2012 Season Summary
The Buffalo Bills had a disappointing 2012 season. Hell, let's be honest, Buffalo has been disappointing since the start of this century. Since 2000 they are a combined 82-126 with only one winning season (2004 they had a 9-7 record), and no playoff appearances since 1999.
At the start of the 2012 season expectations were high. Buffalo improved from a dastardly 4-12 2010 record to a 6-10 2011 record. Instead of moving forward however, the team remained stagnant and finished again at 6-10 in 2012.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to have the same troubles as the season before, being unable to create victories from close games. Their were four losses that were decided by seven points or less. His ineffectiveness to take the team further had led to him being released by the Bills just last week.
Offensively, the Bills ranked 21st in points and 19th in overall yards. While the defense didn't fair much better. Ranking 26th and 22nd in points and yards given up in 2012. While only accumulating 36 sacks, 10.5 of which belonged to super high price free agent pick-up, defensive-end Mario Williams, and only tallying 12 interceptions, nine of those were a combination between safety Jarius Byrd and Linebacker Bryan Scott.
2012 did produce some positive things to look forward to. Former 2010 first-round draft pick running back C.J. Spiller emerged and rushed for 1244 yards and scored a total of eight touchdowns. While rookie offensive tackle Cordy Glenn proved he would be a mainstay on the offensive line for years to come. Also, 2012 first-round draft pick Stephen Gilmore, may have only picked off one pass in his rookie season, but did prove he would be a solid starting corner back in the NFL
But it looks like a blizzard of change is sweeping though Buffalo. Swept away along with quarterback Fitzpatrick are also receiver Donald Jones, guard Andy Levitre, linebacker Nick Barnett, and Shawne Merriman has decided to retire. When the snow melts and the fresh grass becomes more prevaiiant outside, you can expect to see fresh young faces coming into Buffalo this year. The 2013 season for the Buffalo Bills will see both a youth movement and a rebuilding year.
The Buffalo Bills have some major roster holes they need to fill with both the draft and through free-agency, but they also have to ask themselves, do they like the current players they have in certain positions? The biggest thing on everyone's mind, and the biggest hole they need to fill is obviously quarterback. Unfortunately, Buffalo picked the wrong year to search for a franchise quarterback with both the free agent market unfavorable and the draft talent pool very slim and questionable.
Other than quarterback, they need to find a guard to replace Andy Levitre if they intend to help continue to provide holes for Spiller to run through. There is absolutely no depth at the guard position on this roster, so it's a must for Buffalo.
They also need to provide another receiver opposite Stevie Johnson. I don't think their is a lot of faith that last year's rookie third rounder T. J. Graham is ready to step up and start for the Bills yet. Also, it's a lower priority, but Buffalo may want to take a look at a tight-end in the draft. Scott Chandler is not the most consistent security blanket, and again, tight-end isn't a deep position on this team.
Defensively The Bills could use another defensive end. They brought it Williams last year along with Mark Anderson, who they picked up from New England after he had a 10 sack season with the Patriots. Problem was he got hurt, and honestly Anderson has never been very consistent throughout his career. So, getting someone to help draw double teams away from Mario Williams would be helpful.
Buffalo could also probably use another outside linebacker to compete for a starting job with Nigel Bradham, who was a fourth-round rookie last year that accumulated 57 tackles. As well as possibly adding another cornerback to add depth to the Buffalo secondary.
First Round Target(s)
With the 8th pick of the draft Buffalo has to ask themselves, are any of these quarterbacks a top ten pick? Geno Smith from West Virginia is the most athletically gifted quarterback in this draft. He can run, make plays, provide excitement. He had a killer 7:1 TD:INT ratio his senior year. He also had a lackluster second half and lost big games to Kansas Sate andTexas. He also had problems bringing his team back from huge deficits (sound like any other quarterback Buffalo is familiar with)?
Ryan Nassib, the Syracuse product would be a hometown favorite. He had a monster combine and showed he could make every and any throw possible. But many scouts feel Nassib isn't any better than at the very best a second-round pick.
Let's also keep in mind Matt Barkley from USC. Barkley has great leaderships and poise, which scouts love, but lacks great arm-strength and hasn't played a lot of diverse competition, (he has never played an SEC school).
If Buffalo doesn't want to risk a quarterback in the first round they will probably opt to either take Alabama guard Chance Womak, who is being regarded as the best football player in this draft (however, I think this would be ridiculous, I think you can get a starting NFL guard in the third or fourth round in this draft), or (and more logically) they would go with receiver Cordarrele Patterson from Tennessee.
Patterson is being compared to Dwayne Bowe, a big physical receiver with terrific hands, good speed, and has shown productivity on all levels. Patterson is being regarded as the number one receiver among this year's draft class
Teams to Keep an Eye On
There could be a few bugaboo's that could seriously alter the way the draft is approached by Buffalo. For one, they are not the only team with a top ten pick that could be looking for a quarterback. Jacksonville with the second overall pick, Oakland with the third overall, and Arizona with the seventh pick could all potentially take a quarterback. Jacksonville is, at least for now, the least likely to take a quarterback, as they have been linked to taking either an offensive or defensive lineman. However, Oakland, who really needs defensive line help, could look to replace grizzled veteran Carson Palmer. While Arizona, who desperately needs offensive line help, could look to replace injury prone Kevin Kolb and ineffective John Skelton as their resident gunslinger.
If Smith or Barkley are gone, or if Buffalo goes another direction and takes a chance on taking Nassib in the second round that poses a risk as well. The New York Jets have expressed interest in Nassib, and seem like they could possibly reach to take the Syracuse stand-out.
A trade that may seem far fetched but may also worth looking into would involve the Seattle Seahawks. Last year Buffalo gave up a seventh rounder to acquire quarterback Tavarius Jackson, who backed up Fitzpatrick. This year, Buffalo may want to think about possibly acquiring Seattle's current back-up Matt Flynn to be the potential starter. Flynn is a highly regarded back up with starter potential who still holds the Green Bay franchise record for most touchdown passes thrown in a single game.
The trade would help both parties as Seattle, who signed Flynn to a fairly hefty 3-year 19.5 million dollar contract, could unload some of that on to Buffalo since Russell Wilson has cemented himself as a starter in Seattle. Buffalo would get an experienced quarterback with at least some success in the NFL, which would also give them more options with the number eight pick. They could probably get Flynn for a second or third round pick.
2012: Stephen Gilmore, Corner Back, South Carolina, 12th overall
2011: Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle, Alabama, 3rd overall
2010: C.J. Spiller, Running Back, Clemson, 9th overall
2009: Aaron Maybin, Defensive End, Penn State, 11th overall
2008: Leodis McKelvin: Cornerback, Troy, 11th overall