So this past Wednesday I was sitting at home watching my North Carolina Tar Heels sludge their way through another ACC road game when I get a DM on Twitter from Joe, asking me if I would consider writing a piece for his website. So I says, “Sure.” I won’t bore you with the back and forth, but here I am. Here’s what you should know about me: I’m a life-long Bills fan. Born in Buffalo, raised in Rochester, NY. I remember the dark days of the 1980’s, the “Glory Years,” and well, I’m still standing now after this 12-year run of irrelevancy. Not a fan of Chan Gailey, I’m on the fence with Buddy Nix, and I believe Ralph Wilson Stadium is the worst stadium in the NFL.
I’m an avid Lakers, Bills, & Tar Heels fan. The Sabres are mess, but their future is a heck of a lot brighter than the Bills. (OWNERSHIP!) The Lakers and Tar Heels help me keep my sports sanity. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be in a mental house staring at white walls muttering to myself and scribbling “DICK JAURON..WIDE RIGHT..HOME RUN THROWBACK..MIKE MULARKEY..” on the walls. Thanks to Ralph Wilson and his inability to successfully run an NFL team since 1999, I’ve become somewhat infatuated with the NFL Draft.
I watch the NFL Combine like a zombie, I read all the posts on MockingTheDraft.com, I listen to Joe Buscaglia on WGR, and I wait for Mike Mayock’s one and only mock draft like a kid on Christmas. Brian Galiford on BuffaloRumblings.com is an excellent draft guy as well. So when Joe asked me to write something for his blog I knew right off the bat that I wanted to write about the draft. So here it is, four players the Bills should/will consider on Draft Day and the one player the Bills MUST DRAFT on Draft Day:
5. Quinton Coples: 6’6″ (he tall y’all), 272 lbs, DE/LB, North Carolina
**RANT**: I like reading mock drafts. I do. However, they are useless. The only mock draft to pay attention to is the one Mike Mayock puts out 3 to 4 days before the draft. Why you ask? Because Mayock doesn’t waste your time or mine. He goes to the combine and pro days and talks to agents, coaches, the players, GM’s, and everyone associated with a certain player and team to get the proper feel. That’s why Mayock hits about 60-65% on his mock draft. If Mayock says it, it’s 95% true. He nailed the top 3 of last years draft. McShay is a hack who nobody outside of Bristol, CT trusts or listens to. (Remember how much McShay LOVED Aaron Maybin to Buffalo?) Kiper is good but ESPN overuses him this time of year, and I believe he is required to have 54 mock drafts between January and Draft Day. Mayock is on the NFL Network but you would never know it. Homeboy is hunkered down in a cave watching and studying tape so he can provide YOU the knowledge. Mayock doesn’t do staged debate shows, or overproduced radio shows. Mayock is the King. When Mike Mayock appears on NFL Network this should be his theme music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBZ5zM_-8W4.
So why this rant on Mock Drafts & Draft Gurus? Half of the mock drafts you will read between now and draft day (pending the outcome of the combine of course) will have your Buffalo Bills drafting Mr. Coples. I’m not a fan. His sack totals in college were 1, 5, 10, and 7.5. In 2011 he was their best defender so offenses staggered protection to him, but at times he didn’t seem like he wanted it. I know UNC had some violation issues under Butch Davis, and he was fired, but come on. When your scouting report reads: “Motivation is a problem.. Does he want it?” then you have issues. The Bills don’t need a player like this. However, Quinton’s measureables and potential are off the charts. Remember Jevon Kearse? His rookie year and the years he gave Tennessee before his injuries? That is the talent and ceiling Coples has, in my opinion. The only reason I have him in my top 5 is because it’s a position of need. I was considering Justin Blackmon, but I don’t think he’ll be there at 10. Michael Floyd & Ashlon Jeffery aren’t top 10 picks for a team that has way more pressing issues.
4. Melvin Ingram: 6’2″, 276 lbs, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, South Carolina
When I watched Ingram play this year, I immediately thought of Robert Mathis from the Colts. Both guys are 6’2″, but Ingram is 276 lbs compared to 245 lbs for Mathis. Both are fast off the ball and can get to the QB, something the Bills are obviously looking for. When you read the scouting report on Melvin it will tell you he struggles with the run game, and at times will overpursue the ball carrier. The Bills can work around that. Melvin is very athletic. How athletic? When opponents attempted onside kicks against USC, Melvin was on the hands team. If he has a good combine, he’ll be pushing Courtney Upshaw, & Quinton Coples as the first Rush LB/End to be taken off the board. If Wannstedt uses him properly in this 4-3 defense, Melvin could be used as a hybrid type and will be make a lot of plays. Oh and there is this: Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 has the Bills taking Ingram in his first mock draft. http://wgr550.com/BUSCAGLIA–2012-NFL-Mock-Draft–1/12284999
3. Dre Kirkpatrick: 6’3″, 192 lbs, Cornerback, Alabama
As Jon Gruden would say, “THIS GUY RIGHT HERE.” He is the proverbial shut down corner. Very physical and can press WR’s at the line. The Bills secondary needs help. I like that Buffalo brought in former Raiders CB Stanford Routt, even though he went to KC. It shows they understand they have a need. Again, Buffalo needs help here as Leodis McKelvin can’t stay on the field because of his play (although at the end of year, his punt returns were quite impressive), Terrence McGee has been injured a bit over the last 2-3 seasons and will probably be cut/released/waived/given a viking funeral on Lake Erie, and Drayton Florence is like Stanford Routt: Gave up a lot of penalties, and big plays but he is a veteran who will always see the field because he can be durable and stay healthy. I don’t think safety is a concern. George Wilson is a playmaker along with Jairus Byrd (team MVP in my opinion) and I’m a big fan of Da’Norris Searcy. It’s on the edge where the Bills have the most trouble.
