The Bills lack of success in the win column the past several years led to the club's most recent front office and coaching changes. Winning really is everything in the NFL. What helps build a team into a winner is good drafting, something Buffalo's new general manager Buddy Nix fully supports and believes is already underway based on the contributions of the most recent draft class.
"I think we've got good young players," said Nix. "I think this draft, this (past) year, will turn out to be a strong draft."
If the Dallas Morning News report on rookie productivity is any indication Nix will be proven correct. Each year Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin determines productivity for the rookies of each of the NFL's 32 teams by seeing how many were drafted, how many made the roster, how many became primary starters, how many starts they accumulated and the number of draft picks placed on injured reserve.
At season's end Buffalo ranked third in the study. Out of eight total draft picks four became starters for the Bills in Jairus Byrd, Andy Levitre, Shawn Nelson and Eric Wood. Only Detroit (5) had more and the Lions had 10 total draft choices.
The Bills quartet of rookie starters was responsible for the bulk of Buffalo's 55 starts by rookies in 2009. Only Detroit (59) and Jacksonville (64) had more starts by rookies through the course of the season.
Add in the fact Buffalo also found a long term long snapper in rookie Garrison Sanborn and a solid special teams contributor in undrafted rookie Ashlee Palmer and the future holds promise in all three phases for the Bills thanks to shrewd player selections and acquisitions.
In fact the Dallas Morning News upped their draft grade on the Bills from last April from a 'B' to an 'A' in their postseason grading update based on rookie productivity. Once again Detroit and Jacksonville were the only other NFL clubs to be awarded an 'A' for their postseason draft grade.
"I think the first thing you've got to do is know enough about football to know where you need to plug people in," Nix told Buffalobills.com. "All these people that say they take the best guy on the board are normally not telling the truth. They're thinking the best guy they need on the board, and I think that's basically what you do. You've got to be on the same page with the coach and you've got to bring guys in that fit that role."
Nix along with Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak intend to do just that working in concert with Gailey, and that will be important with new offensive and defensive schemes being implemented this offseason.
And with a head coach that has a track record of maximizing the abilities of his players, the chance of seeing players succeed sooner rather than later is all the greater.
"If you put players in an environment out there where they can get better and reach their potential, then we'll have a good football team," said Nix.