
While teams talk about trading draft slots with each other often, trades really don’t materialize that much. However, Buffalo is in the ideal position, according to ESPN analyst Mark Dominik.
“When you’re picking in that 17 to 20 range, that’s a hot spot for teams to trade up. When you set your draft board, there aren’t exactly, in the case of this year, 31 first-round picks on everybody’s board. Generally, there are 20-25 first-round graded players. And the reason there’s so much action there is because some of these teams are down to the last guys (on their board) they feel are a first-round talent, and they want to make sure they get one of them.”
Buffalo, which owns eight draft picks in 2016, struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball last year. The Bills ranked 15th in points against (22.5), 19th in total defense (356.4), 16th in rushing yards surrendered (108.1) and 19th in passing yards allowed (248.3). They were also 31st in the league in sacks, registering just 21. However, the Bills were tied for sixth with 17 interceptions and 12th with 25 takeaways overall.
Buffalo had very little cap space heading into free agency and really hasn’t done much besides re-signing T Cordy Glenn, G Richie Incognito, T Jordan Mills, DT Corbin Bryant, as well as WR Leonard Hankerson. The Bills biggest signings from other teams are LB Zach Brown (Tennessee) and S Robert Blanton (Minnesota), per Bill Polian of ESPN.
According to CBS Sports, the Bills three biggest needs are at defensive end, linebacker, and safety. The Bills lost several players on the defensive side of the ball, including DE Mario Williams, LB Nigel Bradham, and CB Ron Brooks.
With their needs in mind, the Bills have reportedly targeted several players to select with the No. 19 overall pick including DE Shaq Lawson (Clemson), DT A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama), DL Robert Nkemdiche (Mississippi), DT Sheldon Rankins (Louisville), DT Chris Jones (Mississippi State), DT Jarran Reed (Alabama), LB Reggie Ragland (Alabama), LB Darron Lee (Ohio State), DE Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky), CB Eli Apple (Ohio State), and S Karl Joseph (West Virginia). The Associated Press reported that Bills officials traveled to Alabama on Friday to meet with Reed.
ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Bills selecting Lawson in the first round and then going with Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas and Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins in round two and three in their mock drafts, respectively.
Buffalo could also add depth at quarterback and on the offensive line in the draft. If the Bills select a quarterback it will likely be on Saturday as they have five picks between rounds four and six.
Tyrod Taylor and E.J.Manuel are currently the only quarterbacks on the roster. Taylor, who is slated to be the starter again this upcoming season, is entering his final year of his contract. The 26-year-old is coming off an outstanding 2015 campaign, throwing for 3,035 yards along with 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. It is possible that Manuel will be released prior to training camp opening.
If the Bills wait to pick a quarterback in day three of the draft, they should still get a quality player as the position is very deep. Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Brandon Allen of Arkansas, Nate Sudford of Indiana, Cody Kessler of USC, Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State, Cardale Jones of Ohio State, Vernon Adams of Oregon, and Jake Rudock of Michigan are among the top quarterbacks expected to be available late in the draft.
Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News believes Hogan may be the best option for the Bills.
“If it’s the mind they covet — rather than Cardale Jones’ boomerang arm, Dak Prescott’s dual-threat intrigue or Christian Hackenberg’s prototypical size, arm — then Hogan is the choice. General Manager Doug Whaley has called him the most pro ready in the draft. A meeting with Hogan is different than any other.”
Hogan had a solid senior campaign though he really didn’t throw the ball that much. The six-foot, three-inch, 218-pounder completed 206-of-304 pass attempts for 2,867 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Hogan ranked second in FBS with 9.43 yards per pass attempt and was fifth nationally in completion percentage (67.8).
[Photo by Ben Margot/Associated Press]