Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I think linebacker Luke Kuechly would look good in a Bills uniform

With the 10th overall pick of the NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select . . . 

Michael Floyd, wide receiver, University of Notre Dame?

 Riley Reiff, offensive tackle, University of Iowa?

 Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College?

 Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, University of Alabama?

  So D-Day is upon us, and tomorrow night on the Radio City Music Hall stage where the Rockettes get their kicks, Commissioner Roger Goodell will reveal the latest first-round draft pick by a Bills franchise that’s had a pretty darn good off-season so far.

 The aforementioned names have appeared frequently in the mock drafts that populate the Internet like dandelions in an untreated Rochester lawn. Any of the above would address the needs of a team that finally seems serious about ending a 12-year playoff drought.

 Floyd, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder with good speed and glue-like hands, would be the sexiest pick. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick undoubtedly would love to have a big target like Floyd to pair with Stevie Johnson, who was re-signed this spring after becoming the first receiver in Bills history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. General Manager Buddy Nix has talked a lot about picking a guy who not merely would start right away, but would make plays right away, so Floyd might be that guy. Then, again, Nix also has talked about being pleased with his promising receiving corps, so maybe he’ll go in a different direction.

 Like left offensive tackle.

 The loss of Demetrius Bell to free agency has left the Bills thin at the position. But Nix has given Chris Hairston a strong vote of confidence, saying he believes Buffalo can win with him protecting Fitz’s blind side. There’s also question about how much of an upgrade Reiff would be over Hairston, the 2011 fourth-rounder who started seven games in place of the injured Bell. Reiff projects to cut his NFL teeth at right tackle before making the transition to the left side. If Southern Cal’s Matt Kalil were to slip all the way to 10th, the Bills would snatch him up immediately. But Kalil is expected to go in the top five picks.

 Cornerback is always a need, so that’s a possibility, and Nix has made no secret about his love for players from southern schools, especially Alabama. At 6-2, 185, Kirkpatrick is an unusually big corner, but has All-Pro cover skills according to several NFL scouts. He’s rated second at the position behind LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who’s expected to be gone before the Bills chose.

 Linebacker is another area of need, and with the transition to a 4-3, Kuechly would fit the Bills perfectly. He is a tackling machine who also has great cover skills, so unlike a lot of inside linebackers, you wouldn’t need to take him off the field in obvious passing situations. Plus, he’s athletic and cerebral enough to make the transition to the outside. He’d be a nice fit with Nick Barnett, Kelvin Sheppard and Kirk Morrison. I could definitely see Buffalo choosing him if he’s available because new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt might view him the way he did Zach Thomas and Ken Norton, when he was calling the defenses in Miami and Dallas. The thing is, at 6-3, 240, Kuechly is much bigger than either Thomas and Norton.

 I know the choice of Floyd would stoke the fan base the most, but I think I’d go with Keuchly if he’s there.

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