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Bills draft assessment



I'm good with it.  Thats what I've been saying all weekend as neighbors and friends have all asked the same question, "What do you think of the Bills draft"?

Going into the draft I said I would be happy as long as the Bills got their quarterback and they did exactly that with their first selection. The drafting of EJ Manuel gives me a reason to be excited about training camp.  Lets face it, free agency has been a dud and while I'm obviously wondering how Doug Marrone will pan out, the new coaching staff doesn't carry the buzz factor that a first round quarterback carries.

On Thursday night, a couple of hours after the Bills had selected Manuel, I was laying in bed thinking to myself "what if this guy actually succeeds and turns this franchise around"? I realized that I've never experienced what fans of the Colts(Manning andLuck), Redskins(Griffin), Seahawks(Wilson), Niners(Kaepernick), Bengals(Dalton), Falcons(Ryan), Packers(Favre andRodgers) and Ravens(Flacco) have experienced in recent years.  They've all seen their teams draft a quarterback and they've watched that player develop right before their eyes.

By the time I got here in 1989, Jim Kelly had already helped turn the Bills into a winning franchise as they were coming off a berth in the AFC Championship game.  My quarterback hopes since then have been pinned on the likes of Todd Collins, Rob Johnson, JP Losman and Trent Edwards.  

How great would it be if Manuel turns out to be the man who leads the franchise back into the playoffs?

The Bills did a good job of helping out Manuel or whoever wins the quarterback job this season by drafting Robert Woods, wide receiver from USC.  An incredibly productive player in his three seasons with the Trojans, most draft experts agreed Woods can have an impact as a rookie which is not always the case for wide receivers.  

NFL Network's Charles Davis called Woods "a true technician".  ESPN's Trent Dilfer said he makes "conflict catches", meaning he can go up and snag passes.  Even Mel Kiper and Todd McShay loved the pick.  Woods isn't a blazer but is considered a polished route runner and can play outside or in the slot.  In one of his better games at USC, Woods had 12 catches for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns against Stanford where he was covered at times by Richard Sherman who is now considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.

I was puzzled by the selection of Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin but Marrone wants playmakers and explosiveness on his offense and Goodwin's speed certainly brings that potential along with it.  Goodwin, who played football and ran track for the Longhorns, posted a 4.27 in the 40 yard dash at the combine, the fastest time in the last ten years. He is a football player who ran track(as was the case with TJ Graham) as opposed to a track star that decided to play football too.  He didn't have much production at Texas, with just 26 catches last season, but they used him in a variety of roles. 

NFL Network's Mike Mayock says Goodwin reminds him of Mike Wallace. A speedster who didn't have big numbers in college but will be a good compliment to other receivers in the NFL.  I was puzzled by the choice of Goodwin because they have a guy like that in Graham but the Bills want options on offense, so they could put a grouping on the field that includes CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Woods, Graham and Goodwin.

As far as the rest of the draft, I'm not surprised the Bills took a linebacker since it was a position of need and Kiko Alonso gives them some flexibility since he can play inside or outside in what is expected to be a hybrid scheme from new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine.  

I thought for sure the Bills would take a corner at some point because there are major questions behind Stephon Gilmore who I believe will turn into a shutdown player.  But Buffalo opted to add a pair of safeties which does make me a little nervous.  Now I'm wondering if that means the Bills don't expect Jairus Byrd to be here long term.  Could it be they think he isn't worth a huge contract and will be gone after next season? Or is it possible they're expecting a holdout if Byrd opts not to sign his franchise tag deal?

By drafting a kicker it made me think that Chan Gailey saying he didn't like to try field goals of fifty yards or more, was a way to cover up the fact the Bills believed Rian Lindell could no longer make those enough.  Remember, they did take the kickoff job away from Lindell at the start of last season when John Potter made the club.

I'm intrigued by one of the players signed after the draft was completed.  The Bills agreed to a deal with Da'Rick Rogers, wide receiver from Tennessee Tech.  He has good size at 6-2 and 217 pounds and he led the SEC in receiving in 2011 while playing for Tennessee. But Rogers was kicked off the team last August after failing multiple drug tests.  The Bills pride themselves on having character players so this is out of character for them but if he's cleaned up his act, Rogers could turn out to be a steal.
 

Would you take a last place finish from the Sabres next year?
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