April 20, 2011 - 12:07 AM
Bills General Manager Buddy Nix and Vice President of Scouting Tom Modrak held court Tuesday during the team's annual pre-draft news conference.
Here's some highlights:
--Nix reiterated the Bills' interest in drafting a quarterback. He added that this is the right time to do it, saying there could be "a record number'' of QBs in the first round. But the top two prospects are clearly Cam Newton of Auburn and Blaine Gabbert of Missouri. One of them will be available when the Bills are on the clock with the third overall pick.
“There’s no doubt it’s an important position,’’ Nix said. “It’s a quarterback-driven league. But we think that we’re in a good position. And actually, as hard as it is to say when you’ve got other needs it’s probably the perfect time to take a quarterback.’’
--It was shocking no media member asked about Newton during the 45-minute news confererence. I'm sure Nix and Modrak were surprised, too. Perhaps Newton's name came up because most local media think it's a foregone conclusion that the Heisman Trophy winner is the Bills' top choice if he's available.
Nix did praise Gabbert, saying the Bills always had a positive opinion of him even though his high draft rating doesn't match his production during the season.
"His stock hasn't risen with us," Nix said. "It's always been high."
--Head coach Chan Gailey did not attend the pre-draft session, but Nix made it clear that Gailey will have a major influence in who the Bills take with their first pick. When you consider Gailey’s reputation as a quarterback teacher, taking a quarterback in the first or second road seems like a certainty.
“It makes it easier on us to pick one because I’ve got a lot of confidence in that guy after he gets him,’’ Nix said. “He’s very involved in any pick, whether it’s quarterback or anything else. We all are. We’re going to try to have a consensus. And to this point, being in the second year, we’ve been able to do that. You got confidence in the people around you. We talk enough about it until it comes down to the pick being pretty easy.’’
--Nix acknowledged the team is thin on defense and will have to address that in this draft. If the Bills don't a quarterback first, they'll probably chose either Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus or Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller.
Nix indicated stopping the run was more important than rushing the passer. The Bills couldn’t do either last season. They were last in the NFL in run defense and only three teams had fewer sacks. Modrak admitted Dareus would address both area.
"He gives you the best of both worlds,'' Modrak said.
--Nix said the Bills are in the process of putting their draft board together and would narrow their top pick down to three players by April 28, the day of the draft.
--The Bills aren’t likely to trade down from the third spot in Round One, though Nix said he’d listen to offers: “It would be determined by how far down you move. I wouldn’t rule out anything, but there will be a guy there [at No. 3] that we really want. So, probably wouldn’t move down. It would have to be a rare situation.’’
--Nix said the lack of free agency due to the NFL lockout has not impacted the Bills’ approach to the draft: “Nothing’s changed. We’ve gone about the draft the same way. Were going to try to take the best player and hopefully we can fill our needs by doing that.
--Nix is not that concerned about the top pick being a starter, but he expects that player – if he’s not a quarterback – to contribute a lot immediately: “We sure hope he is [a starter]. We’d like him to be. He should be. And if not, it should be a guy that plays 40 snaps a game. It should be a guy that figures in making you a lot better.’’