With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Next up is the Buffalo Bills, whose record secured them a pick in the Top 10 for the fifth straight season. They have seven picks to use in an attempt to avoid the same fate next year.
Wide Receiver: Adding Mike Williams in a trade brought some more talent to the position a year after adding Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, but the Bills could still use a true No. 1 to top the group. That’s not Stevie Johnson anymore, if it ever was, and E.J. Manuel could use the help in his second season. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans looks like he can be that kind of receiver, which may mean he’s off the board before the ninth pick comes up in the first round. Buffalo could try to move up to assure they get him or take a shot later in the draft on a different member of a deep receiver group in order to add some depth to their own group.
Tight End: The Bills re-signed Scott Chandler, their leader in receptions in last season. Chandler is a solid, if unspectacular, player, but the quest for a more productive receiving corps could lead Buffalo to someone who could make more highlights at the position. North Carolina’s Eric Ebron jumps immediately to mind as a top talent who should be on the board when Buffalo hands in their first selection, although there could also be room for Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro down the line.
Safety: Jairus Byrd has departed for New Orleans, leaving a competition between the unproven Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks to play next to Aaron Williams. Given how much Byrd meant to last year’s opportunistic defense, the Bills might prefer to add a name to that mix. It would be unlikely to happen in the first round unless the Bills decide to trade down for the second straight season, but picking up an extra pick or two to go with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wouldn’t be the worst way for things to play out in Buffalo.
Tackle: Cordy Glenn is set at left tackle and Erik Pears returns at right tackle, but this is a spot where the Bills could look to upgrade. Pears is entering the final year of his contract, makes $2.9 million and didn’t play particularly well last season so the Bills could choose to pick a young tackle to challenge and/or replace him. Or, if they should happen into a top prospect like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews at No. 9, they could move Glenn to the right side and potentially upgrade the line in two spots at once.
Defensive End: One thing you notice when running through the Bills roster is that they don’t have a lot of glaring holes. They need Manuel to come through to make any kind of dramatic progress, but quarterback won’t be a pressing need unless Manuel fails to improve this year and the spots listed above pretty much round out their most pressing immediate needs. One spot where they could stand to get a bit deeper is defensive end, especially if they find a mid-round addition to bolster a pass rush that was very good last season.