Overview: The Bills enter April’s draft in much better shape after making the biggest move of free agency in acquiring DE Mario Williams, the best pass rusher on the market, who fills Buffalo’s biggest need. By adding DE Mark Anderson as well, the need for edge rushers suddenly goes way down the Bills’ priority list. Buffalo has 10 picks in the draft and plenty of opportunities to upgrade its personnel. With a 5-2 start to the 2011 season, the Bills showed promise and brought hope to a starved fan base. GM Buddy Nix has mentioned that, in recent years, the team needed to simply add more players, but it is at a point now where it can add more depth and fill specific needs.
Need No. 1: Offensive tackle
The Bills have yet to re-sign OLT Demetrius Bell and may not be able to. Chris Hairston showed plenty of growing pains as a rookie. The Clemson product could be better-suited as a right tackle down the line. Nix has often discussed never having enough tackles, and the lack of depth showed last season when Bell and Hairston suffered injuries. Erik Pears played well on the right side and got a contract extension, but Ryan Fitzpatrick needs a legitimate blind-side tackle. Even if the Bills can re-sign Bell, the franchise clearly doesn’t think he is the long-term answer. Riley Reiff out of Iowa is a distinct possibility at No. 10.
Need No. 2: Wide receiver
It was crucial for the Bills to re-sign WR Stevie Johnson, Fitzpatrick’s No. 1 receiver, but last year proved the team needs more weapons on offense. When Johnson wasn’t 100 percent or was covered, Fitzpatrick didn’t have enough receivers to get open. David Nelson had some moments in the slot, and the team is high on Donald Jones and Marcus Easley, but this draft has a deep receiving class, and the Bills haven’t found a legitimate No. 2 threat. They could use a big receiver who can get open on the outside.
Need No. 3: Cornerback
The pass defense took a big step backward last season. Part of that was because of the poor pass rush, but the Bills’ corners were a big part of the problem. Terrence McGee and Aaron Williams battled injuries, Leodis McKelvin was relegated to special teams by the end of the season and Drayton Florence had his struggles. Williams showed lots of promise, but the Bills need help on the outside and more overall depth at the position. There are a lot of corners with second- to third-round grades in the draft that the Bills could consider. Buffalo is fortunate enough to have the division’s best pair at safety, but a playmaking corner should be a priority.