Buffalo Bills: Reviewing the 2012 NFL Draft Needs

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IMarch 27, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 6: Ralph Wilson makes an appearance on the playing field before the Buffalo Bills NFL game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills' biggest offseason need was defensive end. That is, until Mario Williams and Mark Anderson both received nice paydays to be bookend D-ends in the new 4-3 front being installed by Dave Wannstedt.

With that, the Bills can comfortably turn their attention to other needs in the draft.

But which of those needs are the most pressing?


The Bills have Stevie Johnson and a host of depth, but they'd really be shooting themselves in the leg if they didn't address the position.
The Bills have Stevie Johnson and a host of depth, but they'd really be shooting themselves in the leg if they didn't address the position.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Wide Receiver

The Bills just gave Stevie Johnson a solid contract for the next five seasons, but that doesn't mean they're set at the position. In fact, in Chan Gailey's high-flying offense, they can use all the additional help they can get at wide receiver.

What the team really needs is someone who can win one-on-one battles consistently. Johnson has shown the ability to make big plays, with an average of 13.1 yards per reception over the past two seasons and a combined 17 touchdowns in that time.

Behind Johnson is a long list of wide receivers who haven't shown enough to inspire any level of confidence going forward, but any of those "JAG" receivers would be a lot better with two threats on the outside to take the attention away from them.

Of course, you can have all the talented skill position players in the world, but none of it matters without an offensive line to give the quarterback time in the pocket. That leads me to the next need.


There wasn't a lot of high-fiving going on in the Bills secondary last year.
There wasn't a lot of high-fiving going on in the Bills secondary last year.Rick Stewart/Getty Images


After finishing the 2011 season sixth in the NFL with 20 interceptions as a team, it may look like the Bills don't need help at cornerback. I can assure you that's not the case.

With a defensive passer rating of 90.4, it's plainly obvious that the Bills could use some help in the secondary. Terrence McGee isn't getting any younger, Leodis McKelvin continues to have a hard time developing, and Drayton Florence is more of a stop-gap solution than a long-term fix.

The Bills tried to address the position in free agency, in fact as early as February with an attempted signing of Stanford Routt, who eventually joined the Chiefs. The draft is deep at cornerback, though, and the Bills could have some luck with a late-round pick at the position.


Demetrius Bell: As good as gone?
Demetrius Bell: As good as gone?Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Offensive Tackle

It looks like Demetrius Bell will cash in on free agency, having made a few trips already to visit interested teams. With that, it looks like the Bills are short on talent at tackle.

In fact, between Bell and Eagles tackle Jason Peters, they will have lost two left tackles in three seasons. It's time to find some consistency at the position.

And even if they don't lose Bell, they'll still need a tackle to plug in on the right side.

They've recently drafted Chris Hairston and signed Eric Pears to a four-year deal just last season, but both struggled last year, with each giving up four sacks and Hairston giving up his four sacks in very limited time.

There's a lot of uncertainty around the offensive tackle position going forward, enough to where the Bills would be wise to address it in the draft.

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Kirk Morrison #58 of the Buffalo Bills sacks John Beck #12 of the Washington Redskins at Rogers Centre on October 30, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario. Buffalo won 23-0.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Outside Linebacker

While the Bills have addressed their needs on the defensive line in the new 4-3, they must now turn their attention to the linebacking corps.

It's a rag-tag group of guys, mainly built for the 3-4, but many of which have experience in the 4-3 alignment. 

What the Bills need most of all is linebackers who can run from sideline to sideline. Kelvin Sheppard has shown the ability to do so, but the other outside linebacker spot remains a question mark going forward—one that would be best addressed through the draft.