Each year NFL draft classes have their strengths and their weaknesses when it comes to depth and quality of talent. Some positions offer more consistent crops than others. This spring however, there is some uncommon depth at several spots offering NFL clubs the opportunity to fill positional holes on days two and three.
"This is probably the deepest draft I've seen in eight years, particularly at defensive tackle and in the defensive backfield," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "If you need a D-T, a corner or a safety you can get a quality player deep in the third, fourth or fifth round."
That's welcome news for a Bills team that could use a true 3-4 nose tackle that can two gap and tie up two opposing linemen against the run.
Buffalo won't get a shot at the top two defensive tackles in this year's class in Nebraska's Ndamakong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, but as Mayock sees it both are better fits as 4-3 defensive tackles. He also is one of the few analysts that has McCoy ranked ahead of Suh.
"The reason I would pick McCoy number one is I believe the NFL is a pass first league and has skewed tremendously to the pass and teams are winning Super Bowls by throwing the football. So on defense I want the more disruptive guy and I think McCoy is more disruptive in the pass game," he said. "Suh can push the pocket, but he's not quite as abrupt a penetrator. They're both Pro Bowl potential DTs and they'd help out any team."
As for 3-4 nose tackles that could still be on the board in round two, should Buffalo be open to going that route, Mayock believes there will be options.
In the second and third round, Cam Thomas from North Carolina and Terrance Cody from Alabama would be some of the guys in that range," he said. "The depth at defensive tackle where on average there are seven or eight taken in the first three rounds, I've got about 13 defensive tackles with grades in the first three rounds."
On the offensive side of the ball there are a handful of offensive tackles that could wind up being top 10 picks. Last spring three tackles went in the top 10. This year's class could do the same.
"I think you're going to see some movement with the offensive tackles early in the first round similarly to two years ago where we had eight offensive tackles taken in the first round," said Mayock.
"I believe six of them may go in that first round this year."
The NFL Network analyst however, does see a drop off in talent at offensive tackle after his seventh edge pass protector, but that's not the case as some of the offensive playmaking positions.
"I really like the running backs, tight ends and wide receivers," said Mayock. "Tremendous depth at those three positions."
That depth will allow some teams to focus on other positional needs knowing they can still acquire good value in the middle rounds.
"There are some bigger backs you can get in second or third round. Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State is 240 pounds and has better feet than you think," Mayock said. "Toby Gerhart from Stanford might be a third round pick another 235 pound guy. Ben Tate from Auburn. (Montario) Hardesty from Tennessee and LeGarrette Blount from Oregon, who has some off the field issues, but had a heck of a Senior Bowl week. It's one of the deepest classes I've seen in a while."
Meanwhile at receiver Mayock has Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant as his top player calling him a top 10 talent, but feels there's a respectable level of depth there as well. Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham is his top tight end prospect.
"Any team looking for a tight end to alleviate pressure on the offense and get downfield and is a playmaker he's the first tight end off the board," said Mayock. "I think he could go to Cincinnati at 21."
The only headline position where solid depth is a bit thin is at quarterback according to Mayock, where after Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen he's found a lot of mixed opinion from teams.
"There are way more questions than answers among the QB class," he said. "After Bradford and Clausen I've got Colt McCoy. I kind of like McCoy who I have in the second round. I liken him to (Jake) Plummer when he came out. He's a move guy and he's a winner. In their two toughest games that they should have lost against Nebraska and Oklahoma he got beat up for three quarters and found a way to win in the fourth quarter. So I'm intrigued by him."
As for the college headliner Tim Tebow, Mayock believes time on the job is what the former Gator needs.
"Tebow is a guy that I think warrants third round consideration with two redshirt years," he said. "He needs to play behind a veteran QB and develop his mechanical issues."
Mayock has Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Cincinnati's Tony Pike as "third and fourth round guys."
"As many teams as I talk to there are just as many opinions out there as to who the next quarterbacks are," he said.
Ultimately however, the 2010 draft class has been viewed by many league scouts as one of the better ones to come along in a while. It should serve to provide most NFL clubs with an influx of talent capable of contributing on Sundays. How soon some of that talent is able to blossom will be the key.