Buffalo's scouting expedition will kick up a notch this weekend. Scout.com's Chris Steuber is reporting that the Bills will be on hand in Florida where the No. 1 Gators (8-0, 6-0) face Vanderbilt (2-7, 0-5).
Buffalo has kept a close eye on the SEC powers this fall, as we've followed inside the VIP forums. This may be the apex of their scouting.
The headliners are quarterback Tim Tebow and middle linebacker Brandon Spikes. Tebow is currently the No. 2 ranked quarterback on Steuber's big board and Spikes is the No. 1 ranked middle linebacker. Both project as possible mid-round first-rounders.
Spikes' value may have taken a minor hit this past weekend when he was caught on film gouging at an opponents' eyes. Not pretty. Spikes was suspended for half of a game by Urban Meyer — a sentence many criticized. However, in a twist of irony, the Georgia running back he poked away at said Spikes shouldn't have been suspended. Really. Georgia's Washaun Ealey said "We were just out there playing football." Call Spikes a victim of YouTube Nation. Something tells me this type of thing happens all the time.
There's no denying Spikes sheer ability. The cousin of the San Francisco 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes is the heart of Florida's tenacious defense. In seven games, he has 42 tackles, three sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
Yes, the Bills figure to be set at middle linebacker with Paul Posluszny. But considering Posluszny's injury-riddled career thus far and the ineptitude on the outside, don't discount Buffalo from taking a long look at Spikes. He's far and the away the scariest linebacker in the 2010 draft class. His hits carry a rare punch, the kind every team searches for.
And then there's Tebow. Everybody seems to have an opinion on football's latest golden boy. After his performance in the championship game last January I was sold. Recently, Tony Dungy said Tebow will be a Top Five pick. This guy will excel in the NFL. Nobody has his blend of skills. Sure, past quarterbacks have possessed rushing ability. But not of Tebow's variety. Florida's 245-pound quarterback prefers to lower his shoulder into linebackers, rather than dance around them.
He sees the field well, is an extra running back every play and brings unparalleled leadership. Someway, somehow he'll find a dangerous role in a pro offense. The past two years, pro offenses have evolved incredibly through different variations of The Wildcat.
There's a very high possibility Buffalo will be in market for a quarterback next offseason. In his third year as the starter, Trent Edwards has not progressed. He has had two concussions, continues to check down to running backs far too often and failed to beat playoff-worthy teams.
If the Bills wind up with a high-end pick, plenty of options will be available. See Steuber's full rankings here.
The recent failures of running quarterbacks could taint Tebow's value. Vince Young has been a major bust thus far. But really, Tebow is an oddity. He'll bring a flair of leadership wherever he goes. This week Buffalo will get to build its own opinion first hand.
Vanderbilt, the bottom-feeder of the SEC East, boasts a few NFL prospects also. But you won't hear the biggest name for a few years. Vandy running back Warren Norman has broken out as a freshman. Norman has 593 yards on 104 carries with three touchdowns. How Norman fares against Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee to finish the season will be telling.
Considering the Commodores have been forced to pass most of the season, Norman hasn't had an opportunity to truly flash his ability. Expect him to top some draft boards down the road.
Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis ranks eighth on Steuber's position rankings. He has three interceptions and nine pass breakups this season.
Be sure to follow Saturday's 7:15 p.m. tilt between Florida and Vanderbilt on ESPN2 or ESPN360.com to see exactly what the Bills are seeing.
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