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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Kevin Kolb signing gives Bills flexibility

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

It seems odd to suggest that the Buffalo Bills have put themselves in a good position in the 2013 NFL Draft by virtue of signing Kevin Kolb, but it's true. They have.

Buffalo announced the signing on Monday morning, with GM Buddy Nix praising Kolb as a "strong candidate in the competition for the starting quarterback position."

“We wanted to add some veteran experience to the quarterback position on our roster and we think we've added a good one by signing Kevin," Nix said. "He's a player we had targeted since he became a free agent and he should be a strong candidate in the competition for the starting quarterback position.”

That would be high praise were it not for the rest of the competition: Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp.

The auspicious nature of Buffalo's depth chart leads me to draw the following Thank-You-Captain-Obvious conclusion: the Bills will draft a quarterback in the draft.

But I believe that because Buffalo signed Kolb, they're no longer locked into using the eighth pick of the draft on a quarterback. They still could; if Buffalo loves Geno Smith or loves Matt Barkley or wants to ensure they land Ryan Nassib of Syracuse (or even Mike Glennon of NC State), it's possible they use that pick on a quarterback.

However, they don't have to. Even if Geno falls to them at eight, Buffalo can roll the dice that one of the other three guys mentioned -- Barkley, Nassib, Glennon -- or another quarterback -- Tyler Wilson of Arkansas or E.J. Manuel of Florida State perhaps? -- falls to them in the second round at No. 41 overall.

The cost of taking a quarterback at No. 8 overall isn't just that quarterback possibly not working out. The opportunity cost of grabbing a QB there is missing out on a high-quality player at a different position of need.

With multiple teams needing quarterbacks of the future having already loaded up on semi-capable quarterbacks of the (only extremely near) future like Kolb, Carson Palmer and Matt Flynn, Buffalo can gamble on someone they like falling to 41st overall and trying to double up on their overall investment.

It's a risky maneuver, because if there's a huge run on quarterbacks, they could be SOL (seriously out of luck) when it comes to investing in their quarterback of the future.

That's a risk worth taking if you're Buffalo, however, especially given the way the economics of quarterbacking are unfolding this offseason.

Those economics worked out really well in the mock below, as I don't have a quarterback taken in the first round. I didn't mean to do that, honestly. It just kind of happened. And maybe it's not realistic; someone will trade up if Geno starts plummeting, or maybe the Jets could grab him at No. 10. But I don't think it's absolutely guaranteed that we see a quarterback taken in the first.

1. Kansas City Chiefs -- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan -- Fisher or Joeckel? Joeckel or Fisher? Fisher IS Joeckel??? Just kidding. Had to keep my streak of consecutive days with an unfunny Ace Ventura: Pet Detective streak alive.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon -- The best fit, for me, in Jacksonville is the most dynamic playmaker with the most upside. And I think Jordan is that guy.

3. Oakland Raiders -- Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida -- Disruptive presence in the middle of the defensive line and just imagine if the Raiders are as bad as we expect in 2013 and can create a defensive line combination of Floyd and OHMYGOD THAT'S JADEVEON CLOWNEY'S MUSIC.

4. Philadelphia Eagles -- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M -- Philly could go any direction, really. But I have a hard time imagining Chip Kelly seeing what happened to the Eagles in 2012 and not thinking that Joeckel, who many project as the top prospect in this draft, couldn't help them avoid some of the issues that plagued them last year.

5. Detroit Lions -- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU -- Despite having defensive end as a strength recently, the Lions are weak at the position after losing Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. A defensive line of Willie Young, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ansah is absolutely terrifying.

6. Cleveland Browns -- Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU -- Sure the Browns could go with a cornerback. And they need help at that position. And sure the Browns have invested in pass rushers. But you can't have enough, and Mingo's a potentially devastating chess piece for Ray Horton's unit.

7. Arizona Cardinals -- Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma -- Johnson gives the Cards upside at the tackle position, where they definitely need some and won't have to start day one at left tackle if Levi Brown can stay healthy and/or out of Bruce Arians' doghouse.

8. Buffalo Bills -- Jonathan Cooper, OG, UNC -- Plenty of people will put Smith here, but I'm going to have the Bills gambling on Nassib falling back to the second round (though I wouldn't be shocked if they grabbed him here either). They could go defense but losing Andy Levitre means they need to improve the guard position.

9. New York Jets -- Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia -- Firmly believe the Jets will end up going defense with this pick and it could, quite honestly, be any number of positions. Jones represents a strong pass-rushing option for Rex Ryan.

10. Tennessee Titans -- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah -- Having beefed up their offensive line by adding Andy Levitre during free agency, the Titans look to add talent on the other side of the ball by nabbing the highly talented tackle from Utah who fell some because of health concerns.

