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How the top of the draft shakes out

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#1 thebandit27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:01 AM

Since we’re less than 4 weeks away from the draft, I decided now would be a good time to take a practical look at how the top of the draft shakes out, and how it might affect the Bills’ selection at No. 8 overall.

First Things First

Before I get into too much discussion, I want to make a few things clear:

- I’m not projecting trades, since nobody knows what could happen
- I’m basing my valuation of prospects on both (a) what I’ve read from various analysts, and (b) contacts I have in the scouting community, so if you’re opinion differs from mine, you’ll have to take the resulting analysis with a grain of salt
- The below is not necessarily what I want to occur, but what I firmly believe will happen on draft day

Okay, that said, let’s get started looking at how the top of the draft is likely to shake out, and the resultant affect on Buffalo’s draft choice.

The Top Crop

Every year, there exists a top tier of prospects.  Usually, this group is comprised of anywhere from 4 to 6 players, that are assuredly going to comprise the first 4-6 picks, in some indiscernible order.  For example, last year, we knew that the top 6 prospects were Luck, Griffin, Richardson, Blackmon, Kalil, and Claiborne.  These guys were going in the top 6 picks, for certain, in some order.  The year prior, the top 5 picks were certain to be Newton, Miller, Dareus, Green, and Peterson, in some order.  I’m sure you get the picture.

This year, the top crop of prospects consists of 5 players:

Luke Joeckel – OT/Texas A&M
Sharrif Floyd – DT/Forida
Erik Fisher – OT/Central Michigan
Dion Jordan – DE/Oregon
Dee Milliner – CB/Alabama

Now, this year is a bit different, in that there isn’t a QB among the top 6.  However, given the premium placed on the position, and the fact that 4 of the teams drafting in the top 6 have questions at QB, the top crop has to be expanded to include the top QB prospect, Geno Smith of West Virginia.

Taking the above into account, it’s safe to assume that the top 6 picks will include the above players, in some order.  My guess: 1) Joeckel to KC, 2) Smith to Jax, 3) Floyd to Oak, 4) Fisher to Phi, 5) Jordan to Det, 6) Milliner to Cle.  No matter how it falls out, to examine Buffalo’s likely draft scenarios it makes sense to assume that the above 6 players are out of the equation.

The Cardinal Question

Barring a trade up, as far as Buffalo is concerned, the draft begins with Arizona’s pick at No. 7 overall.  Assuming that they stay put and make this pick, Buffalo’s options will be largely affected by what the Cardinals do with their selection.

There are a few things to take into account here, namely: (a) who are the top prospects remaining? (b) what offers the greatest positional value for the team? © where does need fit into the picture?

Examining the above, I came up with 2, and only 2 options for the Cardinals: QB and OL.  This leaves only 3 players as likely draft options:

Matt Barkley – QB/USC
Chance Warmack – OG/Alabama
Lane Johnson – OT/Oklahoma

Right off the bat, I dismissed Barkley, as I don’t feel he fits as a value pick at No. 8.  That leaves either of the two linemen.  Although I would normally gravitate toward Johnson, I went with Warmack for 2 reasons: (1) he has been regarded by a number of analysts and scouts as the top overall talent in the draft, which makes him worthy of a top 10 pick, (2) he has more experience as a starting OLmen than Johnson.

How Buffalo Responds

For this section, I broke out Buffalo’s draft choice into four options, and assigned a confidence interval to each.

Option 1 – The Quarterback (20%)

Under this scenario, the team determines that this the time to make their move on a potential franchise QB.  The primary suspect would be the aforementioned Barkley, but it would be impractical—under this option—to rule out a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder selection like Florida State’s E.J. Manuel or Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib.

In the end, however, I think value wins out, and QB won’t be the choice.  Accordingly, I believe there is a 20% chance that this is the direction Nix and Co. go with the No. 8 pick.

Option 2 – Offensive Line (25%)

We already discussed the possibility of Lane Johnson going 7th overall to Arizona, so it would be prudent to discuss his potential for coming off the board at Buffalo’s pick.  If the powers that be decide that Johnson is too good to pass up, they may take him.  It would give them a whole host of options along the OL, including: starting Johnson out at RT, starting Johnson at LT and kicking Glenn inside to LG to replace Levitre, starting Johnson at LT and swapping Glenn to RT, etc.  Any way you slice it, the whole line gets stronger.

