2017 NFL Draft

Projecting the draft: Buffalo Bills

Projecting the draft: Buffalo Bills

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
Memo to the NFL: the Bills aren't content being the doormat of the AFC East. This offseason, Buffalo locked up leading receiver Steve Johnson and made pass rusher Mario Williams the $100 million man, sending a message to the rest of the league that the Bills should be viewed as serious contenders.

Along with Williams, Buffalo also added Mark Anderson to address pass rush concerns and re-signed linebacker Kirk Morrison and tight end Scott Chandler. On paper, the Bills have quietly built a strong roster filled with depth and talent and should be viewed as a legitimate darkhorse squad to compete in the AFC. Not to mention, Buffalo also has 10 draft picks to get even better.

General Manager Buddy Nix, who took over the job after the 2009 season, has never shied from taking the best player available on the draft board with the Bills' early round picks. In his first draft in 2010, few thought Buffalo's top need was at running back, but that didn't stop Nix from selecting CJ Spiller with the ninth overall choice, choosing the best player available on his board. Last year, Buffalo hit a home run with the extremely talented Marcell Dareus (drafted third overall), who started every game as a rookie and looks like a star-in-the-making.

And with the 10th overall draft pick on April 26, it's a fair assumption that Nix and his staff will stick to their draft board and select one of the top 10 players this class has to offer.

Here are five prospects the Bills might consider on April 26-28:

WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 10)
The Bills have a few possibilities (David Nelson, Donald Jones) already on the roster who might be able to consistently compliment Steve Johnson on the outside, but Michael Floyd might be too good to pass up with the 10th overall pick. He looks the part and brings a large, athletic target to the offense with the skill-set to be a No. 1 receiver, looking like a man amongst boys at times. Floyd can be a nightmare in single coverage, playing with an excellent blend of size, quickness and strength and usually sure-hands to secure tough catches. He plays a little mechanical, but has very good football speed and is one of the top blocking receivers in this class. Floyd has some off-field concerns, but appears to be football-focused after staying clean as a senior and playing in the best shape of his career. He has a very high professional ceiling and would help take the Buffalo offense to the next level.

G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 32)
Besides Andy Levitre, the Bills don't have legitimate starting options at the guard position and could use interior line depth, making Kevin Zeitler an ideal target in the second round. He is a former high school wrestler and flashes the same type of mentality on the football field, playing extremely strong at the point of attack and finishing with an aggressive attitude. Zeitler is a limited overall athlete and has some body stiffness, but carries his weight well with above average body control. He is a sticky blocker and while it doesn't always look pretty, he consistently gets the job done with the raw power to redirect defenders. Zeitler looks like a day one guy for the Bills and might never be a Pro Bowler, but projects as a consistent starter at guard who can also move inside to center.

OT Zebrie Sanders, Florida State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 123)
It seems the Bills might be content with Chris Hairston and Erik Pears as their starters (for now), but neither are proven commodities and depth should be added on draft day. Zebrie Sanders played primarily on the right side in college, but moved over to left tackle halfway through 2011 due to Andrew Datko's injury, looking much more comfortable at LT. He has a strong résumé (50 career starts) and offers an intriguing skill-set with growth potential, but needs to continue to bulk up and strengthen his core while developing his technique. Sanders has a balanced, flexible frame with good body control and fluid movements to smoothly mirror defenders, flashing the natural skills that cannot be taught. He would be a very good developmental choice in the third or fourth round for Buffalo.

OLB Audie Cole, NC State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 164)
Linebacker is far from the Bills' top need, but depth at the position is a concern. Audie Cole, who was actually recruited as a quarterback out of high school, was a productive starter at the college ranks with experience inside and outside. He has the instincts to make accurate reads and the physical nature to attack the ballcarrier, but needs to improve his finishing technique and take-on strength at the point of attack. Cole has a very average skill-set, but plays balanced with enough natural size and playing speed to see the field at the NFL level. His versatility will be attractive to all 32 teams and would be a nice value for Buffalo with one of their two fourth round picks.

CB Keith Tandy, West Virginia (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 205)
The Bills' secondary is deep, but there is a good chance cornerback Leodis McKelvin won't be on the roster come week one of the 2012 season. In today's pass-happy NFL, a team can never have too many cornerbacks and Keith Tandy would be a good target in the fifth or sixth round. He was one of the more puzzling Combine snubs in February, but had a very good pro day with a 4.51 40-yard dash, 35” vertical and 6.91 3-cone drill. Tandy, who was a standout quarterback in high school, became a starting cornerback for the Mountaineers as a sophomore and didn't look back with 40 collegiate starts under his belt. He lacks elite size and speed, but is tough, gritty and competitive with very good read/react quickness and should be able to contribute as a rookie on special teams while fighting for playing time as a nickel corner.
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