It’s only 30 days away, so it’s time to start opening the doors on TFQ’s NFL Draft Advent Calendar! This is our Christmas – when NFL teams get to decide what sort of new toys they get under the tree to play with next season.
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Our Draft Advent Calendar is basically a (over)simplified way to appraise each team’s offseason moves to this point, and what roster needs still remain that could be addressed via the draft. We’ve all had those years when nobody, fucking nobody buys what we put on our list. We’ve all also experienced that shitty moment when we realize that the gift we want to get is no longer available in stores. As such, we’re not going to predict which college players will go to which team. Rather, we’re appraising each NFL team to this point, and what position(s) they might want to address when the last advent door is opened and the wise men start going off like a bunch of gun lobbyists.
Door #3 – The Bills
2012 finish: 6-10
TOTAL PICKS: 6
Ah, the Bills. The Bills…. That’s the team with the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. Remember when Buffalo was the victim of the Music City Miracle in that Wild Card game after the 1999 season? That was the last time the wing city played a game after any Week 17. For those of you scoring at home, that’s shitty.
Apart from shedding some fat from their roster, the Bills haven’t done much during free agency. Veteran defenders Nick Barnett and Terrence McGee were released, and the franchise signed Manny Lawson to fill the hole at linebacker left by Barnett. Let’s not forget that one of the more meteoric falls from Pro Bowl status came to a merciful end this offseason when LB Shawne Merriman called it “light out” on his career.
As usual, the most significant moves this team has made so far since the end of the season is to lose a few key players. Guard Andy Levitre was widely considered the best and most versatile interior blocker in this year’s free agency group. He signed with the Titans. More importantly, Buffalo released QB Ryan Fitzpatrick less than two seasons after inking him to an enormous contract extension. (Fitzy joins Levitre in Tennessee as a backup for Jake Locker.)
Which brings us to the Bills’ biggest need. Hint: the current quarterbacks on their roster are named Tavaris Jackson and Aaron Corp. (That’s a 24-year old rookie from Richmond, not a company that manufactures Aarons.) It’s thus safe to say that Buffalo is officially the most QB-desperate team in the NFL.
The easy bet would be that GM Buddy Nix and his new head coach Doug Marrone would like to have Ryan Nassib – who played for Marrone at Syracuse. But no one is calling Nassib a high-first round prospect…yet. Buffalo really needs to take a pivot with the eighth overall pick; they can’t afford to hope that Nassib will be there for them some 33 picks later. It’s more likely that USC’s Matt Barkley will go to the Bills. Barkley threw in front of scouts today at his college’s Pro Day – the first time he’s done so since injuring his throwing shoulder in a bowl game – and, as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock stated, Barkley “confirmed who he is and what his skill set is” which is “solid.” There will be some concerns about his arm strength (regardless of the injury), and that he would be a warm weather quarterback coming to play in Buffalo. (What, do other QBs train in a meat freezer?) Despite those concerns – some in the media are already saying his pro day today hurt his stock, but I trust Mayock more than most, and he was there in person – Barkley is the most pro-ready QB in this year’s draft, and that’s exactly what the Bills need. The chances are that he won’t be an elite thrower, but he should be a good one.
If Buffalo can fine tune some issues along their offensive line, add some pieces on defense to solidify the depth in their front seven (they ranked second-last in the NFL against the run last season), and avoid the untimely injuries that have plagued their offense over the last two seasons (get some insurance, Fred Jackson), maybe Barkley is enough to cure what ails this team…. or at least enough to cure what keeps them in the basement of the AFC East, anyway.
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STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE DAYS LEADING UP UNTIL THE 2013 NFL DRAFT. WE’LL TAKE A LOOK AT EACH TEAM, AS WE OPEN THEM UP IN THE ADVENT CALENDAR.