Five Questions to Ponder about the Bills and the Draft


As the 2011 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, there’s no time like the present to engage in some thought provoking questions about our beloved Buffalo Bills and what will transpire on draft night.  With the Bills on the clock at No.3, like almost every draft before, a lot will depend on what the two teams (Carolina at No.1, Denver at No.2) ahead of Buffalo decide to do.  Nevertheless, I won’t let that small hitch in the giddy-up slow or stop me from posing these five questions that in some way, shape or form will be answered by the Bills come draft day.

1.  Will the Bills play it safe and go with Texas A & M LB Von Miller?  There’s been no other prospect who’s soared up the draft boards in the war room as quick as Miller has.  He dominated at the Senior Bowl and is widely considered to be the best pass rusher in the 2011 draft.  He led the nation in sacks with 17  his junior season, then followed up his senior campaign with 11 sacks.  The Bills desperately need a difference maker who can impact on the pass rush and get to the quarterback.  Ironically those are two areas the Bills must fill with great urgency.  Playing it safe is not a knock on Miller at all.  He’s ready to step in and play right away whether it’s in a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme.  Miller is capable of dominating off the edge with his speed and athleticism.  Are the Bills capable of making a solid choice and adding Miller to the fold?

 2.  Can the Bills afford to roll the dice and risk it all on Cam Newton?  What’s not to like about Cam Newton the football player?  His atleticism is freakish.  He’s got the build of a wide receiver like Andre Johnson.  He has great arm strength and dominated the college football landscape in just one season in the SEC which is universally agreed upon as the best and baddest coference in college football.  So why then wouldn’t the Bills jump at the chance to select Newton is he’s available at No.3?  But, as Newton is most talked about prospect in the draft since Tim Tebow, he comes the biggest boom-or-bust candidate out there.  He comes out of run-option spread offense at Auburn, which calls his decision making into question.  In that type of system, generally quarterbacks are designed to make on initial read and react to it.  Newton had an impressive pro day and admittedly, he’s got all the tools in the chest to be “the guy”.  But for a team that has squandered so many draft choices in the past boom- or-bust prospects, and with the Bills feeling comfortable about going into 2011 with Ryan Fitzpatrick, is Newton risky business?  Does he fit the right scheme in Buffalo under head coach Chan Gailey, who parlayed success with Kordell Stewart in Pittsburgh?

3.   What does Buffalo’s hierarchy of needs look like in their war room?  Without a doubt, this is the most difficult question to try and answer, simply because nobody really knows.  And just when you think maybe you’ve got an answer, it opens up an entirely new set of questions.   Buffalo has expressed their support for Fitzpatrick before.  Does that mean they’ll shy away from selecting Newton or Blaine Gabbert if either is available at No.3 or if the Bills feel either can be the long term solution under center in Buffalo?  Do they believe landing a franchise type quarterback is their most pressing issue?   One thing we know for sure is that the run defense has been a league worst for two years now.  It’s been flat out awful.  By my accounts, that would be ranked pretty high on the list of things that needs fixing.  I know that Nix has surprising endorsed the offensive line prospects.  Why I have no clue.  Outside of Eric Wood and Andy Levitre, and Geoff Hangartner who has been steady, their tackles are below average by NFL standards and I’d argue they’re missing two legit starting tackles.  How much does Nix and Gailey value the offensive lineman in this draft class likely will depend on whether or not the Bills target the tackle prospects.  And then there’s the draft board itself.  Who do the Bils have right now as their No.1 on the board.  That will likely trump anything else the Bills do.  If they have a guy like Marcell Dareus or Patrick Peterson ranked No.1 and if either is available when the Bills draft third, it’s likely that’s the route they’ll take.   Like I said, it’s a whole Pandora’s Box of scenarios, guess works and questions that open up.

4.  Will Buddy Nix stick to his guns and go with the “Best Player Available” scenario?  Whether or not you agree with the philosophy, that seems to be the direction the Bills went a year ago with the C.J. Spiller selection.  Despite his rather forgettable rookie campagin, Nix and company believed at No.9 Spiller was the best choice.  If that holds true to form a year later, then certain LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson fits the bill.   He’s one of the most talented prospects in the draft.  Peterson is a jack of all trades type prospect who seems to master just about everything.  He can play press coverage, getting right up on the line in the receivers’ face and he’s got the 4.3 speed to go stride for stride down up the field.  You can argue that cornerback isn’t an immediate area for concern for the Bills.  But Terrence McGee has major health issues and it’s getting increasingly more difficult for him to stay on the field and out of the trainer’s room.  Drayton Florence is a free agent and Leodis McKelvin hasn’t exactly dazzled.  The Bills need a shutdown corner.  They passed on Darelle Revis a few years ago.  Will they be making the same mistake again if they bypass Peterson?

5.  If the right package/price entices Nix, would he consider trading out of the No.3 slot?  The Bills have gaping holes all around, much like they did a year ago this time.  Granted they’ve improved in some areas, but largely they still have a long way to go to rebuilding this thing.  Would the Bills look to acquire more picks by trading down.  Nix has said he’s not a fan of moving up and down the draft board, though he didn’t rule out that everything’s out in the open and anything is possible.  Certainly the Bills are going to field calls on draft night, particularly if Newton or Gabbert is available.  Quarterback starved teams like Arizona, San Francisco and Tennessee are likely to get on the phone and attempt to entice the Bills to trade down from No.3.  If the Bills trade down, it’s likely they could still be in like to land players such as Nick Fairley, J.J. Watt, Da’Quan Bowers, Tyron Smith or Prince Amukamara.  But would they be considered consolation prizes by Nix?  It’s likely if the Bills trade out from No.3, they’ll miss out on possibly Peterson, Miller, Newton, Gabbert and Dareus.  That could be troublesome, when you consider the instant impact I believe Peterson, Miller or Dareus could have on the Bills’ defense.  That’s not going to stop teams drafting below the Bills from calling.  The question is will they be willing to listen, and will they like what they hear?

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2 Responses to “Five Questions to Ponder about the Bills and the Draft”

  1. JJ says:

    The Bills would be stupid to take Newton. Not only is his decision making yet to be tested….he hasn’t taken a snap from under center since high-school. Do the Bills really want to wait 2 years for their First Round draft pick to learn drops and reads? Orrrrr….since Gailey WILL implement the 3-4 AGAIN…why not get a Marcus or a Bowers to put some pressure on opposing QB’s. The biggest problem the Bills had last year was getting such pressure.

    If they can’t get Bowers or Marcus..then trade down. The Redskins have the #10 pick and they need a Quarterback….so trade the #3 for them and hope Miller, Bowers or Marcus is still there.

    Cam Newton will be an EPIC FAIL in the NFL.

  2. Frank says:

    Hey JJ, I will be honest there are just so many interesting elements that come along with Newton. No question he’s lightning rod when it comes to the hype, potential talent and the attention he’ll bring to whichever franchise he goes to. I will agree with you that his decision making and his abilities to read, decipher and react in a nano second at the next level remain to be seen. It’s hard to ignore what he did in just one year in the SEC, the way he burst onto the scene and dominated, eventually taking home the Heisman. But to me, the biggest thing is Cam Newton the person. What are you going to get? Is he going to be the first guy in the building in the morning and the last one to leave at night? Is he more interested in being the best quarterback in the league or he is more preoccupied with being an entertainer? Is he going to live in the film room and watch countless hours of tape? I think if the answer to any of those questions is no, then you’re not going to draft him.

    For my money, I believe it’s going to come down to three players: Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson and Von Miller. Frankly, if the Bills get any of those three, it’ll be their best first round draft choice in probably 10 years.

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