Bills should entertain trade offers

Considering the lack of surefire talent at wide receiver and cornerback, maybe the best move Buffalo can make is to trade down.

Due to a moderately active free agency period, the Buffalo Bills do not have especially pressing roster needs heading into the NFL Draft.

Most of the depth issues experienced last year were the result of injuries; those that weren't, notably on the defensive line and linebacker corps, were decisively addressed at this time. That being said, areas of concern include tight end, backup cornerback, fullback and, most tellingly, a wide receiver to complement Lee Evans. However, unlike the case of running back Marshawn Lynch last year, none of these positions necessarily warrants the compensation expected of a Top 15 pick in the draft or, for that matter, wouldn't be sufficiently filled with a pick later in the first round.

Therefore, though this may sound a bit unorthodox, the Bills should entertain the offers of teams willing to trade up to the 11th pick on draft day. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that such a trade could give the Bills an extra pick or two in the second and third rounds so that these positions can be filled before the end of the draft's first day.

Ideally, teams exiled from their original first round draft picks like the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns would be the perfect target for this move. While busy in free agency as it relates to wide receivers (picking up Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce), the 49ers failed to shore up an offensive line that was extremely porous.

Additionally, though the Browns acted to improve their woeful defense, having a crack at first-round defensive talent is not something that the league's third-worst defense should take lightly. Though these needs might not directly cause a hastily arranged draft-day trade, a general manager with an itchy trigger finger seeing certain players chosen might not want to wait until their appointed pick and instead make a move to better guarantee talent. Whether in the form of players, picks or a combination thereof, such a trade will allow the Bills to consider all of their needs all at a similar level rather than having to wait a full round before the next position can be addressed (the Bills are evenly spaced at 11th, 41st, 72nd and 114th for the first four rounds).

This scenario can be reasonably discussed because none of the Bills' requirements—tight end, backup cornerback, second wide receiver and fullback—require an eleventh overall pick, but instead require four solid first-day acquisitions. The former two—tight end and cornerback—present a similar scenario: veterans with a respectable background were recently picked up to solidify the position but still may leave some questions to be answered (unlike the acquisitions on the defensive line and linebackers). While picking a tight end in the first round is a bit of a stretch, scoring a cornerback is certainly not out of the question. Mindful of what happened to Jason Webster last season, the Bills should not be faulted for wanting an extra cornerback to backup veteran addition William James. However, with the distinct possibility that he'll be riding the pine for his rookie season, such a pick might not deserve the contract he's expecting for going eleventh overall in the draft.

Additionally, the Bills find themselves returning to a fullback position after the peculiar experimentation with the "H-back." Due to the excellent blocking provided by the Bills offensive line, they might be looking for the next Larry Centers more than the next Sam Gash, but this is a need that can wait until Round Three at the earliest.

Therefore, the most important need is a second wide receiver. Dropping money on such a player is definitely understandable for a variety of reasons. First, as the old cliché states, you have to spend money to make money: more dollars must be spent on the wide receiver position before the Bills can finally get a consistent return on their investment in Lee Evans.

Second, Trent Edwards can be expected to effectively run a pass-heavy West Coast offense, which will most likely open up further in the wake of offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's departure; any rookie drafted that high will get plenty of touches in this offensive scheme.

Third, the chasm between number one and number two wide receivers is small, if not nonexistent, when compared to the difference between a cornerback and a nickel back or that between that a stud running back and a third-down back: so, in terms of player morale and the payroll, there is no shame in actively seeking another big name wide receiver. However, depending on the receiver talent projected to remain at the end of the first round, the Bills could trade down, save some money on contract negotiations and score some extra picks to use on a solid cornerback and tight end before Day One is finished.

Anthony Scott can be reached at

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