Spotlight on: Buffalo Bills
2013 draft picks: 8, 41, 71, 105, 143, 177
Primary needs: WR, OG, LB
General manager: Buddy Nix
Five draft picks that clicked:
--FS Jairus Byrd, 42nd overall, 2009
--OG Andy Levitre, 51st overall, 2009
--WR Stevie Johnson, 224th overall, 2008
--RB Marshawn Lynch, 12th overall, 2007
--LB Paul Posluszny, 34th overall, 2007
Depending on your opinion of Kevin Kolb, the Bills have either answered their pressing need for a starting quarterback or the position remains the greatest area of concern entering the draft.
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The Bills signed the oft-injured Kolb following his release by the Arizona Cardinals, presumably to compete for the starting job with Tarvaris Jackson. That certainly doesn't put Buffalo out of the quarterback conversation when it comes to the draft.
The team has already held private workouts with West Virginia's Geno Smith, Florida State's EJ Manuel and Oklahoma's Landry Jones. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley is expected to be evaluated closely, and Ryan Nassib, who played for new Bills head coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse, reportedly will work out for Buffalo on Sunday.
Unless the Bills trade out of their No. 8 overall spot, they appear more likely to target a quarterback in the second or third round. They have significant holes on both sides of the ball that would be better addressed with a top-10 pick rather than forcing the issue trying to hit a home run on a franchise quarterback in a fairly weak draft class at the position.
On Tuesday, Marrone attempted to clarify remarks at the owners meetings last month that he didn't necessarily see the need to draft a "franchise" quarterback.
"I did not mean to dance around those situations. I think what we are looking for, not just only with the quarterback position, but with every position, is someone that we can win with," Marrone said. "Whether it be the cornerback, whether it be a receiver or whatever position it may be. I think that is what we are looking for out of that position—someone that we can win games with.
"We are looking to obviously up the competition at that position. Obviously (Tarvaris) Jackson is with us now. Aaron Corp is with us now. There are a lot of possibilities with free agency. There are a lot of possibilities with the draft. Whoever comes in, what we are looking for is competition at that position and then at the end of the day be able to make a decision at who gives us the best chance to win now."
With a lack of complementary wide receivers to Stevie Johnson and losing guard Andy Levitre in free agency, Buffalo would be wise to provide better protections and downfield weapons for whoever ends up taking the snaps in Week 1.
Marrone used the term "multiple" to describe the scheme that he intends to run on both sides of the ball. He wants versatility, and he wants athleticism The Bills have several players whose roles are uncertain at this point, so almost any position is fair game.
"Whatever is best suited for what we have now is what we'll do," said Marrone. "And that's in any phase, whether it be offense, defense or special teams. For us, we're just looking forward to working with the players."
Five players who should be on the Buffalo Bills' draft radar:
Player, school (overall rating, position rating)
OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU (1, 12)
The Bills ran a 3-4 scheme two years ago and a 4-3 last season. They're moving back to a 3-4 base but need rangy, versatile athletes.
Marrone believes great players -- he mentioned Bills DE/OLB Mario Williams -- "can do whatever is asked of them." Mingo is hardly a great player at this point, but he is a tremendous raw athlete who has demonstrated great speed off the edge and the instincts to disrupt passing lanes.
Mingo is unpolished, but he is versatile and has top-end athleticism that a first-year coach like Marrone has a bit of time to develop opposite Williams.
WR Robert Woods, Southern Cal (5, 36)
Quick, name the Bills' current No. 2 wideout opposite Johnson. Wide receiver David Nelson wasn't tendered as a restricted free agent, and Donald Jones signed with New England. TE Scott Chandler finished second on the team with 43 receptions last season, and he's coming off a major knee injury.
The second-leading returning wideout is T.J. Graham, who displayed top-end speed -- and questionable route-running and hands -- as a rookie. Buffalo must find a starting caliber wideout in the first two days of the draft, and Woods enters the NFL with that resume.
Woods caught 112 passes as a true sophomore and is a hands-catcher with good route-running skills to complement Johnson on the outside.
TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (4, 80)
Did we mention Chandler is coming off a major knee injury and isn't likely to be ready for the start of the season? The Bills showed interest in Fred Davis, who re-signed with Washington. Escobar is an intriguing raw athlete who could be off the board by the time the 71st pick comes around. If not, he'd provide another explosive threat for the passing game.
OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (6, 130)
Bailey has experience on the left and right sides of the offensive line, making him a versatile backup who enters the NFL as an underclassman with significant upside. With Levitre gone, the Bills would be wise to develop a long-term starter internally.
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut (14, 101)
Marrone is familiar with Wreh-Wilson from the Big East. NFLDraftScout.com has Wreh-Wilson as a fringe top-100 prospect. Should he fall, the former Huskies star could add much-needed competition to the Bills' two-deep. There are question marks about Wreh-Wilson's ability to play man coverage, but his size (6-foot-1) and speed (4.45 40) make for an intriguing combination come the fifth round.