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The Buffalo Bills have been remarkably consistent at being inconsistent in the past eight years, never finishing with less than five wins, while never winning more than nine games.
This fine stretch of mediocrity includes a solid string of three straight 7-9 campaigns, along with some near-playoff teasing season with the ever-increasingly inconsistent coaching of Dick Jauron.
However, Jauron and his interim replacement, Perry Fewell, are out, and former Georgie Tech coach Chan Gailey is in.
The Bills made mistake after mistake last season, but their collapse truly started when they fired their offensive coordinator before the start of the season. This led to a pathetic and predictable overall offense, and ended with the Bills using three different starting quarterbacks over 16 games.
The free agent acquisition of Terrell Owens, while showing flashes of brilliance, was a failure for much of the season, and another season of mediocrity out of the quarterback position showed that the offense, and finally not the defense, is what is truly holding this team back.
Here's a look at both sides of the ball, as well as some players the Bills could target in April's NFL Draft :
Biggest Needs: QB, LT, WR, RT
The big story of the draft and the offseason for Buffalo will be what it does at quarterback. After drafting J.P. Losman a few years ago, they quickly realized he wasn't their guy and moved on to Trent Edwards.
However, now they have the same exact problem, and the quicker they realize that they simply don't have a franchise passer on their roster, the better.
The Bills hold two picks in the first 41 selections, giving them two chances to hit their two most glaring needs: quarterback and offensive tackle.
Considering the odds are heavily for both Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen being gone in the first six picks, I don't see Buffalo spending their number nine pick on a guy like Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow .
They might view those guys as franchise passers, but the value just isn't there, and the hope is that they can still find the right guy with the 41st pick.
McCoy and Tebow are definitely in the mix if they're still there, and I think McCoy is the guy Buffalo prizes the most.
Chan Gailey has been able to work wonders with athletic, mobile quarterbacks over the years, and both McCoy and Tebow fit the bill.
If he can't land either of them (or Clausen or Bradford), look for him to take a good look at Dan LeFevour .
Look for Buffalo to target an elite left tackle like Iowas' Bryan Bulaga with their first pick. He will almost certainly be available, and he'd be the best tackle prospect on the board, and could even be fairly underrated. If he's not there for some reason, guys like Trent Williams and Bruce Campbell would be solid additions.
As we all know, landing a quarterback of the future is key in a growing franchise, but if you don't have an elite tackle to protect his blindside, well, then you're the Buffalo Bills.
Simply put: That needs to change.
Other areas the Bills will undoubtedly work on are right tackle, as well as adding some explosiveness at receiver, and possibly even tight end.
They did just draft Shawn Nelson, and he has great speed and athleticism, but his progress has been slow. They could give a look at another tight end with more refine receiving skills, like Florida's Aaron Hernandez.
With Terrell Owens a free agent and not sure on a return, the Bills desperately need help opposite of Lee Evans again. This could happen in the form of a trade for Anquan Boldin or Brandon Marshall, while Antonio Bryant could be T.O. 2.0 in an attempt to upgrade via free agency.
However, if Buffalo wants some actual substance at the position, they'll use a mid-rounder on excellent possession man, Eric Decker .
Biggest Needs: OLB, DT, DE, ILB
With the Bills expected to transition from their traditional 4-3 to a more explosive 3-4, the biggest thing for them is to address who works on their current roster, and who doesn't.
The potential retirement of stud defensive end Aaron Schobel could actually go a long way in helping them decide some moves, but really, they need to figure out any dead weight they'll be cutting loose before they start adding the core for their defense.
Outside linebacker may not actually be the Bills' most pressing need on defense, but it's definitely close with the transition to the 3-4.
Not all of Buffalo's linebackers are best suited for the 3-4, making the addition of a true pass-rusher on the outside a great necessity. They also need to look for a nose tackle that can plug the gap and take on two or more offensive linemen at the same time.
It's almost a certainty that the Bills will go after help for their offensive line or for a franchise quarterback (if available) with their first pick, but if that changes for some reason, they could take a hard look at Sergio Kindle or Ricky Sapp.
Both of these guys have excellent size and versatility, and are regarded as two of the top pass-rush specialists for the NFL 3-4. Jerry Hughes and Brandon Graham are solid possibilities, as well, but there remain some questions are their ability to make the transition from the defensive line.
If the Bills go after a big guy in the middle to plug holes, they could wait until the second (and maybe even third) round to land Terrence Cody, who could drop a bit due to weight issues.
Dan Williams could be another guy that is big enough (but not too big) that could be a real solid guy in the middle.
The Bills have a great overall secondary, and simply need to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback, and also start stopping the run on a regular basis.
They did an excellent job in forcing quarterbacks into mistakes with difficult coverages last year, but then got destroyed on the ground.
Balancing out their defense will only help their offense grow, however, without a young quarterback that can really develop into something special (or an acquired veteran), the Bills will continue their mediocre ways.
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