It never fails.
The rush to judgment after the NFL draft leaves analysts digging deep into the thesaurus for as many ways as possible to say "value," "need" and "scheme fit." After all, that's just about all there is to go off of when grading a draft for the first time, just days after it happened.
Perceived value is never the same as real value, as we learn every year when unexpected players have their name called and expected high picks are left waiting. Filling needs is not a successful way to draft. Grading drafts based on value and need? Talk about a moot point.
Why not wait until a few years after the draft to give grades based on performance?
With the 2010 draft now officially three years in the rear-view mirror, now seems as good a time as any to review and grade that year's draft class for the Bills.
But how did they really do? Let's take a look back and give them more accurate grades than any immediate context could have provided.
RB C.J. Spiller—First Round, Ninth Overall
The Bills were widely criticized for reaching when they picked Spiller. It took him awhile (probably because he's been so grossly underused), and there were certainly players of similar or greater value taken later in the first round, but Spiller has shown the potential to be the player the Bills thought he could be when they took him so high, especially in 2012.
His explosive potential was evident in college, in the running game, as a receiver and as a kick and punt returner. He scored touchdowns all four ways in his senior year. His skills as a pass-catcher were especially evident last year, when he averaged 10.7 yards per reception (a number in line with many wide receivers) on 43 catches.
Spiller ranked second in the league in yards per rush attempt with 6.01, just inches short of Adrian Peterson's average of 6.03 (albeit on 141 fewer carries). His underuse was a storyline we followed on the AFC East blog all season long, but he still has a chance to be a focal point for the Bills offense for Doug Marrone, whose Syracuse Orange led the Big East in rushing in 2012.
Spiller may still prove to be worth a top-10 pick based on his production. The athletic potential is certainly there. Now, he has a coaching staff that won't be afraid to use him.
DT Torell Troup—Second Round, 41st Overall
Torell Troup entered the NFL with the potential to be a space-eater in the Bills 3-4 alignment. Since joining the Bills, the only space he's eaten is on the roster.
In their defense, they couldn't have foreseen the circumstances. Troup suffered a herniated disc and a fractured spine, the rehab from which has taken him over a year. He was put on injured reserve to end the 2011 season. He tried to come back in 2012, but his recovery had not gone as quickly as he liked.
BuffaloBills.com notes that Troup is "doing football related movements" and is getting ready to come back in 2013.
Even if Troup comes back and plays at a high level, the Bills may never avoid scorn for this pick. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was selected with the very next pick in the 2010 draft. Compare Gronkowski's career to Troup's, and it's easy to see why so many fans will never get over the thought of what might have been.
The limited action Troup has seen in his career, combined with the thoughts of what might have been, make it almost impossible to look positively upon this selection.
DE Alex Carrington—Third Round, 72nd Overall
A huge jump in production from Carrington's sophomore to junior seasons led to a proportionate jump in his draft stock, and after he sustained that production as a senior, it was easy to see why he went in the third round. It seems, looking back, that the 2009 and 2010 drafts were the years of the 3-4 defense. Several teams switched to that front all at once, and the rush for talent at those positions was on.
Carrington, like Troup, was drafted with a 3-4 defensive front in mind. However, Carrington proved he could successfully make the transition to a 4-3 front as a rotational pass-rusher on the inside. He finished with 15 hurries, one hit and two sacks on 180 pass-rush attempts, making him the seventh-most productive pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus.com.
He has a heap of potential due to his ideal length and athleticism. Having a scheme versatile linemen like Carrington will certainly make new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's life a lot easier. To this point, though, Carrington hasn't been incredibly productive.
WR Marcus Easley—Fourth Round, 107th Overall
Easley was a walk-on for the Huskies, and expectations were incredibly low for him headed into his senior season. Forty-eight receptions, 893 yards and eight touchdowns later, he had scouts' attention. A strong showing at the combine, with a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 10'3" broad jump, solidified his draft stock.
While virtually everyone could agree that his athleticism and upside made him a draft-worthy receiver, opinions ranged from the fourth to the seventh round as to where he should be taken. Buffalo saw enough in his potential to take him with its fourth-round choice, but so far, they have gotten no return on that investment.
