No Nonsense: Bills address three major needs

Buffalo addressed three of its biggest needs in the first three rounds with three big names that could all make an immediate impact this season.

No nonsense. Much like last season, the Bills have taken three high-profile players with their first three picks that all could make an impact from day one.

Here's the recap so far:

First Round: Leodis McKelvin-CB

Five catches, 115 yards, two touchdowns. Six weeks later: 10 catches, 128 yards, four touchdowns. Randy Moss flat-out embarrassed Buffalo last season. And while the Bills amped up their front two lines of defense on 'D' in free agency with the additions of Marcus Stroud, Kawika Mitchell and Spencer Johnson, the secondary was left practically unattended (aside from the 'nickel' back signing of William James).

The strategy paid off. After New England and New Orleans - two teams that need a cornerback - swapped spots and took Jerod Mayo and Sedrick Ellis, the draft's best overall cornerback fell into Buffalo's lap. McKelvin doesn't have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie flat-line speed, but he's more refined in coverage. McKelvin didn't face stiff competition like South Florida's Mike Jenkins, but he was far more dominant.

He has the footwork to change direction on a dime, and the physical presence to stick his nose into run support (111 tackles in his final two seasons). Many small-school prospects often get their name on the map with the jaw-dropping plays McKelvin showed throughout his career at Troy (see: seven return touchdowns tied a NCAA record). What separates McKelvin? He has NFL instincts: isn't fooled on playaction, fluid movements in his deep third on Cover Three and explosive closing speed.

Buffalo may not pit him against Moss as a rookie, but the Bills have found a shutdown corner to drastically improve a 29th ranked pass defense that surrendered 238 yards per game. McKelvin was the best overall player on the board and Buffalo's biggest need - a very, very rare jackpot scenario that the Bills have had two straight seasons.

Second Round: James Hardy-WR

Cameras dogged Devin Thomas in the precious moments before Buffalo's first round pick. He stared bored, noticed he was on ESPN and then picked up his phone and smiled (most likely pretending to be talking to his agent).

Despite a one-on-one visit with Thomas, Buffalo refused to reach and took McKelvin instead. Good move. Thomas free-fell to the second round, and Buffalo still was able to secure a big wide receiver complement for Lee Evans. Very big. Hardy is an oversized 6-foot-6, 220 lbs. possession receiver that dominated one of the best conferences in college football, the Big 10.

Off-field issues hurt his value, but one NFL team scout even said Hardy should be a top 15 pick. His size is rare and his raw talent suggests superstar potential. For a receiving unit starving for upside, Hardy is a great pick. He'll have to be. Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish aren't much competition at the No. 2 WR spot.

In three years at Indiana, Hardy set school records with 191 receptions, 2,740 yards and 36 touchdowns. A highly recruited basketball prospect, Hardy started three games as a freshman for the Hoosiers before being convinced to stick with football.

Trent Edwards appears to be the type of quarterback that'd look for the 6-6 Hardy often. He has a pension for locating his possession, underneath receivers. Maybe Hardy is a prospect, Edwards can grow with over the coming years.

Third Round: Chris Ellis-DE

Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay will have a little help rushing quarterbacks next year.

Known for play-to-play, non-stop hustle, Virginia Tech's Ellis will may be molded into a pass-rush specialist. Slightly undersized at 6-foot-4, 260 lbs., Ellis has an opportunity to fill the No. 3 DE role that Justin Tuck modernized with the N.Y. Giants last season – a fresh set of legs to spare Kelsay on third downs and keep the heat on opposing quarterbacks.

He's not Bruce Smith, the standard Hokie defensive end. But behind a nonstop motor, Ellis was highly successful in college, starting 32 games with 22 sacks and 82 quarterback pressures. He clocked a 4.7 40 at the Combine, a tad too high for an edge rusher. While Ellis consistently collapsed the pocket, he did so without Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila-type speed around the end. But Ellis has the clichéd "football speed," and maybe more appropriately, "football character" that could at least improve Buffalo's sad pass rush.


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