Armed with just a half dozen picks in the 2013 NFL draft and some roles still left to fill, Bills GM Buddy Nix and his college scouting staff are going to be somewhat restricted when it comes to being fluid in moving up the draft board to land a coveted prospect. The best opportunity in making a move would appear to be trading down next week as there could very well be teams interested in Buffalo's eighth overall pick to beat competing teams to a player they want.
Chatter on the NFL phones from one team draft room to another generally picks up as draft week begins. Nix isn’t necessarily expecting a flood of calls leading up to the draft.
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“You know, I don’t know that I’m anticipating a lot. I think there is a better chance because of the rookie wage scale,” he said. “I think that helps movement. But all I can tell you is that we’re open for business and we’re going to answer all of the calls.”
Buffalo’s personnel boss believes a lot of the potential inquiries will be predicated on who comes off the board in the first half dozen selections.
Some of the best value at the top of the draft board exists on the offensive and defensive lines. With a healthy number of teams coveting offensive tackle help some teams may look at swapping spots with Buffalo at eight.
Bills Coordinator of College Scouting Doug Majeski listed three offensive tackles, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson as the top three prospects at their position. All three could be off the board in the top 10.
If one of those three is still available after the seventh pick, Buffalo could be besieged with phone calls. The Bills may even be in a position to play one team off another with clubs like San Diego (11th overall) and Miami (12th overall) each seeking plug and play answers at offensive tackle.
Another prospect that figures to still be on the board at eight, but has turned more heads than perhaps anyone in the draft class is West Virginia WR Tavon Austin. Austin doesn’t fit the mold of what Buffalo is looking for in a wide receiver so trading out of the eighth spot to move back with a team eager to land Austin could also prove fruitful.
Carolina (14th overall), St. Louis (16th & 22nd) and Minnesota (23rd & 25th) are all in the market for a dynamic receiver. The Panthers have an aging Steve Smith, St. Louis lost slot receiver Danny Amendola and let Brandon Gibson walk while Minnesota traded away Percy Harvin.
Buffalo’s scouting brass wasn’t shy about talking up the talent of Austin at Tuesday’s draft luncheon.
“He’s on everybody’s radar,” quipped Nix after being asked if Austin is on Buffalo’s radar screen in preparation for the draft.
“And high on the radar for everybody,” said Assistant GM Doug Whaley. “He’s electric. He’s a special player. He’s the type of individual that once he touches the ball he has a chance to make a prolific play every time. He scares a lot of defensive players and coordinators.”
As much as Buffalo’s scouting department takes the time to assess and project where each of the team’s in front of them might go in round one in terms of a selection, the Bills also keep an eye on what the teams behind them might be interested in pulling off the board.
“I think we try to do our homework on all these teams,” said Nix. “Our guys do a great job of getting the information on who they might want to take because of who they signed in free agency or who they lost, so, yeah, we are keeping track of that because those guys might move ahead of you.
“Everybody talks about who will be there in the second round, but we don’t pick eighth in the second round, we pick 10th, so you’ve got to look at those kind of things too and figure ahead.”
Nix made it clear that moving up the board would require an offer that would have to be “really appealing.”
“I hate giving up draft picks,” said Nix. “I hope in some way we get that seventh back, even though it is a seventh and go after college free agents, but you don’t like giving up those picks. They’re valuable.”
With that in mind it sounds like what’s left on their board a couple of picks from their selection at eight will largely determine how open they are to trading down.
“A lot of that will be determined by the first five or six picks of the draft,” said Nix. “In other words, if there’s three or four guys there, or five that we really value, we’d move back.”