Overall, I had two main takeaways from the 2015 NFL Draft. The first being that it felt like more of an arms race then it did trying to gain talent for the Buffalo Bills (though I do see that we added some positional depth that we will need a couple years down the road). The second one being that our team, as well as everyone else, really did take talent over character off the board in a big way.
I know talent wins football games and I feel like it was more front-and-center this year but it really surprised me how many red-flagged guys went so early! There were some things I loved about this year’s draft including it being in Chicago, Jim Kelly announcing one of our picks to a standing ovation and the incredible Fan Fest Event that we put on at One Bills Drive:
I have to begin the review talking about one thing we didn’t do, which was draft anyone in the first round. Last year, the Bills traded up with Cleveland so they could snag WR Sammy Watkins and the biggest question leading up to this year’s draft has been “was it worth it?”. The big guns at One Bills Drive and even a few over at ESPN say yes and I have to agree to some extent. The Buffalo News broke it down in the easiest way possible and when you look at it like this you’d have to agree that only time will tell:
“The transaction ultimately broke down like this: The Bills moved up to No. 4 overall by dealing their 2014 first-round pick, No. 9 overall, to the Browns along with first- and fourth-round selections this year. Those picks ended up being No. 19 and No. 115 overall after the Bills’ 9-7 season.
The Browns ended up with Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert last year. So far, that move hasn’t worked out – Gilbert had a miserable rookie season.
Watkins, on the other hand, simply had an uneven one. He finished with 65 catches for 982 yards (15.1 yards per reception) and six touchdowns. His catches and yards set rookie team records, as did his four 100-yard games.”
Without a pick in the first round, the Bills knew they would need to add talent in the offseason and boy did they deliver. You can read a little more about who they added and how I felt about each move in my last article reviewing the offseason moves. Doug Whaley joked that the only calls the Bill’s received on day one of the draft came from State Farm and that they spent the day “betting M&Ms” on who would get taken when. Whaley said the only thing that surprised them was how far Leonard Williams fell. As a fan of the NFL I liked everything that happened on day one of the draft, as a fan of the Bills, I wish our division didn’t load up with great players but it still was fun to watch!
The second day of the draft brought two picks for the Bills. I know that this year’s draft wasn’t stacked as far as big-time talent but it was a deep draft which was good for a team like Buffalo that didn’t have a pick in round one. Teams obviously want to take a player that fills a need they have at certain positions but they also have to react based on other teams in the division.
When we took CB Ronald Darby as our first pick in the second round my initial thought was, “they’re just taking him so no one else will”. I think the case for us selecting Ronald Darby was a mix between that and knowing that in two years they’ll be looking to replace Leodis McKelvin and that they’ll need some depth at that point. He made some comments in his first interview here that “it got boring out there sometimes” when he wasn’t targeted often enough with passes, I’m weary of statements like that because it reminds me of something Stevie Johnson would say.
We had a huge need for improvement in our offensive line and I wish we would have picked a few more players to fill the need. In the third round we took John Miller out of Louisville. What I like about Miller is his strength and the fact that he’s flipped and played guard at both sides. With our lack of talent and depth on the line, his versatility may earn him a starting spot this season. The thing that worries me about him is that he’s leaky on pass protection and he doesn’t move his feet.
Karlos Williams was a good addition to the team as our 5th round pick even though he won’t starting right away in the backfield because his special team’s abilities will make him an asset immediately. Couple that with the fact that he is crazy fast and he reminds me of a Devin Hester or a Jacoby Jones.
All in all I’m happy with this pick because I think he’ll be a great special teams player with room to grow into our offense. I mentioned the talent over character part of the NFL in my intro and he falls into this, he was investigated for domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend last year and questioned in a Tallahassee drug deal that turned into an armed robbery. Rex Ryan said the team took a lot of players off their board before the draft started based on character alone so they must believe Williams made some mistakes but is ready to move past it.
In the sixth round the Bills took a linebacker from Clemson, Tony Steward, who could also be a good addition to our special teams. He was one of the most coveted college recruits but tore his ACL his senior year of high school and then again once he was at Clemson. While he was out, his fellow LBs really developed so he had to find a new role when he returned and that was special teams. I think he, along with Williams, will provide some special teams help and some positional depth to be able to contribute in a couple of years.
The only person the Bill’s drafted other than Miller that has a chance of starting this season is our sixth round pick, tight end Nick O’Leary out of Florida State. His talent paired with our lack thereof at that position gives him a solid chance. He’s a monster in zone coverage and has the ability to get open in some high-pressure situations which is something we desperately need.
Last but not least the Bill’s took WR Dezmin Lewis from Central Arkansas. The Bills have their needs covered as far as speed and routes with their receivers, but they haven’t been able to get a big target on the outside. They tried with James Hardy and Ramses Barden and we tried to create mismatches over the middle with Scott Chandler, but we haven’t had a jump-ball option outside the hash marks in a long time!
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