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Buffalo Bills Free Agency: How the Bills' Signings Affect Team's Draft Strategy

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIMarch 30, 2012

Buffalo Bills Free Agency: How the Bills' Signings Affect Team's Draft Strategy

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    With free agency winding down, it appears as though the Buffalo Bills may be done with signing veteran players to contract.

    Now, Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey turn their attention to the NFL draft, where talented players wait to hear their names called.

    Certainly, each free-agent signing this offseason has somehow affected how the Bills will approach the NFL draft moving forward.

    Here, we break down each free-agent signing (or re-signing) with a comprehensive analysis on how it will affect the Bills in the draft.

SIGNED: DE Mario Williams

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    Contract: Six years, $100 million, $50 million guaranteed

    Pick most affected: First round, No. 10 overall

    Analysis: The Bills forked over a lot of money for Mario Williams' services, giving the pass-rusher an unprecedented amount of money to go after AFC East quarterbacks for years to come.

    This move puts the Bills out of the running for players like Courtney Upshaw, Nick Perry and Quinton Coples with the 10th overall pick—this team needs an offensive player now.

SIGNED: DE Mark Anderson

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    Contract: Four years, $27 million, $8 million guaranteed

    Pick most affected: Third round, No. 71 overall

    Analysis: The Bills defensive line was already pretty set after the Mario Williams signing, but bringing in another good pass-rusher like Mark Anderson was icing on the cake.

    Though this doesn't have an impact on the Bills' first-round draft plans, the signing certainly cancels out the possibility of the team selecting a second- or third-tier pass-rusher in the third round.

RE-SIGNED: WR Stevie Johnson

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    Contract: Five years, $36.25 million

    Pick(s) most affected: Third round, No. 71 overall; Fourth round, No. 105 overall

    Analysis: Stevie Johnson has been a key player for the Bills, and his re-signing is indicative of the direction in which the Bills are going on offense.

    I now look for the Bills to draft a No. 2 wide receiver in the third or fourth round, possibly a big target (Marvin McNutt, Brian Quick) or a speedy slot guy (Jarius Wright).

RE-SIGNED: RB Tashard Choice

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    Contract: One year, undisclosed financials

    Pick most affected: Sixth round, No. 178 overall

    Analysis: Tashard Choice was a good running back at the end of the year for Buffalo, getting 30 touches and even scoring a touchdown—it's a good thing that Buddy Nix brought this player back.

    Now that the Bills have four difference-making running backs (Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Johnny White) on the roster, there's no way they spend a sixth-round pick on another rusher.

RE-SIGNED: TE Scott Chandler

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    Contract: Two years, $5.45 million

    Pick most affected: Second round, No. 41 overall

    Analysis: Tight end Scott Chandler was an above-average red-zone target for the Bills last season, and he finished with a solid six touchdowns on the year.

    Bringing back Chandler means that the Bills won't spend their second-round pick on a tight end, as some mock drafts predicted.

RE-SIGNED: S Bryan Scott

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    Contract: Terms not disclosed

    Pick most affected: Second round, No. 41 overall

    Analysis: In a division with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, the Bills need a hybrid linebacker-safety to cover the tight end in base sets.

    With Bryan Scott re-signed, the Bills don't need to pursue Harrison Smith from Notre Dame here, instead being able to focus elsewhere.

UNSIGNED: OT Demetrius Bell

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    Contract: None

    Pick most affected: First round, No. 10 overall

    Analysis: Before he went down with an injury, Demetrius Bell was one of the best left tackles in the league, as the Bills started off the season a hot 4-1.

    The Bills need a starting left tackle if they want to be successful next season, and they could go with Riley Reiff at No. 10 overall.

UNSIGNED: CB Reggie Corner, S Jon Corto, WR Roscoe Parrish

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    Contract(s): None

    Pick(s) most affected: Seventh round, No. 217 and No. 251 (compensatory)

    Analysis: In past years, Reggie Corner, Jon Corto and Roscoe Parrish have been solid special teamers for the Bills, and they will be missed if they remain unsigned.

    Look for Buffalo to use its last two picks on WR/DB types to fill out the special teams rosters and provide key depth off the bench for Chan Gailey's squad.

    Follow B/R FC Eli Nachmany on Twitter for timely NFL updates and interesting football perspective @EliNachmany.

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