Given, however, that Nix has shown a propensity and preference for getting post-first-round value along the line (save for Eric Wood), I don’t put a lot of confidence in this being the choice.  Call it a 25% chance.

Option 3 – Impact Defender (45%)

In my opinion, this is where value and need collide.  Looking at the remaining prospects, the top talents are:

Lane Johnson – OT/Oklahoma
Star Lotulelei – DT/Utah
Jarvis Jones – LB/Georgia
Ezekiel Ansah – LB-DE/BYU
Barkevious Mingo – LB/LSU

We already included Johnson’s chances above, so this option basically comes down to Buffalo picking their favorite of the above.  What I really like about this group of players is that they all can do multiple things from multiple fronts.  Star is a strong presence up front, and can play 1 or 3 technique in a 4-man front, while being strong enough to anchor as a 0 in a 3-4.  The 3 LBs are all extremely athletic and excellent pass rushers that show the ability to play OLB in either alignment, as well as to rush the passer as down linemen when asked to do so.

Given that the team usually drafts for value, and has a crying need for impact defenders in the front 7, I put his option at 45% likely.

Option 4 – Offensive Weapon (10%)

Buddy Nix keeps stating that he wants a big WR, so if he’s truly intrigued by either Tennessee’s Cordarelle Patterson or Cal’s Keenan Allen, he may go that route.  However, with the relative depth of the WR class, and the perceived lack of value at the No. 8 slot, I put it at no better than a 10% chance that WR is the pick.



In my opinion, the above is how you can expect to see things unfold on April 25th.  I would like to use this as an opening for discussion regarding what you’d like to see happen under the above scenario.  Also, please feel free to agree, disagree, etc. and provide alternative scenarios for discussion.

The end.

#2 Billsrhody

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:26 AM

There's a lot of logic in this and it seems to make a lot of sense.. at this point I hope they just take the best player on the board, regardless of position. We could really use help almost everywhere and we just need impact players.

#3 KeisterHollow

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:33 AM

I'd love for the draft to unfold in this way.  There's no player I'd rather see drafted by Buffalo than Ansah - he could be an OLB and a DE - and that flexibility would really help Petting - not to mention, adding him to Williams, Dareus, and Mario would be quite formidable.

But, if they go QB with the first pick Barkley would still be there, and he's my top choice at QB.

And, if they wanted to go OL they could still get a franchise LT, and they'd have their choice at WR - something I hope they wait until the 2nd for.

#4 eball

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:50 AM

Really nice post; lots of logic and thoughtful commentary.  We could debate your percentages, but not the reasoning.  And, as you admit, trades can blow the whole thing up.

#5 cosmo

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:05 AM

Looks like Arizona is getting Carson Palmer, and with Oakland getting Flynn there's a legitimate chance that no QB will be taken in the top 7 picks. Unlikely but it kinda seems like everyone of these teams including the Bills are trying to do what the Seahawks did last year - sign a QB, then pick one later in the draft and hope he pans out.

#6 San Jose Bills Fan

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:08 AM

Great post!

I agree with your analysis.

Personally I believe that EJ Manuel is the best QB in this class by far and has a huge upside. I hope that he is the pick.

But I could see where O-line or defense impact player would be as likely if not more likely. After Manuel, I've been saying that I'd like the Bills to go for an impact defender. Mingo did not put up huge numbers but every time I see him on videotape he's putting pressure on and the quarterback is looking to get rid of the ball. I don't think his sack numbers reflect his true impact on the game and I'd bet his pressures numbers are really good. Mingo had what was considered a disappointing season but he has Von Miller-type talent and he'll be more effective as an OLB in the NFL as opposed to being a DE as he was at LSU. BTW I said the same thing last year about Bruce Irvin who was used as a undersized DE at West Virginia. I'm actually very disappointed that Seattle has kept him at DE as his 3-cone, short and long shuttle times were historically elite. In other words Irvin has the movement skills to be a All Pro linebacker so I'm surprised Seattle keeps him as a 245 pound DE. But I digress.

