Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers (93) tries to stop Maryland QB Chris Turner (10)
Throughout all the scouting, timing, testing, game evaluation, interviewing and interviews there has been one primary goal for the Bills concerning their top draft choice at third overall. Find at least three prospects that they as an organization feel fit the value of a pick that high.
Stacking a draft board is a long and tedious process. Fortunately for general manager Buddy Nix, Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak and head coach Chan Gailey is there is less to try and predict with respect to what is going to happen in front of them.
"Absolutely, won't but two be gone," said Nix. "The thing that keeps it kind of hard to make a definite prognosis is the fact that somebody might trade up. That's the unknown, but if we've got three guys there that we like and we know we'll take in 1, 2, 3 order, we'll take one of them."
Determining who those three prospects are however, is a very fluid situation. Evidence of that can be seen in what has been reported by various media outlets the past few months. After the college football season had concluded Auburn's Nick Fairley and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers were largely deemed as candidates to be the number one overall pick.
Bowers' recovery from knee surgery the past three months made that talk go away.
"He'd have been the first or second pick overall if he didn't have the knee concern," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. "For a guy like Bowers he had a chance, took advantage of it and had a great year, but he's dropping a bit. I have him going 12 to Minnesota because of the knee concerns."
Fairley's one year of proven production has also given NFL scouts pause with some reports indicating that he may now not come off the board in the top five.
Subtle changes yes, but they're examples of how things can shift and change at the top of the board sometimes on a day-to-day basis.
It's why the Bills just like any other NFL front office are constantly re-adjusting.
"I try to use the experience that I have, the knowledge of the game of football, my experience especially at the quarterback position with these guys to communicate to Buddy where I think our needs are and where I think guys in the draft might help us," said Gailey. "Then he and I sit down daily and talk about it, but we probably won't make the decision about the top 3 until the day before the draft. It is that fluid right now."
"We've still got work to do even now," said Nix. "I'm not giving a company answer. We're not sure right now. We've got a lot of areas that we can improve in so we're going to look at everything and we'll take the best guy available at that time."
Gailey also astutely points out that having the prospects lined up in terms of preference regardless of position has to go further than just the top three.
"If somebody calls us Thursday evening about 6:30 and makes us an offer we can't refuse to move down five spots we're going to talk about it, so you better have your top eight," Gailey said. "If you move down 10 spots you better have your top 13. You better have it in order so that if when it's time to make a deal you decide if it's a good deal for you and you either make it or you don't."
Bills fans naturally want to see the team make instant impact improvements with the talent they acquire in this year's draft, but again Gailey and Nix believe the scope cannot only be transfixed on what is right in front of them.
"Once all the evaluations are done then you sit down and weight risk, rewards, strengths and weaknesses and you make a decision that's best for the Bills, this year and for the future," said Gailey. "You can't just have tunnel vision for this year. You have to look at the broad spectrum of where we're headed as a franchise."
"Yes, we'd like to get better and help ourselves in certain areas, but it all comes down to who is available when you pick and how you put a value on that guy for your football team."
Throughout the month of April, we are running 2011 NFL Draft prospect stories each week. In addition, Bills fans can vote in the Bills and M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge who they think will be the Bills first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and have the chance to win a Bills Game Day Experience to remember. Five grand prize winners will get sideline passes, M&T Bank Club tickets that include food and beverage, a Bills Alumni meet and greet and a Bills helmet. Click here to vote.