Buffalo Bills 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC East
2011 draft rundown - Nine total picks (round): 3 (1); 34 (2); 68 (3); 100 (4); 122 (4); 133 (5); 169 (6); 206 (7); 245 (7)
Defensive line: The Bills' 2,714 rushing yards allowed was second most in team history and they allowed eight 200-yard rushing games. Aside from Pro Bowl nose tackle Kyle Williams, blue-chip talent required to stop the run and rush the passer is sorely lacking. Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers are in the discussion.
Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick's career-high 23 touchdown passes provides a level of comfort. The question is whether Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are "franchise" talents too good to pass up with the No. 3 overall pick. Or is there a prospect to take in Round 2 (No. 34) and develop? Florida State's Christian Ponder is a candidate for that scenario.
Linebacker: The Bills are in need of run stoppers and pass rushers at this vital position. Even with free agent Shawne Merriman in the fold, there is a general lack of star power on both the outside and inside and Paul Posluszny could be declared a free agent. The team is paying dearly for drafting Aaron Maybin 11th overall in 2009; he has yet to record a sack.
Offensive tackle: The Bills like four of their five starters, but right tackle was a revolving door in 2010. Mansfield Wrotto, Cordaro Howard and Erik Pears are expected to compete for the starting right tackle job but the team will add to the mix.
First-round focus 3rd overall -- The direction the Buffalo Bills go with the No. 3 overall pick all depends on their true feelings for veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The journeyman enjoyed a career year in 2010, passing for 3,000 yards and a respectable 23 touchdowns (against 15 interceptions) despite starting only 13 games. Considering the significant struggles the team had on the defensive side of the ball (including allowing eight 200 yard rushers last year), it might seem obvious that the Bills would look to address their defense. However, GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey eschewed their defensive needs last year to draft playmaker C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick and might be similarly tempted to draft a premier young signal-caller like Blaine Gabbert should he still be on the board. Having a year to learn the NFL ropes behind Fitzpatrick and IGabbert could prove an NFL star. The upside of the athletic Gabbert (or even more athletic Cam Newton, should he be available) would also be a wise move for a franchise looking to rebuild their fan base. If, on the other hand, the Bills like what they have in Fitzpatrick or decide to push off their concern for a young quarterback into the second or later rounds, there is plenty of defensive talent likely to be available at No. 3 that could fill areas of need. A stout run defender like Alabama's Marcell Dareus would seemingly be a perfect fit for the Bills and almost surely would be the pick if he were available. Experienced inside and out in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense while with the Crimson Tide, Dareus would make an immediate impact. So too would outside linebacker Von Miller, whose ability to rush the quarterback would help ease the suffering of the huge disappointment that has been former No. 11 overall pick Aaron Maybin. Cornerback is one of the team's relative strengths so LSU's Patrick Peterson would be a surprise, but the Bills have already shown their willingness think outside of the box with the selection of Spiller last year.
Five names on Bills' board:
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU