Bills need to avoid reaches come April

Posted on February 1, 2010 by Chris Trapasso

After the Super Bowl this Sunday, is that IT? Is the NFL season over? For football fanatics, a stupid question. Sure, either the Saints or Colts will be crowned world champions, but as the champagne corks launch, so unofficially does the 2010 season.

Around the bend…the Scouting Combine in February. It gets some press. But it’s only a snack compared to the media feeding-frenzy that surrounds the biggest offseason spectacle in all of sports, the NFL Draft. For most fans it’s a time when excitement meets anticipation for the future.

For Bills fans in recent years, it’s been an annual rite of passage when confident front office decisions morph into agonizing blunders.

In drafting the future foundations of your franchise, one must remember two imperatives…”value” and “best player available”. They basically mean the same thing.

During the millennium’s first decade, the Bills’ “value picks” were hardly that. “Reach” was a word with which the Bills faithful became all-too familiar.

J.P. Losman, a California-kid who couldn’t cut it in his own backyard at UCLA, was drafted out of Tulane following a trade up that even bewildered the unflappable Mel Kiper Jr. Inherent value? Don’t think so. Two years later John McCargo, a defensive tackle with consensus mid-round grades was selected in a “Huh?”- trade up into the first round.

Sure, the Bills were desperate for a quarterback in 2004. But after Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback pool became bone dry. Everyone knew that.

In 2006, Sam Adams left a gaping hole on the interior of the defensive line. However, Buffalo’s scouting department was more willing to reach to fill a need than to draft an already solid position to make it stronger.

Nothing against James Hardy, he’s fallen on some tough times during his first two years as a professional, but in 2008, DeSean Jackson was simply a better wide out prospect despite the lack of size. Bills brass foolishly insisted on Hardy with visions of the Indiana star as a red-zone bulls eye, their very own Plaxico Burress. Outside of a TD catch against Jacksonville in the early stages of  his rookie season, he was rarely even incorporated to play calls inside the 20.

And the Bills passed on Jackson because he was “too similar” to Lee Evans? How foolish.

Donte Whitner at eight? Aaron Maybin at 11? And these guys are among the highest paid players on the team. I’m not using hindsight to blame the Bills. It’s easy to be the guy looking back, pointing out dumb draft choices upon reflection. All I’m asking for is the common sense strategy of matching need with value. If there’s a running back and linebacker void on your roster and your sitting at, say…number 12, draft the linebacker that’s got low-to-mid first round grades, not the running back that’s been slated as a third round selection by every other league scout.

General Manager Buddy Nix’s past has provided some pre-draft ease, inspiring confidence he’ll most likely make some astute educated guesses. But the Bills are in another one of those “tweener” positions. They need a franchise QB, but none seem to be worth a top-ten selection. (Sorry, not investing that much money in Jimmy Clausen.)

This team has gaping flaws in their roster makeup. They must, and I mean must, draft a sure-fire top-ten prospect. Unload the money and hope. That’s really all you can do. If the elite offensive lineman is there at nine, grab him. If the best player available is a linebacker like Alabama’s Rolando McClain, make him a Bill. And if Buffalo plays it aggressive to move back into the first again, let’s hope it’s not for a guy that would have fallen into their laps in a later round. It’s happened far too often.

Even if a running back or a member of the secondary is there in the second round and he’s, far and away the best player on the board, the Bills would be smart to snatch him.

Some bashed Buffalo for taking Jairus Byrd in the second round last year when Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, Drayton Florence, Donte Whitner, and Bryan Scott led a jam-packed secondary that on paper was already the Bills’ strong suit.

After allowing an all-time, franchise- low 61.1 quarterback rating this season against opponents, no one questions  the selection of Byrd anymore.
Adding a quality scat-back to the duo of Fred Jackson, and Marshawn Lynch would establish quite the backfield in Buffalo. Look at Shonn Greene in New York, or Felix Jones in Dallas.

April 22, 2010 is a big day for the Bills as it’s the beginning of yet another rebuilding process. Hopefully the Bills remember the draft is about getting the biggest bang for your buck, regardless of what position needs it most.

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1 Comment on Bills need to avoid reaches come April

  1. Matt

    I can’t fathom how you can say that Old Buddy’s past has provided some “pre-draft ease”???? This is Old Buddy’s first draft as the decision maker! All this garbage about him being the asst. GM with San Diego is a farce. He didn’t live there, he has admitted he doesn’t understand free agents and the salary cap, etc. none of which gives me any confidence in his ability as a decision maker based on his “experience”!

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