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Offseason review: Buffalo Bills
OLB, ORT, DE, ILB, QB
Round 1: Marcell Dareus, DT
Round 2: Aaron Williams, CB
Round 3: Kelvin Sheppard, ILB
Round 4: Da'Norris Searcy, S
Round 4: Chris Hairston, OT
Round 5: Johnny White, RB
Round 6: Chris White, LB
Round 7: Justin Rogers, CB
Round 7: Michael Jasper, NT
Potential free agents of note
OLB, ORT, ILB (depth), DE (depth), QB (developmental)
Executive vice president/general manager Buddy Nix is finally starting to put his imprint on the Bills.
Nix, who came out of retirement prior to the 2010 NFL Draft to oversee Buffalo’s pro and college personnel departments, addressed some needs in this draft, but also did a nice job of selecting for value instead of reaching for players like his predecessors did.
While Nix passed up cornerback Patrick Peterson or wide receiver A.J. Green, both of whom would have represented upgrades at their respective positions, he selected Dareus, who clearly is an upgrade for the defensive line. He’ll line up mostly at end in Buffalo’s 3-4 defensive scheme. However, Buffalo still needs to add more depth at the position.
Sheppard will bring some badly needed physicality to Buffalo’s defense. Assuming veteran inside linebacker Paul Posluszny returns for his fifth season to team up with veteran Andra Davis, they should be able to form a nice threesome at the position.
The one area on defense that he failed to address in the draft was with the pass rush. With Von Miller going one selection ahead of the Bills in the first round, Nix took the right player with Dareus. But banking on veteran outside linebacker Shawne Merriman to regain form after struggling through three straight injury-plagued seasons might be a bit foolhardy. The team is banking on outside linebacker Arthur Moats, who showed tremendous promise as a rookie, to blossom in his sophomore season. What the Bills need to do is sign at least one pass rusher in free agency.
Even with veteran safety Donte Whitner possibly leaving during free agency, second-round pick cornerback Aaron Williams could play free safety down the road. And fourth-round pick Da’Norris Searcy should be able to provide solid depth early on.
While some team observers were surprised that Nix didn’t select a developmental quarterback in this particular draft, it’s clear that the team thinks they can win, at least in the short-term, with journeyman signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is coming off of a surprisingly solid season. It remains to be seen if the team has any confidence that 2010 seventh–round pick Levi Brown is capable of being the developmental quarterback of the future.
The good news on the offensive line is that four out of the five starters will return for a second season together. However, the right tackle position remains fluid. The Bills will give journeymen Mansfield Wrotto and Erik Pears the first crack at the job. However, Wrotto probably is better off inside at guard. It’s possible that Hairston gets a shot at the job down the road.