BTW, I watched one game of Sharrif Floyd to see what all the noise was about and came away very unimpressed. I can't remember who he played against but regardless of whether he's better than I think or not, I've come to a theory about DTs high in the draft.

After seeing Marcel Dareus, Gerald McCoy, Glenn Dorsey and numerous other top 5 DTs have a very minimal effect, I've come to the belief that drafting a DT is analogous to drafting a guard. It's simply a low impact position. In fact even Suh who is one of the best in the game has much less of an impact on a game that a premier pass rusher. And of course Ngata is a great player as is Wilfork but those guys were picked 12th and 21st overall. So I would be against drafting a guy like Floyd or Lotulelei at #8.

I really buy into Edward's Arm's regression analysis view of the importance of the passing game so I would go QB, pass rusher, and then offensive tackle.

I acknowledge the need for a wide receiver but I don't see one worth taking at #8. Remember Dez Bryant had unmistakable elite talent but still only went 24th overall due to questions. The top drafted receiver in Bryant's class was Demaryius Thomas who went 22nd overall. Michael Crabtree who was the best receiver in his draft class was taken 10th overall. I don't think Patterson is a better prospect than these guys were although I acknowledge he has great upside. Patterson is too unfinished to take at #8.

View Postcosmo, on 01 April 2013 - 10:05 AM, said:

Looks like Arizona is getting Carson Palmer, and with Oakland getting Flynn there's a legitimate chance that no QB will be taken in the top 7 picks. Unlikely but it kinda seems like everyone of these teams including the Bills are trying to do what the Seahawks did last year - sign a QB, then pick one later in the draft and hope he pans out.

Thank you.

I think too many people here are assuming that the acquisition of a veteran QB means the teams won't be drafting QB at the top of the draft.

I still think that a couple of QBs will be drafted in the top 10.

#7 marauderswr80

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:12 AM

Very nice post! Quality time spent on that!

#8 DrDareustein

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:19 AM

Great post and analysis, bandit! Good read in the doldrums of the offseason. Makes a lot of sense.

#9 uncle flap

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:44 AM

Great post! I agree with all of the reasoning and hope that the #8 pick yields and impact defender.

I'd like to add another thing to consider re: the consensus top 5 or 6;

As Bills fans, we all know that bad teams tend to make bad decisions. Teams with top draft positions "earned" those positions. They're there for a reason.

So, while I agree that there's a fairly clear cut group of top prospects, there is a very real possibility that one or more of the teams ahead of the Bills "outsmarts" everyone else and takes a player that isn't the expected "no brainer."

Maybe it's not likely, but it is definitely possible that one of those guys that should be gone won't be. My hope is that Dion Jordan falls into the Bills's lap, but of course that'd be too good to be true.

If it indeed plays out as the OP suggests, I'd take Mingo, Jarvis Jones, Ogletree, or Ansah - whomever Pettine likes best.

#10 thebandit27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 12:36 PM

View PostBillsrhody, on 01 April 2013 - 09:26 AM, said:

There's a lot of logic in this and it seems to make a lot of sense.. at this point I hope they just take the best player on the board, regardless of position. We could really use help almost everywhere and we just need impact players.

That's my position as well...just so happens that I think BPA will also fill a huge need.

View PostKeisterHollow, on 01 April 2013 - 09:33 AM, said:

I'd love for the draft to unfold in this way.  There's no player I'd rather see drafted by Buffalo than Ansah - he could be an OLB and a DE - and that flexibility would really help Petting - not to mention, adding him to Williams, Dareus, and Mario would be quite formidable.

But, if they go QB with the first pick Barkley would still be there, and he's my top choice at QB.

And, if they wanted to go OL they could still get a franchise LT, and they'd have their choice at WR - something I hope they wait until the 2nd for.

Ansah has maybe the highest upside of any defender in the draft...we'll see how that translates to the field.

View Posteball, on 01 April 2013 - 09:50 AM, said:

Really nice post; lots of logic and thoughtful commentary.  We could debate your percentages, but not the reasoning.  And, as you admit, trades can blow the whole thing up.

Thank you sir...and yes, they certainly can.

