The Buffalo Bills head into the 2013 season the same way they have for the past decade and a half — with lots of questions.
New Head Coach Doug Marrone has made his way west down I-90 to take control of Upstate New York’s NFL team after four season’s at the helm of New York’s college team (Syracuse), reestablishing the program as a legitimate power in the Northeast.
One thing Marrone didn’t have to compete with during his time at Syracuse was the New England Patriots. The Patriots have won the AFC East nine of the last ten seasons — only failing to accomplish the feat when Tom Brady went down with a knee injury in Week One of the 2008 campaign.
If Marrone is going to get the Bills back to the top of the AFC East, he’ll have to beat Brady, Belichick and the Patriots to do so. A young roster with stars scattered throughout will provide a solid core for the new coach to build around, but he’ll need some of his own guys to truly carry out his vision.
That’s where the 2013 Draft comes into play. Here are five guys Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills should be targeting heading into April’s annual player selection meeting.
Chance Warmack, G, Alabama — The Bills need to be stronger on the interior of the offensive line in order to establish an effective run game with the likes of C.J. Spiller. Warmack was an absolute stud at Alabama and has been compared to first-ballot Hall of Famer Will Shields. If he’s available when Buffalo picks at No. 8, it would be a crime to pass on him.
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse — There may actually be riots in downtown Buffalo if the Bills don’t stop this revolving door that has been the quarterback position since Jim Kelly retired. I mentioned that Marrone was going to need his own guys — well, Nassib IS Marrone’s main guy. The Syracuse quarterback ascended to the top of the collegiate ranks under Marrone’s tutelage. Taking him in the second round, where he should still be available, makes perfect sense.
Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers — If you are going to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, you have to limit their scoring opportunities. Greene specializes in open-field tackles and beating backs to the edge. He’s the perfect anecdote for New England’s dangerous screen game. He also might be the most effective defender in the draft when it comes to forcing fumbles. He’ll be available in Round Three.
Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State — Hill is an athletic, versatile interior lineman that could provide Buffalo’s front seven with a huge spark. He has rare sideline-to-sideline speed for a defensive tackle and is extremely effective of batting down quarterback’s passes at the line of scrimmage. He’s a solid prospect that Buffalo can grab in the 4th Round and could see immediate playing time.
Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State — Stoneburner is not a prototypical tight end, however, he’ll line up at the position and cause mismatches against slower linebackers. He has a niche for getting open and piling up yards after the catch — sort of resembling an over-sized slot receiver. Coach Marrone would never run out of creative ways to get this guy the ball, much like New England does with Aaron Hernandez. Stonerburner is undervalued by many and as such, Buffalo should be able to land him in the later rounds.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MARCH 9, 2013