The first five picks of the 2011 NFL Draft went pretty much according to plan. The Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton first, to the delight of just about every Bills fan, and the following picks fell into order.
After Denver selected Von Miller second overall, the Bills were left with a fairly easy decision. They selected Marcell Dareus, the massive and agile DT from Alabama.
Dareus addresses a handful of needs for Buffalo. Chiefly, their inability to stop the run. I’ll leave the rest of the explanation up to Mark Gaughan, he has quotes and an in-look at the selection.
After Patrick Peterson was selected fifth by the Arizona Cardinals, the draft went cooky. Atlanta traded up 19 spots to grab Julio Jones and then Jake Locker became the second quarterback selected at number eight.
That monkey wrench selection by the Tennessee Titans probably bombed 31 draft boards as it seemed every “expert” had slated Locker as a low first round prospect. That left Blaine Gabbert to the Jacksonville Jaguars (I guess Trent Edwards isn’t going to work out) and the Minnesota Vikings without a first-round talent at QB to choose from. There had been grumblings that Locker was there, guy. Not anymore. So, they did the logical thing. Reached for a second-round talent in the top-15.
The Vikes took Christian Ponder. The guy I was certain would be available for the Bills at pick #34. Even Ponder’s offensive coordinator at Florida State and Andre Reed, the man reading the pick for Buffalo, said Ponder was a near certainty for the Bills.
That is what happens at the draft, I suppose. Teams that are ill prepared at numerous positions need to take gambles. For the Vikings, a team with Joe Webb penciled in to start, quarterback was a big need. I just didn’t know it was that big of a need.
This leaves the Bills in quite a pickle. Ponder’s value was right in the 33-40 neighborhood and he many of the tools Buffalo was looking for at QB. The remaining quarterbacks that could go to Buffalo are Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton. Now, I would immediately rule out Dalton because he doesn’t have a big arm. Mallett seems to have the attitude and character of a pissed off only child and Kaepernick is more or less a running back who can throw the ball super hard.
None of those guys really wow me with a pick that is a breath away from counting as a first-round selection. However, Da’Quan Bowers does. Due to a knee injury his stock has plummeted. However, his billing as the first overall prospect lasted a lot longer than a cup of coffee (ahem Mr. Mallett). Sure, he doesn’t really fit scheme-wise, but a talent of that caliber usually can be worked with.Not to mention, he is probably best buddies with last year’s first round choice, C.J. Spiller.
Of course if you’re looking for a guy who fits in that slot and will work well with the Bills’ scheme, then Akeem Ayers is your man. An OLB from UCLA who can translate well to the 3-4. Getting the player who is ranked second at his position – only behind the second overall selection in this draft – seems like a quality choice to me.
Between the two (Bowers or Ayers) I think Ayers is the better choice for the Bills. Sure, you have the opportunity to say you chose two top-five talents with your first two picks. But the fact that Bowers may not translate well in your defense doesn’t really make him the correct pick. Although turning down a top-ten talent at pick #34 is going to be mighty tough.
Still, when Andre is up there making the choice, the smart money would be to take Ayers and that is who I want to see.