Random thoughts on the NFL Draft and the Buffalo Bills’ participation thereof:

:: I was terrified that the Bills were going to take Cam Newton, if he was still there when they came up with the third pick. Luckily, the Carolina Panthers took him first. Newton is a fantastic athlete with tremendous physical gifts and he had a stellar final year of college ball, but that year pretty much constitutes his entire body of work, for the most part, and one-year-wonders have not borne out well in the past. Instead the Bills took Marcell Dareus, whom everyone agrees is awesome.

Now, he could turn out to be a bust, just like Mike Williams did back in 2002 when the Bills took him with the fourth pick overall. While that pick is often cited whenever the discussion of recent Bills draft disasters comes up, I’ve never really blamed them for that one; Williams was seen at the time as an elite prospect who was dead certain to go to someone in the top five. That it was the Bills sucks, but those things happen. You hope they don’t, but they do.

My great dream for this draft was that Newton would drop to the Bills’ spot, and then the Bills would trade down and pick up a pile of extra picks to someone else who wanted him. Obviously that didn’t happen, and all reports are that the Bills actually loved Newton, so if he had dropped to them, they would have taken him. So, I’m actually thrilled with the Dareus pick. I hope he can help the Bills by generating pass rush, either on his own or by disrupting opposing offensive lines sufficiently that other guys can get to the quarterbacks.

Boiling it down: for the first time that I can remember, I don’t feel like I have to talk myself into liking the Bills’ first pick in the draft.

:: They kept drafting defense, taking a cornerback in the second round (a guy who is apparently really big for a CB and can play safety) and a highly-regarded linebacker in the third. I love the focus on defense, which is the big reason the Bills went 4-12 last year; the D couldn’t get off the field, which basically meant that most weeks the Bills needed to win a shoot-out if they wanted to win. Now, the D is obviously not going to automatically be good or even great; the rookies will need their time to grow and learn. But this draft really feels like a draft that bodes well for the future.

:: While most commentators I’ve read give the Bills good marks for their draft this year, there’s a small but vocal minority that rips them for “ignoring” the quarterback position. Well, they have a guy in Ryan Fitzpatrick who is (a) still young and (b) coming off what was a pretty good year. There’s no reason to panic over finding a “franchise quarterback”. Frankly, after seeing the Bills invest four 1st round picks, one 2nd, and one 3rd on “quarterbacks of the future” in the last sixteen years, I’m ready to watch them wait year after year until they feel they’re in a position to grab a guy they’re convinced is the guy. (The QBs? Todd Collins, 2nd round, 1995; Rob Johnson, acquired by trading a 1st rounder to Jacksonville, 1998; Drew Bledsoe, acquired by trading a 1st rounder to New England, 2002; JP Losman, 1st round in 2004 using a pick acquired by trading the 1st rounder in 2005; Trent Edwards, 3rd round, 2006.)

Some of the same commentators rip the Bills for not drafting a tight end. Look, I’m as frustrated as anyone by the Bills’ complete lack of tight end production ever since Pete Metzelaars retired (don’t try telling me that Jay Riemersma was a good tight end), but the fact is that you just can’t fill every hole your team has in the Draft when your team has as many holes as the Bills do. Maybe Shawn Nelson finally shows what he can do this year (if he can truly do anything). But a good tight end — an actual pass-catching tight end, and not some damned blocker like they always get — needs to be here, sooner or later. Especially if they pull the trigger on a “quarterback of the future” soon, because a good pass-catching tight end can really help out a young quarterback.

:: The Patriots are the greatest geniuses in the history of the NFL Draft, ever ever ever, for all time. This is just simply given. I think it’s funny that they drafted Ryan Mallett, though; every Pats fan I’ve ever spoken to thanks God that Drew Bledsoe, the tall strong-armed QB who couldn’t run to save his life, got hurt so that St. Tom the Overrated could become their starter. And now they’ve got Mallett as his potential back-up (and maybe guy for the future). Mallett is a tall, strong-armed QB who can’t run to save his life. The adjective I’ve seen used the most to describe Mallett is “Bledsoesque”. Ouch!

But then, I don’t think Mallett is meant to really be a potential QB of the future for New England, anyway. I continue to think that St. Tom’s physical decline is closer than most people realize, but my conspiracy theory is this. It seems that every year, the Pats go into the Draft with two picks in the 1st Round, and they always use one of those to trade down for extra picks and another 1st in the next year’s Draft. I think that Bill Belichick is waiting for a year to come when he knows he needs to draft St. Tom the Overrated’s successor, at which point he’ll use both of the 1st-rounders in his pocket to trade up and grab a guy. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it.

:: Jake Locker in the top ten. Not sure what to make of that.

:: Christian Ponder in the top twelve. Not sure what to make of that, either.

:: But I’m sure glad that quite a few teams will likely be out of the QB market at next year’s draft.

:: Boy, the Falcons better be right about that receiver they really wanted, because they traded away a lot to get him.

:: I have zero idea what the Seahawks were doing in this draft.

:: I wonder what the draft order in 2012 would be if the labor dispute ends up causing the cancellation of the entire season…would they just repeat the draft order from this year, or come up with some kind of lottery to determine the order?

:: One of Buffalo’s sportstalk guys was predicting that the NFL would go to a lottery for the top pick in the draft at some point in the near future. I hope this doesn’t happen. I’m not a big fan of lotteries and much prefer teams picking players in the order of how badly the teams sucked.

Welcome to Buffalo, rookies of 2011! The one of you that brings me the head of St. Tom the Overrated will be my favorite player for the duration of his stay on the Buffalo roster. That is all!

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