Why the Buffalo Bills Will Contend in 2009

Joshua GarveyContributor IJanuary 21, 2009

Some may say it was because of a soft schedule while others might say it was a fluke. But in 2008, the Buffalo Bills showed that they do belong with the elite of the league.

They have yet to realize their full potential and will shock the world when it is fully reached.

Buffalo ended the season with a horrible second half. The Bills started their season on a rampage with a 5-1 record, with their only loss in that time to the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. The Bills then went on to win two out of their next 10 games to finish at 7-9 for the third straight season.

There are many positives to look at from this past season. Quarterback Trent Edwards played the best football that Buffalo fans have seen at the position in a long time in those first four games.

After Adrian Wilson's hit sent Edwards out of commission, he never seemed the same. He lost his "swagger" and never really regained it in time to save the season.

Wide receiver Lee Evans and running back Marshawn Lynch had great years and are still young. They have much potential ahead of them. Leodis McKelvin showed flashes of brilliance on special teams and at cornerback when he took advantage of his opportunities.

Wide receiver James Hardy is a work in progress, but seventh round pick Steve Johnson really impressed towards the end of the season, finishing with two touchdowns.

While they have many pieces for the puzzle, they still are missing some that can be found via free agency and at the upcoming NFL Draft. There are also a few moves that must be made as well to keep this team on track to contend in the AFC.

The Bills need to resign running back Fred Jackson to a long deal term deal and keep linebacker Angelo Crowell—a tackling machine when healthy. Cutting tight end Robert Royal seems like a smart move to allow Derek Schouman and Derek Fine to show what they can do.

Although I don't see the Bills being a major contender for any of the premier free agents available this offseason, the draft should allow them to make much needed acquisitions. The defensive and offensive line, linebacker, and tight end seem to be the positions that are being looked at this year.

I see the Bills' draft looking something like this according to what I have read and seen in mock drafts and draft predictions.

Round One

DE Brian Oropko/Texas

Round Two

C Alex Mack/Cal

Round Three

LB Clay Matthews/USC

Round Four

TE Travis Beckum/Wisconsin

Round Five

QB Rhett Bromar/Sam Houston St.

Round Six

WR Quan Cosby/Texas

Round Seven

RB Ian Johnson/Boise St