Buffalo Bills May Wait on Linebacker in the Draft

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Updated: February 25, 2013
manti teo

If you were to grade the performance of each position group on the Bills in 2012 immediately after the season ended, linebackers might come in last place. It was not expected to be the team’s strongest group heading into the season, yet their performance was poor enough to derail a defense that was otherwise expected to improve. After allowing the second most rush yards in the league and the most rush touchdowns, it was apparent that improvement was needed.

Like wide receiver, the Bills have already begun to turnover some of the players by cutting Nick Barnett. Currently, that leaves Bryan Scott, Nigel Bradham, Kelvin Sheppard, and Chris White on the roster. While there are some young players that hopefully are still improving, Buffalo clearly has work to do.

The severe lack of depth and top end talent led some early on in the draft process to believe that Heisman runner up Manti Teo may be a good fit, as well as Georgia ILB Alec Ogeltree. However, neither has fared well enough that they can seriously be considered in play at pick 8, and are almost as unlikely in the second.

To say nothing about Teo’s recent gullibility, he had an extremely poor weekend. Not only did he run a slow 40 time that put him 20th out of 26 linebackers in the draft, but he weighed in 15 pounds lighter than what ND’s media guide stated. Slow is one thing, underweight and slow is quite another.

Ogeltree, on the other hand, lacked Teo’s athletic limitations, running a 4.62, very good for an ILB prospect. However, the interview process did not reflect well on him, leaving one scout to label Ogeltree as an “immature idiot.”  It’s not hard to see how they came to this conclusion after Ogeltree churned out a DUI the weekend before the proverbial big job interview. Add that to a history of poor lifestyle choices, and it seems like Ogeltree is an elite athlete the Bills won’t be willing to take the risk on early based on Buddy Nix’s recent history of avoiding prospects with off the field issues.

Finally, LB tends not to be a premium, game changing position in today’s NFL. Unless you are getting a force of nature type player such as Patrick Willis, it is better to wait, and this year provides plenty of options later in the draft. Nix specifically mentioned the breadth of mid round level linebackers available this year, and the ole GM has a tendency to give more away than he should. Right now, it seems like the Bills may use the mid to late rounds of the draft in addition to a free agent or two to shore up this lacking unit.