1) Zach Martin OL from Notre Dame
With Mike Evans and Jake Matthews off the board, the Bills go with the next big offensive player in Zach Martin. Martin is a versatile lineman that can play all 5 positions on the line at an above average level. While he may not have the ideal arms or size to be a tackle, he has very good technique and blew everyone away at the Senior Bowl. Right now he could be penciled in as a starter at RT but could potentially be in play for the LG positon. Either way he would ensure the Bills the best offensive line possible. Plus with the only other choice being Ebron, I take Martin 9 out of 10 times.
2) Troy Niklas TE from Notre Dame
My favorite player in this draft, big guy at 6’6 270 that is tied for the best blocking TE in the class (the other is CJ Fiedorowicz from Iowa). He is still developing as a receiving threat and only started one year as a TE, but the upside is there as he improved every week while at Notre Dame. The beauty of this is the Bills don’t need him to come right away as the #1 TE. With the extension given to Scott Chandler, Niklas can fill in as the #2 TE and be primarily used for his stellar blocking and be a big red zone target as develops as a passer and can be the #1 TE in 2015. With the #1 goal of making QB EJ Manuel better, this choice is a no brainer.
3) Marcus Smith DE/OLB from Louisville
Switching to a 4-3 means the DE position is lacking in depth in talent outside of Mario Williams. Enter Marcus Smith who at 6’3 250 is a similar build to Jerry Hughes and a good fit for the Jim Schwartz defense. He is also very versatile in that he can line up at the linebacker position as well as putting his hand on the ground and rushing the passer. Smith can jump in and fill into the DE rotation with Hughes and form a pretty good tandem.
4) Brandon Coleman WR from Rutgers
The Bills lack a big WR who can go up and get it. While they have some project players on the Practice Squad, they lack a guy who can fill in right away and be a big red zone threat. Enter Coleman who is a mammoth at 6’6 220. Coleman is an intriguing player as after a breakout year in 2012, some expected him to be a top 10 pick this year. However due to a knee injury and a clear regression, his draft stock has plummeted to the point where he falls into the 4th round. He is a very good blocker and has played some special teams, which the Bills look for in their #5 and #6 WRs. While Coleman will not be an immediate big contributor, right away he can be a designated red zone target as he develops as a route runner and his all around game. Having a big target like this can only help the offense as well help Manuel develop as a QB.
5) Walt Aikens DB from Liberty
Last year the Bills were very unlucky when it came to injuries especially in the secondary. While they did address this a little in free agency, they could still use another quality rotational player in Walt Aikens. Aikens is an intriguing prospect as he originally went to Illinois. However due to an off the field issue, he got kicked off the team and went to Liberty where he dominated. Standing at 6′, Aikens is a big enough DB and with good enough speed that he can handle most WR’s. He can also play safety which means he can be a versatile piece that can be plugged in multiple spots. Aikens is a solid pick because you can never have too many DBs and will mean Justin Rogers will never have to be on the field (which spells doom for Geno Smith).
7) Cornelius Lucas OL from Kansas State.
The Bills round out the draft will a high upside developmental lineman. Lucas is massive at a 6’8 316 which is what Marrone likes. He still has a lot of things to work on as his technique is atrocious and he gets beat around a lot by better ends. However for a 7th round pick and a guy who has the talent but just needs to work on it, is worth taking a flyer on.
Overall this was a draft with the key focus of building around EJ Manuel. I got him an OT, a TE, and a big WR who can go up and get it. I also added talent to the two thinnest parts of the defense so the dreaded injury bug will not spell doom. This draft will add a lot of young guys that will be able to develop along with Manuel and make the team as a whole better.