Talent is often only half of the equation in the draft, especially in the first round. Value is the other half, and for the Bills this year with their 10th overall pick, their evaluation of a players’ value will likely be the far greater factor that determines the name Roger Goodell calls.
When we speak of value either during the draft or throughout the build-up that feels like it begins the moment the Super Bowl confetti has settled, we’re referring to a players’ talent in relation to both the slot at which he’s about to be drafted, and in comparison to his position peers. If the difference between a player in a high spot early in the draft and another player who’s projected to come off the board considerably lower isn’t significant, then the value is poor, and the pick can and should be used to address needs elsewhere.
I just used exactly 94 words to explain a mundane draft evaluation concept that should be common knowledge. Sure, go ahead and laugh, or become angry because I just wasted your time. But if you ask Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix to assess Michael Floyd’s value, he’d need a hell of a lot more than 94 words.
Floyd’s value will likely be the major question and challenge facing the Bills. To get some more insight on the decisions Nix is juggling, we talked to Brian Galliford, the editor-in-chief of Buffalo Rumblings.
1. The Bills need a wide receiver to complement Stevie Johnson, and they’ll likely have a shot at the draft’s best wideout who isn’t named Justin Blackmon. The projections for Floyd have been widespread, so do you think taking him at No. 10 is a little too early, or is the value right?
That’s a great question, and one that’s difficult to answer. Nix has made it very well-known that he likes the talent the team has at receiver, that he likes the depth of this year’s receiver class, and that he believes it’s easier to find help at the position because there are more of those types of players readily available throughout the year.
My guess is that the Bills will only take a receiver with their first-round pick if they think the player has a chance to not only make an immediate impact, but to become one of the stars at his position. I like Floyd, and think he has some of that play-making ability the team needs. I don’t think he’s an elite receiving prospect, and coupled with his off-field issues, I can’t say for certain that the Bills will see enough to take him when they think they can get help later on.
2. What’s the greater need between WR and the offensive line? And if the decision is made to address the O-line, does Riley Reiff get the call?
Nix has said that the team needs a receiver, and he’s also said that the team is going to draft a tackle if one is available, and that the team can never have enough tackles. Based solely on that, I’d say the team views tackle as the bigger of the two needs.
They’ve only got three on the roster at the moment, after all, so not only do they need a guy that – at minimum – can push 2011 fourth-round pick Chris Hairston to start at left tackle, but they need depth as well. As far as Reiff goes, the team passed on Bryan Bulaga to take C.J. Spiller when they already had Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson in 2010, and Reiff is similar to Bulaga in many ways. The Bills haven’t typically made high-round investments in tackles; Hairston was their highest-drafted tackle since 2002 mega-bust Mike Williams. They also seem to prefer massive players at the position; their three tackles are, on average, 6’7″ and 321 pounds. It’s therefore extremely difficult to pick who the team would prefer amongst the top tackles this year, but Reiff, I don’t believe, would be the first choice.
3. If Floyd is either passed on or isn’t available, are there any receivers in the second round and beyond that you like?
I like Rueben Randle from LSU, and Nix has admitted that he likes Randle too.
A lot of people like Randle. Greg Cosell has compared him to Hakeem Nicks, and there’s been a lot of buzz about Randle from the beginning. I’m not sure he’ll be there when the Bills pick in the second round, but he would be the prototypical Nix pick – a very good athlete from college football’s best conference at a position of need. Randle could conceivably compete with the other receivers the Bills like for that aforementioned No. 2 job. Another guy I like is Marvin Jones from Cal.
4. Despite the additions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, could the move to a 4-3 combined with Chris Kelsay’s age lead to a pass rusher who can be groomed and developed being drafted in the middle rounds?
Most definitely. But Kelsay will be part of the picture. Williams is 27, so he’s in his prime, but Anderson will be 29 in May and Kelsay will be 33 in September.
The guy that really needs to be replaced, however, is Shawne Merriman; the team simply can’t rely on him as their situational pass rusher at this point, and there’s not much behind him, with Kyle Moore (formerly of Tampa Bay) being the biggest name there. A developmental pass rusher that can play special teams and grow into a situational role as a rookie would make a lot of sense for the team.
5. Any other needs you’d like to see addressed?
The team needs depth at cornerback, and Nix has said he’d like to add two. They also need more speed at linebacker. There really isn’t any position that doesn’t need to be touched, save for running back, but one position I wish the team were more interested in addressing is tight end. Scott Chandler is a nice player and a good starter, but the team doesn’t seem interested in capitalizing on the emerging trend of having a receiving tight end featured in their passing attack.