There has been a steady stream of pre-draft visitors at One Bills Drive all week, but Friday saw the arrival of the first blue chip prospect. North Carolina TE Eric Ebron arrived at the team's Orchard Park facility along with Oregon State DE Scott Crichton and LSU RB Jeremy Hill. Ebron is the unanimous top prospect at the tight end position among NFL scouts for the 2014 draft class.
TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina
With NFL clubs craving game-breaking pass catching tight ends who create instant mismatches, Ebron (6-4, 250) is one of the few in this year's draft class who fits the bill. The Tar Heel product set school records for career receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,727) for a tight end and did it in just three seasons. His 895 receiving yards in 2013 also set an ACC record for a tight end, besting the mark of 871 set by Maryland's Vernon Davis in 2005.
Ebron models his game after the now playmaking tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.
"Just because (of the) similarities," said Ebron. "His speed, he's powerful, he's very strong at the line of scrimmage. Love everything about him."
The tight end prospect proved his athletic skill set was similar to that of the Pro Bowl tight end at the NFL combine where he had the second-fastest 40 time among tight ends posting a 4.6. He also had 24 reps on the bench, a 32-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump. Whether he'll be drafted in the top 10 like Davis, who went sixth overall in 2005 is another story.
Still, the talented tight end is seen by most as a mid-first round selection.
DE Scott Crichton - Oregon State
Crichton (6-3, 273) is a quintessential motor player where no coach will ever wonder what they'll get from the defensive end on Sundays. The Beavers coaching staff used Crichton at both end positions and also kicked him inside to defensive tackle demonstrating some of his versatility. He has solid anticipation skills, which often puts him in position to make plays behind the line of scrimmage despite not being an elite athlete.
At the NFL combine, Crichton ran a 4.84 40 time and posted 24 reps on the bench press along with a 31.5-inch vertical and nine-foot broad jump.
His greatest asset might be his 10 1/8-inch hands as he is effective at controlling offensive linemen and shedding them to make plays as evidenced by his 51 career tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.
"It starts with my get-off. Just being explosive and coming off right off the line and then you've got to have technique," said Crichton. "I've worked on my craft these last couple years and I feel like I have improved and progressed as a defensive end using my hands, using my power, my speed. I think all those attributes help me a lot.''
Crichton looks tailor made for a defensive end role in a 4-3 defense. He's projected as a second-round pick.
RB Jeremy Hill – LSU
Hill (6-1, 233) on the surface appears to have the size that the Bills are looking to add to their offensive backfield at the running back position. Buffalo is looking for a bruiser and the LSU product could fit the bill, but Hill is more than just a masher. The big back displays an impressive jump cut and more elusiveness than one might expect for a ball carrier his size. Hill also displays receiving ability out of the backfield, but has been knocked for his pass protection.
Though part of a rotation in the LSU backfield, Hill still rushed for 1,401 yards on 203 carries to average almost seven yards a tote (6.9) with 16 touchdowns. His production however, is often credited to one of the better offensive lines in the country. Hill also added 18 receptions for 181 yards.
There are some off the field concerns with Hill, who has had a couple of run-ins with the law, but he said he was up front about everything with teams at the NFL combine.
"They've done their homework," said Hill. "They know what's going on. It's up to me to be honest about it and be forthcoming. I let them know everything that happened. I put myself in those situations. I can't really focus on that. All I can do is make the right decisions going forward and put myself in the best position possible."
Hill ran a 4.66 at the combine along with 20 reps on the bench, a 29-inch vertical and a 9'5" broad jump. LSU's pro day is April 9th where Hill is expected to try to shave some tenths off his 40 time. He's forecast as a mid-round pick.