Dealing Peters gives Bills flexibility

After finally trading Jason Peters, Buffalo now boasts four of the top 75 picks in next weekend's draft. The Bills can fill all of their top needs with the extra picks...

Bills Chief Operating officer/general manager Russ Brandon was asked recently if seven draft picks provided enough new blood to jolt his team from the malaise of three consecutive 7-9 finishes.

"You'd always like more, absolutely,'' Brandon said.

He got his wish.

The long-anticipated trade of disgruntled left tackle Jason Peters to Philadelphia gives the Bills two more selections - an extra pick in the first round (28) and another in the fourth (121).

With four of the top 75 picks and nine overall, the Bills are well positioned to fill the huge hole left by Peters' departure on offense while tackling their most pressing defensive need - improving the pass rush.

A tight end, outside linebacker and more help for the offensive line are also on the wish list and Buffalo now has great flexibility. The Peters deal even delivered a sixth-round pick in 2010 it can package.

Peters was Buffalo's lone Pro Bowler and its best blocker.

But contrary to how it looks, the Bills don't have to find an immediate starter to replace him at left tackle in the draft. Veteran right tackle Langston Walker will likely play the left side this season, with second-year pro Demetrius Bell or a newcomer playing the right.

So instead of spending the No. 11 pick on left tackles Michael Oher of Mississippi or Andre Smith of Alabama, fine prospects valued in this range, the Bills can stick with Plan A and find an impact player at defensive end, something they do desperately need.

Buffalo ranked 26th in the NFL with just 24 sacks last season and Pro Bowl veteran Aaron Schobel is coming off a serious foot injury.

Florida State's speedy Everette Brown is more suitable to their needs and a much safer choice than say, Penn State "tweener" Aaron Maybin.

If Buffalo took a pass rusher first, it could still land a quality offensive tackle prospect later in round one. Arizona's Eben Britton, who at 6-6 has a huge wingspan and great upside, is now on Buffalo's radar.

Even No. 1 center Alex Mack of Cal would make sense, allowing free agent veteran Geoff Hangartner to shift to left guard.

If Buffalo does go offensive tackle first, then Maybin or fast-rising Cincinnati outside linebacker/defensive end Connor Barwin become the top pass-rush candidates.

A tight end is also in the picture at 28, but the need this high was lessened by the signing of Terrell Owens.

TEAM NEEDS: Defensive end, offensive tackle, outside linebacker, tight end.

DE -- Buffalo's anemic pass rush ranked 26th last season. That was in large part because Pro Bowler Aaron Schobel missed 11 games with a foot injury. With no guarantee he'll ever regain his past form, the Bills need to shop for their next great end with the 11th overall pick. While Penn State's Aaron Maybin is often mentioned, the Bills can't afford to risk this pick on a player that lost explosiveness at the combine after adding 20 pounds. Florida State's Everette Brown, on the other hand, has incredible natural burst off the ball and is much better situated to make an immediate impact.

OT: The trade of disgruntled Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters opened a gaping hole up front but having obtained Philadelphia's 28th pick in the first round, Buffalo is positioned to add a good prospect late in the first round that doesn't have to start right away. Arizona's Eben Britton and Connecticut's William Beatty are possibilities.

OLB -- The Bills need an upgrade over undersized Keith Ellison on the weak side to complement Kawika Mitchell and Paul Posluszny. Using their first pick on someone like USC's Brian Cushing would not be a surprise. But there are good candidates in later rounds.

TE -- The Bills released veteran Robert Royal and will look to add someone with pass-catching skills. Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew is regarded as the only first-round value -- and also a fine blocker -- but there is good depth at the position. Wisconsin's Travis Beckum, who broke his leg his senior year, is a fierce competitor and an intriguing middle-round possibility.

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