View Postcosmo, on 01 April 2013 - 10:05 AM, said:

Looks like Arizona is getting Carson Palmer, and with Oakland getting Flynn there's a legitimate chance that no QB will be taken in the top 7 picks. Unlikely but it kinda seems like everyone of these teams including the Bills are trying to do what the Seahawks did last year - sign a QB, then pick one later in the draft and hope he pans out.

It sure is a copycat league, isn't it.

View PostSan Jose Bills Fan, on 01 April 2013 - 10:08 AM, said:

Great post!

I agree with your analysis.

Personally I believe that EJ Manuel is the best QB in this class by far and has a huge upside. I hope that he is the pick.

But I could see where O-line or defense impact player would be as likely if not more likely. After Manuel, I've been saying that I'd like the Bills to go for an impact defender. Mingo did not put up huge numbers but every time I see him on videotape he's putting pressure on and the quarterback is looking to get rid of the ball. I don't think his sack numbers reflect his true impact on the game and I'd bet his pressures numbers are really good. Mingo had what was considered a disappointing season but he has Von Miller-type talent and he'll be more effective as an OLB in the NFL as opposed to being a DE as he was at LSU. BTW I said the same thing last year about Bruce Irvin who was used as a undersized DE at West Virginia. I'm actually very disappointed that Seattle has kept him at DE as his 3-cone, short and long shuttle times were historically elite. In other words Irvin has the movement skills to be a All Pro linebacker so I'm surprised Seattle keeps him as a 245 pound DE. But I digress.

BTW, I watched one game of Sharrif Floyd to see what all the noise was about and came away very unimpressed. I can't remember who he played against but regardless of whether he's better than I think or not, I've come to a theory about DTs high in the draft.

After seeing Marcel Dareus, Gerald McCoy, Glenn Dorsey and numerous other top 5 DTs have a very minimal effect, I've come to the belief that drafting a DT is analogous to drafting a guard. It's simply a low impact position. In fact even Suh who is one of the best in the game has much less of an impact on a game that a premier pass rusher. And of course Ngata is a great player as is Wilfork but those guys were picked 12th and 21st overall. So I would be against drafting a guy like Floyd or Lotulelei at #8.

I really buy into Edward's Arm's regression analysis view of the importance of the passing game so I would go QB, pass rusher, and then offensive tackle.

I acknowledge the need for a wide receiver but I don't see one worth taking at #8. Remember Dez Bryant had unmistakable elite talent but still only went 24th overall due to questions. The top drafted receiver in Bryant's class was Demaryius Thomas who went 22nd overall. Michael Crabtree who was the best receiver in his draft class was taken 10th overall. I don't think Patterson is a better prospect than these guys were although I acknowledge he has great upside. Patterson is too unfinished to take at #8.



Thank you.

I think too many people here are assuming that the acquisition of a veteran QB means the teams won't be drafting QB at the top of the draft.

I still think that a couple of QBs will be drafted in the top 10.

Excellent point regarding the WRs and positional value...I hope Nix thinks the same way.

View Postmarauderswr80, on 01 April 2013 - 10:12 AM, said:

Very nice post! Quality time spent on that!

View PostDrDareustein, on 01 April 2013 - 10:19 AM, said:

Great post and analysis, bandit! Good read in the doldrums of the offseason. Makes a lot of sense.

Thanks guys.

View Postuncle flap, on 01 April 2013 - 10:44 AM, said:

Great post! I agree with all of the reasoning and hope that the #8 pick yields and impact defender.

I'd like to add another thing to consider re: the consensus top 5 or 6;

As Bills fans, we all know that bad teams tend to make bad decisions. Teams with top draft positions "earned" those positions. They're there for a reason.

So, while I agree that there's a fairly clear cut group of top prospects, there is a very real possibility that one or more of the teams ahead of the Bills "outsmarts" everyone else and takes a player that isn't the expected "no brainer."

Maybe it's not likely, but it is definitely possible that one of those guys that should be gone won't be. My hope is that Dion Jordan falls into the Bills's lap, but of course that'd be too good to be true.

If it indeed plays out as the OP suggests, I'd take Mingo, Jarvis Jones, Ogletree, or Ansah - whomever Pettine likes best.

