Stampede to the NFL Draft, the Night Before

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Stampede to the NFL Draft, the Night Before
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Ah, the 2009 NFL Draft is nearly here. It is the eve of the draft (actually very incredibly early the morning of for us East Coasters). Everyone is getting itchy to find out who their favorite team will be selecting over the next two days. Much has been said for the past few months about the draft, so how much more can be said?

A lot, I suppose, but most of it rehashing. However, this is one last chance to get the ideas and thoughts about the draft prior to the kickoff. I have discussed in previous articles the need for a pass rush upgrade and also a tight end who will factor into the passing game positively.

There is also the glaring needs along the offensive line. Who will start at the tackle positions next season? Obviously Langston Walker will be one, barring injury or some other major event. Will he be playing left or right tackle? Who will be the other bookend? Demetrius Bell, a seventh round pick from last draft? Kirk Chambers who has seen some playing time?

Or will it be a rookie such as Andre Smith, Michael Oher, or possibly Phil Loadholt?

Also, who will be the starting left guard? Will it be the aforementioned Kirk Chambers, free agent acquisition Seth McKinney, or another unforseen free agent? Or yet again, could it be a rookie such as Duke Robinson, Max Unger, or Eric Wood?

There are a lot of questions leading up to 4:00 pm Saturday. Only time will tell the answers. That will not stop football fans anywhere from debating, so here are three highly important questions for the Buffalo Bills coming into the first round (not including the offensive line questions posed above).

1. Who will be brought in to address the pass rush? Will it be defensive end, defensive tackle, or linebacker? Possibilities in the first round include Florida State end Everette Brown, Texas end Brian Orakpo, Penn State end Aaron Maybin, Tennessee end Robert Ayers, Boston College tackle B.J. Raji, and USC linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.

Other names that could be called include Richmond end Lawrence Sidbury, Jr., Houston end Philip Hunt, and Cincinnati end/linebacker Connor Barwin.

My personal favorite throughout the majority of the draft talk had been Brown, but doing some research into Sidbury has changed that. He's bigger than Brown, yet still faster and shows up big in big games (three and a half sacks in the championship game against Montana).

I think he would be a very nice addition at either twenty-eight or forty-two to help the pass rush.

2. Will the Bills draft a strong-side linebacker? If so, who will it be? The Bills' actions during free agency would seem to show that they are unhappy with the current SLBs on the roster, talking to a number of them and signing one (Pat Thomas).

However, Thomas is not the solution, he is a good depth signing. This question actually ties into the first one with some of the possibilities fulfilling both requirements, such as Cushing and Barwin.

There are other possibilities, however. Some draft gurus have had Aaron Curry falling recently for unknown reasons, but if he falls to eleven, I think the Bills would have a very hard time ignoring him.

Both USC linebackers are still options. Later in the draft, Jason Williams from Western Illinois is an intriguing prospect, along with Zack Follett from California.

I like Clay Matthews, especially at twenty-eight, but I have a feeling that I might hear his name called at eleven, depending on how the first ten picks shake out.

3. Which of the many tight ends will the Bills take? Most people have the Bills taking Brandon Pettigrew at either eleven or twenty-eight. I would be more open to taking him at the latter rather than the former.

However, he is not my favorite tight end in the draft. I would prefer a tight end such as Southern Mississippi's Shawn Nelson who has both the production and shown blocking ability at the Senior Bowl or Mizzou's Chase Coffman who has the ability to gash defenses in the middle of the field.

Pettigrew will most likely command a first round pick; Nelson could command either a second or third while Coffman will likely go in either the third or the fourth, barring an unforseen run on tight ends.

Other tight ends to keep an eye on are James Casey out of Rice, Jared Cook out of South Carolina, and once-elite and unfortunately injured for his senior season Travis Beckum from Wisconsin.

So that is it for me, folks! After the Day One picks are done, I will be offering my analysis of the Bills' three picks (unless they trade, at which point it could be more or less), plus my overall thoughts about the draft. Let's go Buffalo!

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