The 2012 season was supposed to be a stepping stone for the Buffalo Bills on their path to the playoffs.
Unfortunately, they took a major step in the wrong direction and are back to rebuilding once again.
After the departures of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrence McGee, George Wilson and Andy Levitre, the Bills have many holes to fill heading into the 2013 NFL Draft.
In a Draft filled with depth and not much elite talent, the Bills are at a disadvantage having only six draft picks.
They traded this year’s seventh round pick to acquire backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson last season. While the Bills will draft a quarterback in this Draft, it is essential they hit on a majority of these picks due to a wide range of holes.
In addition, the team added former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. He will change the defensive, and the Bills will need to find some players that will fit in the hybrid defensive scheme.
For the Bills to compete for the AFC East title in the years ahead, it is essential to build a core group of young players that fit both the new head coach’s philosophy and the scheme of the new defensive coordinator.
QB, WR, CB, OLB, ILB, OG, TE, DE OLB
Round 1, Pick 8: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Ryan Nassib has been one of the most highly-scrutinized players heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. With his former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone now running the show for the Bills, Nassib is the pick here.
Marrone knows Nassib’s strengths and weaknesses and can tailor an offense to his strengths. While Bills GM Buddy Nix has stated he would like a big, physical wide receiver as well, the Bills are better off waiting until round two or three to address the need with the major depth at that position.
Nassib has very good accuracy in his short to medium throws, but needs work on his touch with deeper throws downfield. While Nassib had an issue with his footwork in the pocket under pressure, the Bills' offensive line, which is better than average, should help him improve that area of his game.
In addition, Nassib has shown continued improvement throughout his years at Syracuse which bodes well heading into the NFL.
Round 2, Pick 41: Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
The Bills desperately need a playmaker at the linebacker position and Khaseem Greene fills that hole. Watching tape of him at Rutgers, Greene is seen flying all over the field and making plays. He can step in from day one and be a starter on this team.
Being a former safety, he maintains the movement and cover skills need in pass coverage and can line up against either tight ends or running backs on deep routes. His speed and quickness allows him to be a successful blitzer and he does a tremendous job reading the quarterback's eyes.
Greene also excels in the run game as a wrap-up tackler and when he isn’t wrapping up the running back he takes punches at the ball, hoping to cause a fumble. While Greene is a prototypical 4-3 weakside linebacker, the new Bills' defense under Mike Pettine will have a spot on the defense where he can contribute.
Round 3, Pick 71: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Buddy Nix has stated a need for a big, physical wide receiver to line up opposite of T.J. Graham with Stevie Johnson in the slot. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, Aaron Dobson can be the physical, vertical receiver the Bills need.
While he only ran the 40 in in the 4.5′s, he plays faster than the numbers show. Dobson possesses strong hands and can track balls very well allowing him to make numerous catches with the defender draped over him.
His strength allows him to drag defenders for extra yards and he can be an effective run blocker by sustaining blocks down field. While he isn’t the strongest run blocker, the position and effort he gives in the run games really helps.
Round 4, Pick 105: Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisana
With the Bills' new transition to Mike Pettine’s hybrid defense, they need to acquire more talented corners in order to make it difficult on opposing quarterbacks.
Robert Alford can compete with Leodis McKelvin as the second cornerback, and even if he doesn’t beat out McKelvin, his skills as a nickel corner will provide the Bills the depth they desperately need at that position.
Alford is a physical, press corner who isn’t afraid to be an aggressive run stopper.
He doesn’t have the greatest strength but won’t be lining up against the toughest option at wide receiver being the No. 2 corner. His ability to help as a playmaking kick returner adds value too.
Round 5, Pick 143: Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
Since the departure of Andy Levitre and his backup Chad Reinhart, the Bills now have a need at guard and Brian Winters can step in and fill it right away. Winters can give the Bills versatility playing both guard and tackle but due to the need at guard, the Bills can plug him in there.
Winters is great in pass protection due to his firm base and rarely comes out of his stance while facing a pass rusher. The best part of his game is run blocking and that should be a huge plus for the Bills since Levitre was one of their better run blockers.
Winters likes to finish his blocks and makes sure his opponent ends up on the ground on the play. He does a very solid job at staying low to gain leverage. The one issue that Winters faces in the run game is locating blockers at the next level.
Round 6, Pick 177: Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada
With Scott Chandler recovering from an ACL injury, the Bills need to get some help at the tight end position. Zach Sudfeld is an under the radar tight end due to missing two years with injury.
The 6’7″, 253-pound tight end has very good size and athleticism along with good, strong hands. During his one full healthy senior season, Sudfeld broke out and finished with 598 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. His vertical leap of 37″ makes him a red zone threat as well and with a rookie quarterback under center, the Bills need as many offensive weapons as they can get.
The Bills and their fans should be thrilled with the results of the NFL Draft if they wind up filling the holes stated above. Landing a potential franchise quarterback in Ryan Nassib and surrounding him with even more offensive firepower will make the transition to the NFL much easier.
In addition, the Bills would help out new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by selecting a few players that can make the transition to the hybrid defense quicker than normal. Many of the players listed, even in the lower rounds provide great value and also help fill the needs the Bills have heading into the draft.