With The 11th Pick, the Buffalo Bills Select …

By PFC Bills Writer Joe Moore

April 25th is the day that the new season really begins for the Buffalo Bills. After a third consecutive 7-9 season, the Bills hope to make some big changes to get the struggling franchise back on the right track. So, what better place to start than the 2009 NFL Draft? Now, we all know the draft is filled with hidden gems, big busts, and future NFL stars, but none of the previous descriptions define what the Bills are in desperate need of – an instant impact player. Fortunately, with the 11th pick in the upcoming draft, an instant impact player is likely for Buffalo, as they will have good options at a few of their most needed positions.

Most experts and early mocks have the Bills taking a defensive lineman, which isn’t surprising seeing as the Bills pass rush has struggled during the past few seasons – just 24 sacks in 2008. With the defensive line in mind, there are quite a few possible prospects who could serve well in the Bills lineup. University of Texas DE, Brian Orakpo would most likely be the best option for the Bills. Orakpo is the top ranked defensive end by many analysts’ including NFL Networks, Mike Maycock. At 6’4” and roughly 260 pounds, Orakpo, a great athlete overall, can definitely make an instant presence in the NFL, powering his way through offensive lines, something no Bills lineman seemed to do last year. I’d look for Buffalo to grab the Texas star with the 11th pick, if the 49ers don’t at pick 10. As I said before, the possibilities are of good quantity at the DE/DT positions. That said, if the Niners do snag Orakpo, FSU defensive end, Everette Brown wouldn’t be a bad selection. Brown, a bit smaller than most ends, can also bring a good pass rush. Unlike Orakpo, Brown uses his quickness and speed to get into the backfield. Almost a lock for the draft, Everette Brown will be one of the top if not the first DE taken.

The Bills didn’t have too much success on the other side of the ball either in 2008, specifically in the passing game. With second year quarterback, Trent Edwards running the show, it seemed he had slim picking for receiving options. Buffalo didn’t utilize rookie WR, James Hardy as much as expected, Roscoe Parrish got limited action throughout the season, 7th year man, Josh Reed had 56 receptions with one score and number one receiver, Lee Evans was only able to grab 63 catches and a mere 3 TD’s. Although, the 63 was a +8 improvement from 2007, a number one receiver should be in the 75-80 range with quite a few more touchdowns. So, every Bills fan is wondering, what could improve the pass offense?

A playmaking tight end is the answer. Oklahoma State’s 6’6”, Brandon Pettigrew is the best available at the position. Exceptional blocking ability, good hands and shows great production overall, Pettigrew could be exactly what the Bills need at tight end to open up the struggling passing game. His character could be an issue, though. He has had numerous run-ins with the law, including elbowing a police officer in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The last thing a team wants is a distraction, and Brandon Pettigrew could potentially be one.

Now, if none of the above happens to become reality, the Bills could possibly address the linebacker position. Rattled with injuries last season, was the Bills LB core. Angelo Crowell was put on IR a week before the season began and John DiGiorgio ended up on that list just a few weeks later. The Bills should be grateful they signed former Giant, Kawika Mitchell during the offseason or last year could have gone from bad to really bad. Buffalo’s backers still have some developing to do, with Paul Posluszny still learning the ropes, but it can’t hurt to pick up some depth just in case. There are a few good prospects available this year if the Bills do happen to grab a linebacker early. Top prospect, Aaron Curry from Wake Forest can almost be guaranteed a top 5 pick, so let’s discuss USC’s Rey Maualuga and other Trojan, Brian Cushing. Both were great in college and both have great abilities at the position and could easily create an impact on any teams’ defense. Unfortunately, many have stated that no linebacker, other than Curry is worth a top 15 pick. Although it is a possibility for the Bills, drafting a LB with the 11th pick is still unlikely, but look to see them grab one in the later rounds.

Things will definitely change between now and draft day for a lot of teams. With free agency coming up soon, teams position needs will be altering, possibly creating new choices for the whole NFL come draft day. If Buffalo happens to sign a good quality player during the offseason, their draft board could be looking totally different come April.. Either way, the Buffalo Bills are in a great position to grab some top-notch talent in the draft this year and everyone in Western New York is once again hoping that this is the year to end that miserable 10 year playoff drought.