Buffalo Bills' draft needs: EJ Manuel, meet Eric Ebron

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

Last year, the Buffalo Bills surprised everyone by selecting EJ Manuel in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. This year, I expect them to find some supporting talent to aid in their quarterback's continued growth.

Buffalo has a solid receiving corps, between veteran Stevie Johnson, youngster Robert Woods and the newly acquired Mike Williams, but I still think the Bills will be on the lookout for an additional pass-catching weapon for Manuel. They could also buttress the signal-caller's development by strengthening the offensive line, in order to take some pressure off him. Buffalo's worries aren't all tied to the offense, either; with former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine leaving to coach the Cleveland Browns and top safety Jairus Byrdsigning with the New Orleans Saints, the defense will have some adjustments to make.

Here are four positions of need for the Bills -- and some prospects who could fill them:

1) Right tackle

The Bills have promising youngster Cordy Glenn manning the left tackle position, but they need to upgrade the right side. With the ninth overall pick in the draft, Buffalo should have a shot at landing a top tackle prospect. Auburn's Greg Robinson will likely be gone, but Texas A&M's Jake Matthews or Michigan's Taylor Lewan should still be on the board. Matthews and Lewan both have the ability to play on either the left or the right side, and both should be able to step in and start from Day 1.

If the Bills choose to look for a tackle in the second round, Ohio State product Jack Mewhort could be a fit. The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Mewhort has good size and strength, and he plays with awareness. He's not a great athlete, but he's functional.

2) Tight end

Though the Bills did re-sign veteran Scott Chandler, adding someone to further fortify this position would significantly help Manuel. Eric Ebron, who racked up an ACC-record 973 yards at North Carolina last year, is the only tight end worthy of being taken at No. 9. He possesses a rare mix of athleticism and after-the-catch ability.

3) Safety

Despite Byrd's departure for New Orleans, I don't view finding safety help as a high priority for the Bills, as they still have some capable players at the position. That said, I think Buffalo will add some depth in a later round.

Washington State's Deone Bucannon or Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward could be two options in the second round. Bucannon would provide the more physical presence, while Ward has the flexibility to also cover in the slot if needed.

4) Linebacker

The Bills already have one of the top young linebackers in the NFL: Kiko Alonso, runner up for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013. So why not build on that advantage? I could see Buffalo pairing Alonso with another stud in the draft, following the model of what the San Francisco 49ers did with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

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C.J. Mosley (Alabama) is the only inside linebacker who would make sense at No. 9. Mosley, who can play all three linebacker spots, is outstanding against both the run and the pass. He's got enough speed and athleticism to match up with tight ends in coverage, and he's one of the few linebacker prospects in this draft class who can take on blocks consistently and shed against the run.


So what will the Bills do with their first-round pick (No. 9 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening, according to their mock draft projections (click here for the Mock Draft Central):

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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