2013 NFL Offseason: Buffalo Bills
Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents
Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 6-10)
2013 NFL Draft Grade: C-
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: Buffalo spent so much money and effort on improving the defense last year, but it didn't matter because the team didn't have a franchise quarterback. Kevin Kolb is definitely not the answer, so the Bills' No. 1 priority is finding a long-term franchise quarterback. Obtaining help at receiver and the offensive line is also important.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Thirty-one NFL teams knew how terrible this quarterback class was. No franchise wanted any part of those signal-callers. Except for the Bills. They went with E.J. Manuel at No. 16 overall, which was a colossal reach, considering that they could have obtained him or any other quarterback in the second round. In hindsight, Buffalo should have gone with Tavon Austin at No. 8 and then grabbed the signal-caller of its choice early on Day 2.
The Bills came away with a bunch of receivers, but all of them have major questions. Robert Woods comes from USC, a school that has produced tons of wideout busts. Marquise Goodwin is a very raw player. Da'Rick Rogers, a UDFA, has huge character issues. Put all of these players together with a mentally weak quarterback, and you have the potential for a very turnover-prone offense.
Rogers wasn't the only red-flagged athlete who was added. Kiko Alonso and Duke Williams also have character questions. They're both talented though, so they could pan out if they stay clean.
There are a ton of "ifs" in Buffalo's draft. There's potential, but it could just as easily blow up in Buddy Nix's face.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State: MILLEN UNCLE RUSLAN'S LOSER KIELBASA Grade
Only the Bills. With Geno Smith available, as well as Ryan Nassib, the head coach's former quarterback, Buffalo, for whatever reason, chose E.J. Manuel. I guess the only tape of Manuel's that Buddy Nix watched was the Senior Bowl. There's no reason why Manuel should have been chosen No. 16, especially with the other quarterbacks remaining. Manuel is extremely raw and doesn't have the same decision-making skills as the other signal-callers. He was terribly inconsistent throughout his career. He does project as a read-option quarterback, but he's nowhere near as skilled as Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson.
Follow @walterfootball for updates.
41. Robert Woods, WR, USC: B Grade
Buddy Nix said he was going after quarterback and receiver early in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he was true to his word. Robert Woods was arguably the top wideout available according to consensus rankings, though it is hard to trust USC receivers. Woods does project as an obvious upgrade though, so it's difficult to hate this pick.
46. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon: C- Grade
Kiko Alonso was not the top linebacker on the board (Arthur Brown, maybe even Jon Bostic). Even worse, he has glaring off-the-field issues, so the Bills will regret this pick if Alonso gets into trouble.
78. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: C Grade
Marquise Goodwin is a very speedy receiver, but he's a project. Unlike Tavon Austin, he's not a real football player yet; he's just an athlete. The Bills did need a speed element at wideout on their offense, but I feel like they picked Goodwin a round too early.
105. Duke Williams, S, Nevada: B Grade
Safety was not Buffalo's most pressing need, but depth had to be acquired in the wake of George Wilson's departure to Tennessee. Duke Williams was seen as a fourth-round prospect throughout, so this is the right range to take him.
143. Jonathan Meeks, S, Clemson: C- Grade
Another safety? I'm trying to figure out how this makes sense. Meeks was a borderline draftable prospect, so it's not even like he was one of the top players available.
177. Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State: D Grade
Rian Lindell, who signed a 4-year contract last season, went 21-of-24 in 2012. That means Dustin Hopkins will probably be just a kickoff specialist. Wasted pick.
222. Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas: A- Grade
I thought the Bills would have addressed the tight end position earlier, but Chris Gragg is pretty good value in the seventh round. I had him in the fifth.
*** 2013 NFL TEAM NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***
The Bills still haven't qualified for the playoffs since 1999, thanks in part to their lack of a franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly. General manager Buddy Nix apparently thought Ryan Fitzpatrick was that type of a high-level signal-caller when he gave him a 7-year, $62 million contract in the middle of the 2011 season. Fortunately, Buffalo can move on from Fitzpatrick without any sort of cap penalty, so Nix needs to do that. Nix has told the media that he plans on drafting a franchise quarterback this April, so it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with. An upgrade could mean a playoff berth; the Bills went 6-10, yet lost four games by seven points or fewer.
- Quarterback: There's a reason general manager Buddy Nix told the media he was going to draft a franchise quarterback. The Bills haven't had one since Jim Kelly, which is why they haven't been to the playoffs this century. Signed Kevin Kolb
- Wide Receiver: Nix also mentioned drafting a big No. 2 receiver to complement Stevie Johnson. There will be plenty such players available in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, including DeAndre Hopkins and Cobi Hamilton.
