So, another year, another draft down. Nine new players will come to Buffalo to try and work towards what first-round-pick CJ Spiller calls “the ultimate goal.” Let’s check ’em out:
1 (9) – CJ Spiller, RB Clemson [5’11” – 196 lbs.]
Nix and company really showed their draft style with this one. They will not reach hard for a player that they have on their board if the value is not there. That being said, with the top two tackles off the board in Trent Williams and Russell Okung, they took the game breaking playmaker that is Spiller. The team – and most of the league – sees him as another Chris Johnson in the way that he can bump it to the outside and make big plays with little effort. He is a great receiver and has solid moves when inside running as well as his outstanding abilities on the outside. Spiller also excels in the return game, posting five returns for scores in just 31 special teams touches. The only real knock on him is his size, but I don’t see that as a concern, as Johnson, touted widely as the best back in the league, only carries another four pounds. I think this is a great pick, and while he won’t start right away and didn’t fill a need, this is the type of player that you have a hard time passing up. He’s a superb weapon and will fit nicely into this offense. I believe that he will catch and return more balls than he will rush in his rookie season, but I see Gailey doing whatever he can to get this shiny new toy on the field as much as possible.
2 (41) – Torrell Troup, NT Central Florida [6’3″ – 314 lbs.]
Some saw this selection as a reach, but considering the run on defensive tackles at this point, there was no way that the second or third best nose tackle was going to be on the board when we came back up for the 72nd selection. Troup will be the starter from day one, splitting downs with the undersized Kyle Williams. According to GM Buddy Nix, Troup figures to see the field for about 30 snaps per game, mostly on early run downs. I can imagine Williams being the primary option on 3rd and long as Troup still has a ways to go to have a solid pass rush repertoire. One great thing about him is his massive ability to push the pocket and take up multiple blockers in the process. Troup is a sure tackler and should help the run defense improve tenfold. He’s got some minor weight issues, but with our new strength and conditioning staff he may find himself back on the right track. Though he likely can’t carry much more weight on his frame, these guys can get him to use and carry what he has effectively to further help him dominate and give the opposing team’s interior fits.
3 (72) – Alex Carrington, DE Arkansas State [6’5″ – 280 lbs.]
The biggest thing about Carrington is his impressive bull-rush. The kid has nice size and plays low, which helps him get a good push against opposing tackles. He’ll play the five-technique defensive end role here and likely compete with Spencer Johnson and John McCargo for snaps behind Edwards and Stroud. Carrington’s motor does come in to question at times, so defensive coordinator George Edwards will have to keep on him to help him through this. He seems to have great upside though the stats will never really show as such – just as any defensive lineman in a 3-down front. I would have preferred a wideout like Minnesota’s Eric Decker or USC’s Damian Williams here, even quarterback Colt McCoy, but Alex looks like with the right pressure on him he will be a solid contributor to our young defense.
4 (107) -Marcus Easley, WR Connecticut [6’3″ – 210 lbs.]
Easley’s a bit of a project, and was a reach here in the early fourth – but two players I think that Buffalo was looking at and expecting to be on the board here went in the early picks of the round in Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard and Syracuse’s Mike Williams, leaving them with Easley. He was a former walk-on at UConn and did not see the field much (five catches for 104 yards and no scores in 22 games) until his final season as a fifth-year senior (48 catches, 893 yards, 8 scores in 13 games). He has great size and is versatile enough to play all three major wideout positions, though immediately he looks like he’d be best suited to come on the field in the slot and be a target across the middle of the field. He’s a great run-blocker, second to only Demayrius Thomas in this class, and excels on special teams kick coverage. Listening to the positives you’d think he’d be a lock for a first round pick, but he doesn’t come without some faults. He has very little confidence in his large hands and oftentimes will try to trap the ball to his body rather than reach out and pull it out of the air. His route running also needs a lot of work, this past year he was mostly used as a straight-line downfield threat and wasn’t asked to do very much more. One positive in that all is that when he runs a bad route, he makes up for it by fighting for position very well against opposing defenders. He’ll, at the very least, be a special teams standout early in his career under Bruce DeHaven, but I can see him factoring in well for the jumbled competition at wide receiver behind Lee Evans. Again, he was a reach, but a necessary reach, and with good coaching he may provide a solid option opposite the number one in Evans or in the middle of the field.
5 (140) -Ed Wang, OT Virginia Tech [6’5″ – 309 lbs.]
