The 2012 NFL draft is in the books and the Buffalo Bills have added pieces to hopefully get them over the hump. They immediately addressed their needs for a cornerback, offensive tackle, and wide receiver all with the first three picks, and immediately became that much better on the field.
The Bills have made their nine selections in this year’s draft, some better than others. Below is a breakdown of each of the nine Bills draft picks.
1st round (10th overall): Stephon Gilmore – CB – South Carolina
Analysis: I absolutely love this pick for the Bills. Gilmore has all the physical tools a team wants in a cover corner. He has the size to match up with bigger receivers and the quickness to stay with smaller, faster ones. He also has the skill and is willing to get involved in run support and join the blitz. The one thing he could really work on is being a bit more consistent as a tackler; wrapping up and not always going for the huge, bone-crushing hits. If he improves his tackling, there is no way Gilmore doesn’t become a top-5 corner in the NFL.
2nd round (41st overall): Cordy Glenn – OT – Georgia
Analysis: Boy did the football stars align perfectly for the Bills with their second round selection. There were a lot of mock drafts that actually had Glenn going to Buffalo at 10, but a projected late first round pick fell all the way to the Bills at 41. Although he felt that he should’ve been a first round pick, Glenn said he was excited to be in Buffalo because “Buffalo was one of my favorite teams growing up.” Glenn will go into camp in July with a great chance to pass current starter Chris Hairston, and become the team’s starting left tackle on opening day. People have questioned his weight, but what those people don’t realize is that Glenn was asked to put the weight on, and will be asked to take some weight off by Chan Gailey. Glenn’s work ethic is toward the top of this year’s draft class, and is motivated to become a top tackle in this league. Especially with the notion of some that he should be a guard in the NFL.
3rd round (69th overall): TJ Graham – WR – NC State
Analysis: I’ll be 100% honest, I didn’t like the pick at first glance. Other receivers like T.Y. Hilton, my personal favorite WR in this draft; Mohamed Sanu, a solid possession receiver who would’ve fit nicely I feel; Chris Givens, a talented, yet underrated receiver from Wake Forest. However, after sitting on the pick overnight , it makes more sense. Buffalo lost Roscoe Parrish to the Chargers in free agency, and wanted to add that pure speed receiver on the outside to play opposite Stevie Johnson. With Graham the Bills will get a guy who has the exact same skill set as Parrish just with better hands I feel. If used properly and if he is motivated to constantly improve, Graham has the potential to become a big steal for Buffalo.
4th round (105th overall): Nigel Bradham – LB – Florida State
Analysis: With their first pick of day three, the Bills used it to try and improve a defense that was terrible in defending the run, and down right awful at the pass rush. Most importantly, they drafted a linebacker that can cover the dreaded tight ends that Buffalo constantly has to face. He will compete with Kirk Morrison for playing time this season, but his impact in his rookie year will more than likely be on the special teams unit.
4th round (124th overall): Ron Brooks – CB – LSU
Analysis: The first thing you hear when Ron Brooks come up is that he only start three games in his college career. What I like about the pick is his potential. He has the chance to become a serviceable nickel/dime corner for the Bills, but his main impact will more than likely in the return and coverage games. He will always look to make a big return, and will be one of the first players down the field to tackle the returner.
5th round (144th overall): Zebrie Sanders – OT – Florida State
Analysis: In yet another example of the football stars aligning for the Bills, an offensive tackle who many believed would’ve been taken in the third/fourth round at the very latest fell right into Buddy Nix’s lap at pick 144. Sanders is viewed as, and will play, right tackle for the Bills and is the likely backup to Erik Pears for his rookie season. I really don’t see him earning any starts until his second or third season with the team. Come the 2014/2015 season, Sanders, in my opinion, will be that gem that teams talk about finding in every draft.
5th round (147th overall): Tank Carder – LB – TCU
Analysis: I love, love, love this pick. In my full Bills mock draft from my radio show on 91.3FM WBNY last Tuesday I had Carder falling to the Bills with the 124th pick in round four. To have him fall to Buffalo at 147 makes Carder an even better value at his position. The 2011 Rose Bowl MVP is a leader in every true meaning of the word. He will require the best from his team mates and will lead by example. The first player that comes to mind when thinking of Carder is London Fletcher, who was undrafted in 1998, but has turned into one of the most respected players in the game today. The big concern for Carder is whether or not he can keep up with backs coming out of the backfield and tight ends. However, his intangibles go without question, and if he can put on a little weight and work on his foot speed he could very well be a starter sooner rather than later.
6th round (178th overall): Mark Asper – OG – Oregon
Analysis: A depth pick and nothing more, Asper is capable of being a serviceable backup to Craig Urbik. Personally, I see Asper getting a shot at the number two guard position behind Urbik at camp, but will more than likely be put on the practice squad when the time comes.
7th round (251st overall): John Potter – K – Western Michigan
Analysis: A kicker. There is nothing more to say. He won’t make the roster, he’s just a preseason leg.
OVERALL GRADE: B-plus: The team would’ve gotten an “A” if it wasn’t for the kicker at the end and the iffy pick of TJ Graham.