That would be amazing, and I'd hope the Bills' brass would sprint to the podium for him.

#11 bills chin

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:49 PM

great post,really enjoyable, but also most people forget a trade before  bills pick at 8th, because the new PBA  several teams  may move specially those with multiples picks

#12 NewEra

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:11 PM

Well done Bandit.  Thanks for the effort, nice read.

I can't believe some people want us to draft Ansah.  If he's the pick, I'll cry.  Barkley, Manuel or Jarvis jones please.  If we select mingo or Ansah over jones, I pray we replace buddy ASAP.  Jarvis Jones is a monster.  I don't care what his 40 time is. He has much better instincts and tackling ability then the other jokesters.  Drafting at 8, I want production, not measurables.  Way too much doubt with mingo and Ansah IMO.  I'd rather take Johnson, Patterson (ugh), Lotulelei or Richardson than those guys.

#13 cosmo

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:21 PM

View PostNewEra, on 01 April 2013 - 02:11 PM, said:

I can't believe some people want us to draft Ansah.  If he's the pick, I'll cry.  Barkley, Manuel or Jarvis jones please.  If we select mingo or Ansah over jones, I pray we replace buddy ASAP.

Did you watch the Senior Bowl? I know its just one exhibition game but Ansah was by far the most dominant player on the field. In a draft with no sure fire blue chip studs I would be fine with taking the guy with the most upside even if he hasn't played football that long. We have plenty of evidence now that shows that doesn't really matter.

#14 Kellyto83TD

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:32 PM

It has to be WR if Patterson is there.

#15 thebandit27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:34 PM

View PostKellyto83TD, on 01 April 2013 - 02:32 PM, said:

It has to be WR if Patterson is there.

I will fall out of my chair if he's picked earlier than 8th overall.

In fact, assuming we don't trade the pick, I'll probably fall out of my chair if he's picked before 9th overall...

#16 bananathumb

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:36 PM

Definitely the best analysis of the Bills' situation I've seen.  Funny thing is, there is no clear-cut choice at 8 even if things fall as you suggest.  Hope we can trade down.

#17 DefenseWins

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 03:03 PM

SMITH OR BARKLEY AT #8.... You can't thumb you nose at the top 2 QBs in the draft...

#18 thebandit27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 03:08 PM

View Postbananathumb, on 01 April 2013 - 02:36 PM, said:

Definitely the best analysis of the Bills' situation I've seen.  Funny thing is, there is no clear-cut choice at 8 even if things fall as you suggest.  Hope we can trade down.

Certainly appreciate the kind words.

The only way I see a trade down happening would be if one of the top 6 falls to our pick, and it's a guy we don't really love.  Maybe Milliner, for instance, falls to No. 8 in favor of an upside guy like Ansah.  Then, a team like Miami or Minnesota that's desperate for a CB makes you an offer.  It's doubtful, but it could happen.

The other possibility is that a team like San Diego, that's desperate for a LT, worries that another team (Miami or New Orleans?) could leapfrog them and get Lane Johnson, so they make an offer.

Again though, I don't see either of those things happening.

#19 NewEra

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:18 PM

View Postcosmo, on 01 April 2013 - 02:21 PM, said:



Did you watch the Senior Bowl? I know its just one exhibition game but Ansah was by far the most dominant player on the field. In a draft with no sure fire blue chip studs I would be fine with taking the guy with the most upside even if he hasn't played football that long. We have plenty of evidence now that shows that doesn't really matter.

Did you notice him the rest of the season?  How about his career?  I don't think we can gamble on him

#20 thebandit27

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 07:12 AM

View PostNewEra, on 01 April 2013 - 08:18 PM, said:

Did you notice him the rest of the season?  How about his career?  I don't think we can gamble on him

Although Ansah's production (or lack thereof) is a bit alarming, there's no denying that the physical ability is there.  He's very likely going to be a top 12 pick, as I think the Jets would take him, as would Miami if he fell that far.  I could see him dropping as far as Tampa Bay, but no further.

With only 3 years of football experience, he is very raw...it's a risk-reward pick.  For a team with a new coach and very few expectations, like Buffalo, it's not out of the question for him to be the guy they like at 8.