Let’s say the Bills draft Dre, who had 26 tackles with two forced fumbles and nine pass breakups this season. You pair him up on the outside with AJ Williams? That’s some nasty potential. AJ stands at 6’0″, 200lbs, and in this day and age with the pass happy offenses and being in a division with Tom Brady, this duo would be deadly. Imagine this starting secondary if you will: AJ Williams, Dre Kirkpatrick, George Wilson, Jairus Byrd. Oh and you could have Florence as your nickel or dime guy…. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did it move? Yes. I think it moved. Dre’s biggest red flag is character issues. He was arrested for drug possession, but that has since been dropped. Players like this who have been on two national championship teams, and played under Nick Saban, a coach with a proven track record with DB’s, need to be looked at heavily in the war room.
2. Courtney Upshaw: 6’2″, 265 lbs, Rush End/LB, Alabama
Ball don’t lie? Neither does the film. FILM. DON’T. LIE. This guy is an absolute stud. An instant starter and playmaker who the Bills oh-so-desperately need on the defensive line. Was teammates with Dareus at Bama, has been on two of the last three BCS National Championship teams, and played all three years under Nick Saban in the most competitive college football conference in the country. I know Buddy Nix is big on measurables, as he stated in his Jan 9th press conference (“I think again as an outside backer you want a guy that’s 6’4″ or 6’5″ and in the 255-260 range.”) Obviously Upshaw doesn’t fit Nix’s desired measurables and some scouts view that as a weakness because Courtney is an edge player… but as I said, FILM DON’T LIE.
Can the guy play? Can he move? Can he get to the QB? Does he have a motor? Come from a good program? Coached well? A winner? Leader? Eight questions all with the answer of YES. Courtney Upshaw could be the guy for the Bills and should be available at the ten spot. Upshaw led Alabama with 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He is aggressive, physical, and most importantly, a smart player who will be an instant playmaker for whatever team drafts him. Pass rusher is sorely needed on this team.
But there is a bigger need on this team. Something that this team hasn’t had since the ’90s and the Number One thing the Bills should do on draft day is….
1. Trade Up and draft Robert Griffin: Stop laughing… I’ll wait…….. Done? Good. I’m pretty sure you follow the whole NFL and not just the action at One Bills Drive. It’s 2012. It’s a playmaker and quarterback league. Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Eli(ite) Manning, Big Ben. All have won a Super Bowl since 2004. Matthew Stafford, in his first full season of competing with no health issues, passed for over 5,000 yards and 40+ TD’s. Cam Newton? Rookie of the Year, 4,051 yards passing (rookie record), 21 passing TD’s, and 14 TD’s on the ground. (Consider this: It was widely known that the Bills loved Cam Newton, if he was there, that was their pick. If Andrew Luck did what he was supposed to do, and come out in last years draft.. Luck to Carolina, Von Miller to Denver and… guess who to #3 to Buffalo? Cam. *sigh* /drinks bleach.) Of the Top 10 rated QB’s who had more then ten starts, nine of them passed for 4,000 yards or more. (Hi, Alex Smith.)
Fitzpatrick finished 11th in yards, 10th in TD passes, and was 22nd in QB Rating. He did lead the league in one quarterback stat: interceptions with 23. Look, I know interceptions happen, and the Bills receiving corp isn’t exactly the 1989 49ers. But ask yourself this question: Do you really think Ryan Fitzpatrick is the QB to lead the Bills into the playoffs? The answer is no. He is a career backup with a shaky arm, horribly accuracy, and no touch. His quarterback play is like his beard: Nice to look at at the beginning of the year & by week 9 it’s a mess that needs to be taken care of. In 2004 the Bills had a chance to move up & grab Big Ben. The price was deemed too high by Bills brass. Multiple playoff wins, and two Super Bowl wins later, Big Ben is working out pretty pretty well for Pittsburgh. A 12-year playoff drought later for Buffalo, we are still in search of our QB. Tony Dungy & Bill Polian have both gone on record saying they would have no problem taking RG3 over Luck. Griffin is a playmaker. A Heisman winner. A leader. (Check out this great piece by the guys at Mocking The Draft: http://www.mockingthedraft.com/2012/2/16/2802340/tale-of-the-tape-robert-griffin-iii-vs-texas#storyjump ) No price is too high for a franchise QB. Go get him.
It would take trading up to St Louis at 2 or Minnesota at 3. RG3 won’t get past Cleveland at 4. Look, I know this isn’t happening. Kate Upton will go on a date with me before this happens, but this SHOULD HAPPEN. (The Kate Upton thing should happen also.) The Bills need a QB badly. You put RG3 at QB, re-sign Stevie, get another WR to flank him, CJ at RB, the offensive line is steady, and the offense just improved a whole hell of a lot. If the Bills are serious about competing, winning, making the playoffs consistently, and being relevant in this league, then THIS is the move that they need to make. Here is a secret: The Bills have enough money to overpay for a Mario Williams, a Calais Campbell, or Cliff Averil to address their pass rushing needs. The Bills need a QB more then anything.
Sadly however, this won’t happen, because the Bills have committed themselves to Fitz and that ridiculous contract they gave him (that they can get out of in March but in all likelihood won’t). Look, I’m pretty certain that if everything fell into place the Bills could make the playoffs with Fitz. What I’m not convinced of is that Fitz can do it every year. He would be a solid backup for a guy like RG3. This was my first article for BuffaloWins. Please be gentle in the comments section.
Follow me on Twitter @Michael_Necci