Once again it's time for our weekly Q&A Session. Up this week is Brian Bund from Buffalo Wins.
1. A lot of people pre-draft had the Bills selecting OLB Von Miller out of Teas A&M. So, what were your thoughts when DE Marcell Dareus fell into their lap?
The interesting aspect of the pre-draft buildup is how much things changed over the course of a couple months. Back in January it was pretty much a given that Andrew Luck, Da’quan Bowers and Nick Fairley were going in the top 3 picks. We all saw how that turned out. As the draft process headed through March and into April, more analysts predicted that Von Miller from Texas A&M would end up on the Bills. It wasn’t until that last week that it was introduced that Denver would take him ahead of the Bills, meaning Marcell Dareus would be available. With all things considered I think the Bills are extremely lucky to have gotten Dareus. He’s going to match up well on the defensive line with Kyle Williams and is versatile enough to play in a 3 or 4-man front while taking up multiple blockers. He did not put up the huge sack numbers like Miller, but after a season of possessing the league’s worst rush defense it was an obvious need. After two Buddy Nix drafts it is easy to see what his goals were for the team. They spent a majority of their early round picks getting bigger and more physical on the front seven. If last year’s picks Alex Carrington and Torrell Troup can continue to improve, the defensive line rotation could end up being a surprising position of strength.
2. What do you think of Aaron Williams? Can he make an impact in the secondary right away with his first round talent?
Many people looked at the corner as a position of limited need for the Bills, but the truth of the matter is there was a lot of uncertainty about how the secondary would look heading into 2011. Terrence McGee has been dealing with injuries, Drayton Florence is a free agent and Leodis McKelvin has struggled to find his consistency. Depending on what the Bills do with bringing back Drayton Florence and Terrence McGee’s health, I would expect Aaron Williams to definitely have every opportunity to see significant playing time as a rookie. I would at least expect him to get some opportunities on passing downs in the nickel or dime packages. He’s a big corner at 6’0” and 204lbs so his size may allow the Bills to try and address their inability to cover the tight end position effectively as well. He’s not your total ball hawk cornerback (4 career INTs), but again reinforces the notion of getting more physical against the run. Mel Kiper said he graded Williams the highest rated tackling cornerback he’s seen in years. I would definitely expect to see him make an impact this season and Bills fans love corners that can come up and tackle (Antoine Winfield especially).
3. What was the steal/ultimate value pick of Buffalo's draft?
The Bills may have found five or more future starters out of this draft. Until games are actually played it’s difficult to start seeing how these players ultimately work out. I think the Bills did a really good job taking a chance on two guys on the seventh round from smaller schools. Justin Rogers from Richmond is considered a project coming from the smaller school and having to assimilate to the NFL game. Even as a project, the Bills have the luxury of not needing him to play this year and he could work his way into a starting role. The even larger (literally) value pick could end up being Michael Jasper from NAIA school Bethel. He had his playing weight up to 450lbs at one point but prior to the draft got below 400lbs and his weight does not seem to adversely affect his athleticism as displayed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
4. What needs do the Bills have to address before the season begins?
When the lockout is lifted I think the Bills are first and foremost going to bring in a couple quarterbacks to fill out the roster. They currently only have two on their roster including Levi Brown who will most likely only be competing for the third string position. After that, some of it will depend on whether or not the league reverts back to 2010 rules and if the Bills retain Paul Posluszny or do they need to re-sign him. I don’t expect the Bills to address too much before this season in free agency. If they do address some positions, look for them to bring in another inside linebacker, right tackle or tight end to compete with those already on the roster.
5. What free agent quarterback should Buffalo target to compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job?
If they were truly going to have an open competition for the starting position I would think they would seriously have to consider Vince Young. However, I think they are going to try and go the more prototypical backup quarterback. Tyler Thigpen (Dolphins), Dennis Dixon (Steelers) or Billy Volek (Chargers) all make some sense with Thigpen leading the way for having a history with Chan Gailey in Kansas City. Some of this will depend on the new CBA, but I think the Bills will make a play for one of the aforementioned players pretty strongly.
6. What was your reaction to the Patriots selecting Ryan Mallett in the 3rd Round?
My first reaction was that it seemed like too much of the ‘value’ pick. I also think it was the perfect fit. For all the Mallett detractors, he ends up going to a very stable team with a veteran quarterback. Being a backup for a while can work out (Matt Cassel and Matt Schaub) if you take advantage of your opportunities. I thought the Patriots could address more pressing needs in pass rush or offensive line depth (although they did later) , but they got a guy that many believed had first round talent much later than that. It also gives them a pretty solid insurance policy on Tom Brady to have someone that can orchestrate a pretty sophisticated offense without having to scale it back too much.
7. Who in the division had the best/worst NFL Draft?
Call me a homer, but I really do think the Bills had the best draft. I think they addressed some serious needs on defense and the front seven while still getting a potential starting right tackle. There were too many holes to fill in one draft so it is easy to point out what they didn’t address, but as I mentioned before they could end up with 5 or more starters out of this draft. I still think the Patriots and Jets had solid classes as well and if the Patriots had made that second pick in the first round I might have chosen them. I think the Dolphins were probably the loser although they got some good players. Mike Pouncey fills a huge need, but he may not be as good as his brother and was drafted very high for that type of position. They only had six picks and may end up with some very solid players, but not sure they got any impact players out of the draft.
8. How long do you think the lockout will last? With the lockout maybe lasting into the summer, what articles do you have planned for Patriots' fans to check out about the Bills?
The funny thing about the lockout is this will last as long as the courts will allow either side to continue stating their case. Once the courtroom charades are complete they will get a deal done in a matter of days in my opinion. It is hard to imagine that as we almost enter June this will be done before July 1, but I still think the courts will play a big role with June 3rd playing a particularly big role. Some of the things I plan on exploring through the lockout are some of the on the field position battles that loom, the pros and cons of choosing to re-sign certain players as well as exploring some of the big questions about what the Bills as a franchise will need to explore over the next several years.