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Bills Have Major Holes To Fill
Bills looking for help on both lines in particular.
by Steve Saslow
April 23, 2009

NFL DraftThis draft just got more interesting for the Bills with the trade of Jason Peters that gave them two more picks. It also became much more critical as they have another major hole to fill. The Bills now have two first round picks and three picks in the first 42. This adds flexibility to go along with all the needs. That should make for a very interesting and unpredictable draft for Buffalo.

The obvious holes that need to be filled are offensive tackle, defensive end, tight end, and outside linebacker. The less obvious holes are offensive guard or center, fullback, and maybe safety. Many feel the Bills need to draft a left tackle with the 11th overall pick in the draft to replace Peters. Others think the Bills need to stay the course and fill the pass rusher need at that spot whether it is an end or a speedy outside linebacker. Russ Brandon said this week that the team is fine with moving Langston Walker to the left side and starting project Demetrius Bell at right tackle. There is a lot of smokescreens that happen before the draft and even though the team is definitely high on Bell they are likely trying to throw some teams off the trail.

I think they will take the best available player at a position of need at number 11. I do think they believe the pass rushing need is more important than the tackle or tight end need. Therefore I think they likely will take a defensive end at #11 and probably take a right tackle prospect at #28 that they hope can move over to the left side after a season under his belt.

Defensive end prospects that may be there with their first pick include Florida State's Everette Brown, Brian Orakpo from Texas, Penn State's Aaron Maybin, or Tennessee's Robert Ayers. There is a good chance a few of these players will be there for the taking. The draft is very top heavy at offensive tackle with five expected to go in the first round. If the Bills wait until #28 for an offensive tackle they will likely be looking at someone like Arizona's Eben Britton or Connecticut's William Beatty. If Mississippi's Michael Oher is still there at 11 it will be interesting to see if the Bills could pass him up or not.

The wildcard in all this is the tight end position. Dick Jauron has admitted that he may need to go away from his usual all-around TE philosophy and draft someone strictly for their pass catching abilities. There are plenty of tight end's that fit that Bill that should be there in rounds 2 and 3. The only tight end worth a first round pick is Brandon Pettigrew. He is a true all-around prospect who can block and catch. The Bills seem enamored by him but #11 is too early for him and #28 is probably too late. If he somehow falls to that spot the Bills will likely pull the trigger on him. The more likely scenario is that they would take someone like South Carolina's Jared Cook in round two or Wisconsin's Travis Beckum in round three.

Some think the Bills really need an outside linebacker I don't subscribe to that theory. In the 4-3 defense a pass rushing outside linebacker would not help the pass rush too much so they need a defensive end for this. They will likely draft at least one outside backer for depth but I think they are ok with Keith Ellison staying in the starting role for better or worse. Still, they may have trouble passing up USC's twin backers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. If one of these two are available with either pick they may think twice about their linebacker plan.

Positions that are likely to be avoided all together in the draft are quarterback, running back, and possibly cornerback although a late round pick at this position is always possible. They are likely to draft at least two offensive linemen maybe as many as three. Besides an offensive tackle they will likely take a guard or a center. If they take a top flight center like California's Alex Mack, Louisville's Eric Wood, or Oregon's Max Unger the team will likely move Geoff Hangartner to guard although center is his natural position.

We have just went over a few of the possibilities in the early rounds and the Bills have proven in the past that they don't usual follow the convetional wisdom so anything is possible. I don't think there will be any trades to move up or down since I think they are happy with the two first round picks and where they are. There is still a chance that they will add draft picks by trading current players. As we have been reporting, Roscoe Parrish, Chris Kelsay, and Ko Simpson may be on the block. More picks give them even more of a chance to fill some of the holes. Whatever happens they need this to be a successful draft more than ever or else the future looks even dimmer than many fans think it is already.


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