Mallett on Bills' board and other draft talk

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
3:25
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix and vice president of college scouting Tom Modrak held a draft media luncheon Tuesday at the team's facility.

Some of the highlights:

Nix reiterated the Bills don't want to trade out of the No. 3 pick.

"I wouldn't rule out anything, but there'll be a guy there we really want, I think," Nix said. "Probably wouldn't move down. It would have to be a rare situation, I think."

The Bills love Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

One of them should still be on the board when the Bills pick. Nix and head coach Chan Gailey have praised Newton for the past couple months, but the front office talked up Gabbert a little Tuesday.

Nix said Gabbert didn't shoot up the Bills' draft board after the season -- as he did in many mocks -- because Modrak had Gabbert rated highly since a few games into last season.

"His stock hasn't risen with us," Nix said. "It's always been high."

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett still is on their draft board.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mallett
Dale Zanine/US PresswireThe Buffalo Bills are still considering selecting Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett with their second round draft pick.
The Bills own the 34th pick, territory where Mallett could be taken. They claimed they aren't (totally) scared off by Mallett's vague off-field concerns.

"There are issues that we've talked about," Modrak said. "They're there. We interviewed him at the combine. We've done our due diligence. We know [the issues] are there. Are they a deal-breaker? Not necessarily. It's not cut and dry, where 'You're outta here.' But it is a part that we've talked about.

"We'll see how we feel about it. We're reasonably OK with it, but that's as vague as I can think of. ... But I don't know if it's a game-changer."

Said Nix: "We think we know some people there [at Arkansas], like everywhere else when you've done it this long. We think we got pretty good information on him."

The Bills didn't bring Mallett to One Bills Drive for a visit like they did Newton, Gabbert and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder.

Nix offered another version of his quote about drafting a quarterback when you already have one.

The Bills consider quarterback a priority even with incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster. Nix was in the San Diego Chargers front office when they acquired Philip Rivers even though they already had Drew Brees.

"We think we're in a good position," Nix said. "Actually, as hard as it is to say that when you got other needs, it's probably a perfect time to take a guy.

"I go back to San Diego, and I have to draw from that. But if you can do it that way, with the way we did it, with Drew Brees ... That makes it easier if you got Drew Brees, now. But if you can take a guy and sit him a year or two until he's hungry and knowledgeable and ready to play, the success rate is going to be pretty high."

Nix indicated stopping the run was more important than rushing the passer.

They need help in both areas. Only three teams recorded fewer sacks than the Bills last year, but they also ranked dead last in run defense.

"The highest-paid guys are the ones that rush the passer," Nix said. "But with us, it's more important probably to stop the run. I don't think you're going to get where you want to be unless you stop the run. Then you rush the passer."

Nix dismissed the notion the Bills won't draft an outside linebacker at No. 3 because of money.

The Bills already have invested a lot of dollars in the position, giving Chris Kelsay a new deal last season, Shawne Merriman an extension and, of course, Aaron Maybin his lucrative rookie contract.

Nix said there was "no merit" to speculating they would steer away from using a premium pick on another outside linebacker. Texas A&M's Von Miller perhaps?

"You can't have too many good players," Nix said. "If you go into a year -- and I've had this happen a lot of times -- where you think 'This is a strong position. We don't need anybody here.' And you wind up with two or three injuries and you're always glad you got the guy."

Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kyle Williams' position isn't set.

I asked Nix and Modrak where they envision Williams and how it will affect what other D-line positions to focus on in the draft. The answer was ambiguous.

"No matter how many [defensive linemen] we get, Kyle will find a place," Nix said. "He's a good football player for us, and he was every Sunday. He'll be in the 3-technique. He'll be shaded on the nose sometimes. He'll be in there on nickel. He won't get out much.

"If the best player was a defensive end or a guy that could play first or second down at defensive end and then you move him inside on nickel on third down, he'd be one and Kyle would be the other."

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