11. San Diego Chargers -- Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama -- The Bolts would probably prefer to land one of the top tackles in the draft, but they all came at a premium this year. That means the next best offensive-line building block for new GM Tom Telesco -- the meaty Warmack.

12. Miami Dolphins -- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama -- Jeff Ireland also would've liked one of the top tackles here, and I wouldn't rule out a trade up by the Dolphins in this draft, especially given how aggressive they've been this offseason. But having the top-rated cornerback in the draft drop their way is something they'll take in a heartbeat, especially after losing Sean Smith this offseason.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State -- With or without Darrelle Revis being added via trade, this pick makes sense for the Bucs. They desperately need corner help and this is a good draft to get it.

14. Carolina Panthers -- Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas -- The chic thing to do in mock drafts is to give the Panthers a defensive tackle. It's been that way for about three years now, actually. But DT is a position you can fill cheaply in free agency. And Carolina's secondary is a total mess too.

15. New Orleans Saints -- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri -- Perhaps an elite pass-rushing guy would make Saints fans more happy, but with the top options off the board, New Orleans looks to shore up their defensive line as they transition in scheme.

16. St. Louis Rams -- Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia -- If Austin lasts this long, the fit just makes too much sense not to happen. Sam Bradford needs weapons in the worst way and Austin is the most dangerous weapon in the draft.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State -- Undersized dynamic playmaker at linebacker? That sounds familiar. Bonus: Roger Goodell won't hate this guy! (Hopefully.)

18. Dallas Cowboys -- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama -- There are rumblings about the Cowboys and whether they'll hold onto Doug Free going into 2013. Whether or not they end up losing him, Fluker would be an upgrade, particularly with his ability to help provide rushing lanes for DeMarco Murray.

19. New York Giants -- Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU -- Like I said the last time I mocked this pick, the Giants quietly need to re-stock their pass rushers. Osi Umenyiora is gone and Justin Tuck is heading into a contract year. They'll need someone to pair alongside Jason Pierre-Paul going forward. Werner was once considered a top-five pick, so this is nice value.

20. Chicago Bears -- Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia -- Just because the Bears signed linebackers in free agency doesn't mean they're totally set at the position. Picking up the talented (but troubled) Ogletree gives them some depth at the position.

21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama -- I liked it so much last time I did that I'm running it back -- the Bengals get the first (and only) running back off the board in the first round. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a nice runner, but he's not dynamic and Cincy needs someone who can do more on the ground in their offense. Lacy is that guy.

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) -- Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU -- Cyprien's stock is on the rise, and he makes sense for the Rams as the next piece to a secondary that's quietly becoming one of the best in the NFL.

23. Minnesota Vikings -- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee -- The Vikings grabbed Greg Jennings in free agency but still need to add more playmakers. Patterson's capable of doing big things from different points around the field and could learn a thing or two about route running from Jennings.

24. Indianapolis Colts -- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington -- Dream scenario for Indianapolis here? They beefed up the secondary in free agency, but that doesn't guarantee everything will work out. Adding Trufant gives them some quality youth and upside at the position.

25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) -- Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame -- People might hate the pick, and I might not care. I see a locker room stuffed with Notre Dame alums, many of whom were Te'o teammates, and a need at linebacker. I also think there's some "value" here if the Vikings perceive Te'o to be a talented player; I don't like him as a first-round pick, but this isn't me making a bunch of picks. It's what I think will happen when the draft comes around.

26. Green Bay Packers -- Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC -- Green Bay needs to beef up the defensive line, and Williams could be a nice versatile addition to the front and give them some wiggle room when it comes to future personnel decisions.

27. Houston Texans -- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson -- Like just about everyone who's doing a mock draft, I've got the Texans taking a wideout with their first-round pick. That either means the need is too obvious or that they won't end up doing that. It's hard to imagine them going a different direction unless all their top guys are off the board, though.

28. Denver Broncos -- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama -- Denver needs to get bigger on the line and adding Williams lets them do just that.

29. New England Patriots -- Keenan Allen, WR, California -- A not-so-swell showing at his Pro Day in Greensboro on April 9 might hurt Allen's stock. But the Patriots need a sure-handed, smart-route-running wideout and could be willing to gamble once Allen falls this far.

30. Atlanta Falcons -- Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State -- Giving the Falcons an heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez at tight end wouldn't be a bad idea here, but Atlanta is just too weak at cornerback right now to really go in any other direction, especially with a talent like Taylor on the board.

31. San Francisco 49ers -- Matt Elam, S, Florida -- Elam, a hard-hitting, aggressive defender who would fit the Niners system well, gives San Francisco some insurance in case the Donte Whitner and Craig Dahl free-agent signings don't work out.

32. Baltimore Ravens -- Kevin Minter, LB, LSU -- Minter's abilities as an inside linebacker and the value he presents at 32 only prove that you should never doubt Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens have a number of directions they could go here to help reload the defense.

 
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