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NFL Draft Order

1. Carolina Panthers
2. Denver Broncos
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Cincinnati Bengals
5. Arizona Cardinals
6. Cleveland Browns
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Tennessee Titans
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Washington Redskins
11. Houston Texans. 12. Minnesota Vikings. 13. Detroit Lions. 14. St. Louis Rams. 15. Miami Dolphins. 16. Jacksonville Jaguars. 17. Oakland Raiders. 18. San Diego Chargers. 19. New York Giants
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (The following teams pending playoff results) 21. Seattle Seahawks*. 22. Kansas City Chiefs* 23. Indianapolis Colts* 24. Philadelphia Eagles* 25. Green Bay Packers* 26. New Orleans Saints* 27. Chicago Bears* 28. New York Jets* 29. Baltimore Ravens* 30. Pittsburgh Steelers*
31. Atlanta Falcons* 32. New England Patriots*


BIlls Replay chat with Al, Sully and Mark

Fitz's beard is off

UPDATED: Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick shaved off his beard this morning. The scraggliest, most-talked about beard in town is history.

"It's coming off. I'm not gonna to think twice about it," Fitzpatrick said this morning as the Bills' players cleaned out their lockers. "It's time. Me and (Jon) Corto are going to his uncle's shop to get it chopped off."

Fitzpatrick on the end of the season: "The way that we ended the season the last two games, obviously there's some issues. I think one of the biggest things we learned is you're never gonna win if you turn the ball over like that. We had an emphasis on it all year and lost focus on it. It cost us the last two games. I think overall as you look at the season there were some real good things that came out of it. I think some real good players and pieces that we found that we didn't know that we had. But there's obviously a lot of work that needs to be done."

Fitzpatrick said at the moment he's not expecting the knee injury that kept him out the season finale to require any surgery. "As of right now it's just gonna be rest. Hopefully it will get better with time."

Fitzpatrick, who threw 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, said he considers himself the team's starter for next season. Asked if this season was satisfying from a personal standpoint, he said: "The first thing you look at is the record. We're not satisfied with that. We're not satisfied with the way the season went. I'm satisfied in the sense that I think I improved this year. I made an improvement this year over last year. ... I need to continue to get myself better, and in turn I think that makes the team better."

---Mark Gaughan

Bills to pick third in draft

Late drama in the AFC South had a big impact on the Buffalo Bills late this afternoon.

Adam Vinatieri's last-second field goal that gave Indianapolis a 23-20 win over the Tennessee Titans also moved the Bills into the third spot in April's draft, ahead of Cincinnati.

Carolina, which finished 2-14, has the No. 1 pick.

The Denver Broncos, Bills and Bengals all finished at 4-12, with the Broncos getting the second pick because they had the easiest schedule. Denver's opponents finished with 131 wins (either St. Louis or Seattle will likely add a win to that total in the night game), for a winning percentage of .516 (again, that will change slightly after the night game).

That's a much easier schedule than the Bills and Bengals faced. Buffalo's opponents went 148-108, for a winning percentage of .578.

Cincinnati's opponents won one more game, going 149-107, for a winning percentage of .582, a razor-thin amount better than the Bills.

Since teams with an easier schedule pick earlier, the Bills draft before the Bengals. So, Vinatieri's kick, coupled with Oakland beating Kansas City, and Houston beating Jacksonville, moved the Bills up a slot.

Much thanks to Mark Gaughan for his help in the math.

---Jay Skurski

Bills lock up Merriman

The Buffalo Bills have pulled a New Year's surprise by agreeing to a new contract with linebacker Shawne Merriman, the team confirmed.

Merriman, claimed by the Bills off waivers from San Diego on Nov. 2, has been out ever since he joined the Bills due to an Achilles tendon injury. The Bills took on $1.7 million in salary by claiming Merriman. His contract was to run out after this season. But now he is in the fold for two more years in a deal that is believed to be worth a total of $10.5 million.

Merriman has been rehabilitating from his injury the past nine weeks, since joining the Bills. His Achilles tendon has bothered him on and off for more than a year. The Bills believe he will make a full recovery, and he is not scheduled to have any medical procedures on his Achilles.

He went on the injured reserve list on Nov. 27.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix drafted Merriman in the first round in 2005, and Merriman made the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons.

Re-signing Merriman represents a gamble for the Bills, given the fact he has been injured most of the past three seasons. But the Bills are confident that if he regains his health he will return to being a very productive player.

“We believe he should make a full recovery and be healthy,” Nix said. “There’s risk involved in anything. Drafting any of these 20-year-olds has risks involved.”

---Mark Gaughan

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