Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Round 1 Player Drafted: Stephon Gilmore - CB - South Carolina
Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: left tackle, wide receiver and backup quarterback
Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: pass rush, outside linebacker and cornerback
Key Free Agents Signed: DEs Mario Williams and Mark Anderson
When the Buffalo Bills lost Demetress Bell in free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles, it created the first true position of need for the Bills in the 2012 draft. That is why the Bills have frequently been tabbed to draft Iowa tackle Riley Reiff with their first pick. But is Reiff ready to start as a rookie at left tackle?
The Bills had attempted to sign Robert Meachem and Mario Manningham in free agency, so you know they obviously want to upgrade the No. 2 wide receiver position opposite Steve Johnson. The jury is still out on speedster Marcus Easley, who has yet to play for the Bills in a regular-season game.
The Bills' pass-rushing woes should be a thing of the past now that they boast a front four of Williams, Anderson, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. If the Bills get any kind of production from other key front-seven defenders like Shawne Merriman, Chris Kelsay, Nick Barnett, Alex Carrington and Torell Troup, they could move into the top 10 in the NFL in sacks.
That would also make life much easier for the Bills secondary, which was asked to defend on pass plays when the quarterback had all day to throw.
When the Bills are on the clock, they have to decide if they are willing to reach for the best left tackle on the board, take the best player available or trade down to acquire additional picks. The big concern is that none of the other tackles in the 2012 class are worthy of the pick at No. 10 once you get past Matt Kalil, so settling for a tackle with the first-round pick would be considered a reach.
Don't be surprised if the Bills take the best player available, a la their first-round pick of C.J. Spiller in the 2009 draft. Buddy Nix could tab anybody from Michael Floyd, Luke Kuechly or David DeCastro. If the Bills draft DeCastro, they would intend for him to start at left guard, bumping Andy Levitre out to left tackle. If Nix is ever going to trade down in the first round, this seems like the appropriate year to do it.
The franchise rebuilding efforts of Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have now reached the stage in the third year that they can start to draft to build depth at key roster positions. That's a sign that this team is getting closer to becoming a contender.
Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: T Riley Reiff, LB Luke Kuechly, G David DeCastro, WR Michael Floyd, CB Stephon Gilmore, T Bobby Massie, WR Brian Quick, DE Vinny Curry, LB Bobby Wagner, CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Alshon Jeffery, DE Chandler Jones, DE Jared Crick, CB Brandon Boykin and T Matt McCants
First Bills Draft Pick: No. 10 overall
Buffalo's 2011 Record: 6-10
Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks allowed
Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none
Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none
Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, rush defense and sacks