2011 NFL Draft | Buffalo Bills Team Needs
Buffalo got off to an extremely slow start in 2010, and while they developed into a competitive team that pushed several good squads to their limit, they never really recovered.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was their guiding light, which is a pretty sad fact, despite his solid numbers and fiery play. He’s a very good back-up and a solid stop-gap starter (See: Shaun Hill), but he’s not an elite passer. The Bills were actually lucky to have him play so well after years of sketchy player from the likes of J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards. However, Buffalo once again has their backs against the wall and needs to think about acquiring a franchise passer.
Elsewhere, Buffalo still can’t protect whoever is throwing passes, and their defense continues to be a relative mess. Needless to say, Buffalo could stand to improve in many areas in 2011.
Biggest Needs: OL, QB, WR, TE
You can talk about Fitzpatrick and the dream of upgrading to Andrew Luck or another passer all you want, but Buffalo needs to go back to the drawing board and fix the real problem, and thats the offensive line. Both right and left tackles aren’t what they should be, and Buffalo has already spent the past few seasons passing on marquee tackles to draft disappointing defensive players and skill position players. If they really want to take a step forward, they need to buy-in to protecting their quarterback. While there aren’t the usual amount of elite tackles that should go high, Buffalo at least needs to address the position in the middle rounds of the draft.
With that said, quarterback still needs to be a focus, which could have the Bills using their number three pick on Blaine Gabbert, who appears to be the best passer on the board. If they want to address their defense with their first pick, they could still get a very talented passer in the second round, where Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, or Colin Kaepernick all could potentially be available.
To a lesser degree, wide receiver and tight end need to be addressed. Lee Evans is getting older and is coming off of a serious knee injury, and could be dropped due to his salary. That, and outside of Evans and Steve Johnson, Buffalo has no real talent at the position. Titus Young could be a nice pick in the second round, or possibly Oregon’s Jeff Maehl in the third or fourth round. As for tight end, the Bills haven’t had a consistent performer there since Jay Riemersma, and even he wasn’t a stud. They’ll have plenty of mid-round options to choose from, and would be wise to upgrade there.
Biggest Needs: DL, LB, CB
Buffalo is paying for what looks to be a horrible pick in Aaron Maybin, which means they are still without a true impact player on their defense. They aren’t without talent on defense, but they need some major depth on the defensive line, and could use some upgrades in their linebacker corps, as well as their secondary.
For Buffalo, it has to start up front with their 3-4 (assuming they stick with that defense), and that almost certainly means grabbing Nick Fairley if he falls to them at the third pick. If he’s not there, however, defensive end or an outside rusher (again, depending on which defense they roll with), would be the next bet. They still aren’t generating a consistent pass rush, and with a 3-4, getting pressure up front is the answer to that problem, and the linebackers will eventually be free to do what they do best. Marcell Dareus looks like a match up front, while Da’Quan Bowers would be a great addition, as well.
As for Buffalo’s secondary, they are not bad off if they can retain Donte Whitner and Drayton Florence, but they can still use some youth and depth, overall. If Patrick Peterson doesn’t go in the first two selections, he’s definitely a guy they’d want to take a look at, while Deunta Williams should be available for Buffalo to snag in the second round to help at free safety.
Buffalo needs to first establish some sort of identity on both sides of the ball. However, before they can do that, they need to start winning the battles in the trenches, and that means sucking it up and getting solid tackles on offense and defense. If they don’t do that, it may not matter what quarterback or defensive ball-hawk they nab.