The climax of the NFL season is upon us.
The Super Bowl will crown yet another champion not named the Buffalo Bills. We'll all watch the game intently, but visions of the Bills once again playing in the big game will run through many fans heads on Sunday.
After the game, we look ahead to the NFL Draft, the event that puts a cap on the end of the year oh-so perfectly.
The Bills, well, they've failed miserably in some drafts throughout the past decade. Their inability to find quality talent from the college ranks to many, is directly related to their 10-year absence from post-season play.
What can the Bills do? Good question. They say the NFL is a copycat league, and it most certainly is. Therefore, Buffalo can plan this year's draft by examining strategies used by other teams in years past. It's really that easy...
The Rams had the luxury of the second overall pick last season, and OT stud Jason Smith fell into their lap, after Matthew Stafford was selected first.
Rams' management knew they needed offensive line help, and figured Smith would shore up their offensive line for a very long time. This resembles the Bills' current predicament, with no long term answer currently on the roster to protect that ever important blind side.
Their second round pick was inside linebacker James Laurinitis, a highly productive, instinctive backer, that had "can start immediately" written all over him. Buffalo must provide Paul Posluszny with help if they ever want to see his true potential, and nabbing an elite inside linebacker would do the trick (yes, I'm petitioning for Poz to move outside).
St. Louis picked running back-gobbler Dorrell Scott in the third round last year. Though not a huge name out of Clemson, Scott was a perfect fit for a big time Rams' need. Buffalo seems to be content with their interior defensive line of Kyle Williams, Marcus Stroud, and Spencer Johnson, but don't sleep on Bills brass eying a young and athletic big man with a high motor.
Stroud isn't getting any younger, and a possible switch to the 3-4 means the more tackles the better.
In rounds five and seven St. Louis took WR Brooks Foster out of North Carolina, and Chris Ogbonnaya from Texas. Both players were surely gliding under the radar and probably for good reasons. However, both were luxury additions that added strength and depth to their skill positions.
This is something I'm favoring the Bills to do. If a speedy scat-back is available in the later rounds, Buffalo could snatch him up, and with the departure of Terrell Owens looming, the Bills could use fresh legs at the wideout position.
After a disappointing fall from NFC West grace, Seattle drafted in the fourth position in 2009, and selected star linebacker Aaron Curry. He has the full skill set, and stood out at the Combine in February.
The draft stock of Alabama standout Rolando McClain is very reminiscent of Curry's last season. Some even say McClain is a better prospect, due to his innate ability to read opposing offenses. If you like the Bills going with the "linebacker first" route, he's probably the guy you're hoping for.
Their second pick was Max Unger, an offensive tackle/guard from Oregon. An instant starter with tremendous upside, Unger was a no brainer for the Seahawks. In this approach, Buffalo would almost be forced to draft an offensive lineman, much to the chagrin of those who believe a QB is a top priority. UMass' Vlad Ducasse or Rutgers' Anthony Davis may be available in the second round spot. Both could play Week One.
Seattle then went with Deon Butler (WR from Penn State) in round three, and QB Mike Teal of Rutgers in round six, something Bills fans would be content with. The WR position is thinning out, and it may make more sense to draft a developmental QB in the later rounds if Brian Brohm can't make the roster next season.
What a draft. This plan is favored by the Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, or Sam Bradford fans out there. Jay Cutler was taken in the first at 11, and Brandon Marshall was thieved in the fourth.
None of the top three quarterback prospects have the talents of a Jay Cutler, but some believe the Bills should go QB with their first choice.
A wideout in the fourth may not be far fetched if the likes of Terrell Owens/Roscoe Parrish/Josh Reed aren't on the roster come April. It'll be tough to grab someone of Marshall's caliber, but a receiver may be a viable option.
Chris Huper was selected in the fifth and is currently the Broncos starting right guard. If you believe the offensive line was a big enough priority in last season's draft, picking a developmental lineman in the later rounds like this may be your ideal situation.
Another outstanding draft. Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams was the Vikes' first selection at number nine overall*.
We're well aware of the Bills issues with stopping, or even slowing down the run last season, so although a long-shot, defensive tackle wouldn't be a horrible choice in the first round. After Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy could be available when the Bills are on the clock.
Minnesota then picked E.J. Henderson, a linebacker out of Maryland to shore up the middle of their defense. Buffalo needs help at the same position, it's just a matter of when they'll select a linebacker. Grabbing a linebacker in the second round would be a reach to some but a fitting time to others.
Nate Burleson was picked in the third round, and although he didn't stay in Minnesota for long, a solid pick nonetheless. The third round is another possible landing spot for a wideout for the Bills.
*(This is year when Minnesota didn't make their selection in the allotted time when they sat in the seventh position. Having Kevin Williams around at nine sure helped to heal the embarrassment)
This doesn't exactly parallel the Bills situation entering the 2010 Draft, but it is a draft strategy that shouldn't be ignored.
Bill Parcells could have taken Matt Ryan as the top pick, but chose OT Jake Long instead. He had veteran Chad Pennington ready to start, but knew he wasn't the long-term answer. So the Dolphins moved back into the second round to snag Chad Henne as the QB to wait in the wings.
A year later, Pennington got hurt, he could be done as a professional. Now with one of the better offensive lines in the league, Miami management looks like they made the right decisions.
This plan of action may work if executed in Buffalo, and is a candidate for "most likely to happen." A solid left side offensive lineman will certainly be there at nine, and a quarterback like Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, or Dan LeFevour may be still sitting on his couch waiting for a call in round two.
Many Bills fans would be happy with this drafting method.
So, which way should the Bills go?
Are you a QB first kind of guy? Or should that future franchise signal caller be selected later on? What about a linebacker? First round material? How about an offensive lineman to protect and pave the path for the run?
With so many scenarios it's nearly impossible to figure out, but these teams have drawn out some wonderful blueprints for the Bills to follow.