Draft Review – Buffalo

by Tommy Lawlor  –  http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Buffalo Bills

1 – NT Marcel Dareus – 6’3, 320 – Alabama
2 – DB Aaron Williams – 6’0, 204 – Texas
3 – ILB Kelvin Sheppard – 6’2, 250 – LSU
4 – SS Da’Norris Searcy – 5’11, 223 – UNC
4 – OT Chris Hairston – 6’6, 326 – Clemson
5 – RB Johnny White – 5’10, 209 – UNC
7 – CB Justin Rogers – 5’11, 180 – Richmond
7 – NT Michael Jasper – 6’4, 394 – Bethel TN

Most people thought the Bills would go for Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller. The Bills instead opted for DL Marcel Dareus. Buffalo was dead last in run defense last year. They were 30th in 2009. One way to improve the run defense is to better control the line of scrimmage. Dareus is a guy who can do just that. He’s got the size and strength to be a NT. He’s got the quickness and skill to be a 3-4 DE. I think he’ll start off at DE. That’s where he played the most at ‘Bama so staying at DE will ease his transition. Plus, the Bills have some other guys already at NT.

Dareus is a big time prospect. I don’t see him as an Ndamukong Suh type, but he can be pretty darn good. Dareus is big at 319 pounds, but he’s got excellent feet and moves really well for that size. He’s quick off the ball and has pass rush skills. He can play DT when the Bills go to a 4-man front in the Nickel/Dime looks. It will be interesting to see how quickly he becomes a starter. Dareus was only a full-time starter at ‘Bama in 2010. He was a very productive backup in 2009. I’m sure the Bills want him on the field, but also don’t want to rush him and hinder his development. Dareus could be an outstanding LDE for them over the long haul.

In the 2nd round Buffalo went for DB Aaron Williams. He was a good CB for Texas, but then didn’t run all that well at the Combine. Some speculated that maybe Williams should follow in the footsteps of Malcolm Jenkins and move to FS. It sounds like Buffalo wants to try him at CB first. They reportedly will use him as the Nickel CB in 2011. He would then challenge for a starting role in the future. Williams is a player that I really enjoyed watching in college. Versatile player. He can cover, hit, and tackle. Plays the run well. Good blitzer. It was Williams hit that ended the college career of Sam Bradford. Williams has NFL size at 6’0, 204. He likes to press and be physical. Seems like the kind of player who will embrace STs and make his mark there when he’s not starting. Buffalo needed help on defense. Williams is the kind of football player they needed to add. He’s not a great athlete. He’s not a dynamic playmaker. Williams is simply a good football player. You can win some games with guys like him on the back end of the defense.  

Buffalo stuck to defense and used their 3rd round pick on ILB Kelvin Sheppard from LSU. This is another move to shore up the run defense. Sheppard is a 250-pound LB that knows how to play the run. He faced the big boys in the SEC and more than held his own. He is perfect for the 3-4. I wasn’t sure Sheppard was athletic enough to play MLB in the NFL, but he’s got enough athleticism to handle ILB. He won’t have to cover as much space. Sheppard is at his best against inside runs. He can shed blocks and flows to the ball well. Sheppard isn’t a great pass defender, but has a good feel for coverage and that helps him to overcome athletic limitations. He should be a good STer until he gets on the field as an ILB. I didn’t think he’d go as early as the 3rd round, but he fits the 3-4 well so that alters the value a bit.

I liked the Bills first 4th round pick a lot. They took SS Da’Norris Searcy from UNC. He’s got a stumpy build at 5’11, 223, but Searcy is a very good athlete. Don’t let the body type fool you. He is also a talented player. Searcy is athletic enough to cover. I was very impressed with him in the coverage drills at the Senior Bowl. He’s also smart. He has good field vision and understands how to play zone. Searcy is a good hitter and tackler. He can be aggressive in run support. He had an excellent Senior year, picking off 4 passes and breaking up 4 others. Searcy has added value as a PR and KOR. He should be very good on coverage units as well.

Buffalo used another 4th round pick on OT Chris Hairston. He started at LT for Clemson for the past 3 years. Big guy who can really run block. Effective pass protector in college, but I don’t think he has the footwork to play LT in the NFL. Excellent effort as a run blocker. Really gets after defenders. Chris is a player that grew on me the more I watched him. He’s got a tough, aggressive personality, which generally is something you want in a RT. Buffalo needs a RT. I do think Hairston is a good enough pass blocker to handle that side. Good fit and value.

The Bills added another UNC player in the 5th round. Real interesting pick. They took RB Johnny White. He played RB, DB, and was a gunner on STs during his time at Carolina. White is a player the coaches loved, but they kept moving him around to find the best fit for him. He finally found a home at RB in the middle of his Senior year, but then got hurt. Sometimes life is pretty cruel. White played 8 full games in 2010. He ran for 85 or more yards in 5 of them. He finished the season with 720 yards on the ground. He also caught 24 passes. White could be a good backup RB and STer in the NFL. He absolutely will do whatever it takes to make the roster and contribute. I’d love to see him succeed in the pros after such a tortured college career. I really respect the fact he never gave up or transferred. So many kids freak out the first time that things don’t go their way in college. White kept plugging and now has a chance at an NFL career.

The Bills had a pair of 7th round picks. They started by taking CB Justin Rogers from Richmond. The Bills think he could prove to be a big steal. They love his combination of intelligence and cover skills. Rogers doesn’t stand out in terms of size or athletic ability, but he does know how to cover. He didn’t get a ton of balls thrown his way in college, but made teams pay when they did try him. He picked off 12 career passes and broke up 28.

With their final pick the Bills added the Sun. Literally. Okay, Michael Jasper isn’t that big, but he’s not far from it. He was listed at 6’4, 394. Jasper at one time weighed 448 pounds. He’s now down in the 370 range. He spent time at Tennessee-Martin and MTSU before ending up at Bethel. I never got to see Jasper play, but Buffalo scouts say he is surprisingly athletic and carries his weight very well. Some guys have a body that allows them to be massive, but not sloppy. If Jasper is truly such a guy, the Bills may have landed a tremendous steal. He could be the monstrous NT they need for the 3-4. If he can just come in for 10-12 plays a game and help shut down the run that will be of real importance. I’ll be watching Jasper closely to see if he has what it takes to make it. Every year there is a small school guy with a compelling story, but not a lot of them pan out. There’s a reason these guys were at small schools. Jasper is intriguing as heck, so I’m hoping he’s one of the players that is able to carve out an NFL career.

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