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Bills Use 12 Picks To Fill Holes On Depth Chart
The stud defensive tackle alludes them but Clements is a player.
by Steve Saslow
Monday April 23, 2001

The Bills entered the draft with a new regime and they definitely took a different approach than John Butler and Co. did in the past. Tom Donahoe and Gregg Williams wanted to add picks since the Bills were in desperate need of bodies to fill out the depth chart. Donahoe worked some magic dropping seven spots in both the first and second round to add two picks, one of them was the same exact pick that they traded to Denver last year for Chris Watson. They accomplished this without passing on a player that they really wanted, that alone makes this a successful draft.

The main disappointment was that the club couldn't get a stud defensive tackle or end in the first round. When Marcus Stroud was selected by Jacksonville just one pick before Buffalo than the Bills started fielding the calls about trading down. The Buccaneers desperately wanted Kenyatta Walker who had fallen and wasn't high on the Bills draft board either. The trade was made and the Bills eventually got the guy they would've picked at the 14th spot. Nate Clements is the real deal, a solid cover corner with size and speed and he is also an accomplished punt returner. He was a no brainer pick at that point as he was the first corner taken in the draft. He will step right in to the nickel back role and may supplant Ken Irvin as the starter as early as opening day. He said he plans on starting from day one as he is not short on confidence.

Thanks to the trade in the first round, the Bills had two valuable picks in round two. With their own second round pick the club added pass rushing defensive end Aaron Schobel. He is small but he fits the mold of a defensive end in Gregg William's system. His weak point appears to be against the run, but in this system he will have help since the Bills will have eight men in the box most of the time. He may be a serious challenger to Erik Flowers for playing time, especially on passing downs.

With the acquired pick in the second round after they traded down again the Bills made a controversial pick by taking Tennessee RB Travis Henry. He is the alltime leading rusher in Volunteer history. He's a big bruising tailback that runs well in between the tackles. This adds to the already crowded but fairly talented Bills backfield. They also held on to Antowain Smith for the time being and didn't trade him for a pick like was speculated. Henry is a little different type of back than former Tennessee teammate Shawn Bryson and Sammy Morris, but he isn't that different that makes him worth a second round pick. He wasn't used as a receiver much in Tennessee but the Bills feel he can do that also. Expect him to get most of his playing time on first and second downs but he does have the talent to develop as the feature back. Question is what do the Bills do with the other talented backs on the roster?

In the third round the Bills also had two picks and they used them to address needs on both lines. Their first pick of the round was used on the defensive tackle they so desperately need. Ron Edwards was considered a reach pick by the Bills in the third round but the club likes his skills and build which is comparable to Pat Williams. He is a quick athlete that seemed to play inconsistent, which turns out to be a common theme among many Bills picks. He will be given every opportunity to win the starting job next to Williams. He is big enough to play on the nose and he is quick enough to even play some end.

The Bills used their second third round pick to draft offensive lineman Jonas Jennings. He may be the steal of the draft for Buffalo. He is projected as a right tackle but his versatility is key for a team that has no depth on the line. He can play guard and center also. He is a tough dedicated player who is a workhorse. He sometimes gets taken out of a play but with his attitude and the coaches teaching him good technique he should add some well needed depth to the line.

The Bills had seven picks on day two of the draft and used the 4th round selection re-acquired from Denver in the second round trade to take Brandon Spoon, a middle linebacker from North Carolina. I'm excited about this kid, he is made from the same mold as Chris Spielman. Not the most talented athlete in the world but he has an unbelievable work ethic. He is a five year college player coming off of a torn bicep two seasons ago that may have hurt his draft value. He can play both inside and outside but projects as a backup to John Holecek inside. He is close friends with former and now new teammate Keith Newman.

In the fifth round the Bills nabbed offensive tackle Marques Sullivan. Many experts had him going earlier but he fell to the Bills because of a reputation as an underachiever that doesn't play with consistency. Sullivan was upset he fell, he thought the Bills were going to pick him in the third round when they went with Jennings instead.

The club had three picks in round 6 and continued to round out their depth chart. They took back to back Notre Dame players by selecting safety Tony Driver and tight end Dan O'Leary. They followed O'Leary's pick by taking Vanderbilt cornerback Jimmy Williams. Driver and Williams are from the same mold, they both came to college as running backs before being moved to the defensive side of the ball. They both have experience returning kicks. Driver kept being switched back and forth between offense and defense before landing as a free safety. He may project as strong safety with the Bills but he is a work in progress with limited experience. He is expected to take over the "Big Cobra" role which is used in the nickel defense. Williams is in the mold of Sullivan and Edwards since he has a lot of talent but was inconsistent with sloppy technique. If he can pull it all together he would be worthy of a much higher pick. The pick of O'Leary is intriguing since the Bills are set at tight end. His value may come as a long snapper which he did very well in College. His field goal snapping isn't as good. O'Leary is a receiving type of tight end and is blocking is a bit suspect. His only way of making the team may be as a snapper.

The draft was closed out with two picks in the final round. The Bills finally addressed their need for depth at wide receiver by picking another inconsistent performer in Ohio State's Reggie Germany. He is a burner with good size but is a little thin. He doesn't seem to be much of a deep threat despite his speed. Drops the easy passes catches the hard one's as he has concentration lapses. The Bills feel they can correct that with many hours on the jugs machine. The final pick was an intriguing project case form Hinds junior college. Tyrone Robertson left Georgia for academic reasons where he rotated with top prospects Stroud and Richard Seymour. He is very raw but could develop into a solid defensive tackle or end.

The main difference between this draft and one's in the past is the gambling on players with questionable attitudes and inconsistency like Sullivan, Edwards, Williams, and Germany. The coaches must be confident in their teaching ability to get the most out of these players. If they do, then all four of them will be steals because their talent was much higher than where they were drafted. The moving down to get extra picks was a no brainer decision. If a majority of these picks do make it, the draft will be very successful.

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