The 2010 NFL Draft is now less than 48 hours away, and as I have spent the past few weeks focusing on different options and predictions of the Buffalo Bills' approach to the upcoming event, I would be remiss to not try to touch on every plausible scenario.
Which brings me to today's topic: the Atlanta Falcons draft approach.
Leading up to the 2008 draft, Atlanta was in a situation not unlike the one Buffalo is in right now.
The Falcons needed a quarterback. Desperately.
They also needed someone to protect their quarterback. Desperately.
The way the Falcons went about that crucial draft—and the success that followed—could lay the groundwork for teams with the same needs. Teams like the Bills.
In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Falcons used the No. 3 overall pick on their franchise quarterback, Boston College's Matt Ryan. Atlanta passed on potential franchise left tackles like Ryan Clady, Chris Williams, and Branden Albert to instead secure their franchise signal caller.
But knowing that the odds of securing a franchise left tackle in round two were not very good, the Falcons traded their two second-round selections (Nos. 34 and 48 overall) and their fourth-round selection (No. 103 overall) to the Washington Redskins for their first-round selection (No. 21 overall), third-round selection (No. 84 overall), and fifth-round selection (No. 154 overall).
The Falcons used that No. 21 overall pick to select USC's Sam Baker, their franchise left tackle.
With two glaring holes at two vital positions, Atlanta made a move to make sure they were able to secure a franchise left tackle without having to pass on a franchise quarterback and face of the franchise.
Eerie, isn't it?
This year, Buffalo has massive holes at both the quarterback and left tackle position. And with all the debate going on as to which position should be addressed in the first round, the answer that has not been given much is "both."
If Jimmy Clausen is on the board at No. 9 overall, the Bills could opt to draft their franchise quarterback, then trade back up into the bottom of the first round to secure a player that will make sure the new face of their franchise is not battered and bruised.
With players like USC's Charles Brown, Indiana's Rodger Saffold, and possibly even Rutgers' Anthony Davis all potentially being available towards the end of the first round, Buffalo could opt to then trade back into the first round to make sure they get the player they covet on the blind side.
The Bills have a history of moving up on draft day as well, as they have done it in three of the past four drafts:
- 2006: Buffalo acquires the No. 26 overall pick (first-round) from the Chicago Bears for the No. 42 overall pick (second-round) and the No. 73 overall pick (third-round), select defensive tackle John McCargo.
- 2007: Buffalo acquires the No. 34 overall pick (second-round) from the Detroit Lions for the No. 43 overall pick (second-round) and No. 74 overall pick (third-round), select linebacker Paul Posluszny.
- 2009: Buffalo acquires the No. 51 overall pick (second-round) from the Dallas Cowboys for the No. 75 overall pick (third-round) and No. 110 overall pick (fourth-round), select guard Andy Levitre.
Buffalo is not afraid to make moves on draft day, and given the success Atlanta has had with their decision to make securing a franchise quarterback their top priority, the Bills may be prompted to follow the strategy that has yielded such a great return.
The key difference in these situations is that Buffalo also has a third need: a nose tackle to anchor their new 3-4 defense. As a move back into the first round would likely require giving up second and third-round picks, the Bills may be hesitant to do so.
Maybe the staff feels someone they like at the position could be available in the fourth round. Maybe they feel like they could package more picks to move back into the third round. Maybe Marshawn Lynch is dealt on draft day for a pick they use on a nose tackle.
If any of these is the case, then this scenario becomes even more sensible. If they do not, then the argument for this approach loses a lot of steam. Either way, do not rule out the Bills following the Atlanta Falcons 2008 draft blueprint as they try to fill two of their primary needs. Their recent draft activity is well-documented.