Wang, the first Chinese-American player to have ever been drafted into the NFL, started at left tackle for the Virginia Tech Hokies for the past two seasons. In the NFL, it sounds like his best fit is on the right side to start out with, though the blindside still remains a possibility. He has great size with long arms and consistently plays very strong. Wang has great game speed, is quick with his feet and does a good job at changing directions to take on new defenders. He does play too high, though, and that causes him to lose leverage and routinely will not finish blocks as a part of this. As a player who gets flagged as much as he does (and one who was mutilated in the Senior Bowl against top-notch edge rushers), it will take him a little while to become acclimated to the pro game, but Wang looks like a good selection in the fifth to provide depth and develop down the road. It’s not likely he moves inside at any point, so look for him to grow behind starting right tackle Cornell Green for the next season or two.
6 (178) -Arthur Moats, ILB James Madison [6’0″ – 246 lbs.]
One thing that jumps out immediately about Madison is that he racked up 29 sacks over his collegiate career along with an impressive 48.5 tackles for loss. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up with in push, motor, and leadership. With the top-notch pass rush skills that he possesses, Moats was projected as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but Buffalo wisely moved him inside to cover up his lack of lateral movement and agility in coverage. It stands to mention that he has never played upright, manning the 4-3 end for James Madison throughout his career, so this may be a lengthy transition. Also, Moats, coming from a FCS school, didn’t ever face top competition, so how he holds up against the big boys in the NFL remains to be seen. Arthur was originally projected as a third-fourth round selection who slipped due to questions about his competition. He just never stops when he’s on the field and has a wide array of pass rush moves and skills, so it will be very interesting to see how the team utilizes him in their new scheme.
6 (192) -Danny Batten, OLB South Dakota State [6’3″ – 246 lbs.]
The selection used to take Batten is the last remaining piece in the Jason Peters trade – we received the picks used to take OL Eric Wood, TE Shawn Nelson, and now Batten for the Pro-Bowl tackle via trade prior to last April’s draft. This pick seems very reminiscent of the last regime in that Batten is undersized, from a small school, has a high motor, and figures to step in on special teams immediately though he may never see the light of day on defense. He’s quick to the ball and surely can’t be accused of taking plays off, sometimes over-pursuing from going so hard. Again, his level of competition comes into question here, but he was solid against the run and is a good tackler. I’d imagine to see him immediately worked into special teams but at outside linebacker, he’ll have a tough time seeing the field behind the likes of Maybin, Schobel, Kelsay, and Ellis.
7 (209) -Levi Brown, QB Troy [6’4″ – 219 lbs.]
The Bills finally take their quarterback project here with Brown, using the pick they received in return from the Detroit Lions for safety Ko Simpson in September of ’09. Brown is a terrific value here and has been overlooked throughout this whole process. He was invited to the scouting combine – but just as a throwing body, not to participate in any drills or to be looked at by scouts. His tape is good and he has good mechanics and the fastest release in the draft. Brown does not get flustered under pressure, staying calm and able to move through his progressions nicely. That said, he does have problems moving around in and outside of the pocket and struggles heavily throwing on the run. While he is extremely accurate on underneath routes, his deep ball leaves much to be desired. His prototypical size, arm strength, coolness under duress, and quick release gives him good promise but make no mistake – Levi Brown is a project and will take a few seasons to develop. Expect him to make the roster no matter what because of this, and the veteran with the worst off-season showing will likely be shown the door unless the team wants to take a gamble by leaving Brown on the practice squad.
7 (216) – Kyle Calloway, OG Iowa [6’6″ – 323 lbs.]
Calloway, our final pick in 2010, is one of the major steals of the final day. Overshadowed by first round linemate Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers), Calloway was regarded as one of the better prospects at tackle this year even if he would never fit on the left side. He is a powerful blocker, and the team has moved him inside to guard to be the primary backup for second year men Eric Wood and Andy Levitre to best utilize his skill set and conceal his lateral movement and blocking in open space. I do wonder if he’ll be at all successful when pulling, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I suppose. Calloway has better-than-good footwork and again, his versatility is key and should help him to have a lengthy career in the NFL. I love this pick and can’t wait to see him take the field. We’ve been lacking solid depth in years past all around the team, and the offensive line has been the worst in this regard, so it’s good to see a promising young talent here to help the team out and get this offense moving.
All in all, I am pleased with this draft for what it is – year one in a rebuilding process. We came out with one, maybe two opening day starters in Troup and Easley and a few future starters that will all enhance the depth until they hit that benchmark. I see the team letting Demetrius Bell and Jamon Meredith battle it out for the starting left tackle job and throwing the best of our three veteran quarterbacks in to start this season and whichever position still needs work (maybe both) will be addressed early in 2011.
Also, a small snippet, we have signed at least a dozen undrafted free agents in the past 24 hours, and I’ll be putting up a little piece on the highlights of that crowd in the coming days. Keep your eyes peeled for that, enjoy your week, and as always feel free to add your questions or comments below.