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Bills Fills Some Holes In Draft
Cornerback is one spot where a hole may remain.
by Steve Saslow
May 2, 2007

NFL Draft The Bills entered the 2007 draft with many holes to fill and while they filled two immediate needs in the first two rounds, some of their picks were surprising leaving a few potential holes as we head into the first minicamps. The team surprised some by picking four offensive players and only three defensive players with their seven picks. They started the draft with eight picks but a trade in round two cost them the first of two third round picks.

Most "experts" predicted the Bills would take Patrick Willis in the first round but he went one pick before the Bills to the 49ers. That may have been a good thing since Marv Levy said Willis wasn't one of three players they targeted with the 12th pick. If Willis was there and they didn't take him the fans may have revolted. The fact is the Bills targeted Marshawn Lynch and Paul Posluszny along with an unmentioned third player that was available, probably Pittsburgh CB Darrelle Revis. The team ended up getting their top two players on their wish list and in the process filled their holes at running back and middle linebacker. Both of these players should start right away as Ralph Wilson said in the post draft news conference introducing both players.

Some say the Bills reached in taking Lynch that high, but he probably would have gone four picks later to the Packers so it isn't much of a reach at all. He reminds Levy of Thurman Thomas and becomes the Bills first receiving threat out of the backfield since the hall of famer. Lynch is an exciting young player who seems to have the right attitude to succeed in Western New York. Running backs usually can step in as rookies and play well, the Bills need that from Lynch.

In our mock draft we had the Bills taking Posluszny in the first round; I was off by 22 picks. When the Penn St. linebacker began to fall, the Bills began working the phones to trade up as early as late in the first round. They finally struck a deal with Detroit to get their man. While they filled two major needs with two players ranked number two by most experts, it came at a price. Moving up nine spots and giving up a high third round pick was 100 points more then usual according to the draft pick value chart. The bottom line is, if Posluszny lives up to his reputation of being a Shane Conlan clone, nobody will care about the pick they gave up.

Some are questioning the Bills third round pick of QB Trent Edwards, I am not one of those people. He was by far the highest rated player on their draft board at that time. The team was going to draft a QB in the draft anyway since they were short one on the depth chart. Conventional wisdom had them picking one on day two but Edwards was too good to pass up. This is a no lose proposition, if Edwards develops he can take over the number two role from Nall next year, which is the last year of Nall's contract. The Bills cut off any QB controversy right away by re-affirming that J.P. Losman is their guy. If Edwards develops well they can trade him, ala Matt Schaub this year.

The one negative with picking Edwards is the team could have taken a cornerback there. That is one need with the loss of Nate Clements that went unfulfilled on draft day. The reality is that a corner isn't as important as the front seven or safeties in the cover 2 defense. The Bills also obviously feel confident that Ashton Youboty can step in and play well, like the rookie safeties did last year. The other side of the coin is that you still need good cover corners, especially in the AFC East that is suddenly loaded with top receivers. The Patriots acquisition of Randy Moss emphasizes this. If a corner didn't fit into their draft plans that may be ok because of the veteran depth at the position. It does put pressure on Terrance McGee to step up his game however. It will be something interesting to watch this season.

There were a few eyebrow raising picks in day two as the team definitely went with the best available player option and didn't draft for need. The 4th round pick was even a bit more important than usual since they weren't picking again for 73 picks. It would have been a good idea if they filled a need at corner or wide receiver instead they took a 2nd running back. Levy said this was the toughest decision in the draft and it was a consensus pick but there was much debate since they took a back in the first round. If Dwayne Wright develops like they hope they may have their very own version of "thunder and lightning" but they still don't have a big receiver or depth at cornerback at this point. They seriously needed to upgrade the backfield and with this pick they have two young backs for the foreseeable future. If they didn't take a back there, they would have needed another one next year as Anthony Thomas is getting up their in years.

With their three late picks they took a safety, tight end, and defensive end. The last two rounds are a crapshoot and they were looking for special teams players and may have got a good one in John Wendling. They think in the right scheme he can develop, depth at safety was a need that they fulfilled like in the draft with this pick.

Taking TE Derek Schouman and DE C.J. Ah You in round seven may work out but I would rather have taken a receiver and corner here as well. They don't need a defensive end at all and they already have two tight ends/H-backs on their roster in Brad Cieslak and Ryan Neufeld.

The draft is considered a success, although we won't really know for a few years, thanks to the top two picks alone. The team also seems to get good value for where they picked Edwards and Wright. If some of the late round picks develop faster than we think this draft has a chance at being as successful as last year's despite not filling two major holes. I'm willing to give Levy, Tom Modrak, Dick Jauron and co. the benefit of the doubt. The reality is the team had too many holes to fill in the draft even if they did pick a corner and a wide receiver. They did fill two starting roles and depth at two other positions that they needed to fill. That is about as good as we could have hoped from a rebuilding team that is at least another year away but on the right track after five wasted years of the Tom Donahoe era.


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