"No one circles the wagons, like the 5-1 Buffalo Bills!" added best football highlight host of all time, Chris Berman, during the
Week 7 version of what should have been NFL Primetime. What a September and October it was for the Bills. Tom Brady suffered a season-ending
injury in Week 1 to Kansas City. Brett Favre was just starting out with the Jets. The Miami Dolphins were 1-15 in the 2007 season... what
could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Ten games later, western New York was on suicide watch because it was their year. I certainly
picked them to be a wild card team, and after Brady went down, I picked the Bills to run away in the AFC East. This team burned me
last year. However, hope (and Orville Redenbacher's) is in the air with the arrival of one of the best receivers in the league,
Terrell "Team Obliterator" Owens. On to the Bills draft range with the No. 11 overall pick:
Brandon Pettigrew: In the preseason, 95 percent of the NFL Draft Web sites had Travis Beckum as the No. 1 overall tight end in
the country. I said it was Brandon Pettigrew. While Pettigrew would be a great fit in the Bills offense, No. 11 seems
to be just out of his draft range on my board. He is not a vertical threat and not the elite play-maker you need from that position
to justify this high of a pick. If the Bills trade out here, then Pettigrew will be on their radar later on in the first round.
Brian Cushing/Clay Matthews: I think Cushing is one of the most overrated players in the 2009 NFL Draft, and watch for him to fall
down draft boards in the coming weeks. Still, this is a little too high for both of the USC linebackers, and I do not think
Matthews is a good fit in the Bills zone 4-3 scheme. Look for Buffalo to not go linebacker at this pick.
Defensive End: Bills fans - you want to know why your team tanked toward the end of the season? You had no pass rush. The
leading sack holder on this team had four, which is pretty pathetic. I really have a hard time seeing Buffalo
walk away from this pick without a defensive end. The first one on their board will be LSU product Tyson Jackson. He is
6-4, 296 and would be a beast at left end on this defense. He would stop the run, and his pass-rushing skills are slightly
underrated. He also brings versatility at 3-technique.
The next pass rusher on the board will be slender end Everette Brown of Florida State. However, both could be off the board
at this pick. If that is the case, look for the Bills to pull a shocker with Northern Illinois senior Larry English. He is
the leader this defense needs and plays the run better than Brown... so if they take English with Brown still on the board, you heard
it here first at WalterFootball.com.
The Bills have cut some fat (Derrick Dockery, Robert Royal) in the offseason and added some muscle (T.O., Drayton Florence,
Geoff Hangartner). Still, they have a few needs after the first round, but who will they target?
I think we can all agree Derek Fine and Derek Schouman are not capable starting tight ends in the league. A big threat over the
middle for Trent Edwards could really be troublesome for AFC East defenses. I like Jared Cook, Travis Beckum,
James Casey and Cornelius Ingram in the second-to-third round range.
Left guard must be upgraded with the release of Derrick Dockery. Duke Robinson of Oklahoma would fit in like a glove in this
offense as a second-round pick. Max Unger could also be targeted in the second. Kraig Urbik, Roger Allen,
Herman Johnson and Tyronne Greene are third-to-fifth round options.
An athletic, one-gap, three-technique could make a big impact on this defense since John McCargo completely busted... and who didn't
see that one coming? I think value can be had in the mid rounds with Alex Magee, Sen'Derrick Marks,
Vance Walker or Fili Moala.
Buffalo let Angelo Crowell go as a free agent and they have yet to sign Cato June. I really like Nic Harris,
Tyrone McKenzie and Gerald McRath are versatile linebackers who could be targeted between Rounds 3 and 5.
With a few upgrades made in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Bills could really surprise some people next season. It will be hard because the
AFC East is a much better division than given credit for, but we all know that no one circles the wagons...