NFL Draft 2011: Where Do the Buffalo Bills Need the Most Help?

Chris FranjoineContributor IMarch 29, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills readies to pass against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills ended last year by losing to two of their biggest rivals by a combined score of 72-10. These two games involved 13 turnovers and not one single offensive TD. While the Bills did manage to go 4-4 in the second half of the season, these last few games were a wake up call to the Bills fans who thought Gailey would be able to turn around the franchise in a year or two. Believe me, I wish the Bills could be in the playoffs in a year or two.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to go to playoff game at the Ralph. But in order for that to happen, the Bills need to start hitting on their first-round draft picks, as well as their later rounds. Hopefully, this is the last year that the Bills will need to wonder what to do with a Top-5 pick, but that means it absolutely needs to be used on a quality player who can contribute for years to come.

The Bills need help at numerous positions on both sides of the ball. Despite how happy the organization is with Fitzpatrick, he should not be looked at as anything but a stop-gap solution. An amazing backup, but only a mediocre starter, who cannot carry a team through the playoffs. Speaking of which, the Bills could try to mimic the Jets style of offense. A strong rushing attack combined with a QB who will not lose games. Fitzpatrick is certainly better than Sanchez though, so I could actually see this happening (more balanced though).

That said, the first-round pick should not be used on a QB. Sorry to everyone who wants Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, but neither player is worthy of being drafted this early. As for the idea of drafting a QB in this draft, I would say that this draft class is very deep at QB. We should try and take a QB in the second or third round. Colin Kaepernick, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Ricky Stanzi or even Jake Locker could be available in one of the aforementioned rounds. Not Mallet, he would just be a glorified tackling dummy.

The TE position is not of the utmost importance and there is not a player worth drafting in the first round, although Kyle Rudolph would be a decent pick in the second round. As for need, this may be one of the most underwhelming positions on the Bills roster with a total of 23 receptions and one TD. This is certainly a need, but it is something the team could live with ignoring for another year if need be.

Every good team needs a good offensive line. The Bills have had a rotating offensive line that has not been able pass block or run block for the past few years. There have certainly been bright spots and I actually think the line is only a player or two from being decent. Andy Levitre and Eric Wood are great guards although there have been rumblings about Wood moving to the center position since apparently he is actually better at it. Problem is that Hangartner was actually serviceable at the center position even though he was way off from being the answer at that position.

Either way, the Bills' main problems are the offensive tackles. Demetrius Bell has had ample chances to secure the left side and he has shown some promise but is nowhere near playing at the level that he needs to be. This leaves the RT position open for Ed Wang to take. That position was a revolving door last year because of the lack of skill at that position and because of the amount of different players that played it.

If Wang is actually able to hold that side down, it would be amazingly helpful. Color me skeptical. Most of the quality linemen in this draft will probably go in the late first round, which would be disappointing. Hopefully one of them will fall to the Bills in the second round. Unfortunately, we only have one second-round pick.

Although Marcus Stroud struggled at the DE position, losing him really made this a position of priority. I did not see enough out of Alex Carrington to believe that he will be able to start and make plays for an already poor defense. Dwan Edwards does not really excite me either. A solid pick for the Bills would be Muhammad Wilkerson. He has been mostly under the radar so we could get him at a great value.

I believe that this next position is the Bills greatest need. In the 3-4, OLBs are of upmost importance, along with a NT. Fortunately, Kyle Williams had an amazing year last year despite taking on double and triple teams (and uncalled holding penalties against the Steelers). Anyone who watched the Bills play last year was incredibly surprised when Chris Kelsay was somehow able to receive a multi-million dollar contract. He was awful. Kelsay may be a great leader who puts forth the effort, but he is too slow to be a 3-4 OLB.

Arthur Moats started to turn it on last year but he may be better suited for ILB. It would be really nice if Shawne Merriman would do something to make me feel like we did not waste a few million dollars on him. Regardless, this is clearly an area of concern, and fortunately, the Bills are in a great position to draft a player to fill this hole in the first round.

With the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...

Von Miller from Texas A&M.

Von Miller is the kind of player that we were all hoping we would get a few years ago. Instead, we got Aaron Maybin. It's time to admit that the "Maybin Experiment" went horribly wrong and his replacement needs to be drafted.

Paul Posluszny needs to be given a new contract. I know most people are disappointed with his play but we simply cannot afford to lose him since he is actually pretty good. It must be difficult for Kyle Williams and Paul Posluszny to have to make up for the rest of the front seven. Poz deserves a new contract, but he also deserves some help. Von Miller would be a great addition to the LB core. An insidev linebacker is also needed.

Mason Foster could be available for the Bills in the second round (isn't is sad we only have one second-round pick). Foster is one of the best ILB prospect in this year's draft and would allow the Bills to really focus on the run defense which gave up an insane amount of yards last year. Martez Wilson would also be available at a similar spot and some would say he is actually better.

Cornerback is actually one of the Bills better positions. However, Terrence McGee is about to turn 30 and he has already shown signs of slowing down due to injuries. McKelvin had a less than stellar '10-'11 campaign, to say the least, but he has shown signs that he can still live up to his draft pick. Hopefully Florence does not leave for free agency though. Given the Bills tendency to go with the best player available, it would not be surprising to see Patrick Peterson come off the board at No. 3.

It would be tough to turn him down. Peterson should be able to lock down one side of the field which will allow the Bills to put more defenders in the box. If we go with Miller or someone else in the first round (please don't pick a QB), Aaron Williams could be available later in the draft and the depth at the CB is actually pretty solid so a third or fourth rounder would not be a bad option either.

Safety could turn into a problem depending on what George Wilson and Donte Whitner do. Between the two, I think that George Wilson has better value and I could see him sticking around if we give him more playing time. Whitner is better than he is given credit for but he is not nearly as good as he thinks he is. That causes a problem in contract negotiations. Jairus Byrd only had one interception last year but he will surely improve on that next year. I would like to think that part of that had to do with the chaos that was the Bills defense last year.

As you can certainly see by now (if you have managed to get this far), the Bills have more holes than they have draft picks. We are not really known for our free agent pickups, so it's unlikely that any of these holes will be filled through that venue. The Bills management loves the draft, but it's time for them to make some good picks (easier said than done).

If I feel that I could make a good pick, hopefully the Bills will be able to do so considering that it's actually their job. This year's draft is very deep at a bunch of positions. It's perfect for a rebuilding team. Ten years in the future, hopefully we will be able to look back on this draft and say, "That was it, that was the draft that turned the franchise around."