Ranking 29th in sacks over the past two years, the Bills addressed one of their most pressing needs on defense taking Penn State pass rusher Aaron Maybin with their top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
"It was a decision we were very happy with," said Bills COO/GM Russ Brandon. "Aaron was someone we liked from the beginning of the process. It gives us an opportunity to have another pass rusher off the edge and he's an explosive athlete. He's a physical specimen and adding him to our mix makes us a lot better."
"I'm just very overwhelmed," said Maybin. "I'm very happy to be able to have a chance to play in such a great city and for such an amazing franchise. It's a great opportunity for me. And I'm going to get a chance to play with some Penn State guys that are already there in Bryan Scott and Paul Posluszny. I'm really anxious to get up there and start putting in work."
Maybin burst onto the scene at Penn State in 2008 stepping into the starting lineup and racking up 12 sacks to lead the Big Ten and rank seventh in the nation. His 20 tackles for loss last season ranked sixth best in Nittany Lion annals.
Coming off of that breakout year, Maybin decided to forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility as a redshirt sophomore.
"There were a lot of things that played a factor in that decision. I felt I was ready to make that step to the next level," Maybin said. "I was confident in my abilities and I felt confident that this was the year that I would be ready."
Some critics have labeled Maybin a one-year wonder, but the pass rusher is eager to prove to his detractors that his game is just beginning to take off.
"All I can do and all I plan on doing is coming in and working as hard as possible," he said. "I'm a guy that likes to keep his mouth shut and let his game do the talking on the field. So I'm going to come in with a humble mindset, ready to work hard and ready to get a lot of work done."
Bills Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak admits that Maybin is young having just turned 21 earlier this month, but sees the Nittany Lion pass rusher as a player who is just scratching the surface.
"He's good on both sides of the ball, right or left defensive end which is not always the case for players," said Modrak. "His quick first step is equally good on both sides of the ball. And he can run. When he gets in the open field he can chase you down. He's a speed rusher and can get up the field. He plays very, very hard all the time. Talking to their people there he has the same mentality in practice. The combination of those things made it good for us."
Bills middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who is very familiar with Maybin's game, applauded the Bills' selection.
"He's a great pick for us and he's going to do a great job for us," Posluszny told Buffalobills.com. "I'm looking forward to having him on our team."
Posluszny and Maybin have already been crossing paths this winter and spring.
"We trained at the same place this offseason so we spent a lot of time together this offseason," said Maybin. "We talk a lot. He's a guy I've looked to for counsel and leadership when he was at Penn State and looked to him for advice once he left and I had to step into a leadership role."
Maybin arguably has the quickest first step in the draft and will certainly provide some assistance in getting to the quarterback. Buffalo had 24 and 26 sacks in each of the past two seasons.
"He's got long arms and a nice reach and so he's got that quick first step," said Bills head coach Dick Jauron. "If he gets near the quarterback, and we think he's got the ability to edge and turn toward the quarterback and reach and get to the ball and we like that. You saw him functionally use those gifts both in the run and the pass game."
The Bills believe there is room for further growth on his frame. Maybin already bulked up to 250 pounds after playing his final collegiate season at 230.
"He was 249 pounds at the combine and Senior Bowl and you want to see his movement and how it relates to how he played during the season," said Bills coordinator of College Scouting Doug Majeski. "He moved around great and at 249 he's still a lean looking kid. But your best judge is how he played on tape during the season. With him it's a little bit easier because he has put on the weight and those guys that haven't been able to gain weight are the concerns. He has been able to put on weight and he's done it the right way."
"I felt great," said Maybin. "I'm in a little bit of a different training mode right now than I was doing at Penn State and my body has responded well. I've been able to carry the weight well and the coaches were happy with how I performed at the pro day.
"I definitely know that this is not the limit that my body can push itself to because I am so young. The opportunity is there for growth and for me to mature a little bit and I'm excited about the possibilities of that happening."