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Draft Day Filled With Intrigue For Bills
Bills can go many different ways in this year's draft.
by Steve Saslow
Wednesday April 17, 2002

With the Bills having the fourth overall pick in the draft you would think it would be easy to figure out what they will do. The fact is the Bills have many different options available and we may not know until after 1pm on Saturday as to what the Bills will do. Do they draft the best available player in their highest draft position since 1985? Do they trade down a few spots and add to the 11 picks they already have? Do they make the big move and trade for Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe? If they do that, do they give up their number one, or hold out to the second round? Do they draft at a position that they need the most help in?

The team filled many needs through free agency. The signing of Trey Teague and Marcus Price makes drafting an offensive tackle less of a necessity. Signing Billy Jenkins makes drafting strong safety stud Roy Williams less important. The recent signing of Eddie Robinson and London Fletcher fills the linebacking hole while Mike Hollis fills the kicking needs.

That leaves defensive tackle as the most glaring need position for a starting player. The Bills are fortunate that this draft is very strong at defensive tackle with four prospects expected to go in the first half of the first round. The Bills are said to be high on North Carolina DT Ryan Sims and Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth. Other top prospects include John Henderson and Wendell Bryant. The Bills can conceivably trade down five or six spots and get a top prospect at that position. If they stay put, taking one of these guys may be a slight reach but would give them a top prospect next to Pat Williams to clog up the middle and let Fletcher make tackles. It would be the final piece of the defensive puzzle.

The Bills may have trouble trading down since many teams are trying to do it, and fewer teams than usual want to move up and pay high signing bonuses that would hurt the salary cap. So the Bills may just have to stay at 4. If they take the best available athlete at number four they will probably take offensive tackle Mike Williams or Safety Roy Williams. Despite the glaring needs at these positions being filled, Tom Donahoe has said that the free agent moves just added flexibility, it doesn't preclude the team from drafting a tackle or a safety early in the draft. If they don't take a player at those positions in the first round, they will likely take one later on.

As if there wasn't enough intrigue at those positions, quarterback is a position they will need to draft a player if they don't sign Jeff Blake or trade for Bledsoe. Some people think that the Bills will use the number four pick to land Oregon's Joey Harrington. He is considered a blue chip prospect with a blue collar attitude that would fit in well in Buffalo. The Bills however seem to be lukewarm on him. Of course that could be smoke and mirrors as they try to throw other teams off course. The more likely possibility is for the Bills to address this need in the second round with the 36th pick in the draft. After Harrington and Carr there are a few solid prospects expected to go in the second round. The Bills are said to be high on Tulane's Patrick Ramsey, Illinois' Kurt Kittner, and LSU's Rohan Davey. Another likely possibility is the Bills make a call to New England when they are on the clock in the second round and offer them the pick for Bledsoe if they haven't traded him already by then. If the Pats see somebody on their board that they really want at that point they may swap second round picks and give the Bills Bledsoe.

In the later rounds the Bills will likely draft the best available player while filling holes at safety, adding depth along both lines. They will need to use one of their two third round picks on a pass rushing defensive end if they don't take one earlier. They will also likely draft a wide receiver that can also be a good kickoff and punt returner. They are fine at the receiving position but may need to groom somebody if they lose Peerless Price to free agency after this season.

This is shaping up to be the most exciting draft for the Bills in recent memory. It is filled with all sorts of possibilities. One thing is for sure, Tom Donahoe, Tom Modrak, and Dwight Adams head an excellent scouting staff that will pick players that will help this team. Bills Daily is on record in saying the Bills should make the trade for Bledsoe. If they don't they need to draft a solid prospect in the early rounds that they can groom behind Alex Van Pelt. If they sign Blake, neither option will happen. So lets hope the Bills don't sign a QB this week, it will make our draft day even that much more exciting.

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