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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Ranking team needs: Bills

By James Walker

The AFC East blog continues its series on ranking team needs in the division.

Next up we have the Buffalo Bills.

No. 1 need: Pass-rusher

Analysis: Watching the Bills try to get to the quarterback made you cringe at times last season. Quarterbacks often looked right at home, comfortable in the pocket with plenty of time while picking apart Buffalo’s secondary. The Bills need at least one dynamic pass-rusher who can change this. Buffalo is switching to a 4-3 defense this season, which means that player can be a defensive end or outside linebacker. There are good pass-rushers in free agency, starting at the top with defensive end Mario Williams. However the Bills could struggle to bring top free agents to Buffalo. They might find more success using the No. 10 overall pick to land a defensive playmaker in the front seven.

No. 2 need: Left tackle

Analysis: Left tackle is not a position you want to be a rotating door. But that was Buffalo’s situation last season, as players such as Chris Hairston, Demetrius Bell and Andy Levitre saw playing time at left tackle. Buffalo needs a long-term solution at left tackle for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to reach his full potential. Buffalo runs a spread offense, which puts a lot of pressure on the tackles to protect the edge. There isn’t as much opportunity for help from tight ends and running backs as there is in more conventional offenses. This is a good year for incoming rookie tackles, and Buffalo holds the No. 10 pick. If a good pass-rusher isn’t available, Buffalo should get someone to fend off the opponent’s pass rush.

No. 3 need: Receiver

Analysis: This situation is fluid. It really depends on the future of Steve Johnson. Yes, the Bills could use another threat at receiver regardless of what happens with Johnson. But this need certainly becomes more pressing if Johnson hits the open market in a few weeks. Progress in the negotiations was made recently at the combine, which is good news for the Bills. But I still think Johnson’s chances of returning are closer to 50-50. If Johnson reaches a long-term extension soon, this need on the list would be replaced by cornerback.

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on what you think is Buffalo's biggest need.