Bills hope D-linemen fall in draft

The Bills do not have a first-round pick in April, but they hope to draft a top defensive performer in the second and third rounds. Buffalo, of course, will debate the possibilities. Drafting an offensive playmaker is not entirely out of the question. Still, defensive linemen are Buffalo's biggest need and that is a fairly strong group with the addition of underclassmen.

Several seniors though, such as Kenny Peterson, Kevin Williams and Michael Haynes have stepped up with big seasons and all-star games that should warrant attention by teams in the first round.

Many junior defensive linemen improved the depth of that position significantly for the NFL Draft '03. Defensive ends such as Dewayne White, Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Wilkerson should all go early. DTs Dewayne Robertson, Ian Scott, Johnathan Sullivan and Rien Long could all be selected in the first round.

Defensive linemen that should be on the board for the Bills in the 2nd and 3rd rounds would be DEs Chris Kelsey, Calvin Pace, Alonzo Jackson and possibly Jimmy Wilkerson. Their main forte is as edge pass rushers - a high priority for Bills GM Tom Donahoe in April.

Kelsey in particular is a defender who would be able to help the Bills front four early in his career.

The defensive tackle position is a strong class and a player who should be available in the early rounds beyond the first round, would be Ian Scott, Ty Warren, Nick Eason and Kenny King with each showing good run defensive skills.

With the 48th selection, the Bills want to improve their front line, but whether there is a run on the position - and there usually is in the early rounds - might dictate how they spend their top two selections. They could easily spent both their 2nd and 3rd round picks on DE and DT in an effort to bring their defense up to the level of their high-powered offense.

The senior class of corners is a solid group that may furnish five No.1 picks in April. The Bills' primary needs are on defensive line at end and tackle, but they will also look to strengthen their secondary with a high priority on safeties in addition to improving their linebacking unit.

Corners Marcus Trufant, Eugene Wilson, and Andre Woolfolk all carry a first round grade into the NFL Combine in late February. Trufant is a real ball hawk who is not expected to drop past the mid-first round area. The Bills will give two highly regarded safeties, Mike Doss and Troy Polamalu strong consideration in the 2nd round area.


Players with Impressive Performances at the Senior Bowl

Carson Palmer, QB 6-4 220 USC

Strong armed passer had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl and did everything well to enhance his position as the No.1 overall prospect. He has a fine arm with excellent touch and accuracy. He also moves well in the pocket and throws well on the perimeter.

Chris Simms, QB 6-3 220 Texas

Mobile lefty passer also had a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He displayed a very good arm with consistent accuracy and touch to allow receivers to make plays on the ball.

Kyle Boller, QB 6-3 220 California had a fine week and helped his cause significantly. He threw with fine velocity and accuracy, hitting receivers in stride consistently.

Dave Ragone, QB 6-4 245 Louisville displayed a sound arm and touch on his passes. He needs work on his accuracy, but is still a fine prospect with a definite starting NFL grade.


Running Backs

Larry Johnson, 6-2 220 Penn State had a burst through the hole, displaying good power and quickness. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield. He is probably the first back chosen in April.

Domanick Davis, 5-9 210 LSU showed well developed skills as a runner, receiver and returner. He is a versatile situational weapon with the talent to be very successful in that role.

Justin Fargas, 6' 206 USC continued his hot late season performance with a good showing at the Senior Bowl practices. He has the burst through the hole to break the play, displaying quickness, speed and cutting skills.


Wide Receivers

Taylor Jacobs, 6-0 198 Florida was quick off the line and at the breakpoint and got open consistently. He showed nice hands and the ability to adjust to the ball in flight. He is a well developed prospect with the talent to play as a rookie in the NFL.

Tyrone Calico, 6-4 221 Middle Tennessee State is a strong receiver who will go over the middle and use his big frame to shield off defenders. He needs work on his route running to separate quicker. He carries a middle round grade as a possession receiver.

Kevin Curtis, 5-11 188 Utah State displayed excellent hands and quickness. He got open all week and was fearless going over the middle. He is an excellent slot receiver for three wideout sets.

Bryant Johnson, 6-2 210 Penn State is a big strong athlete with imposing talent. He needs work on his pass catching but has the physical package to become a top pro with further development.

Bobby Wade, 5-11 187 Arizona was quick into his routes and showed the ability to run after the catch. He was a solid punt returner showing elusiveness and good openfield running skills.


Tight Ends

Mike Seidman, 6-4 255 UCLA displayed sure hands and good route running. He also did a good job blocking.

Aaron Walker, 6-6 261 Florida was a solid inline blocker, but was inconsistent catching the ball. He has the tools to be a complete player but needs further work on receiving.

Bennie Joppru, 6-3 246 Michigan displayed excellent hands and a sense of zones in coverage. He lacked power as an inline blocker and may be limited to an H-back role until he improves in that vital area.


Offensive Linemen

Eric Steinbach, 6-6 290 Iowa displayed excellent technique and the ability to control an opponent. He also lined up at tackle, but did not seem comfortable at the new position. He is the top rated guard prospect going into the NFL Combine.

Jeremy Bridges, 6-4 295 Southern Miss displayed pop on the snap and the ability to drive a defender out of the hole. He also showed the ability to slide well in pass protection and adjust to secondary moves.

Vince Manuwai, 6-2 301 Hawaii had an outstanding week. He displayed very quick hands and the ability and footspeed to get outside and pull. He performed well vs. big defensive tackles in pass protection.

Jon Stinchcomb, 6-5 290 Georgia slide well in pass protection, but lacked a strong surge as a drive blocker. He has gotten stronger and bigger in the off-season, which will help him improve as a run blocker.

Torrin Tucker, 6-6 31 Southern Miss was dominant at times, using his massive frame to engulf defenders. At times though, he was late on the snap and failed to direct an opponent. He stopped the bull rushers in their tracks.

Brett Williams, 6-5 320 Florida State made a nice showing. He played sound positioning and displayed excellent power in matchups. He moved a defender off the line consistently and graded out high in all areas.


Defensive Linemen

Michael Haynes, 6-3 280 Penn State displayed both quickness and power from the outside to get after the passer. He is a solid first-round pick.

Chris Kelsay, 6-4 270 Nebraska was relentless and showed no ill effects from his midseason hamstring pull. He moved up the charts this o

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