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NFL Draft Report

 
By Joe Buscaglia
 


Finding Fitz's No. 2

Thanks to a heavily-spent off-season, almost the entire gang for the Buffalo Bills is back including a pair of high-priced additions.

Most notably to this piece, wide receiver Stevie Johnson and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are back for the (seemingly) long-term. That makes one popular question remain for Bills fans everywhere.

What exactly are they going to do for a second option at receiver?

It's fair to say that the offense leveled off in 2011 because of a lot of different factors. Some point to the hit that cracked Ryan Fitzpatrick's ribs against Washington, but more point to defenses "figuring out" the Bills by creeping up and taking away the underneath routes.

Teams dared Buffalo to complete deep passes, and while they did occasionally, they struggled to do it consistently.

A quick fix for that would be to pick up a competent player that can come in and start right away for the team opposite Stevie Johnson.

It's what leads many fans to fall in love with the idea of picking up Notre Dame's Michael Floyd with the tenth overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. To be perfectly honest, I think it's a pretty smart idea, too.

He would bring an added dimension to the Bills' receivers. He boasts a supreme blend of height, speed, jumping ability, run blocking and hands. I could argue, and even have in the past with some people I meet around town, that Floyd is just as good a prospect as Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

If either of those guys are available at tenth overall, the Bills will have a very tough decision on their hands in trying to determine if that pick should be a wideout or a left tackle.

There are two schools of thought in this ordeal:

1) The Bills take a receiver, and plug him in the starting lineup immediately.

2) The Bills take a left tackle, thinking that the depth amongst the receiver group as a whole outranks the depth of the left tackles available later on.

For me, I would tend to follow ideology number one. Giving Fitzpatrick a target like Floyd or Blackmon, if they're available, would help each and every person on that offense -- most importantly their quarterback.

But the way the Bills have been talking since the NFL Combine, I think they're more likely to follow option number two. They'll get their left tackle in the first round and deal with a wide receiver in the second or third.

While there are guys that might be available to the Bills at 41 and 71 that can contribute down the line, I'm not sold that more than one of those players can contribute right away.

If LSU's Rueben Randle is available, he's probably the most NFL-ready receiver that could be there at 41. Although he isn't the type of game-changing receiver a Floyd or Blackmon would be, he could come in an chip in 30-to-40 catches. Other than him, you've got guys like Stephen Hill, Mohamed Sanu, Alshon Jeffery, Brian Quick and more who may need some time to adapt to the professional game.

If they wait on wide receiver, the chances are very good that Donald Jones will be starting for a second consecutive year. While he's a solid and physical blocker on the outside, he's proved he is not a dependable pass-catcher.

There is an unknown variable as to how ready Marcus Easley will be after another year off from football, but it'd be a stretch at this point to expect him to come in after missing two years and be in the mix for the number two job.

If it were me, I think the idea of adding a Floyd or Blackmon to combine with Stevie Johnson rather than a second-rated left tackle is a much better one. But how the Bills have been talking for some time now makes me believe we're in for a second straight season of Donald Jones, while adding an upgrade for the young Chris Hairston in the process.

Twitter: @JoeB_WGR


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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloWashington
People : Brian QuickChris HairstonDonald JonesJustin BlackmonMarcus EasleyMichael FloydMohamed SanuRyan FitzpatrickStephen HillStevie Johnson




 
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