Thursday, April 26, 2012

It wouldn't surprise me if the Buffalo Bills end up with...

a linebacker as their first round pick in the 2012 draft.

Where they pick him could be another story, but they could be lookin' real hard at the position.

Originally it looked as if they would shore up the left tackle spot with Reilly Reiff out of Iowa, which would be a safe pick for the team. Many are looking at tackle as a weakness and one of the main reasons the team had an NFL-high 25 interceptions last seasons.

But, conversely, the Bills gave up an NFL-low 23 sacks last season. Coach Chan Gailey has them running a quick-read, quick-release passing offense and the extremities can be attributed to a number of factors including Fitz being off the mark in the first instance and the his ability to run through his reads quickly in the second.

One would think that the loss of C Eric Wood was more of a factor than anything else when it came to the offensive line. Gailey has a way of hiding flaws through his schemes, and he did that very well again last season.

Other picks set for Buffalo with the #10 overall were Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd and Alabama S Mark Barron. Both of those are possibilities, yet both are positions on the team that aren't necessarily devoid of talent.

Jerry Sullivan is right when he says, "Dots connect the Bills to linebacker from BC."

The linebacker he mentioned is Boston College's Luke Kuechly.

The Bills linebackers are a good group, weaker than the safety or wide receiver positions, but stronger than the offensive tackles. But the traits that Kuechly brings to the table make him someone who would be hard to pass up.

First and foremost Kuechly is a football player, nothin' fancy, just a persistent ball-hawk. He also is very intelligent, has great instincts and can cover. He's been called one of the "safest picks in the draft" and "a rare talent who will be a very good player for a long time."

Mock drafts have Kuechly within the Bills range, right around the 9-12 spot, although some have him going as high as Tampa Bay at #5. Miami's in a pivotal spot with the #8 pick. Most have them taking QB Ryan Tannehill, but they could be looking at Kuechly as another Zach Thomas and pluck him.

If he's there at #10, the Bills would do themselves a favor by drafting a Thomas/Brian Urlacher-type linebacker who can call the defense and drive the defense with his relentless motor.

No worries if Kuechly is gone, there will still be a very talented player available with the pick. And the Bills will have the option of either having a good fit (would WR Justin Blackmon be there) or a player like Barron who isn't necessarily what they need, but would be hard to pass up.)

They could very well drop down in the draft. Dallas at #14 is said to be drooling over Barron as is San Diego (#18.)

Cincinnati has two first round picks (#'s 17 and 22) and would love to find a complimentary receiver for AJ Green. Should Blackmon drop to the Bills, you could bet they'd be calling.

The drop down target may be another linebacker, Boise State wrecking ball Shea McLellin.

Originally, the fast-rising McLellin could have been a possibility at #41, but he's rising up into the mid-lower teens.

McClellin is another "football player" and the Bills have serious intrest in him.

WGR's Scouting Session #2 included McClellin. West coast scout Matt Hand was gushing over him.

"Oh, man. I tell you what that's a character/football player alert," he said. "Unbelievable. He's a 100% football player, all he wants to do is play football."

But the kicker from Hand, "We interviewed him a lot at the Senior Bowl, we stayed in contact, he spent time here. He really loves Buffalo. That's a guy. We love him, and he loves us."

How far down could the Bills drop and still get him?

Dallas at #14 would almost assure McClellin is in a Bills uniform. Cincinnati's #17 might get it done. Anything beyond that would be a risk.

Here's my original mock draft from March 18 for the Bills' first three rounds:
  • 1st round, #10--OT Reilly Reiff
  • 2nd round, #41--OLB Shea McClellin
  • 3rd round, #72--WR Juron Criner

Here are two scenarios for today's first round:

  • LB Luke Kuechly at #10
  • trade down with Dallas for Shea McClellin at #14
edit: the 2012 NFL draft

Kuechly #9 to Carolina--preseason debut:

McClellin #19 to Chicago--preseason debut:

Reiff #23 to Detroit
Criner #168 to Oakland

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