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Modrak had 1 year left

Tom Modrak had one year remaining on his contract with the Buffalo Bills when he was fired Wednesday by the team, The News has confirmed. Modrak was relieved of his duties as the Bills' vice president of college scouting. He will get paid through the 2011 fiscal year. It is not expected the Bills will add a high-profile member to the scouting operation to replace him. Doug Whaley already holds the title of assistant general manager, and veteran scout Darrell Moody, added last year, has the title of national scout.

---Mark Gaughan

Bills oust Modrak

The Buffalo Bills announced they have relieved Tom Modrak from his duties as vice president of college scouting. Modrak served the Bills since June 2001 as a top executive in the football department. 

His departure is not a shock, given the team's lack of success on the field the past decade. In addition, any changes NFL teams make to their scouting lineup most often come at the start of May, after the draft.

“This is the time of year when we evaluate every element of our football operation and with the draft now completed, we have decided to reorganize our personnel department," said Buddy Nix, Bills executive vice president and general manager, in a statement. "We have begun that process and made a decision to head in a different direction. We thank Tom for his 10 years of dedication to our organization and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Modrak was intimately involved in the scouting and preparation for last weekend's NFL Draft. However, the Bills have added to their football administration since Nix was hired at the end of the 2009 season. Doug Whaley is the Bills' assistant general manager and director of pro personnel. He scouts top college prospects across the country throughout the college season, as does Nix. The Bills also added Darrell Moody, hired from San Diego, as a national scout last year.

The surprise, for a lot of Bills fans, is Modrak lasted as long as he did with the Bills’ organization.

He survived the firing of former team president Tom Donahoe after the 2005 season, even though Modrak opted not to succeed Donahoe as general manager. He survived through four-plus years of the Dick Jauron regime.

It wasn’t a shock he stayed on for the start of Nix’s GM tenure, because Modrak was a big reason Nix returned to the Bills as a scout in January 2009. Modrak had been wooing Nix to join the Bills for a months after Nix was relieved of his duties from San Diego in 2008.

Through the past 11 seasons of non-playoff football, the Bills have had some big misses at the top of the draft, including Mike Williams, J.P. Losman, John McCargo, Marshawn Lynch, Donte Whitner (a solid player taken ahead of star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata), James Hardy and Aaron Maybin.

“Certainly, we've had our misses up at the top," Modrak said a week before the draft. “We've done pretty well in the middle and at the end, the non-glamour kind of picks. But we've missed some. That is regrettable."

Wilson, who has maintained a good relationship with Modrak through the years, defended him in an interview with The News in January.

“He’s a hard worker," Wilson said of Modrak. “He knows the game. In the draft, there’s no question it’s a big disappointment that we haven’t had more impact players, players that make a big difference, go to the Pro Bowl. Tom does a good job, but he doesn’t make the last call. He puts the (draft) board up. We have a lot of hard-working scouts. But it comes down to making the last decision. That’s not Tom."

---Mark Gaughan


Buffalo leads draft viewing

The Bills report that Buffalo led all NFL markets in average local rating for the three-day NFL Draft with a 4.79 household average. About 30,000 households in Buffalo tuned into the draft. The vast majority of those were watching on ESPN. Most of Western New York does not get the NFL Network. The top five markets for draft ratings were: Buffalo, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Jacksonville.

---Mark Gaughan

Jasper can move for a big man

As Allen Wilson points out in this feature of Mike Jasper, the big man from Bethel (Tenn.) University has an impressive combination of size and speed. Here's a couple training videos of Jasper that show off those traits.




Mark Gaughan's Live Chat

Kiper says OT Hairston key

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper liked the Bills' draft. He gave it a grade of B. Only nine teams got a higher grade. He says fourth-round pick Chris Hairston is the one guy who could make the Bills' draft an A-plus.

On why Kiper gave the Bills a B: "It wasn’t so much the quarterback, it was the offensive line. You can only do so much. The offensive line saw a big drop off after the top group. So that’s why I think the key guy is going to be Chris Hairston. Chris Hairston has a lot of ability. He has a lot of potential and ability. I think he’s not yet where he needs to be. But any time you get a kid who’s 6-6 1-4, 325 pounds and is a pretty good athlete and is very, very strong in the upper body. I mean he has incredibly long arms. This kid’s a talent. I think the outside pass rushers, how much trouble they give him, he’s got to get quicker out of his stance do a better job of maintaining his frame between the defensive end and the quarterback and all that. But that will come with coaching. The offensive line coach there is going to be critical to Hairston because he needs some coahcing. The offensive line coach has to develop this kid. If they do they could have a very good pick there."

---Mark Gaughan

DMN gives Bills A+

Dallas Morning News draft analyst Rick Gosselin gave the Bills the only A+ grade in the draft in his analysis of the selections today.

Wrote Gosselin: The Bills had nine selections and five of them were above value for the round they were drafted: Williams, Hairston, the two Whites and Rogers. A good draft becomes great in the third day. The Bills hit for the cycle on Saturday. A+

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper gave the Bills a grade of B. Nine teams got higher than a B. Wrote Kiper: Buffalo drafted some really good football players and clearly put the emphasis on defense. Dareus is the ideal penetrating pass-rusher to convert into a 3-4 defensive end and allows the Bills to really stick with that scheme. The Bills also got a good value with Williams early in Round 2. Sheppard is a guy that while not very explosive, is instinctive and should be starting early in his career. Where I do have a question is why they again waited until Day 3 to get any help on the offensive line. They didn't take an offensive tackle until the fifth round last year, when that need seemed more glaring.

The Buffalo News' draft analysis runs in Monday's editions.

---Mark Gaughan

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