Part I: Bills Draft Q&A with Chris Steuber

Did Buffalo miss out on a franchise cornerstone at No. 11 overall? Can Shawn Nelson make an impact immediately? Who else among the Bills' Day 2 picks was a major steal? draft expert Chris Steuber answers these questions and more in Part I of this exclusive...

With the 11th overall pick, the Bills could have secured a left tackle in Michael Oher or a do-it-all tight end in Brandon Pettigrew. Was Aaron Maybin the right pick in your mind?

When Michael Oher fell to No. 11, I thought for sure the Bills would select him. And while I don't agree with the selection of Aaron Maybin, I understand the Bills thought process was that they needed a pass rusher. But the Bills enter the season without a significant replacement for Jason Peters, and they're relying on veteran lineman Langston Walker to man the left side this season.

Did Buffalo make a major gaffe in passing on Michael Oher? History will tell.
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Drafting Oher and placing him in the starting lineup from Day One may not have been a better solution, but the success of rookie tackles over the last few years would have been a reason for hope. Maybin is at least a year or two away from being the player the Bills envisioned when they selected him. He has a lot of talent and is quick off the edge, but physically, he's not ready to make an impact.

Tight end Shawn Nelson fell into Buffalo's lap in the fourth round and should compete for a starting position with the Bills' lack of talent at tight end. Do you think he can contribute immediately?

This year's draft was strange, because I thought the talent at the tight end position was rather deep, and while it proved to be throughout the draft, there were players that slipped further than I anticipated, and Shawn Nelson was one of them. If the Bills used the 42nd pick to select Nelson, I would have thought that was a solid selection, but to actually get a player of his ability in the fourth round - that's a flat out steal. I think Nelson should get consideration this season as the Bills starting tight end. He's an outstanding pass catching tight end who's really developed into a solid blocker. He has a chance to be one of the best tight ends from this class, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was the most productive of all the TEs drafted.

Buffalo hopes Eric Wood and Andy Levitre will help shore up its interior against the ruthless 3-4 defenses in its division. Do you think they can do that?

I think they will both help inside, but to expect two rookies to solidify the interior this season is asking a lot. With that said, I fully anticipate Eric Wood being one of the elite offensive linemen in the league within two years; he has that kind of ability. Wood gives the Bills some options, and it appears they will use him at guard to start off. But I wouldn't be surprised if they move him to center down the road. He was a dominant center at Louisville and is highly intelligent to lead an offensive line. Andy Levitre is also a versatile lineman who can lineup at guard or tackle. He was a value selection and a guy that the Bills moved up for in the second round; although I don't believe he will have the kind of impact career I project for Wood. Levitre will be a good lineman who will play a significant role on the offensive line, but I view him more as a depth player rather than a standout.

A lot of people were surprised to see the Bills take Jairus Byrd 42nd overall. How does he project as a safety in the NFL?

I'd agree with you that drafting a cornerback that high in the draft didn't seem necessary, but the selection of Jairus Byrd makes sense for the future. Terrence McGee and Ashton Youboty are free agents at the end of the season, and while I think Byrd can be a good free safety in the league, he's best suited to play cornerback despite his questionable straight-line speed. Even though he doesn't have Leodis McKelvin speed, Byrd is quick and can blanket receivers with his positioning. He also possesses tremendous ball skills and provides the Bills with another playmaker in their secondary.

Who amongst Nic Harris, Cary Harris and Ellis Lankster has the best shot at carving a role in the NFL?

Nic Harris picks off a pass in the 2009 BCS Championship.
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Interesting question, because I think all three of those players can be contributors in the league. But, Nic Harris is the most talented of the trio mentioned; the problem is that Harris is the ultimate tweener. He was a productive safety at the collegiate level, and he now finds himself moving into the front seven as a linebacker in the NFL. He' not quick enough to play safety at this level, but he's a tenacious hitter, and that will allow him to be a standout on special teams. He also possesses great character and that will benefit him as he makes the transition from star defender to a role player.

Tune into tomorrow for five more questions. Topics include Steuber's concerns with the Bills' draft, how Jason Peters is being perceived in Philadelphia and his AFC East predictions.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber's features are published across the network and on You can contact him at

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