Bills general manager Buddy Nix at his very core is a scout, and scouts make use of every avenue that leads to additional information on prospects. That's especially true when information on a player's character and work habits are readily available. Buffalo's scouting department does a thorough job of gathering that information each and every fall and pre-draft period. But Buffalo has an added asset in Bills Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Dave Wannstedt.
Wannstedt was not with the rest of Buffalo's coaching staff at the Senior Bowl last week. He was busy playing catch up reviewing game tape of the Bills' 2010 season to familiarize himself with the team's personnel and defensive scheme. He also planned to get started in reviewing game tape of Buffalo's division opponents to make an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.
The Bills newest assistant intends to review all the Senior Bowl tape very soon and estimates it'll take him about a week to get a handle on all the players the rest of the staff was around for seven days. Wannstedt however, is likely still ahead of the game when it comes to the balance of the draft eligible college talent from his six years as the head coach at Pitt.
His widespread knowledge of the talent on the Division I college landscape is a pre-draft resource Nix fully intends to tap in the coming weeks.
"It'll really help us," said Nix of Wannstedt's familiarity with college players. "He's coached some of the guys that were at the Senior Bowl. He's coached against them and he's tried to recruit all of them. So he's got a knowledge that we'll certainly draw from."
Wannstedt is ready to help in any way he can and believes his first-hand knowledge of draft eligible players this year stretches farther than just the Big East conference.
"I'm very confident that I'll be able to help in any way they want me to," he said. "My Pitt team played teams like Notre Dame and Utah. We played Kentucky in the bowl game, and if you're playing Kentucky you're spending a week watching Southeast Conference tape. So the familiarity with a lot of the college players in addition to Big East players will hopefully allow me to help answer some questions if they do come up."
For Wannstedt coaching will always come first, but part of being a coach is finding the right personnel fits for your scheme. Pitt offensive tackle Jason Pinkston, who played in Saturday's Senior Bowl, believes his former college coach had a knack for finding players that suited their offensive and defensive systems.
"He really knows his personnel," Pinkston said. "He watches everything and evaluates players well."
Buffalo's scouting staff under the direction of Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak will begin to put their initial draft board together a week from Wednesday at One Bills Drive. In most cases any loose ends the college scouts may need to tie up can be squared away at the NFL Combine at the end of February. The junior eligibles are typically where the catch up work lies for the Bills and the league's other 31 clubs.
Buffalo's scouts may not have to wait until they head to Indianapolis. They may be able to just call the newest assistant coach downstairs.
"We'll use all our resources," said Nix. "And he's one of them."