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10 takeaways from the pre-draft press conference

Posted Apr 25, 2014

Here are the top 10 comments that shed some light on the thought process of the team’s brass heading into the 2014 NFL draft.

1 – Options aplenty

After the rebuilding of this roster began with former GM Buddy Nix in 2010 a lot of position holes have been filled over the last four offseasons in the draft and free agency. Sure they could use some quality depth at a couple of positions and some top flight talent waiting in the wings to step into a starting role for a couple of older veterans, but the roster is at a point now where GM Doug Whaley isn’t crippled by positional need when they’re on the clock with their first round pick.

“We can go with any position,” said Whaley. “We can take offensive line, we can take running back, we can take receiver, you can always use another DB, a safety, a linebacker. So that makes our job a lot easier. We can stack the board without having a pressing need.”

2 – No quarterback additions planned

There continues to be a prevailing thought outside the walls of One Bills Drive that the Bills should draft a quarterback this spring. EJ Manuel’s six missed starts concern some fans who apparently want a highly recognizable alternative. Whaley and his scouting department won’t rule out an addition at QB, but see it as highly unlikely.

“We don’t plan on it,” said Whaley.

3 – Moving on up?

There has been more than one report that Buffalo is trying to move up to the number one pick in the draft. It would take a lot to move up eight spots in the top 10, but moving up a few spots from nine might be more realistic. Buffalo’s roster isn’t far away from reaching critical mass and an elite prospect that’s ready to make an immediate impact could be the difference in getting over the troublesome playoff hump.

“We’re going to keep every option open,” Whaley said.

4 – Tight ends are more important

It’s still not all that often that a tight end is taken in the top 10 in an NFL draft. There are the rare exceptions like Vernon Davis and North Carolina’s Eric Ebron might be another. That’s why Whaley could not deny that the importance of a dynamic tight end in an NFL offense is more significant than ever.

“Every offense is different, but I know a tight end and a running back are great friends to a quarterback,” said Whaley.

5 – Receiver class deepest of them all

With the influx of about 100 underclassmen the 2014 NFL draft is one of the deepest talent pools ever. A host of positions like offensive tackle, cornerback and pass rushing linebacker offer quality depth into the early stages of day three of the draft, but the position that tops them all is wide receiver.

“Every year you’re going to have a ton of wide receivers, because that’s the nature of the position compared to offensive linemen and tight ends,” said Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher. “So of course in the second and third round you’re probably going to have a greater option of better players, and I don’t think it’s a big drop off as far as talent.”

6 – Williams trade doesn’t rule out taking WR

The Bills acquired a proven receiving talent with big time touchdown production in Mike Williams via trade, but it won’t lessen the likelihood of Buffalo adding another receiver.

“Sometimes you have to bring in a dimension that you don’t have and a size receiver is a dimension that we don’t have,” said Whaley.

7 – Prepping for the copycats

Everyone has heard the saying that the NFL is a copycat league. Whaley referenced the Seahawks ‘NASCAR formation’ where they kick some of their base defensive ends inside, put pass rushing linebackers on the edges and overwhelm opposing offensive lines with speed. Knowing more NFL defenses are likely to mimic that approach, Whaley did emphasize the need to have a counter to that approach, namely a pair of athletic offensive tackles.

“You need a right tackle nowadays as athletic as your left tackle,” said Whaley. “That’s why we feel these (top tackles) are interchangeable and we’re excited about the depth at the position.”

8 – Plenty of ‘do it all’ running backs

It’s a bear market for running backs in the draft nowadays. There might be a lesser valued position on offense or defense. The wear and tear on backs leads to a high rate of turnover and low level of longevity. With C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson both entering the last year of their contracts the Bills are expected to take a back somewhere in the draft. Fortunately for them the demand is low and the talent pool is deep.

“I think the strength of the running backs is deep this year,” said Fisher. “You have all different types of sizes. You have big guys, fast guys, short guys, but it’s the depth of the running backs in this draft that’s really good. And I think most of these guys are ‘do it all’ guys.”

9 – Depth at defensive end and linebacker needed

While a lot of the pre-draft chatter has focused on offensive tackle, wide receiver and running back for Buffalo there are some other positions where an influx of depth would be welcome. Whaley outlined those positions.

“With the switch to the 4-3 we could use more defensive end depth, but we signed some guys that are unproven so we’re excited and we just have to wait and see there. Linebacker, we’re going to probably get some depth.”

10 – Byrd void likely to be filled in-house

The departure of Jairus Byrd in free agency stung and most believe the Bills need to address the safety position. They’re apparently forgetting the back-to-back safety picks by the Bills last spring of Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. Both will figure into the competition to fill the void left by Byrd and try to earn the right to play alongside Aaron Williams.

“We believe in the guys we have on campus,” said Whaley. “(Jonathan) Meeks and (Da’Norris) Searcy and Duke Williams. We think it’s time for one of those guys to step up.”

Veteran free agent signing Corey Graham could also be a factor in the competition.