AFC East: Duke Robinson
|Rich Kane/US Presswire|
|If Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin slips to No. 11 in the draft, you could see Buffalo taking advantage.|
Team needs: Offensive line, pass rusher, tight end.
Dream scenario: Buffalo's situation is fluid. Positional needs today might not match their wish list when the front office gathers in Orchard Park, N.Y., for the draft on April 25.
The Bills have holes on their interior line, at tight end and with their pass rush. They cut high-priced left guard Derrick Dockery and tight end Robert Royal early in free agency, but didn't replace them.
The Bills' biggest weakness on their 4-3 defense was their inability to pressure quarterbacks, especially when Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel went down with a foot injury. There was no help. They registered a paltry 24 sacks.
But the Bills have a brewing situation at left tackle. Jason Peters, a two-time Pro Bowler, held out of all offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games last year because he wants a new contract. He's expected to do so again, with the sides far apart in negotiations. The Bills might be forced to trade him, meaning they could need to fill the second-most important position in football at the draft.
For the second straight year, the Bills own the 11th overall pick. Unless they make a trade, they'll have to wait until the 42nd slot to select again and then 75th. The New England Patriots, meanwhile, will have drafted six times when the Bills have drafted thrice.
But the Bills will conduct a successful draft if they can come away with a pass rusher and a couple of starting offensive linemen. Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin could slip to No. 11, but if he's not there, then Florida State defensive end Everette Brown should be there for the taking.
The Bills should have opportunity to draft a top-three center at No. 42 and move versatile free-agent signee Geoff Hangartner to left guard. California's Alex Mack and/or Oregon's Max Unger probably will be off the board, but the other could be available and too tough to pass up. Louisville's Eric Wood also projects as a second-round talent.
The Bills also have a chance to snag the best guard in the draft. None are expected to be taken in first round. The best of the bunch include Oregon State's Andrew Levitre and Oklahoma's Duke Robinson.
Plan B: Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the best player at his position in this year's draft class. He's a strong run blocker, has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds and has soft hands.
Consensus among scouts, though, is that Pettigrew is not worth the 11th pick. If the Bills want him, they have a valuable asset they can dangle to a team in need of a quarterback, especially if Southern California's Mark Sanchez still is on the board. The Bills can move back a smidge, select Pettigrew and gain a later pick or two.
Scouts Inc. take: "The defensive end need has been put on the back burner by some people, but I think it's huge. This defense is one prominent pass rusher away from being a pretty strong group. I think they'll move that direction on draft day. A guy like Everette Brown will be hard to pass up." -- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Who has final say: Owner Ralph Wilson signs off after input from chief operating officer Russ Brandon, top college scout Tom Modrak and head coach Dick Jauron.
Now On the Clock: San Francisco 49ers, April 7.