Mocking the Draft wants to introduce you to a new article series taking a closer look at each team's draft workings. The WarRoom articles will give you a glimpse at the recent draft history and the decision-making structure of each NFL team. We will also include our thoughts about the structure and draft history.
Offensive Scheme: Curtis Modkins is the Bills offensive coordinator in title only. Chan Gailey runs the team’s offense and implements a heavy passing attack with a focus on getting the ball downfield. Gailey has a knack for developing quarterbacks and showed that in 2010 with the emergence of journeyman and perennial backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Under the tutelage of Gailey, Fitz put up career numbers across the board and introduced the league to a dynamic vertical threat in third-year receiver Stevie Johnson. Gailey and the Bills front office have such faith in the 28 year old Harvard grad that they did not feel the need to draft a quarterback in April. With a deep receiving corps and a full year in Gailey’s system, look for the Bills vertical attack to continue to improve in 2011.
Even with a continued emphasis on the passing game, look for 2010 first round selection C.J. Spiller and established veteran Fred Jackson to see bigger roles in the team’s offensive scheme. The Bills started 2010 with a three headed monster at running back with Spiller, Jackson and former first rounder Marshawn Lynch which impeded their ability to find an identity in the run game. With Lynch now in Seattle, Spiller and Jackson should split the load in the run game and are both capable of making plays in the passing game out of the backfield.
Defensive Scheme: The Bills will line up primarily out of a 3-4 defense with a four man front implemented on occasion. George Edwards runs the defense but Gailey brought in former Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt as an assistant to sure up the D. Wannstedt is a proponent of an attacking defense with an emphasis on putting pressure on the quarterback, so look for the Bills to become more aggressive in their blitzing schemes. The team’s defensive success in 2011 relies heavily on the resurgence of outside linebacker Shawne Merriman and the production of a group of unproven players including 2011 third overall selection Marcell Dareus.
Draft Thoughts: Ralph Wilson brought in Buddy Nix in 2009 and Gailey in 2010 to completely change the team’s draft day decision-making as well as the organization’s football philosophy in the process. Both Gailey and Nix desire hard-working, high-motor players who thrive off of competition. Nix’s success with finding and analyzing these player prototypes can be evidenced by his experience as a scout with the Bills from 1993-2000 and his Assistant GM role with the San Diego Chargers from 2003-2007. During his tenure as A.J. Smith’s Assistant GM in San Diego eight of Nix’s draft picks and three undrafted free agents have made at least one Pro Bowl visit.
In Gailey and Nix’s first draft with the team in 2010 they focused heavily on finding unheralded talent from mostly non FBS schools. The jury is still out on the 2010 draft but players like Spiller, Torell Troup, Alex Carrington, and surprising upstart Arthur Moats, are all expected to play significant roles for the team in 2011 and beyond.
Gailey and Nix took an entirely different approach in 2011, with their first seven draft picks coming from the SEC, ACC or Big 12. Not surprisingly, Buffalo used seven of its nine picks in April addressing their porous defense. Dareus is the gem of the draft and the highest defensive lineman selected by the Bills since they drafted NFL sack king Bruce Smith first overall in 1985. He is expected to anchor the defensive line for the Bills and give them a dynamic they haven’t had since Smith departed for the Redskins in 2000. Gailey and Nix’s first two draft classes will be heavily relied on to produce almost immediately since Nix doesn’t believe in adding high-priced talent via free agency.
Five-year record: 31-49
Coach: Chan Gailey
GM: Buddy Nix
Recent Draft History: Click Here to see a complete draft history
Best Pick (Past Five Drafts): MLB Paul Posluszny: Poz was a four year standout at Penn State and was the unquestioned leader on the team’s defense. He was a tackling machine and owns the Nittany Lions record for career tackles. Although he leads the Bills in tackles on a yearly basis, he is by no means a game changer on defense, which speaks volumes about the Bills’ drafting futility over the better part of the past decade. Poz is a solid player and a priority free agent for the Bills to resign but when you analyze a team’s draft history over a five year period you hope to find at least one perrenial Pro Bowler on their current roster. Stevie Johnson, Jairus Byrd and Eric Wood can all be in the discussion for Buffalo’s best selection in the past five drafts but none have produced on a consistent basis in their brief careers thus far.
Worst Pick (Past Five Drafts): DE/OLB Aaron Maybin: Yes he’s only been in the NFL for two seasons but he can easily be considered one of the Bills’ worst ever draft busts considering the players that could’ve been selected in his place. The team passed up on Brian Cushing, Brian Orakpo, Clay Matthews, and Michael Oher just to name a few. Maybin was a red shirt sophomore with 12 total games of experience at Penn State. He was a "workout hero" in 2009, showing extremely impressive measurable in pre-draft workouts. His frame makes him look more like a receiver than a rush linebacker however, and it’s been reported that he’s slimmed down even more this offseason. In two seasons with the team he’s only started in one game, amassed 24 total tackles (6 in 2011) and has yet to record his first NFL sack. Maybin will have to show significant strides in 2011 to even make the team’s roster.