Final Bills draft thoughts

Final Bills thoughts: The only QB I’d take at No. 8 is Ryan Nassib, and only because Doug Marrone knows better than anybody what he can do.

This is a very poor QB class; Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, etc. will be picked way above their true rate because they are the only options. Using a top 10 pick on second-round talent is not good return on investment and can set the franchise back farther if they take a QB just to have one instead of waiting on a true franchise guy.

The Bills  could play Kevin Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson this year, take a top 10 talent-level player who can help next year’s quarterback (WR, maybe) and fill other holes on the team this year (the Bills are not contenders this year anyway).

As always, I remain a fan of trading down if the opportunity presents itself because the top picks have such inflated value.

Dream scenario: Marrone is in love with Nassib, is able to trade down into the 20s and take him while stocking a few picks as well. It’s Marrone’s first year! Get set up for a serious run three, four years down the road and don’t do anything stupid trying to win right now when you don’t have the team for it.

NFL Week 14 picks

With the Bills all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it’s hard not to turn your focus to the draft. There were many enjoyable moments this season — even the thought of being in the playoffs is progress — but now we’re back to our usual December routine of using the last few games to decide what our biggest offseason needs are.

Of the four remaining games for the Bills, this week’s may be the most winnable. San Diego is 5-7 this year and dropped six straight before beating Jacksonville last week. Our other remaining games are against Miami, which has suddenly turned things around after an 0-7 start; Denver, which has Tim Tebow … no explanation needed; and New England, which probably won’t slow down Week 17 after we embarrassed them earlier this year.

Still, the Bills just have too many problems right now to beat a team with as much offensive firepower as San Diego. The Bills may be able to keep it competitive, but I’m taking the Chargers by a touchdown.

Bills (+7) at San Diego
Chargers

Indianapolis (+16 1/2) at Baltimore
Indianapolis

Houston (+3) at Cincinnati
Houston

Oakland (+11) at Green Bay
Green Bay

Kansas City (+9) at Jets
Jets

Minnesota (+10) at Detroit
Detroit

New Orleans at Tennessee (+3 1/2)
New Orleans

Philadelphia (+3) at Miami
Miami

New England at Washington (+8)
New England

Atlanta at Carolina (+2 1/2)
Carolina

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville (+2)
Jacksonville

San Francisco at Arizona (+3 1/2)
San Francisco

Chicago (+3 1/2) at Denver
Denver

Giants (+3 1/2) at Dallas
Giants

St. Louis (+6) at Seattle
Seattle

Overall

Skurski: 94-85-6
Northrop: 92-87-6
Always Game Seven 90-89-6
McKissic: 88-91-6
Gaughan: 87-92-6
Sullivan: 86-93-6
DiCesare: 82-97-6

Last week:
Tennessee (+1.5) over BUFFALO
Titans 23-17. Win
Kansas City (+7) over CHICAGO
Chiefs 10-3. Win
Oakland (+3) over MIAMI*
Dolphins 34-14. Loss
Cincinnati (+7) over PITTSBURGH
Steelers 35-7. Loss
CLEVELAND (+6.5) over Baltimore
Ravens 24-10. Loss
Jets (-3) over WASHINGTON
Jets 34-19. Win
Atlanta (-3) over HOUSTON
Texans 17-10. Loss
Carolina (+3) over TAMPA BAY
Panthers 38-19. Win
NEW ORLEANS (-9) over Detroit
Saints 31-17. Win
Denver (+1.5) over MINNESOTA
Broncos 35-32. Win
St. Louis (+13.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
49ers 26-0. Loss
Dallas (-4.5) over ARIZONA
Cardinals 19-13 (OT). Loss
Green Bay (-6.5) over GIANTS
Packers 38-35. Loss
NEW ENGLAND (-20) over Indianapolis
Patriots 31-27. Loss
San Diego (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
Chargers 38-14. Win
7-8

Mel Kiper’s haircut

Von Miller. That's what I look like that in Under Armour, too...

The long-awaited NFL Draft is finally here. They’ve been talking about this thing for months, but before today, the most important bit of news on the topic has been the fact that Mel Kiper got his hair cut this week.

Because really, I couldn’t care less about players moving two spots on the Big Board from the week before, especially in the middle of March. I can’t handle predictions for the draft — often dubbed the biggest crapshoot in sports — months before it even takes place.

I’ll never understand how player rankings can change so much from the end of the season to the big day, but they say it helps teams make better, more informed picks (apparently the Bills haven’t picked up on this). NFL reporters aren’t going to do nothing after the Super Bowl, but it just wouldn’t be ESPN if they didn’t give us the same news as the day before with a minor tweak instead of showing more about the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now that were finally within my range of acceptable time to discuss the draft (pushed back a little bit by the Sabres), I’m ready to talk about the third name Roger Goodell might read next tonight.