- Two Linebackers: The Bills spent so much money last season on defensive ends, but then realized that they have a gaping hole in the middle of their stop unit. Kelvin Sheppard was a big disappointment in his sophomore campaign. Also, Nick Barnett was released, so an upgrade is needed at weakside linebacker. Signed Manny Lawson
- Defensive End: Both Mario Williams and Mark Anderson began their Buffalo careers rather sluggishly. Williams had wrist surgery during the bye week and magically improved. Anderson, however, suffered a knee injury in Week 5 and never saw the field again. He's due a $1.5 million option bonus, so he may not be back. Traded for Jerry Hughes
- Safety: Jairus Byrd is one of the top safeties in football, so he must be retained. The Bills reportedly began long-term contract negotiations with him back in November. Franchised Jairus Byrd
- Guard: Left guard Andy Levitre is the team's top offensive lineman. Buffalo cannot allow him to get away.
- Fullback: Corey McIntyre is a free agent, but he wasn't particularly effective this past season.
- Punter: Shawn Powell ranked in the bottom 10 of starting punters in terms of net average.
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals. Age: 29.
Signed with Bills
Kevin Kolb hasn't been officially released, but the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that it'll happen in the next couple of days. Kolb is a borderline starter for a team. He can be effective when on the field, as we saw when he threw eight touchdowns to just three picks in 2012, leading Arizona to a surprising 4-1 record to kick off the year. However, Kolb is very brittle. He's been injured every single season in which he was supposed to be the starter.
Manny Lawson, OLB, Bengals. Age: 29.
Signed with Bills
The Bengals asked Manny Lawson to rush the passer and stop the run, and he did that very well. He's not good in coverage, however.
Alan Branch, DT, Seahawks. Age: 28.
Signed with Bills (1 year, $3 million)
Alan Branch is sort of a jack-of-all-trades defensive tackle. He has no glaring weaknesses and is at his best when stopping the run.
Buffalo Bills Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Jairus Byrd, S, Bills. Age: 26.
Franchised by Bills
Jairus Byrd is one of the top safeties in football. He shuts everything down in coverage - he was responsible for no touchdowns all year - and he constantly comes up with turnovers. He's also decent in run support and is seldom penalized. He deserves a massive contact.
Andy Levitre, G, Bills. Age: 27.
Signed with Titans (6 years, $46.8 million)
Andy Levitre is a stud guard who excels in pass protection. He also showed off his versatility, playing decently at left tackle in some games in 2011.
Nick Barnett, OLB, Bills. Age: 32.
Nick Barnett is a very solid linebacker who thrives in both run support and pass coverage. The only knock on him is his age; he'll be 32 in May. He can still perform pretty well though.
George Wilson, S, Bills. Age: 32.
Signed with Titans
George Wilson has been an underrated safety for the Bills over the years. He played well this past season, but was deemed expendable when he suffered a neck injury and 2011 fourth-rounder Da'Norris Searcy played well in his place.
Leodis McKelvin, CB/KR, Bills. Age: 28.
Re-signed with Bills (4 years, $20 million)
Leodis McKelvin held his own at cornerback this season in four starts, but he was most useful on special teams where he was one of the top return specialists in the NFL.
Chad Rinehart, G, Bills. Age: 28.
Signed with Chargers (1 year)
Chad Rinehart did a phenomenal job replacing Andy Levitre in 2011 when the stud guard had to move around in the wake of injuries to Eric Wood and Demetress Bell. Unfortunately, Rinehart missed most of 2012 with an ankle injury.
David Nelson, WR, Bills. Age: 26.
Signed with Browns
David Nelson caught 61 passes for 658 yards in his second season back in 2011. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the opening week this year. He should be ready for kickoff weekend of 2013.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills. Age: 30.
Signed with Titans (2 years)
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for a career-high 3,832 yards in 2011 and maintained a 23-16 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2012. Those numbers look solid, but Fitzpatrick is more of a very good backup or just a spot starter. His weak arm should prevent him from landing another starting gig.
- Kyle Moore, DE, Bills. Age: 26. -- Signed with Bears
- Donald Jones, WR, Bills. Age: 25. -- Signed with Patriots
- Shawne Merriman, DE, Bills. Age: 29. -- Announced retirement
- Spencer Johnson, DT, Bills. Age: 31.
- Bryan Scott, S/LB, Bills. Age: 32. -- Re-signed with Bills
- Terrence McGee, CB, Bills. Age: 32.
- Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Bills. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Bills
- Colin Brown (RFA), OT, Bills. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Bills (2 years)
- Corey McIntyre, FB, Bills. Age: 34.
- Tashard Choice, RB, Bills. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Bills
- Tyler Thigpen, QB, Bills. Age: 29.
- Ruvell Martin, WR, Bills. Age: 31.
2013 NFL Free Agent Positions:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 24
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 22
2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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