On The Clock

by Rich

Sometime after 3:00 this afternoon, Jake Long will officially sign with Your 2008 Miami Dolphins (Now with 100% less Zach Thomas!). Once that little formality is out of the way, the show will really start. As the first round takes shape, you see hints of what sort of animal this particular draft is going to be. The guys in the green room rock absurd suits, Mel Kiper talks very loudly about his hair, and Jets fans boo (see above). We all enjoy a little schadenfreude as the cameras repeatedly cut to the guy who is unexpectedly free-falling through the first round sitting there uncomfortably, as though visualizing the millions of dollars he’s losing each pick as an actual pile of cash that has been set on fire. And of course, we wonder: what are the Bills going to do at 11?

That, my friends, is the question. To be honest, I really don’t know. We all know what the Bills need: a big target for Trent in the form of a receiver or a tight end. This is not new information; it is simply common sense. Corner and defensive end are the two other primary positions of need, and neither one would surprise me a whole lot in the first round, but I’ll get to that later. Adding Marcus Stroud earlier this off-season solidified the interior of the defensive line, which is nice because it kept DT from being on this list too.

“Okay,” you say. “”So what are the Bills going to do about these needs?” Well…I still have no idea. Actually, that’s not true. I have many ideas, it’s just that I have no idea if they’re anywhere close to what’s actually going to happen. Buffalo’s in an awkward place at #11, pretty much because we need a wide receiver and there isn’t one who is worth picking there. For a while the prevailing idea seemed to be taking Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly, but then he had a disastrous pro day where he ran a 7.92 forty-yard dash and made disparaging remarks about Jewish people. (Note: This may or may not have actually happened) Some people have mentioned Devin Thomas out of Michigan State, but I hope not. Something about this guy says “first round bust” to me. He’s a one-year wonder who also isn’t quite big enough (in my mind, at least) to fill the “big receiver” role that he would need to. The front office seems to be lukewarm on Longhorn product Limas Sweed, who is evidently slipping on some boards.

Keeping in mind that there don’t appear to be any wideouts worthy of the 11th pick in the draft, what are the Bills going to do? Well, there are a couple of options:

  • Take the highest-rated WR on the board at 11.

It would be a bit of a surprise, but this front office has shown their willingness to pull the trigger on a player they want even if it seems like a reach at the time. (Donte Whitner, anyone?)

  • Take a CB or DE at 11.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised by this and I think this is the most likely scenario if the Bills keep their current pick. Troy corner Leodis McKelvin is a possibility, as is Florida (shudder) DE Derrick Harvey if he’s there. To me, the best possible outcome of this particular scenario involves grabbing one of those guys (or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Antoine Cason) at 11 and then potentially picking up Sweed or a tight end (USC’s Fred Davis, Purdue’s Dustin Keller are possibilities) in the second round. Not quite the perfect outcome, but still pretty good.

  • Trade down.

I am normally opposed to the idea of trading down; somehow it seems like a concession. On the other hand, this year it makes sense. If there isn’t a guy worth taking, don’t draft someone at 11 just to draft them when you could flip that pick to KC (as Buffalo Rumblings is hearing) and add another first-day selection. Trading down is also the most likely way for the Bills to pick up a WR early in the draft. If they move down, it brings Kelly/Thomas/Sweed back into the picture.

So there it is; the Bills have a few options, and each one seems just about as likely as the next. The only other advice I can give you is to relax and enjoy. The pace of the draft has gone from glacial to sloth-like this year, thanks to the shortening of each pick’s time slot from 15 to 10 minutes (and if that’s still too slow, here’s a little something to keep you occupied). As for me, I’ll be heading to the beach in the morning to celebrate the end of the semester with too much domestic beer and not enough sunscreen. I figure by the time the 11th pick rolls around I will have found my way home so that I may properly react to the pick with either “Wow, nice! Today just keeps getting better and better!” or “Ugh. Really? Well, at least I’ve been drinking all day.”

…I hope it’s not the latter.