Updating Buffalo Bills' 1st-Round Big Board Post Combine
With the NFL combine coming to a close, the Buffalo Bills front office turns its attention back to the draft big board. The combine is one of the major steps leading up to the draft, but it is not the end all, be all. It is important for teams not to fall in love with the "workout warrior."
The Bills' first-round big board should consist primarily of offensive tackles, linebackers and pass-catchers, which are the team’s three biggest needs. The Bills own the ninth overall pick and should be able to address one of these needs with one of the premier players in this draft class.
This is how the Bills' first-round big board breaks down after the NFL combine.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
1. Greg Robinson, OT
40-yard Dash: 4.92 seconds
Bench Press: 32 reps
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches
Broad Jump: 113.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.80 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.86 seconds
In this year's draft, there are three premier left tackles (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan), and Buffalo should have a chance to draft at least one of these players at No. 9. While they are all talented, Robinson fits this team the best and should be No. 1 on the big board.
In Indianapolis, Robinson had a great performance, finishing near the top among offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash and the bench press. If he is still available when it is the Bills' turn to pick, there should be no hesitation, as he is an excellent run-blocker who could step in as starting right tackle immediately.
The Bills relied heavily on the run last year, finishing near the top in the league in rushing yards. They still have C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in the backfield, and there should be no reason to think this philosophy will change heading into 2014.
2. Sammy Watkins, WR
40-yard Dash: 4.43 seconds
Bench Press: 16 reps
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inches
Broad Jump: 126.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.95 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.34 seconds
Last year, the focus for the Bills was to find a franchise quarterback, which they believe they did when they drafted EJ Manuel. This year, the focus has to be on finding him the supporting cast to allow him to be successful. Sammy Watkins is a dynamic player who could be the answer for this team.
The Bills have talent at the wide receiver position but do not have a true No. 1 wide receiver. Watkins could fill this role and potentially excel, drawing comparisons to the Bengals' A.J. Green, according to Bleacher Reports' Matt Miller.
A player like Watkins would draw a great deal of attention, which would give players like Steve Johnson, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin better chances to make plays.
3. Jake Matthews, OT
40-yard Dash: 5.07 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches
Broad Jump: 105.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.34 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.47 seconds
If Greg Robinson is first among offensive tackles, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews is a close second. It is hard to argue one is better than the other, as they are both excellent football players, but there are a few differences. The biggest is that Robinson is more athletic of the two tackles with potentially a higher ceiling, but Matthews is more refined technically.
Though Matthews won't blow anyone away with his athleticism, like Staley he's a sound technician with impressive toughness who exhibits no major weaknesses, and is tough to beat in both facets of the offense.
The biggest similarity between Robinson and Matthews, as far as the Bills are concerned, is the fact that he can step in and solidify the right tackle position from day one.
4. Khalil Mack, LB
40-yard Dash: 4.65 seconds
Bench Press: 23 reps
Vertical Jump: 40.0 inches
Broad Jump: 128.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.08 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds
University of Buffalo's Khalil Mack continues to shoot up draft boards. A month ago, he was most likely going to be available when the Bills picked at nine. After his performance at the combine, that isn't as likely anymore.
If for some reason he slides to the Bills and the previous three players are gone, Mack would be a great pick for the Bills. He is athletically gifted, finishing as a top performer in a number of the combine drills.
As far as the Bills would be concerned, Mack would be a huge help for the run defense, a unit that finished 28th last year. Mack finished his collegiate career with an FBS record of 75 tackles for a loss and showed a consistent ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
5. Eric Ebron, TE
40-yard Dash: 4.60 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 32.0 inches
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches
Eric Ebron is a physically gifted tight end who could bring a whole new dimension to the Bills offense. At 6'4" and 245 pounds, Ebron could be a huge target for EJ Manuel down the middle of the field and in the red zone.
The question for the Bills: Is he worth a top-10 pick? As talented as he is as a receiver, he is not necessarily the total package for a tight end. As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller mentions in the video, he is not a polished run-blocker. The Bills finished the year with the most rushing attempts among any NFL team, and if this is the offensive plan in 2014, the organization may be looking for a player who can contribute as a blocker.
Even with the concerns as a run-blocker, the potential for Ebron is high, and he could potentially develop into a sound run-blocker. He already has the size and the speed to be a factor in the passing game and a potential mismatch for opposing defenses. He should definitely be considered by the Bills when they are on the clock in May.
6. C.J. Mosley, LB
Vertical Jump: 35.0 inches
Broad Jump: 118.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.30 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds
Selecting Alabama's C.J. Mosley only makes sense for the Bills if they are confident and feel comfortable moving Kiko Alonso from middle linebacker to weak-side linebacker. General manager Doug Whaley was quoted by WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia at the combine about such a move:
He would excel there, just like he excelled at middle linebacker. I think he's got the skill set to excel at any of the three linebacker positions. One thing that will maybe help him, because of his frame, it would probably help him not being able to take on those offensive linemen as frequently. So he might be a little more productive.
If the Bills do decide to go this route, Mosley should be the pick, as he is the best inside linebacker in this draft. He is a complete middle linebacker who plays similarly to the Bucs' Lavonte David, according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.
7. Taylor Lewan, OT
40-yard Dash: 4.87 seconds
Bench Press: 29 reps
Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches
Broad Jump: 117.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.39 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.49 seconds
Taylor Lewan is the third offensive tackle who is talented enough to go in the top 10 this year. He performed really well at the NFL combine and was a top performer, according to NFL.com, in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill among offensive linemen.
If Robinson and Matthews are both gone, Lewan would not be a bad consolation prize. He made the switch to offensive line as a senior in high school but started 48 of 50 games for the Wolverines over his four-year career.
He may not have the upside of Robinson or be as polished as Matthews, but he has the talent to be a very good tackle in the NFL. Lewan is good enough that he should be able to step in his rookie year at right tackle and have a major impact on the offensive line.
8. Mike Evans, WR
40-yard Dash: 4.53 seconds
Bench Press: 12 reps
Vertical Jump: 37.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.08 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.26 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.58 seconds
Mike Evans may not be a true No. 1 like Sammy Watkins but has the skill set that would be exactly what the Bills are looking for. The Bills need to find a big target for EJ Manuel in the red zone, and at 6'5" and 225 pounds, that is exactly what Evans brings to the table.
The big concern with Evans though is if he has the speed to get separation and beat NFL cornerbacks. CBS Sports' Rob Rang brought up this same concern in his scouting report when he wrote:
Relies too much on his size and physicality to win at the catch-point because he struggles to gain consistent separation. Able to dominate the smaller, weaker corners at the collegiate level but could struggle to do so in the NFL.
If the Bills believe that Evans has enough speed to be effective in the NFL or has the muscle to overpower cornerbacks, he could be the pick in the first round because of his size and his ability to make plays in the red zone.