In one of the more exciting first days of the Draft for the Buffalo franchise in quite some time, the Bills and GM Marv Levy made quite a splash by selecting two prospects with first-round grades: Cal RB Marshawn Lynch and Penn State LB Paul Posluszny. Common sense dictates that the team should not have landed two prospects as talented as Lynch and Poz. How, then, did the Bills do it?
Credit Marv Levy for playing his draft cards brilliantly.
With all the shrewdness of the most brilliant of card sharks, Levy was quick to recognize one trend that year after year develops during the NFL Draft: linebackers slide. Players at positions such as QB and DE always are drafted higher because of the positions they play; the opposite holds true for linebackers. That's why most star NFL linebackers in today's game were not drafted high in the first round - linebackers slide on draft day.
While everyone here praised the likes of Patrick Willis, Posluszny and Jon Beason, Marv and the Bills' front office realized that while it was unlikely they could land both Lynch and their top LB prospect, they'd have a better shot at doing that than landing Lynch later. It proved to be an inspired move.
When the Bills chose at pick 12, they chose the top player on their board in Lynch. The elusive running back was the highest-rated player at any position in the Draft on Buffalo's board (excluding, of course, players that would assuredly be picked before them, such as Calvin Johnson). The pick was made on the assumption that Lynch provided the greatest value to the team; Levy admitted later that Posluszny was one of two other players the team considered with the 12th pick.
As the hours crept by, Posluszny continued to slide - as is expected from linebackers on draft day. He made it past the New York Giants at pick 20. He continued to slide as the Cleveland Browns traded up to draft Brady Quinn. The Bills were very likely working the phones at this point trying to move back into Round One - Levy did not disclose how high they were looking to go up, but did mention that they had been working the phones for a while trying to land "Poz".
Miraculously, Posluszny made it past division-rival New England - twice. He survived selections by the Saints, Chargers and Colts as well. Any of those teams could haven taken him. Finally, with the second pick in Round 2, the Bills finally struck a deal - and they landed their man.
Give all the credit to this franchise for recognizing a trend, taking a chance and winning the lottery. The team now has two rookie starters who have the skills to play like veterans in their first season. There remain few holes in a young starting lineup with a very promising future.
And it all happened because the Bills played their cards right.