Below is a compilation of draft grades on the Buffalo Bills from national and local media outlets as of Monday May, 2 at 2:15 pm.
Grade: A plus
Analyst: Rick Gosselin
Outlet: Dallas Morning News
Comments: The Bills had nine selections and five of them were above value for the round they were drafted: Williams, Hairston, the two Whites and Rogers. A good draft becomes great in the third day. The Bills hit for the cycle on Saturday.
Grade: B plus
Analyst: Pete Prisco
Outlet: CBS Sports
Comments: I know they had big problems on defense, but they should have addressed the quarterback position. They passed on some good ones. Is Fitzpatrick the answer? I guess he has to be. … It might not be a position of need, but the Bills landed a good one in North Carolina running back Johnny White. He's a tough runner.
Grade: B plus
Analyst: Adam Caplan
Outlet: FOX Sports
Comments: For a change, the Bills actually drafted for value and don’t appear to have made any real reaches. In fact, the first five selections should contribute this season and a few of them might start.
Grade: B plus
Analyst: Kerry J. Byrne
Comments: A very good, aggressive draft aimed at fixing huge problems on defense. The Bills had the worst D-line last year and ranked 28th in scoring defense. Their first four picks all went to defense. Beefy offensive tackle Chris Hairston (fourth round) has the size and potential to develop into a legit NFL starter. … If there's a nit to be picked, it's the Bills took Alabama's Marcell Dareus at DT ahead of Auburn's Nick Fairley. Dareus is much bigger, so size was the goal here. But Fairley was the more explosive and productive college player. Nowhere to go but up for the team that ranked dead last across the board last year in our Quality Stats.
Analyst: Mel Kiper
Comments: Buffalo drafted some really good football players and clearly put the emphasis on defense. Dareus is the ideal penetrating pass-rusher to convert into a 3-4 defensive end and allows the Bills to really stick with that scheme. The Bills also got a good value with Williams early in Round 2. Sheppard is a guy that while not very explosive, is instinctive and should be starting early in his career. Where I do have a question is why they again waited until Day 3 to get any help on the offensive line. They didn't take an offensive tackle until the fifth round last year, when that need seemed more glaring. One guy who should feel good about this draft is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is clearly the preferred starter at quarterback. Bills fans just have to hope the blocking can hold up.
Analyst: Rob Rang
Comments: Having surrendered the second most rushing yards in team history last season, the Bills needed to address their defense. General manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey clearly understood that, using their first four picks on the defensive side the ball, most notably adding the draft's best run-stuffer in defensive lineman Marcell Dareus(notes) with the No. 3 overall pick and former LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard(notes), who many viewed as the top 3-4 inside linebacker in the draft. Watch out for middle-round former Tar Heels Da'Norris Searcy(notes) and Johnny White(notes) to surprise, as well.
Analyst: Clifton Brown
Outlet: Sporting News
Comments: Counting on Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback, they went heavy on defense. Tackle Marcell Dareus could be a star.
Analyst: Jarrett Bell
Outlet: USA Today
Comments: Marcell Dareus represents instant impact. Good value, including second-round CB Aaron Williams, is the measure of this crop. But there's still work to do, given questions of long-term QB plans and on the O-line.
Grade: B minus
Analyst: Evan Silva
Outlet: Pro Football Talk
Comments: The Bills lucked out that Marcel Dareus fell to them at No. 3, and they smartly snapped him up. They passed on grooming a quarterback of the future at No. 34 with good options on the board to take a possible tweener in cornerback Aaron Williams from Texas. Derek Sheppard is typical of this solid, unspectacular draft. He’ll help the Bills, but his ceiling is limited. The first four picks were on defense as the Bills try to play catch-up after an ill advised move to a 3-4 defense. They need to hit on more picks after a weak overall draft last year.
Grade: B minus
Analyst: Charean Williams
Outlet: Fort Worth Star Telegram
Comments: The Bills had to help a defense that ranked 25th overall, including 32nd against the run. They did with their first four picks and seven of nine overall. Pencil Dareus, Williams and Sheppard in as Day 1 starter.
