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With the NFL draft less than a week away, I was contemplating what would make this draft “successful” for the Buffalo Bills. The past two have been pretty great, actually. Names like Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson, John McCargo, Kyle Williams, have all been contributers. Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, and Paul Posluszny could be franchise players. (And all from one draft!) Even Keith Ellison, Ashton Youboty, Brad Butler, Dwayne Wright, John Wendling, and Derek Schouman have already seen some success at the NFL level.
The Bills certainly draft well.
But part of the success of the past two drafts has been the needs at all of the positions those guys filled. This team has not made the playoffs in nine years, and was in need of a major overhaul – which has pretty much been accomplished. This team does not look anything like the team Marv Levy took over – along with new head coach Dick Jauron – in 2006.
So what would deem this upcoming draft a success? Better yet, what would qualify the upcoming season as a “success”?
I believe that in the eyes of Bills fans, the draft is quite secondary to the accomplishment of returning to the playoffs. Anything short of this is neither a success, nor perhaps even acceptable.
Dick Jauron has assembled his team. He has assembled his coaching staff. (Which hopefully will be markedly improved with the departure of the much-maligned Steve Fairchild.) He had a “successful” 2007 campaign when measured against the incredibly bad fortune his team faced, losing 17 players to season-ending injuries.
They even have a “softer” schedule in 2008 (based on teams’ 2007 records).
This season, the Bills will be successful if they make the playoffs. Anything short of that, while it may be fun and exciting along the way – with a few minor successes – would seem to fall very short of “success”. And, it may cost Jauron his job.
A few very solid moves in the free agency period have put the Bills in a better position heading into the draft. Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson add thickness to the Bills’ interior defensive line. Kawika Mitchell brings his athleticism and experience to a young LB core, as well as the experience of winning the most recent Super Bowl.
All good moves to solidify the Bills defense.
Most speculate that the Bills biggest remaining holes – presumably to be filled in the draft – are a second wide receiver, a game-breaking tight end, and cornerback. Opinions vary, of course, but from what I have read, there are not really great options (on the surface) at any of those positions. Many expect the Bills – who possess 10 draft picks in the 2008 draft – to wheel and deal to land some veteran talent via trades on draft weekend.
Whatever the Bills end up doing, whoever they end up adding to their team on Draft Weekend, the 2008 draft – and the 2008 season – will only be a success if the Bills can finally return to post-season play.
In the eyes of this Bills fan, anything short of that will be a failure.