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Draft King Analysis

July 11, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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This year brings something new to Draft King: a look at how the picks made in the previous draft will impact each of the 32 NFL franchises. Today, it's a look at the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo lost a great cornerback in 2007, with Nate Clements cashing in on five straight years without a missed start and two Pro Bowl appearances by signing an eight-year contract for $80 million, with in excess of $22 million guaranteed.

Kevin O'Connell
The Bills hope Leodis McKelvin can produce right away. (Icon SMI)
Without Clements, the Bills were 29th in passing yards allowed (238.4 per game in 2007), and bringing in a top-flight cornerback became a priority. Buffalo did that with the #11 pick in the 2008 Draft, selecting Troy CB Leodis McKelvin. The first corner taken in the draft, McKelvin is a player whose shot up draft boards during the 2007 college season (especially when Troy beat Oklahoma State) and who continued his ascent toward the top in off-season workouts.

Small schools are known for producing quality corners, though Troy has been building its program with some talented players who slipped through the cracks in the past few years, such as Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware and Giants DE Osi Umenyiora. This fall, Troy has road games at LSU (a night game no less), at Ohio State, and at Oklahoma State in a return match. If there are more NFL-level players to be found there, they will likely make their presence known in those games.

Along with their needs at corner, the Bills looked to add a blue chip wide receiver prospect to their roster. There were no Calvin Johnson types in this draft, no receivers who were sure-fire top five or ten selections, but there was depth to be had in the form of guys who had similar late first round grades. Perhaps Buffalo was tempted to trade up, though it's likely we'll never know for sure on that.

Regardless, the Bills stood their ground and managed to land an outstanding college wide receiver in Indiana's James Hardy. At 6'6" 215 pounds, Hardy is an athletic standout who runs a blistering 4.45 in the 40. Adding Hardy to the mix with 5'9" Roscoe Parrish, 5'10" Lee Evans, and 5'10" Josh Reed may open up many new options for Buffalo.

Buffalo landed a defensive end in round three in Virginia Tech's Chris Ellis. It had been expected that Ellis would go higher until he had a disappointing Senior Bowl and a subsequent lackluster performance at the NFL combine. Despite that, he still went as a third-round selection, perhaps with Buffalo seeing long-term potential in him.

There were some teams that saw Ellis as a possible convert to OLB in a 3-4 (playing the strong side). But, with his 6'4" 265 pound size, he might be better off as a run-stopping DE, particularly one who can spell the starters in 2008 for a few plays here and there.

The Bills may have found a long-term solution at quarterback in 2007 third-round selection Trent Edwards out of Stanford, who proved naysayers (including me) wrong by posting excellent numbers for a rookie last year. How impressive was Edwards? His 2007 breakout lead incumbent starting QB J.P. Losman to request a trade or release, but the Bills were not inclined to take Losman up on that, wisely opting to keep the veteran as a backup in case anything happens to Edwards.

With the addition of a top-notch corner in McKelvin, the Bills could be poised to make a strong run at the playoffs in 2008. Granted, Buffalo has the Patriots as a very formidable opponent in the AFC East. But if Marshawn Lynch continues to develop as a quality NFL running back and if Trent Edwards builds on 2007 with a successful 2008 season as the team's signal caller, the Bills could be knocking on the door in the competitive AFC this year. A playoff berth would be a welcome site for Bills fans, whose most recent playoff memory was the "Music City Miracle" loss to the Tennessee Titans in January 2000.


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