2008 NFL Draft: By-Position Breakdown of the Buffalo Bills

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2008 NFL Draft: By-Position Breakdown of the Buffalo Bills

Here we go, an indepth look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Buffalo Bills going into the 2008 NFL Draft, ranked on a high, medium and low scale for each position.

Quarterbacks

Draft Needs: Low

Trent Edwards, in his second year out of Standford, is slotted for the number one spot, backed up by the talented but uneven J.P. Losman. 

 

Although Losman’s agent has asked for a trade, the front office has publicly stated they’re not looking to part with him.  Unless they are knocked over with the proverbial deal they can’t refuse, Losman will be on the roster in ’08. 

 

Even if they were to move Losman in a pre- or draft day deal, it’s more likely they’d sign a veteran to back-up Edwards rather than spending a draft pick.

 

Running Backs

Draft Needs: Low

Last year’s first rounder Marshawn Lynch firmly established himself as the number-one back, while former NFL Europe back Fred Jackson seems to have the number two spot secured.  In limited duty, Jackson played well enough to send veteran Anthony Thomas packing.

 

Fellow 2007 draftee Dwayne Wright rounds out the trio, leaving the need for a back in the ’08 draft low on the priority list.

 

Full Backs

Draft Needs: Low

Unlike past incarnations of Buffalo offenses, the current system rarely utilizes the fullback position.  There’s no need for a Jamie Mueller or Sam Gash-type on the roster, and with Jonathan Evans and Darian Barnes on the roster, this isn’t much of a need position. 

 

However, with the number of free agency departures that impacted the special teams, Buffalo could pick up someone like Owen Schmitt (West Virginia) or Jacob Hester (LSU) in the later rounds.

 

Wide Receivers

Draft Needs: High

Everyone knows the Bills will be looking to score a starting wide receiver, and probably on day one of the draft. 

 

Lee Evans is the incumbent number one, but questions surround his status considering this is the final year of his contract, and the Bills aren’t known for shelling out the big dollars to keep their own players.  After a rough start to his career, Josh Reed has settled in nicely at slot receiver, while the team has yet to figure out how to fully utilize Roscoe Parrish beyond the return game.

 

The two names most commonly linked to the Bills have been Devin Thomas (Michigan St.) and Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma).  They’ve openly expressed the desire to bring a big body to take some heat off of Evans, and both Thomas and Kelly fill that need. 

 

With the Evans situation in mind, it would not be a surprise for Buffalo to draw from the receiver well twice during the draft, with the likes of Paul Hubbard (Wisconsin) or Adarius Bowman (Oklahoma St.) available on day two.

 

Tight Ends

Draft Needs: Medium

Robert Royal has been adequate during his time in Buffalo as a capable blocker and receiver, but there’s no mistaking him for Kellen Winslow Jr. or Tony Gonzalez.  Michael Gaines showed flashes last year, but he bolted in free agency to Detroit, leaving a roster of the untested (Derek Schouman and Tim Massaquoi) and unwanted (Teyo Johnson and Courtney Anderson). 

 

While it would be nice to add a weapon of Winslow’s caliber to the offense, none exists in this draft.  Fred Davis (USC) seems to be the universal choice as the top tight end available, through Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M) and Dustin Keller (Purdue) may be options for Buffalo if either slip to the third round.

 

Offensive Linemen

Draft Needs: Low

If there was one bright spot in the Bills anemic offense last year, it was the evolution of the offensive line, and particularly the development of tackle Jason Peters. 

 

Big money free agent signings Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker appear worth the investment, and the fact that not a single member of the starting five has turned 30 yet gives Bills fans the most promising group since the Kent Hull-led days of the late 80s/early 90s.

 

Center Melvin Fowler has drawn criticisms for his play against larger tackles such as New England’s Vince Wolfork, however overall the line gave up only twenty-six sacks in 2007, a franchise low.

 

With a group of game-tested capable back-ups, and no standout center available this year, offensive line doesn’t appear to present much of a need area.

