In a perfect world the Bills, just like any other NFL club, would love to land a tight end in the draft that has blocking and pass catching skills that are equally effective in a prospect's game. They bring more versatility and more unpredictability to a team's offense. But with Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew the only all-around talent in the draft pool, the Bills are open to taking a tight end of the pass catching variety.
"I think it is fluid," said Bills Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak. "We really don't try to paint ourselves into a corner. We look and try to see where the value is for a guy and if he can help you in certain ways."
As open as the Bills might be to taking a pass catching tight end, what has to be considered is the kind of fit such a player would be in Buffalo's offensive scheme.
"As much as ever you have to be making sure that guy is the right guy for you and be able to utilize him," Modrak said. "But I wouldn't rule out the pass catching personally and a talent like that. I wouldn't rule anything out at this point. We kind of build it and some guys will fall by the wayside."
Pettigrew is the only projected first-round pick at the tight end position by the draft "experts" because of his well-rounded skill set.
"He's a catch and block candidate which is hard to find," Modrak said. "He'll do that. He's a big rangy guy. He catches the ball really well. He'll improve his route running because he's athletic enough. And he'll block."
Though his speed was less than impressive at the combine (4.8), Modrak believes it's within an appropriate range.
"It's good," he said. "Is he going to be a 4.5 guy? No he's not, but he plays pretty fast. He'll get down the middle of the field against cover two and then when you add that height and the linebacker is trailing him it adds to it."
The mystery is whether the Bills consider Pettigrew worthy of the number 11 pick in round one. Again Modrak is not ruling anything out with less than two weeks before the draft.
"Different years there are different pools and different availabilities," said Modrak. "Not only that pick at 11, but impact we always talk about first rounders whether they're the fourth pick or the 32nd pick. And there is a difference. Is there a tight end for 11? Yeah, I could see a guy stepping up and doing that. I hope we identify him if we go that way. If not, whoever we identify I hope he justifies that 11th pick."
If tight end is not the position choice at 11 they'll have to consider some of the pass catching options that will follow in the second and third rounds like South Carolina's Jared Cook, Southern Mississippi's Shawn Nelson or Rice's James Casey.
"Cook is a pass catcher, Nelson is similar with some blocking abilities and Casey a multi-purpose, line up everywhere, do everything and (you) let him use his talents all over the place," said Modrak.
But Modrak warns that tight ends should not be simply labeled pass catchers because there is more to a tight end's ability to make plays.
"When you put a guy's profile together it's not just catching," he said. "It's route running, it's having courage in the middle of the field, it's run after the catch. There are a lot of things that go into it."
Overall Modrak sees the tight end depth as "good" however, he doesn't believe every pass catching tight end is a fit for every offensive scheme.
"That's what we're going through right now to try to know where they fit and how they fit," said Modrak. "There are a lot of good players that will play in this league (but) there are a lot of good players that have specific qualities that won't play everywhere in this league."