Considering value, need and availability, the following players are presented as the top 10 most likely selections for the Bills at #10 overall:
1. WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (6' 3", 220 Lbs.)
Floyd has prototypical size and strength for the WR position. Statistically, he was one of the top WRs in college football. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Floyd demonstrated good hands, flexibility and sharp routes in open field drills. Most importantly, he clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash which was better than most scouts anticipated for his size. His combine performance addressed concerns about a perceived lack of explosion, agility and straight line speed and vaulted him into the upper echelon of draft prospects. His Notre Dame Pro Day provided the exclamation point. Mike Mayock (NFL Network), who attended the workout, commented that Floyd had tremendous breaks in and out of his cuts and explosion off the line of scrimmage comparable to top WR prospect Justin Blackmon. At this point, concerns about his several arrests in college on alcohol-related charges seem like an afterthought. The Bills showed their hand in free agency by aggressively pursuing Robert Meachem who ultimately signed in San Diego. GM Buddy Nix, who scouted a similar player - Vincent Jackson - during his time in San Diego, would clearly like to add a complement to newly re-signed WR Stevie Johnson and a big weapon for newly extended QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
2. LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (6' 3", 242 Lbs.)
Kuechly clocked in at 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. This was significant for a projected ILB prospect who now proved he could hold his own in pass coverage against increasingly athletic TEs and move from a 2-down LB prospect to a potential 3-down LB. Kuechly also registered an impressive 38" vertical jump and 123" broad jump which further demonstrated his surprising athleticism. Kuechly did not run at the Boston College Pro Day, but showed acceleration and burst in positional drills to prove that he is not limited to only zone drops in pass coverage. Kuechly's strengths, however, remain his tackling and instincts. He averaged eight solo tackles per game at Boston College and finished with 532 total tackles in only three seasons. While he will not blitz often in the NFL, he should be a steady, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Zach Thomas. The biggest question regarding the Bills' potential interest in Kuechly is whether they project he has the size, strength, and block-shedding ability to play on the strong side of their 4-3 base. Nix stated that second-year man Kelvin Sheppard is slotted for MLB and Nick Barnett at WSLB, so an upgrade over veteran Kirk Morrison is warranted. Kuechly would provide an upgrade over Sheppard on passing downs in the middle, but that is not enough to justify investment of their top overall selection. A projection to the strong side is key.
Reiff has played DE, TE, and OG in his football career. He looks the part of an athletic NFL LT with good footwork, lateral agility, and natural knee-bend. He proved durable at Iowa in starting every game in his college career after replacing Bryan Bulaga. While he uses his hands well and can anchor against bull rushes, he will be susceptible to fast NFL pass rushers such as hybrid 3-4 OLBs. The biggest knock on Reiff is a 33 1/4" arm length measurement which is below average for NFL LTs and a concern for some scouts who now project him as RT or even OG. It should be noted that Joe Thomas measured shorter arms than Reiff, so it is not a deal breaker. This pick depends on whether Nix disqualifies Reiff as a LT based on the arm length issue. If not, he is a very likely replacement for recently departed Demetress Bell. In his post-season press conference, Nix described current LT Chris Hairston as "serviceable" and with potential to develop into an everyday starter, so the desire to solidify the left side of the offensive line is evident.
4. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (6' 0", 193 Lbs.)
As South Carolina's Mr. Football, Gilmore transitioned from high school QB at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC, to three-year starter at CB for the Gamecocks. He is a late rising CB prospect, pegged as a high effort team leader and student of the game with good awareness, natural ball skills, and an aggressive demeanor. At the Scouting Combine, Gilmore posted a 4.40 in the 40 yard dash and a solid 10' 3 in the broad jump which led Sports Illustrated to label him one of their Scouting Combine winners. He may be one of the most underrated prospects in the draft but is quietly moving into the #2 CB spot behind high profile Morris Claiborne. Statistically, he was superior to Alabama prospect Dre Kirkpatrick. Gilmore showed well on film against Julio Jones and A.J. Green and has all the physical attributes of a starting cover corner in the NFL. He may be most effective in zone coverage schemes but has the abilities to develop into a man-to-man cover corner with further experience and coaching. For the Bills, 2011 second round pick Aaron Williams looks to be a lock as one starting CB, but with Terrence McGee fading with age and injuries (and a contract recently restructured to that of a nickel corner), Drayton Florence struggling for long stretches last season, and Leodis McKelvin subject to the "bust" label, Nix will need to add an impact cover man at some point in the draft. While Gilmore may not have tremendous upside, he would be a safe, prudent selection with quality intangibles.
5. OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia (6' 5", 345 Lbs.)Glenn had 50 starts at Georgia, tying a team record, including 32 at OG and 18 at LT. He played LT his senior season and also in Senior Bowl workouts. At the Senior Bowl, he showed quick feet, agility and body control for a prospect his size, and his stock began to rise as a potential LT in the NFL. He has ideal mass for a power rush blocker and a wide body and good base to seal off pass rushers. If he is able to gain leverage, he has the size and strength to flat-out erase defenders. Evidenced by a poor 23.5-inch vertical jump at the Scouting Combine, his overall explosion and athleticism is still in question and some scouts feel he's naturally suited to play on the interior in the NFL. While his versatility should be a strength, it is also a detriment as he is being projected anywhere from the Bills at #10 overall to mid-2nd round depending on where scouts place him along the line. Glenn visited the Bills in late March which should be no surprise as Nix is very fond of and familiar with Southeastern players. The issue is whether Nix feels Glenn's potential as a LT is worth a top 10 pick.
6. OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford (6' 5, 312 Lbs.)
Martin is a true left tackle prospect, but his stock has fallen due to concerns about his strength. The most damning piece of evidence may be film from last season's USC game wherein he was dominated by Nick Perry. These sentiments are echoed by ESPN's Mel Kiper who has dropped Martin from #13 overall to #21 overall over the course of his four mock drafts. Martin does possess all the requisite measurables for the position, including 34" arm length, as well as high character and intelligence. Having protected Andrew Luck's blind side for the past three years, he may have stationed the most critical position in all of college football. His experience in a pro-style offense should benefit his transition to the NFL, and with professional coaching to develop the technical aspects of his game, he could develop into an impact starter.
Kirkpatrick is a confident, somewhat arrogant, athletic, tenacious CB prospect from the reigning national champions. He only had three INTs during his three-year college career, but this is attributable to his physicality against the man at the expense of ball hawking prowess. Kirkpatrick is physical off the line of scrimmage and denies WRs a clean release and separation with his strength and aggressiveness. He hustles in run support which may be a detriment in the NFL if he leaves the sidelines open. NFL coaches will have to rein in his tendency to over-pursue. Those same coaches could be tempted to transition him to safety due to his length and slim frame. At the Scouting Combine, scouts observed stiffness in his movements and some questions arose regarding his preparation for the event. He posted a 4.51 40-yard dash, which was above average, and sat on that number for his Pro Day. A possession of marijuana charge filed against Kirkpatrick after he declared for the draft was subsequently dropped. While his stock has dipped slightly, Kirkpatrick remains a big game, tough, reliable, battle-tested CB prospect.
8. OG David DeCastro, Stanford (6' 5", 316 Lbs.)
DeCastro is one of the top OG prospects in recent years with popular comparisons to Steve Hutchinson and more recently, Maurkice Pouncey. He is almost flawless technically and can block in any power or zone scheme. DeCastro gave up only one sack in college - "The Sack" - to Brian Price of UCLA as a redshirt freshman in 2009. (Ed. Note: I had to look this up because I figured it had to be a typo. Nope.). He is agile, mean, and powerful, posting 34 reps of 225 lbs. at the Scouting Combine. Son of a South African rugby star, DeCastro is a perfectionist at his craft and, pound for pound, one of the best players in the draft. Offensive guard is not an explicit need for the Bills, but if they go this direction, it provides them the flexibility to kick Andy Levitre out to LT from his guard spot, or to provide an immediate upgrade over Kraig Urbik at right guard. ESPN's Todd McShay has labeled DeCastro "a special talent" and suggested that any team may be hard pressed to pass on him no matter what their immediate needs may be. If it were not for the generally low value of OGs, DeCastro would be a top 10 lock.
9. OT Mike Adams, Ohio St. (6' 7", 323 Lbs.)
Adams was one of five players suspended at Ohio St. last season due to NCAA rule violation of receiving improper benefits. He had shoulder and foot injuries in 2008, a knee injury in 2009, and was initially suspended by Ohio St. for two games in 2009 for violating team rules. In a separate incident in 2009, he was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia although the charges were eventually dropped. All this being said, Adams has exceptional height, length, quickness and agility for a LT prospect in the NFL. He had a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices which vaulted him into first round conversation. While he struggled in the weight room at the Scouting Combine, with only 19 reps at 225 lbs., he recovered with a better Pro Day, posting 21 reps on bench press, and reportedly enamoring the Steeler's front office with his entire workout. Looking at 2010 game film, Adams handled Houston's J.J Watt but struggled against Washington's Ryan Kerrigan. Overall, Adams is technically raw, generally inconsistent, but with big potential as an eventual starting LT in the NFL. In fact, Mike Mayock has him rated as the third best OT prospect behind Matt Kalil and Reiff, but one has to assume that is based on long-term upside not immediate reward.
10. OT Matt Kalil, USC (6' 6", 307 Lbs.)
This is a wildcard pick. Adam Shefter recently tweeted that the Vikings are not as high on Matt Kalil as most prognosticators assume. Couple this with recent comments by Minnesota GM Rick Spielman that the Vikings will consider potential trade options, and the trade-down rumors are beginning to float. If the Bills are set on upgrading LT and are not satisfied with flawed prospects Reiff, Glenn, or Martin, it seems they may have the option to move up to #3. It would take their 2013 first round draft pick to do so of course, but acquiring their best offensive line prospect since Will Wolford may be worth it. Kalil has all the physical attributes to go with a nasty temperament and has been considered by some as the most complete OT prospect since Tony Boselli. To add further intrigue, Kalil's father was drafted by the Bills and played in the USFL. His mother was Miss California, so there's that too.
And that's it from The Wire. If you're in the New York City area for Draft Day and don't have tickets to Radio City, be sure to check out the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers Draft Party at McFaddens on 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. At least a couple members of the Deeg will be there, so you're guaranteed to see at least one or two guys audibly cursing Ralph Wilson, whether it's necessarily relevant or not.