10 Thoughts on the Buffalo Bills Draft Class

The Buffalo Bills stayed true to their draft board and found prospects who fit their team well.

1. The Buffalo Bills were able to get terrific value in the second round. Cornerback Ronald Darby was seen as a borderline first round prospect and the Bills were able to draft him at pick 50. The former Florida State Seminole had the lowest target to coverage snap rate among all cornerbacks in the draft class and has all of the intangibles you look for in a young cornerback. Cornerbacks generally need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, and Darby can be eased into a rotation in Buffalo. The team already has Stephon Gilmore, Corey Graham, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Ross Cockrell and Ron Brooks at the position, so rushing Darby isn’t necessary. Long-term, this is a terrific pick for Buffalo.

2. The Darby pick could make McKelvin a cap casualty. Again, Buffalo has no reason to rush Darby along, but if he thrives in training camp and the preseason, McKelvin could be a cap casualty. McKelvin has a $4.9 million cap hit in 2015 and 2016 and his salary doesn’t match his production. Buffalo’s former 2008 first round draft pick could be a surprise cut this season, but more realistically in 2016 after the addition of Darby.

3. John Miller has a terrific chance of starting immediately with the Bills. Currently, the team has Chris Williams and Cyril Richardson as starting options at left guard. Against Williams and Richardson, Miller certainly has a great chance of winning the job, especially since Miller may only have to worry about Richardson. Williams was a disaster last season before going down with a back injury and he may be released with a June 1st designation. Miller has the starting experience that GM Doug Whaley looks for in a prospect, the ability to play both guard spots and his power makes him a great fit in Buffalo’s power-running offense.

4. Karlos Williams is an interesting prospect. Most people assume that the fifth round pick will play at running back, but there is an outside shot that he gets some work at safety. This was Williams’ position before changing over to running back. However, until Whaley and the Bills say otherwise, Bills fans should assume he’ll be competing at running back. He’s a large back who could get an opportunity as Buffalo’s short yardage back but he’s more likely to start out strictly on special teams. If he makes the team, Bryce Brown would most likely be the player losing his roster spot.

5. Among all of Buffalo’s draft picks, Tony Steward may have the toughest time making the 53-man roster. At one time, Tony Steward was the nation’s No. 1 ILB prospect, but two ACL tears have taken a toll on Steward. The inside linebacker isn’t competing for a starting job, but he’ll have to battle Ty Powell and Jimmy Gaines for a backup role. Steward could also find himself on the outside of Buffalo’s roster if the Bills re-sign Brandon Spikes.

6. Nick O’Leary couldn’t have found a better situation for himself than Buffalo. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman loves to utilize the position and the team could see O’Leary contributing immediately. Jim Monos, Buffalo’s Director of Player Personnel, said O’Leary has the potential to play a lot for the Bills. The team feels like they found an impact player in Round 6 and Monos added, “all he does is make plays.” O’Leary isn’t a Y-TE, but the team may play him at the position. He has tremendous hands and is a good blocker. Buffalo and O’Leary were perfect fits for one another and it wouldn’t be a surprise if O’Leary made the biggest impact among all of Buffalo’s rookies this season.

7. Dezmin Lewis was a steal in Round 7. Many had Lewis ranked as a fourth round prospect. He has good hands and made some spectacular catches at Central Arkansas. What may work most in Lewis’ favor is his size. At 6’4”, Lewis could give the Bills a large red zone threat. Currently, the team may have one or two wide receiver spots open, so Lewis has a chance to impress the team. If he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Buffalo attempted to stash the receiver on their practice squad.

8. Draft grades are already pouring in and Buffalo is generally getting pretty low grades. In time, the grades may be deserved, but immediately grading a draft class is a ridiculous practice in itself. Some draft analysts complained that Buffalo didn’t address their biggest need at quarterback, but what could Buffalo realistically do in this draft class? The top two prospects, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, went 1-2. Behind them? Nothing but question marks. The Bills stayed true to their board and didn’t force themselves into taking a quarterback who wouldn’t be ready to contribute this season. In 2016, Buffalo can add a quarterback early if they feel the right player is on the board.

9. Taking three players from the same school generally doesn’t happen, but Doug Whaley made a great point when discussing Darby, Williams and O’Leary. Florida State has lost one game in the last two seasons. The biggest reason why? Their roster was significantly more talented than most in college football. Picking three players from a loaded team is never a bad thing. After adding the trio, Buffalo has now added seven players from the school since 2012.

10. Undrafted free agents will have trouble making the Bills roster in 2015. As it stands, Cedric Reed is currently my favorite to make the squad. Reed played the 2014 season with a torn meniscus, but when he’s healthy he can make an impact. Entering this season at Texas, Reed was discussed as a possible first round pick. With the injury, he never came close to meeting those expectations. Reed may be better suited for a 4-3 defense, but he has a chance to stick behind Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes at OLB.

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