I read Allen Wilson’s draft preview in the Buffalo News last week and I watched ESPN’s segment dissecting the Buffalo Bills, both of which have Buddy Nix taking Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. As Kiper noted in the segment, a linebacker like Miller fits the persona of Buffalo picks — not flashy or sexy, but a safe pick made to fill a need (and a pretty darn good player, too).

That’s about the best argument there is for him. He’s a pass rushing outside linebacker who would be a nice fit for the Bills’ 3-4 defense that is not getting what it hoped out of Aaron Maybin. I don’t think Paul Posluszny has done that well either, but he has gone on the record saying he “want[s] to be a Buffalo Bill for a long time,” which is more than most can say. I’m not expecting much out of Shawne Merriman.

Hopefully Miller would also help the run defense, which was  painful to watch last season, giving up a league-worst 169.6 yards per game.

Public opinion seems to be split between Miller and Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. Allen Wilson didn’t think he’d be available for the Bills at 3. Todd McShay says Carolina should take him No. 1.

Dareus is 6-3, 319, and looks to be an immediate impact player. I think the offensive line is a bigger need area for the Bills than defensive line, but players this good are hard to pass up. Buddy Nix has a track record of taking the best player available, regardless of need (see: Spiller, C.J., for a recent example), and Dareus fits that mold. He just might not make it to 3.

Some people argue Cam Newton is one of those players that is the best around. Potential franchise quarterback, they say. He’s one heck of an athlete, but I just don’t see it.

When I think of franchise quarterbacks, I think Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. These are pocket passers, not scramblers. Last season at Auburn, Newton ran for 1,409 yards. In their careers, Manning and Brady have a combined 1,329.

That alone is not a fair assessment of Newton because he did put up one of the highest passer efficiency ratings in NCAA history and is not a true scrambler, but the NFL is much different from the NCAA. No matter good the defenses are in the SEC, you just don’t draw up running plays like that for quarterbacks in the NFL, and from all accounts, Newton is no Mike Vick.

Donovan McNabb is a rarity, but I’m not comfortable handing the keys over to a rookie. The Bills are driving a beat up ’75 Ford as it is. You don’t put a first-time driver behind the wheel and expect him not to have problems with the car.

Marcell Dareus is a baaaddd man.

You’d think Bills fans would learn the lesson with one-year wonders after seeing what Maybin (hasn’t) done on the field. Newton was at Florida for two years, didn’t play behind Tebow and ended up transferring to a junior college in Texas. Blinn won the national championship under Newton, but I really hope a lot of D-I quarterbacks could succeed in JUCO.

The funny part is that after the BCS National Championship game, all the talk was about Nick Fairley and the inevitability of him going first overall after such a dominating performance. He’s since fallen from the “you’ll never be able to spend this much money as long as you live” draft spots to the “just boatloads of money” positions, although neither is a good place to be for someone who reportedly has responsibility and work ethic issues.

The only argument I like for Newton is that it makes a splash. It puts the Bills on the map and gives us a player everyone knows about. When I was in L.A., a professional NHL journalist made the comment that “it must be hard in Buffalo with the Sabres being [our] only pro team.” I paused for a second and my tone changed. “We have the Bills,” I said, sparking laughter among others in the room (I’m hoping because they felt bad for the guy, not because they forgot too). Newton would be a player fans across the country would associate with Buffalo and would be a nice talking point for people to bring up the Bills.

Truth be told, I don’t want either Auburn product on my team. I approve of Miller or Dareus, and I wouldn’t be that mad to learn the Bills traded down if someone came calling.

I feel not taking a quarterback at some point would be a huge mistake. There will be high-profile passers around when the Bills come up in the second round, which is where I’d like to see Christian Ponder or Ryan Mallett taken. Andy Dalton and Jake Locker also fit into this draft position, but I’m not as high on them.

Blaine Gabbert isn’t a terrible pick at 3, if that’s a route the Bills want to take, but it is a stretch. However, I’d rather have Gabbert than Newton. If the Bills want to wait a little bit longer on a QB, Ricky Stanzi could be a good middle-round pick. After that, it’s really not worth it.

Whoever we draft, I want Fitzpatrick under center next season. Let the kid watch and learn for a little bit. A lot of rookies become captain checkdown like Trent Edwards, too afraid (or not confident enough) to throw into tight spaces. It would be good for any young guy to learn from Fitzpatrick’s ballsy, “I can fit it in there, just watch me” style.

Patrick Peterson (DB) and A.J. Green (WR) are both highly talented, high first round picks, but for once, I’m hoping the Bills can just pick someone we won’t hate them for.