He has spent much of the first three seasons of his career on injured reserve or on the practice squad. He missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons with a serious heart condition, but he suited up for three games in 2012, and finally recorded his first stats, albeit on special teams with two kick returns. He played just four offensive snaps in 2012, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Easley was an underdog story at Connecticut, and he'll be an underdog story with the Bills now, too.
OT Ed Wang—Fifth Round, 140th Overall
"Godzilla," as he was known at Virginia Tech, was the anchor for the Hokies offensive line at left tackle. He was always considered athletic for his size at 6'5" and 309 pounds. A leg injury and questions about his overall technique led him to be considered solid value in the mid-rounds.
Wang suited up for just six games for the Bills in 2010, playing all eight of his snaps in one game against the Vikings. He was cut by the Bills at the beginning of the 2011 season, and was out of football until he signed with the Raiders prior to the 202 season.
He recently signed with the Eagles for the 2013 season.
LB Arthur Moats—Sixth Round, 178th Overall
Moats racked up some impressive stats in his final season at James Madison, with 23.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks helping him earn the Buck Buchanan Award as the best defensive player in the FCS.
All that being said, when a team drafts a player in the sixth or seventh round, the most they can hope for is a backup who can contribute on special teams. That's exactly what the Bills got in selecting Arthur Moats.
He has contributed sparingly on defense throughout his career; in fact, his snap count has diminished each year on the team.
He was a fish out of water in the 4-3 defense, but he may be more at home if used at defensive end as an edge-rusher. His ability to create plays in the backfield, though, may be a tool which Mike Pettine can use to his advantage in their attacking nickel defense.
DE Danny Batten—Sixth Round, 192nd Overall
At 6'4" and 250 pounds, Batten, like Moats, was projected as a nickel rusher for the Bills new defense. He had a solid showing at the combine with a 4.71 40-yard dash and 30 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press.
With 23.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a senior, his production—albeit against Division 1-AA competition—gave him the promise of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and disrupting plays in the backfield.
He was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury in 2010 training camp, but returned to play 227 total snaps in 11 games in 2011. He was not quite the pass-rusher the Bills hoped he would be, putting pressure on quarterbacks just three times (two hurries, one sack) all season on 78 pass-rush attempts.
He tried everything to make the roster, even long-snapping, but he was ultimately released by the Bills prior to the 2012 season, and has failed to land with another team.
QB Levi Brown—Seventh Round, 209th Overall
Brown threw all three of his career passes in one game against the Jets. He completed two and had the third picked off.
In 2011, it seemed the Bills wanted anything but for Brown to be the backup, listing Tyler Thigpen, Brian Brohm and even wide receiver Brad Smith ahead of him on the depth chart before eventually placing him on the practice squad, and later releasing him.
He made the move to the CFL, where he was signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a backup.
Again, in the seventh round, teams aren't expecting to get a very good player who contributes for years on end. That being said, it was quickly apparent the Bills didn't like what they saw in Brown.
OT Kyle Calloway—Seventh Round, 216th Overall
Calloway was a part of the same Iowa offensive line as first-round pick Bryan Bulaga, and he was projected to go in the first three to four rounds of the draft but fell all the way to the seventh round. His athleticism was considered limited, but he was durable, if nothing else.
He had the promise of positional versatility, which should have helped him contribute at different spots on the line. He played both tackle spots after beginning his career at left guard. Chan Gailey expressed a desire to try him out at guard when they drafted him.
Those desires were never realized, though, as Calloway never played for Buffalo. He was out of the NFL in 2011 after signing with the UFL's Hartford Colonials, and then spending 12 days at Ravens training camp.
The 2010 draft class was far from a ringing success for the Bills. Through several circumstances, the Bills have only got any sort of contribution out of three of their nine draft choices. Only four of the picks remain on the roster.
Spiller could get the media attention he deserves if only he could get the touches he deserves, as well. That may finally happen in 2012, and if Spiller develops into the top-five back he has the potential to be, that would lift this grade a little bit.
Switching schemes could be the best thing that's happened to Alex Carrington as well. He could still be a key contributor on the defensive line, especially in a multiple style of defense like the one Pettine runs. The same goes for Arthur Moats, even though he's been utilized on a decreasing scale over the years.
Continuity and competency in the coaching staff could go a long way in getting the most out of the players that are on the roster, but the fact remains a large majority of these picks aren't even still in Buffalo.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first-hand or via team press releases.