Signs point to Haynes

When people have asked me whom the Bills would pick in the draft's first round tomorrow, the first name I have given has been Penn State defensive end Michael Haynes.

He fits the criteria on any checklist we might ascribe to the team.

Buffalo needs a pass rusher, Haynes is likely to be available in the range of where the Bills pick (23rd), he is one of two projected first-rounders they brought in for a visit. In a study of 15 mock drafts by national news media and sellers of draft publications, Haynes was Buffalo's pick in five.

Does that mean the Bills definitely will pick Haynes? Of course not. For one thing, other teams wouldn't sit back and let him drop to Buffalo if they really wanted Haynes. One possibility would be that the Giants could take him with the 22nd pick.

Would Buffalo trade up to get Haynes to prevent such a scenario? Not likely. The Bills don't have to take a pass rusher in the first round; others not far behind Haynes in talent could still be available 23 picks later in the second round. In addition, the need on the defensive line isn't as glaring as it was at the end of last season.

If Haynes went elsewhere, a number of players rated just about as high and who could help the team still would be available. In one typical mock draft the next four players taken were defensive linemen Kenny Peterson and Ty Warren and safeties Michael Doss and Troy Polamalu. Any of them could fit nicely on the Bills roster.

For the record, four other players were listed as Buffalo's top pick in two mock drafts: Ohio State's Peterson, Miami defensive end Jerome McDougle, Tennessee tight end Jason Witten and Nebraska defensive end Chris Kelsay. McDougle could drop down the draft order after an arrest and a poor score on the Wonderlic intelligence test.

The other two mock drafts either are off base, or could have better information than anyone else. Sports Weekly projected Notre Dame center Jeff Faine; a more likely choice would seem to be Oklahoma cornerback Andre Woolfolk.

Also for the record, the other draft-eligible players brought in to Buffalo were Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan (likely to be gone by the 23rd choice) and second- or third-round types L.J. Smith, a tight end from Rutgers, and Chaun Thompson, a linebacker from West Texas A&M.

Thompson could enter Buffalo with a strike against him as a pupil of discredited special teams coach Ronnie Jones, now West Texas' head coach. But the Bills are not likely to strike out in the first round with Haynes or any of the other players who would be available to them.

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