 

Defensive Linemen

Draft Needs: Medium

In the 2007 season, Buffalo’s pass rush and run defense nose-dived from previous seasons.  Injuries hampered the left side knocking out Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney for stretches, while the undersized tackles were routinely hammered. 

 

The offseason additions of Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson will help shore up the run game, helping Aaron Schobel bounce back to his Pro-Bowl form of ’06.  That leaves the left end position open for debate.

 

Kelsay and Denney are both workmanlike with great motors, but neither have impressive stats or offer much in the way of a pass rush threat.  With that in mind, it would make sense to unload Kelsay’s large contract in a trade before spending a first or second round pick on the same position. 

 

Derrick Harvey  (Florida) would present an interesting dynamic opposite Schobel, but only if they can move Kelsay.  Otherwise, a player like Brian Johnston (Gardner & Webb) in the later rounds could provide a situational pass rusher and future starter should Schobel or Kelsay not be resigned at the end of their deals.

 

Linebackers

Draft Needs: Low

Keith Ellison performed well at times in ’06, but his lack of size was exposed last year, leading to the signing of free agent Kawika Mitchell from the Giants

 

What little we saw of Paul Posluszny was enough to inspire confidence he’ll live up to the pre-draft billing of a year ago.  John DiGiorgio gained important experience filling in during Posluszny’s absence, although depth became a concern with the rash of injuries that struck the Buffalo defense. 

 

Angelo Crowell lead the team in tackles and was one of the few consistence performers defensively.

 

While depth is always an issue, the signing of Mitchell seems to solidify the group.  A late round pick up for special teams seems about as high as the Bills need to go.

 

Cornerbacks

Draft Needs: High

The Bills have a great history of drafting quality cornerbacks: Antonie Winfield, Nate Clements, Jeff Burris, Thomas Smith for example.  Unfortunately, they’ve had a difficult time resigning them, hence the rotating spot that Jason Webster, Ashton Youboty  and Jabari Greer each held at some point last year opposite Terrance McGee.

 

Free agent William James was signed in the latter half of the free agency period, and while adding depth for nickel and dime situations, doesn’t appear to be starter material.

 

Fortunately, there are a number of cornerbacks who are first round worthy, including Leodis McKelvin (Troy State), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) and Mike Jenkins (South Florida). 

 

Originally Aqib Talib (Kansas) was thought to be an early first round consideration, but character questions and a slow 40 at the combine may push him into the second, a potential steal for Buffalo if he fell that far.

 

Safeties

Draft Needs: Low

Strong safety Donte Witner continued his strong play, but free safety Ko Simpson was lost early in the year to injury.  However, like the Posluszny injury, Simpson’s back-up George Wilson earned rave reviews in replacement duty.  There is talk of a training camp battle between Simpson and Wilson for the position, but that’s months away.

 

Like offensive line and linebacker, this is another position that would require only a late round pick for depth and special teams.

 

Based on the information above, here is my final 2008 mock draft for the Buffalo Bills.  Two things to keep in mind.:

 

Number one, the board will change because trades will be made, it’s almost a given at some point every team is going to be involved with a trade, even if it’s to swap 7th rounders.

 

Number two, the Bills have leaned more towards “best player available,” hence the drafting of Donte Witner when everyone thought it was going to be Haloti Ngata.  That said, what the Bills believe is the best player available when they are selecting does not necessarily jive with the likes of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.

 

So, here’s my 2008 Buffalo Bills fantasy mock draft:

 

Round 1 (#11) – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (Tennessee State)

 

Round 2 (#41) – Malcolm Kelly, WR (Oklahoma)

 

Round 3 (#72) – Brad Cottam, TE (Tennessee)

 

Round 4 (#114) – Brian Johnston, DE (Gardner-Webb)

 

Round 4 (#132) – Owen Schmitt, FB (West Virginia)

 

Round 5 (#147) – Marcus Monk, WR (Arkansas)

 

Round 6 (#179) – Bryan Kehl, OLB (BYU)

 

Round 7 (#219) – Terrell Vinson, CB (Purdue)

 

Round 7 (#224) – Jason Shirley, DT (Fresno St.)

 

Round 7 (#251) – Leon Hart, G (Auburn)

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