1st Rd – CB Stephon Gilmore – South Carolina – 6-0, 190
2nd Rd – OT Cordy Glenn – Georgia – 6-5, 345
3rd Rd – WR/RS T.J. Graham – NC State – 5-11, 188
4th Rd – LB Nigel Bradham – Flordia State – 6-2, 241
4th Rd – CB Ron Brooks – LSU – 5-10, 190
5th Rd – OT Zebrie Sanders – Florida State – 6-5, 320
5th Rd – LB Tank Carder – TCU – 6-2, 236
6th Rd – OG Mark Asper – Oregon – 6-6, 319
7th Rd – PK John Potter – West. Michigan – 6-2, 209
The Bills biggest priority may have been finding a LT, but there wasn’t anyone worth pick 10 so they instead went for Stephon Gilmore. He was a hot name in the weeks leading up toe the draft. Gilmore had played well at South Carolina, but had really stood out at the Combine. He is a very gifted athlete.
I’m not a huge Gilmore fan. I certainly think he’s got enormous talent, but Gilmore didn’t consistently play up to his potential. If he does play up to his potential, the Bills got a steal. You don’t see many guys his size with great speed and good ball skills. From a potential standpoint, there is no question that he’s worth the #10 pick. The problem is that BUF might not need him if Leodis McKelvin had lived up to his potential when drafted 11th overall back in 2008.
Gilmore will likely start right away. He already impressed everyone in the rookie camp. We know GM Buddy Nix loves players from the South so the fact he went for an SEC guy early is no surprise. If Gilmore is coachable and works hard at the technical side of things, he could develop into a very good player.
In the 2nd round the Bills picked up Cordy Glenn to be the LT of the future. He might be the LT of the present, depending on how he plays. The Bills lost Demetress Bell in free agency. That left 2nd year OT Chris Hairston at the front of the line to be LT in 2012. Hairston is a better run blocker than pass blocker, but did start games at LT in 2011 and was “good enough”. It helps that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has a quick release and plays smart. He gets the ball out quickly, negating the pass rush as much as he can.
Glenn had a good Senior season at Georgia, but really generated buzz with his showing at the Senior Bowl. He looked like LT material in Mobile. I had not liked him as a LT based on tape study prior to that so I went back and re-watched tape. I still didn’t. Glenn isn’t a natural knee bender. He’s huge and has okay feet, but I don’t think he’s agile enough to get by with being such an upright player at LT. Clearly the Bills disagree. The one thing that does give him a chance is playing with a QB like Fitzpatrick in BUF’s system.
I’m sure Nix sees him and can’t help but think a bit of Marcus McNeill. He fell to the 2nd round and the Chargers snatched him up and he’s been a good LT for them. Like Glenn, McNeill is a massive OL from the SEC. I do think McNeill was a better athlete and more natural pass protector. If Glenn does struggle at LT, the Bills can shift him to RT or OG. I do think Glenn can be a good NFL player. He was very good at UGA sometimes, but inconsistency is the thing that hurt his value. You couldn’t count on getting the good Glenn. The good Glenn was on display in Mobile so now the Bills just need to figure out how to get that guy to show up each Sunday.
While Gilmore and Glenn were good value picks, I thought TJ Graham in the 3rd was a reach. This was a very deep receiver class. To me, Graham was a good KOR, but still somewhat of a WR project. I thought of Graham as more of a 4th or 5th round prospect. He is fast and can stretch the field. The Bills need help in those areas now that Lee Evans is gone.
The Bills have big receivers in Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Naaman Roosevelt, and Ruvell Martin. The one thing they needed was a vertical threat. Graham is just that. He doesn’t lack physical gifts. What Graham does lack are polished skills. He isn’t a strong route runner. He isn’t a natural receiver. That isn’t to say he’s got bad hands. Some guys were just born to catch the ball. Graham isn’t one of them. For him to become really good at that will take a lot of work.
Graham can make his presence felt right away as a RS and STer. He ran back 2 punts and 2 kickoffs for scores in his time at NC State. The Bills have a talented group of returners already, but no one had more than 15 attempts all year. Guys were being shuffled in and out. If the coaches prefer one guy doing it every week, Graham could be their guy. He’s got the experience, speed, and ability to be a very good RS.
LB Nigel Bradham was taken with the first of the 4th round picks. Bradham has the potential (that word is getting used a lot) to be a very good player. My issue with Bradham is that he was much better playing in space than in traffic. He can run. He can cover. He can hit/tackle. He struggles when it comes to engaging and/or shedding blockers. It was a major concern to me. Others weren’t as bothered by it. I did think the 4th round was good value for Bradham. I’m curious to see if he plays SAM or WLB this year. He’s got the size to match up with TEs, but I don’t like the thought of him being up on the LOS at all. I much prefer him off the ball and playing in space.
The other 4th round pick was used on another CB, Ron Brooks from LSU. Real interesting guy. Has good size. Runs very well. The problem is that he’s a bit stiff. Also got lost in the great DB shuffle at LSU. How is a guy like Brooks supposed to stand out with Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Honey Badger, Eric Reid, and Brandon Taylor on the field? Brooks played some in the slot. He moved outside when Claiborne or Honey Badger followed a receiver to the inside. Brooks could turn out to be a very good slot corner in the NFL. And that is a critical role in the NFL these days (especially for someone in the same division as Wes Welker). Good value pick.
OT Zebrie Sanders was snatched up in the 5th round. There was some reputable site that had him listed as the 15th best Senior prospect at one point. I thought that was absolute insanity. Sanders was a 4-year starter at FSU and has a good frame, but he’s a limited athlete that struggles in pass protection. This was brutally evident at the Senior Bowl. I sat in the stands and made note that a DE, DT, or LB had just beaten #77. I flipped over to my roster only to see that 77 was Sanders. This happened often enough that I quickly memorized the fact that Sanders was 77. He couldn’t handle speed or power. He struggled with rushers whether they went inside, outside, or used a spin move. I have no problem with the Bills spending a 5th round pick on him. Sanders has the look of an NFL OL. I would try him at RT or OG. See if NFL coaching can turn him around.
The Bills had another 5th round pick and took LB Tank Carder from TCU. Love this pick. Carder had a down Senior season, but the guy is a natural LB. He covers well. Has good speed. Can catch the ball and make plays. If he only becomes a STer and Nickel LB the Bills have made a good investment. I think Carder could develop into a starter. He must learn to shed blocks and be more physical, but he’s good enough in other areas that I think he’s worth taking a chance on.
Buddy Nix must have fallen asleep. The Bills took a player from the NW? Yep, OL Mark Asper from Oregon. He was a T/G guy in college. There is some thought the Bills will look at him as a C/G prospect. Asper is a big guy and the Bills play teams with big 3-4 NTs (NE, NYJ). There is something to be said about having a C who can hold up vs a massive NT.
The final pick was PK John Potter from WMU. He has a really strong leg and is looked at primarily as a KO specialist by the Bills. I’m not real sure I get this. With the shortened field on KOs…do you really need a KO specialist anymore? I guess he could put the ball out of the endzone and totally squelch the possibility of a KOR. We have seen more and more guys coming out from 6 and 7 yards deep. Potter will get a chance to show what he can do on FGs. He didn’t post great numbers at WMU, but I won’t lie to you and tell you that I know how many were blocked or affected by weather or whatever. Potter was 47 of 65 in his career at WMU. The strong leg is the key to his future.
BUF was focused on the passing game in this draft. They added 2 cover corners, 2 cover LBs, a WR, and 3 pass blockers (including possibly a LT). I guess seeing the Giants and Pats throw their way to the Super Bowl wasn’t lost on Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey.