The Bills continue to rebuild under head coach Doug Marrone. Buffalo can go in several directions with their pick this year. They need help on both sides of the ball. Last year Buffalo drafted quarterback E.J. Manuel and gave him a pair of wide receivers in Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods. The Bills also brought in linebacker Kiko Alonso, one of the bright spots on defense.
The number one priority for the Bills this season is to continue to develop E.J. Manuel into a legitimate NFL starting quarterback. They can do that by taking either Texas A&M Wide Receiver Mike Evans, or teammate tackle Jake Matthews, who would fill in the gap at the right tackle position.
The Bills need a right tackle, an offensive guard, a defensive end, a tight end, a free safety and preferably another option at wideout. How many picks do they have again?
Here are five players who I think the Bills should consider with the No. 9 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews and nephew of former Browns standout linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., is an intense competitor with extremely high football intelligence and athletic ability. He isn’t as quick as other tackles on the board, but he has the tools to become an instant starter in his first season. The Bills need to get Erik Pears out of the starting lineup, and Matthews could fill his spot immediately. The one knock on Matthews is his strength, but that is an easy fix.
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Like Matthews, Robinson brings intensity and a mental toughness to the position. At 6’5”, 332 lbs., he is built for the position and displayed his strength and his speed (4.92 40-yard dash time) at the 2014 scouting combine. He has been considered the most athletic of the top tackles in the draft, but he has shown trouble processing defensive adjustments. It would take Robinson longer to adjust to the NFL, but his potential is great.
Another possibility at OT: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan….Lewan has tons of upside, but his off-the-field issues have him falling past Robinson and Matthews. There are also questions about his consistency and toughness. However, if Robinson and Matthews are drafted early, I could see the Bills reaching a bit to take Lewan.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Kiko Alonso had a great rookie season, but the Bills would love to move him outside, making their front seven more diverse. Mack would allow them to do so. He possesses the ability to line up just about everywhere, including at edge rusher, with his pass-rush skills. Mack had a great Combine and an even better Pro Day. Many believe Mack is as talented as South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
At 6’5”, Mike Evans is the speedy, big target that EJ Manual needs. He scored 12 TDs on nearly 1,400 yards in for the Aggies last season. The Bills added wide receiver Mike Williams to the roster last month, but he’s not the true No. 1 wideout the Bills need. Whether Evans will still be available when the Bills pick is the biggest question. Evans is the second-best receiver in the draft, behind Sammy Watkins, but both wodeouts are predicted to come off the board early in many mock drafts.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Another big weapon for EJ Manuel. Ebron may be the best option left on the board for the Bills if they fail to trade up for a tackle. Ebron would offer a dynamic option in the passing game that current tight end Scott Chandler hasn’t been able to fulfill. Ebron visited Buffalo last week, so the Bills seem interested, but I just can’t see them taking him with the ninth pick unless all other options are gone. If that is the case, I could see Buffalo trading down in the draft. Other options: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA or a trade down for additional picks.
So what do I think will happen?
With the 9th pick overall, the Buffalo Bills select: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M