The 2014 NFL Draft is now just days away, and the final pick-by-pick mock draft has begun. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable.
Quick recap: No. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina); no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson); no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn); no. 4 Cleveland Browns picked (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M); no. 5 Oakland Raiders took (Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo); no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M); no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan); no.8 Minnesota Vikings (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M). Who do the Buffalo Bills pick at no. 9?
Eric Ebron, TE, UNC.
Ebron is expected to go in the 9 to 15 range depending on how the rest of the board works out, and this fills a huge need for the Bills so this would be an understandable pick, even though I detest top-ten picks on TE’s. The primary reason being that you can always find talented TE’s throughout the draft. Rob Gronkowski (2nd round), Jimmy Graham (3rd round), Julius Thomas (4th round) and Jordan Cameron (4th round) are the best tight ends in the league and all were found after round one, so you can see my apprehension using a top-ten pick on one.
Despite that, Ebron would immediately help out the Bills offense and provide a nice safety valve for second year QB E.J. Manuel. Ebron has good size (6-foot 4, 250-pounds) and speed (4.6 40-yard dash) and a knack for making the impossible catch. His big play ability is unrivaled for his position in the draft and is as athletic of a TE to come out in recent memory.
He’s not perfect, however. Despite the knack of making outrageous catches, he needs to improve the overall consistency of his hands and his route running is still very raw.
HC Doug Marrone is a very creative guy who likes a highly versatile and multidimensional attack, and Ebron is perfect for an offensive mind like that. The more creative you can be with him the more mismatches he’ll be able to take advantage of.
There’s a very good chance the Bills won’t be picking at no. 9 however, as more and more reports are coming out suggesting a possible move upwards. There’s some chatter about even moving to the top spot overall for Clowney, though I think that would be too costly over the long haul in terms of draft picks, and they already have Jerry Hughes (25 years old and had 10 sacks last year), who projects very well at the wide-9 in new DC Jim Schwartz’s attacking scheme.
The best move for the Bills, in my opinion, would be to stay put or trade down and target a road grading OT who can complete the bookend with Cordy Glenn. But if they stay at no. 9 and the top three OTs are off the board, expect them to look long and hard at Ebron.