DE Denney aboard, what's future of defense?

The Bills drafted BYU right end Ryan Denney, whom they see as a replacement for the retired Phil Hansen. Buffalo traded its first pick of the third round (69th overall) and its fourth-round pick (the 102nd overall) with San Francisco to move up to the 49ers' spot in the second round (the 61st overall) to get Denney.


Buffalo had discussed taking Denney with its 36th pick, but determined that Josh Reed offered the best value at that pick. The team moved up eight picks to grab Denney for fear that he wouldn't be around later.

"We weren't sure he'd make it to us the third time around," said Tom Donahoe. "We thought he would go before we'd get a chance to pick him in the third round. San Francisco had called a couple of times so we worked it out."

Of Denney, Dwight Adams said, "He's relentless. Here is Phil Hansen. He's the same quality of person, working hard, working out all the time … Phil worked like hell and he could run to the ball. Ryan's a good student also. You have to be at BYU."

Denney has quick hands and an unusual ability to keep an offensive lineman's hands off of him. He's also 6'7", 276 pounds. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said that Denney's hands will be a major factor in his defensive play.

"Look at the Cowboys. Harvey Martin and Too Tall Jones made a living at getting their hands up. The Cowboys got a lot of interceptions that way because quarterbacks couldn't see over them," he said.

The Bills project Denney as a left end on first and second down and a tackle on third down because the Bills prefer speed on that down. It would be similar to how Hansen and Shawn Price were used inside on that down in past seasons.

Denny's value rose in the college postseason. Gray said, "Ryan didn't do well in Senior Bowl practice, but he was probably the most productive guy in the game."

Denny, 24 years old, spent time in Argentina on a mission in 1995-'96, which is the reason why he's an NFL late-comer.

Gray also let on that the Bills may entirely bypass defensive tackle in this draft in favor of a veteran free agent such as Larry Webster or Sam Adams. Webster is an 11-year veteran from the Ravens and Adams is a nine-year veteran. Webster was a reserve for Baltimore. Adams started 14 games. Webster visited Buffalo on Thursday. Adams received another contract offer by the Ravens, but thinks he can get a better deal if he waits …

The future may not bode well for former first-round pick Erik Flowers or former seventh-round pick Bryce Fisher. In talking about his defense, Gray mentioned nearly every player along the line as well as some of the defensive backs, but not Flowers or Fisher. These may be simple oversights during the course of a conversation, but don't count on it. If a player is going to make a contribution, it's unlikely his coaches are going to forget about mentioning him.

The same goes for John Fina. Kevin Gilbride talked about his linemen's versatility, with no mention of Fina. These could be clues that these players days in Buffalo could be over.

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