Grade: C plus
Analyst: Mark Maske
Outlet: Washington Post
Comments: DT Marcell Dareus, the third overall pick, could be a great player and second-round CB Aaron Williams could help. But they passed up taking a QB with Blaine Gabbert available in the first round and Andy Dalton there in the second round.
Grade: C plus
Analyst: Randy Covitz
Outlet: Kansas City Star
Comments: The Bills ignored QB because of faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. They focused on shoring up a defense that ranked last in rush defense — allowing eight 200-yard rushing games — and had trouble rushing the passer.
Analyst: Ira Kaufman
Outlet: Tampa Tribune
Comments: DT Marcel Dareus should provide a significant upgrade for a defense that proved unable to stop the run last fall. We may never know for sure if the Bills would have selected OLB Von Miller ahead of Dareus, but Buffalo is now markedly better up front. Scouts appear divided on the instincts of CB Aaron Williams.
Analyst: Will Brinson
Outlet: CBS Sports
Comments: The Bills started off their draft with a good blueprint: DEFENSE. And they stuck to that blueprint throughout the rest of the draft too, only diverting twice to pick up Chris Hairston from Clemson to beef up the offensive line and Johnny White for backfield depth and special teams. Da’Norris Searcy out of Chapel Hill could be a steal for them in the fourth.
Analyst: Jim Lang
Comments: G.M. Buddy Nix avoided making the sexy choice and decided to make a safe and smart pick with his selection of Alabama Marcell Dareus in the first round. The Bills were dead last in the NFL stopping in the run and a player like Dareus will go a long way to doing the dirty work along the of scrimmage necessary to stop the run in the NFL. Nix picked seven defensive players with the Bills nine picks as he was obviously on a mission to rebuild his defence.
Don Banks, SI.com
The Bills didn't get tricky, they just got better. They needed help on defense, and got plenty of it. They resisted the urge to take a quarterback in the early rounds and focused like a laser on improving their run defense, which finished last in the NFL in 2010 with almost 170 yards allowed per game. Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was one of the elite players in this draft, and the Bills made him their pick at No. 3 overall.
But Texas cornerback Aaron Williams in the second round and LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in the third round were inspired choices as well, with both players representing great values. The impressive talent haul continued on Saturday, drafting versatile North Carolina strong safety Da'Norris Searcy of North Carolina and a big, tall right offensive tackle prospect in the fourth round, Clemson's Chris Hairston. Fifth-round running back Johnny White of North Carolina was another well-received selection for a Buffalo team that already proved it could do some damage on offense last season.
Pat Kirwan, NFL.com
The Buffalo Bills really impressed me with the selections of Marcell Darius, Aaron Williams and inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. All three players should earn starting roles in 2011. Using all three of their picks on defensive players also tells me just how much faith the Bills have in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Greg Gabriel, National Football Post
Buffalo did not have the personnel to play a 3-4 defense last year. Drafting Marcell Dareus, who was the best defensive lineman in the draft, will be a big help. He will give them a strong presence along the front three. Second-round pick Aaron Williams could start at either corner or free safety. Third-round pick Kelvin Sheppard will start at one of the inside linebacker positions and add size some size and strength to the position.
Matt Bowen, National Football Post
The Bills make the right calls with defense: I have already seen the hype surrounding the draft the Lions put together in Detroit. And although that is deserved after the talent Jim Schwartz picked up, don’t forget about Buffalo. The Bills addressed multiple (necessary) needs on defense. Marcell Dareus was the right pick at No.3, LB Kelvin Sheppard should be an opening day starter and the attention they gave to the secondary will pay off in the AFC East. I love the pick of CB/S Aaron Williams in the second round and adding safety Da’Norris Searcy in the fourth provides depth, competition in camp and help on special teams—another aspect of the game dominated by defensive players. I played for Bills defensive coordinator George Edwards back in Washington. A smart and creative coach that has some new talent to work with.