Quarterback among Bills' wide-ranging 2016 draft needs

What positions are the Buffalo Bills most in need of drafting this spring? There's no one, simple answer to that question.

Could they use a wide receiver? Sure. A developmental quarterback? Of course. New pieces on defense that better fit Rex Ryan's scheme? Definitely.

The reality it that the Bills, while they don't have a glaring need at any one position, could go in several directions this spring to bolster depth on their roster and upgrade at positions where they fell short in 2015.

Over the past two weeks, we've run down each position and assigned a level of need to that position for April's draft. Here is an overall look at those assessments, with some additional comments:


Quarterback: Until the Bills find their undisputed franchise quarterback, this position will be high on their list of draft needs. They're not looking for an immediate starter in this draft because of Tyrod Taylor's emergence, but EJ Manuel is entering the final year of his contract and the Bills could use a developmental prospect to potentially replace Manuel as the backup by 2017, or sooner.

Linebacker: Whether or not the Bills re-sign Nigel Bradham or not, the Bills need help at linebacker. Preston Brown struggled in his second season and although he could remain the starter next season, that should hardly prevent Rex Ryan from combing for an ideal "Mike" linebacker to run his scheme. What the Bills had at this position last season didn't cut it.


Defensive line: The Bills have a pair of young stars in Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus, and they'll likely get at least another season out of Kyle Williams, so their shopping list here will include a player to replace Mario Williams (assuming he's released) and some depth options.

Safety: The uncertainty of Aaron Williams' health is an obstacle to planning at this position, but as long as Williams is able to play, the Bills should have their starting safeties set for next season -- Williams and Corey Graham. It's depth that's needed.

Wide receiver: Sammy Watkins, and then who? GM Doug Whaley seems down on 2013 second-round pick Robert Woods, saying last week that Woods could compete with Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas and others for the No. 2 job. Adding a receiver in the draft would ramp up the competition for that spot.

Offensive line: This would jump up to the "high" need category and the Bills would be looking for a starting left tackle if they can't re-sign Cordy Glenn, or if they don't assign him the franchise tag. Guard would also be a need if Richie Incognito signs elsewhere, but if he remains in Buffalo then the Bills would be looking more for depth at this position.

Tight end: Charles Clay will remain atop the depth chart for the foreseeable future, but the Bills are searching for a reliable No. 2 option. They could add a candidate in the draft or simply hold another competition between MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg and Nick O'Leary.


Running back: The Bills' "ground and pound" offense will be powered by LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams next season, assuming they stay healthy, and Mike Gillislee is a promising No. 3 option. Still, a run-first offense can never have enough running backs. A mid-to-late round selection here shouldn't be dismissed.


Cornerback: The Bills look to have nailed their second-round pick last season in Ronald Darby, while it seems more likely than not that they'll agree to a long-term deal with top cornerback Stephon Gilmore at some point over the next year. With Nickell Robey and Mario Butler also under the team's control for the foreseeable future, there isn't much of a need to devote resources in the draft to this spot this spring.