2011 NFL Draft Grades: Marcell Dareus Tops Buffalo Bills 4-Round Report Card
After a coaching staff and roster overhaul last offseason, the Buffalo Bills regressed to a 4-12 record for the 2010 NFL season. Clearly, the Bills didn't have the players they needed to operate their new 3-4 defensive front, after the team had utilized a four-man front in recent years.
Buffalo was awarded the luxury of the No. 3 overall pick, and couldn't afford to miss on any of their nine picks in the 2011 NFL Draft, and in my opinion, they nailed it.
I give the 2011 Buffalo Bills draft class, and I want to extend a compliment to whoever kept Ralph Wilson out of the war room from Thursday to Saturday.
They added crucial depth at crucial positions, grabbing a mammoth, can't-miss run stuffer, a power running back to complement C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, in addition to addressing all three levels of the defense and the offensive line.
Round 1: Marcell Dareus
In my opinion, Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson and Von Miller were my top three prospects in the draft, in that order. With the Bills' third overall pick they added a premier prospect at a position of need.
Rumors were surfacing that the Bills were interested in Auburn's quarterback, Cam Newton, and Texas A&M's linebacker/pass rusher, Von Miller, but with those players off the board in the first two picks, there wasn't any question that Dareus HAD to be the pick.
At 6'4", 320 pounds, Dareus will play the five-technique, a defensive end in a 3-4 front, but has experience in each of the three down positions in a 3-4 defense.
Adding him next to Kyle WIlliams will hopefully help the Bills stop the run this year.
Round 2: Aaron Williams
The Buffalo Bills make a surprise pick, selecting Texas cornerback Aaron Williams, over other intriguing quarterback options such as TCU's Andy Dalton, or Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, in addition to some of the talent at the linebacker position.
Williams projects to be a tweener for the National Football League as he may be better suited to play safety.
At Texas, Williams racked up 89 tackles, forced five fumbles and picked off four passes in three years.
Drayton Florence and Donte Whitner are set to become free agents and, with Williams now on the roster, it's highly likely one—if not both—will be gone.
Round 3: Kelvin Sheppard
With the No. 68 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills selected inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard out of Louisiana State University.
The selection of Sheppard marked the third defensive player in a row that was drafted by the Bills, addressing the defensive line in Round 1, the secondary in Round 2, and finally a linebacker in Round 3.
Sheppard had the opportunity to be coached first hand by Bills head coach Chan Gailey at the Senior Bowl and is a solid addition to the middle of the Bills defense, which features aging veterans in Akin Ayodele and Andra Davis.
Sheppard will have an instant opportunity to compete for a starting role and would give fellow inside backer, Paul Posluszny, a lot more freedom to make plays.
In his four years as a Louisiana State Tiger, Kelvin Sheppard racked up 311 tackles (ninth in LSU's history), 26 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, five pass breakups, two interceptions, and 5.5 sacks.
Round 4: Da'Noriss Searcy
With the No. 100 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Bills grabbed another solid defensive back in Da'Noriss Searcy, a safety out of the University of North Carolina.
This move is an obvious statement by the head brass at One Bills Drive that they have no intention of bringing back strong safety, Donte Whitner.
Searcy marks the fourth defensive player that Buddy Nix and the Buffalo Bills have selected in this draft. In his career as a Tarheel, Searcy recorded 106 tackles, six tackles for a loss, five interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and two sacks.
Short and stocky at 5'10", weighing 223 pounds, Searcy brings the beef that the Bills need to stuff the run from the safety position.
He was an impact player on the Tarheel's special teams unit, returning 35 punts for 428 yards and a touchdown.
Searcy has great range in the zone defense, but he has stiff hips and can get beat by opposing receivers' double moves.
Like the Bills' third-round selection, inside linebacker, Kelvin Sheppard, Searcy was coached by Chan Gailey at the Senior Bowl.
While I would've liked a linebacker or another defensive linemen with the fourth-round pick, Searcy obviously fills a need and has high upside.
Round 4: Chris Hairston
Bills running back C.J. Spiller must be pleased, being reunited with the tackle that allowed him to become a top-10 pick in last year's draft.
At 6'6", 323 pounds, Hairston has an intriguing combination of long arms, explosiveness and athleticism. Starting for three years at left tackle for Clemson, he missed just four games due to a moped accident...Why a 323-pounder is on a moped in the first place is beyond me.
Anyways, this guy has the ability to move the pocket forward, but needs to get a little muscle on him to compete with the more athletic defensive linemen in the National Football League.
I don't see him being a day one starter, but if he works hard in OTAs, he has a significant chance of overtaking the Bills' inconsistent right tackle position.
An ESPN Insider Scouting Report had this to say about Hairston's toughness.
Plays with an edge and can throw smaller defenders to the ground. Killer instinct and finishes blocks when gets defender off balance. Can block through the whistle but would like to see it more consistently. Endurance may be issue and mental toughness is an issue at times. Flagged for false start in 3rd QTR of 2010 Florida State game. Flagged for personal foul on the first play of the 2010 North Carolina game.
Basically, it's easy to see that the Bills' front office wants big, tough and nasty linemen on both sides of the ball. And while Hairston isn't the greatest tackle on the board, Buffalo got him at a great value and will have a solid option at right tackle within the next year.