Rare are the moments when an NFL coach provides specifics on the sort of player he'd like to add through the draft.
Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey let down his guard this week at the owners meetings and sketched out the style of running back he has his eye on. He wants a smallish, change-of-pace "water bug" to complement Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Gailey even provided the ideal dimensions: about 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds.
I took that information to Scouts Inc. draft analyst Steve Muench for his thoughts.
As Muench points out, two of the better third-down backs hail from the AFC East. The New England Patriots have Kevin Faulk (5-8, 202 pounds), while the New York Jets plan on having restricted free agent Leon Washington (5-8, 195) in their backfield again. Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano adores Patrick Cobbs (5-8, 205), who is on track to return from a season-ending knee injury.
The Bills are missing that player.
"Buffalo is interesting because they have two backs in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch who can carry the heavy workload and catch the ball fairly well," Muench said. "However, they are the only backs on the roster, and Lynch has yet to play in all 16 games of a season. So adding a third-down back to bolster depth and help keep the top two fresh makes sense."
Muench views Mississippi's Dexter McCluster (5-8, 172) as the best option in this year's draft class.
"McCluster would be a great fit," Muench said. "He can turn the corner in a flash as a runner, and he's an effective receiver who can produce after the catch. He's also versatile enough to line up in the slot, and the Bills need some help at receiver."
Scouts Inc. forecasts McCluster as a second-round draft pick, and Muench can't envision the Bills going after a running back that soon. The Bills have more pressing needs to address.
Another name to remember is Southern Methodist's Shawnbrey McNeal (5-10, 190).
"He appears to lose focus and drop passes he should catch at times, but he has the big hands and agility to develop into a productive receiver," Muench said. "He should be available in the fifth round and could last into the sixth."