No. 8 – Buffalo Bills**
Last Season's Record: 10-6.
Biggest Acquisition: Rex Ryan is a pretty big acquisition, and he comes with outsized ambitions. LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay give the Bills offensive playmakers who can make a barely-competent quarterback look like a star on the stat sheet.
Biggest Departure: The Bills have more than compensated for most of their departures: McCoy for C.J. Spiller, Clay for Scott Chandler.
Little Move That Mattered: Re-signing Jerry Hughes kept the Bills out of the pricey pass-rusher market and maintained continuity on one of the NFL's best front sevens.
Draft in a Nutshell: With no first-round pick because of the Sammy Watkins trade and most of the offense overhauled with veterans, the Bills quietly added a blazingly fast cornerback prospect (Ronald Darby) and some spare parts in the draft. The team ignored quarterback altogether; at press time, the Bills did not even sign a rookie free agent.
Best-Case Scenario: The 2009-10 Jets ride again, only with a more explosive offense.
Worst-Case Scenario: The 2012 Jets ride again, only this time no one is really paying attention.
Round 2 (50): Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
The Bills didn't own a first-round pick after trading it to the Browns in 2014 to take WR Sammy Watkins. They had only six picks as a result, and spent three of them on Florida State players. RB Karlos Williams is talented and TE Nick O'Leary just knows how to get open, but I'll go with Darby here. He is a twitched-up athlete with excellent top-end speed who can turn and run with any receiver. Darby wasn't challenged that much at FSU, but he will be early and often as a rookie. He gets caught gambling at times and generally needs to improve his recognition skills.
Buffalo Bills: B –
New coach Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley went without a first-round pick this year because they made a deal to land WR Sammy Watkins in the 2014 draft. On day 2 this year, they made some stealthy selections in DB Ron Darby and G John Miller. Darby, a feisty cornerback who isn't afraid to tackle, has a ton of versatility. Miller will strengthen offensive coordinator Greg Roman's power running game. Buffalo had four picks on Day 3, highlight by former Florida State teammates: a power back in Karlos Williams and a versatile tight end in Nick O'Leary.
- Buffalo Bills: This evaluation will ultimately be influenced by how well WR Sammy Watkins, who cost them this year's first rounder in the 2014 draft, pans out. But Ronald Darby provides Rex Ryan the deep group of corners he desires, while G John Miller and RB Karlos Williams add more power to the "ground and pound" rushing attack Ryan and OC Greg Roman espouse. Sixth-round TE Nick O'Leary is sneaky good at getting open despite limited athletic gifts.
Nick O'Leary, TE, Buffalo Bills**
A favorite of Neil Hornsby, O'Leary just catches everything you throw at him. Can adjust to poorly thrown balls and that was a big reason in him having the third-highest receiving grade at the position with just one drop on the year. Not as polished a blocker by any stretch but has time to develop behind Charles Clay.
After picking up a defensive back in the second round, Buffalo addressed its need on the interior line by picking guard John Miller out of Louisville.
The Bills have had great interest in Charlie Strong's former recruits at Louisville and most recently took Preston Brown in the third round in 2014. Knowing the Bills interest in Cardinals products, I had mocked Jamon Brown to them as late as last night, but Brown ended up a few rounds higher than projected and ahead of his teammate, Miller.
Miller is the road-grading guard the Bills were thought to be looking for in the middle of the draft. He uses his wide frame well and stays within his own skill set because of limited athleticism. Miller will deliver a big punch if he gets a good jump and gives solid push up the middle of the line as long as he isn't asked to move much laterally.
Ryan and Greg Roman want to run with a powerful approach, which fits Miller's strengths perfect. He likely won't be an immediate solution to the problem spot, but he will push anyone the Bills currently have on the roster.
After adding some linebacker depth with pick No. 188, Buffalo picked up AP first-team All-American tight end Nick O'Leary from Florida State.
O'Leary won the Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end in 2014 but fell to the sixth round because of very limited upside. The Florida State product is a typical high-volume collegiate tight end who will have to carve out a role as a dual-functioning split end.
His limited physical attributes were quite clear during the NFL combine, but you can't teach O'Leary's ability to find open space. What he lacks in straight-line speed, he makes up for in craftiness.
After average production over his first two seasons, O'Leary became Jameis Winston's most reliable target over the last two years. O'Leary's 81 receptions and 1,175 yards put him tops of all college tight ends during that span.
Buffalo needed to add a tight end who did something a little different from new offensive toy Charles Clay. While Clay can stretch a defense vertically, O'Leary will have a good chance to make the team with his underneath route running and in-line blocking.
No. 234 (seventh round) – WR
It took until the seventh round, but the Buffalo Bills finally made a pick I can back 100 percent.
Lewis is the first non-ACC product in Buffalo's 2015 draft; in fact, his level of competition in college was quite far from that of the ACC.
A dominant receiver at Central Arkansas, a member of the Southland Conference at the FCS level, Lewis surprisingly dropped to the seventh despite being projected as a fourth-round prospect. Level of competition is a concern, as it is with all FCS products, but he produced against good FBS programs when given the chance.
During his collegiate career, Central Arkansas matched up against Texas Tech, Colorado and Ole Miss in season openers. Lewis caught 22 balls for 235 yards and a touchdown in those three games combined, which lessens the convenient questions about his competition level.
Lewis also looked very smooth during the week of the Senior Bowl, which is why he started to rise from a general unknown to a firm mid-round prospect.
He ran a bit slower during the combine than teams would have liked, but he put up a 4.48 40-yard time at his pro day. At 6'4" and 215 pounds, that is the type of speed I want my team to take a flier on.
A.J. Tarpley, LB, Stanford, Buffalo Bills Our 10th-highest graded linebacker in this class, Tarpley was a solid all-around player in his final season at Stanford. While he did a decent job against the run, and chipped in with nine total pressures in limited work, it was in coverage that he really stood out. Allowing just 0.40 yards per coverage snap, the 15th-best mark in the class, Tarpley allowed just 20 receptions for 151 yards in 2014, adding an interception to top it off.