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NFL Draft Report

By Joe Buscaglia

Bills' pre-draft visits: What do they mean?

The craziness of the NFL Draft annually features college players flying all over the country to meet with teams at their own facilities. Each team is allowed a total of 30 visits from draft-eligible players. With 32 different front offices around the league, how they approach the pre-draft visits could be completely unique.

Some teams will use pre-draft visits to their advantage, trying to learn all they can on that prospect and even seeing how they mesh with the staff. Others might bring in players that are not interested in just to throw off the scent of their draft plans. Most teams likely do a combination of the two.

But the real question for fans of the Buffalo Bills is this:

How do the Bills approach these visits?

Well, if you want to take an historical perspective with it, General Manager Buddy Nix usually doesn't play around with the pre-draft visits. Just look at the past three years.

In 2010, the Bills had both first-round pick C.J. Spiller and third-round pick Alex Carrington in for an official visit ahead of the draft.

In 2011, Buffalo welcomed in first-round pick Marcell Dareus, second-round pick Aaron Williams and third-round pick Kelvin Sheppard for pre-draft visits.

And in 2012, the Bills got a closer look at first-round pick Stephon Gilmore, second-round pick Cordy Glenn, as well as fifth-round pick Tank Carder.

So all in all there have been three years that Buddy Nix has been on the job. All three years, the first-round pick has visited One Bills Drive and the past two years the second-round pick has toured team facilities. 83-percent of their top two picks visiting is a pretty high percentage, if you ask me.

However, I also think that some of the visits are used to throw the scent off. Some examples from last year: Trent Richardson, Melvin Ingram, Fletcher Cox and Ryan Tannehill.

Most of the visitors though, in my opinion, are players that the Bills were strongly considering. You can also look to the positions they invite for a visit -- or more importantly, positions they don't invite.

Last year, they invited only one running back, one defensive tackle, one safety and no interior linemen throughout the process. How many of those positions were drafted by the Bills in 2012? One, when the Bills took guard Mark Asper in the sixth round (and then cut him after training camp).

What does the 2013 list look like?

Well there are plenty of quarterbacks, a few wide receivers, a handful of safeties, some versatile linebackers and a few others that have visited. The notable absences, as 28 of the 30 visits have been revealed to this point, are any offensive lineman, any defensive tackles and only one cornerback.

If you follow this line of thinking for what the Bills may do, then one could summarize that the first round pick won't be offensive tackles Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson if they fall, nor will it be guards Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. They also haven't invited a first-round caliber wide receiver besides Cordarrelle Patterson either, so that would rule out Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins, too.

However, you must be careful with following this line of thinking all the way. We know the Bills have had their last three first-round draft picks in for a visit, so that means every other team in the NFL knows it as well.

Nix and company could be attempting to pull a fast one by not showing any interest in the player they actually covet. It could be a smart and savvy strategy if done correctly.

Consider this as well: it doesn't appear Nix will be the GM for too much longer, meaning perhaps Assistant GM Doug Whaley has a bit more of a say in things. Maybe he is more of the mindset to keep his cards close to the vest with pre-draft visits, and wants to approach the 2013 NFL Draft in that way.

There are also many variables in the draft, as we well know, that could change the Bills approach to their first-round pick on April 25. It's an extremely fluid situation to say the least.

However, if one had to follow a line of thinking as to what the Bills might do when the draft finally gets here, looking at the pre-draft visitor list is usually a good place to start.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Locations : Buffalo
People : Aaron WilliamsAlex CarringtonC.J. SpillerDoug WhaleyEric FisherFletcher CoxJonathan CooperKelvin SheppardLane JohnsonMark AsperMelvin IngramRyan TannehillStephon GilmoreTrent Richardson

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