The pre-draft process hasn’t changed for Kelvin Fisher.
The Buffalo Bills’ director of college scouting said recently that even though the team doesn’t have a first-round pick, the goal in the 2015 NFL Draft – which begins Thursday – will be to find starters.
“I went out and looked at the second- and third-round guys as starters,” Fisher said. “I don’t look at second- and third-round guys as backup players. My whole philosophy when I’m out looking at guys is, I’m trying to reload our team, not rebuild.”
So what are the odds of that happening?
The Buffalo News studied last year’s draft and found that the 32 players taken in the second round in 2014 started 180 of 512 possible games. Predictably, that number goes down in the third round. Of the 36 players taken in the third round, they started 140 of a possible 576 games, or 24 percent.
“Every year, the players that you target, that you really, really like in that second and third round, you have to have that philosophy of them coming in being starters,” Fisher said. “If they end up being backups, that’s great, but if they end up becoming starters, you know you did a great job with it.”
The Bills went 1 for 2 in that regard in 2014. Cyrus Kouandjio, the No. 44 overall pick, appeared in just one game, the fewest of any player selected in the second round. But third-round pick Preston Brown started 14 games, second only to Jacksonville Jaguars guard Brandon Linder’s 15 among third-round picks.
The Bills will need to do better in the second round Friday night, when their first selection, No. 50 overall, comes up. Here is a look at the last 10 years of players selected in that spot, and the success (or lack thereof) they’ve had in their NFL careers:
2014: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, San Diego Chargers. 11 career games, zero starts. Attaochu, whom Chargers general manager and St. Francis product Tom Telesco traded up to get, had a strip-sack in his NFL debut. A hamstring injury then sidelined him for several weeks, and he finished the season with two sacks. He’s expected to compete for a starting job in training camp this season.
2013: Jon Bostic, ILB, Chicago Bears. 29 career games, 17 starts. Bostic has been a steady contributor for the Bears in two seasons, with 141 tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed and an interception. At the same time, he’s been the middle linebacker in two terrible defenses.
2012: Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams. 25 career games, one start. A complete whiff of a pick. Pead tore his ACL in the 2014 preseason, missing the entire year. Prior to that, he had just 17 carries for 75 yards and 14 catches for 94 yards. He’ll be on the roster bubble for the Rams entering training camp.
2011: Marcus Gilchrist, S, San Diego Chargers. 62 career games, 40 starts. Gilchrist signed with the New York Jets this offseason. He started all 32 games over the past two seasons for San Diego, finishing 2014 with 76 tackles, two forced fumbles, one sack, one interception and five passes defensed.
2010: Javier Arenas, DB, Kansas City Chiefs. 69 career games, 12 starts. Arenas spent the first three seasons of his career with the Chiefs before being traded to Arizona prior to the 2013 season. His best season came in 2012, when he had 60 tackles and eight passes defensed in nine starts. He played sparingly with the Cardinals in 2013, then signed a one-year contract with Atlanta for the 2014 season, appearing in just six games.
2009: Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns. 54 career games, 43 starts. Massaquoi made 118 catches for 1,745 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons with the Browns. He had stints with the Jaguars and New York Jets but at both stops was released before ever playing a game.
2008: Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals. 106 career games, 88 starts. A home run. Campbell has 43.5 career sacks and 33 passes defensed in seven seasons with the Cardinals. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2014.
2007: Chris Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans. 11 career games, zero starts. Henry had 31 carries for 119 yards in his rookie season, then just one carry for the rest of his career.
2006: Marcus McNeill, OT, San Diego Chargers. 82 career games, 82 starts. McNeill signed a five-year contract extension with the Chargers in October 2010 that could have paid him up to $49 million, but he was forced to retire following the 2011 season because of recurring spinal injuries.
2005: Ronald Bartell, CB, St. Louis Rams. 96 career games, 72 starts. Bartell spent seven seasons with the Rams, making eight interceptions and breaking up 54 passes. He split the 2012 season between Oakland and Detroit and has been out of the league since then.