War Games: Is moving to draft Andre Smith feasible?

We are now officially within a week of the 2009 NFL Draft!  Over this weekend and perhaps throughout portions of next week, NFL teams everywhere will be playing "war games" in their respective war rooms, hammering out pick and trade scenarios and "playing GM" for other teams to get a sense of what they'll need to do to select the player(s) they want.

We here at Buffalo Rumblings will be playing similar games occasionally over the next week as well.  Now that our Buffalo Bills have a gaping hole at left tackle thanks to the trade of Jason Peters, the team may seriously look into trading up for a new starter at the position.  Alabama's Andre Smith and Mississippi's Michael Oher are the most likely targets for the team - and as it's not a guarantee that either (or both) will last until the Bills' No. 11 overall pick, the team may need to do a bit of maneuvering to get it done.

No, this doesn't mean we think that the Bills consider OT a "must-have" position in the first round.  But if they do, they've got some work to do - and the Cincinnati Bengals hold the key to accomplishing the task.

Cincinnati's need at OT the key to the situation
We're not experts on the Bengals, so we'll let smarter folks take the reins here...

Personally, all [Cincinnati] should be focusing on right now is keeping [QB Carson] Palmer healthy with talented pass protection so that we might actually consider being competitive.

Succinct.  The Bengals have chosen defenders with their first-round pick in each of the past four seasons; that streak has to end sometime.  With their situation at OT dire, by far the most likely position that Cincinnati will be addressing in the first round is OT - particularly since this draft class is loaded with second-round pass rushing talent.

There is one player, however, that Cincinnati may feel compelled to select if he's available before an OT - and that is Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry.  His being available sixth overall is not as crazy as it sounds.

Mocking the War Game
Trades will need to happen - including one made by the Bills - if Curry is going to slide and the Bills are serious about securing the services of Oher or, more ideally, Smith.

1.  Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
We've been hearing for a week or two now that this is close to a done deal, but the Lions are covering their bases and negotiating with the agents of both Curry as well as Baylor OT Jason Smith.  I have maintained all along that Detroit would take the quarterback, and I still believe that is their most likely course of action.  It's easier to dump big contracts into the quarterback position than any other, and Stafford does have elite potential for all of the skepticism surrounding him.

2.  St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
The Rams get the OT market rolling by taking the player many consider to be the best combination of high upside and safe in the class.  With Orlando Pace out of town and QB Marc Bulger a constant injury risk, this is one of the safest picks to project if Smith is not the Lions' top overall selection.

3.  Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
The OT market continues to roll.  The Chiefs would love to trade down, and though most mock drafters have Curry going here, it doesn't make a lot of sense - the Chiefs have acquired four linebackers this off-season, including two high-profile ones (Mike Vrabel, Zach Thomas).  Considering Scott Pioli's history, I think he'd love to find a way to trade down and select NT B.J. Raji to anchor his 3-4 defense.  But he won't take him at No. 3 overall, and if he can't move down (keep your eye on Cleveland here, as they might be inclined to move up for QB Mark Sanchez), he'll take the safe pick.

4.  Seattle Seahawks: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Two names long linked to the Seahawks have been WR Michael Crabtree and DT B.J. Raji.  Then they went out and acquired WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, DT Colin Cole and DT Cory Redding.  OT is still a need, and after the trade of LB Julian Peterson a player like Curry would be awfully tempting, but the Seahawks have always been curious drafters.  Matt Hasselbeck is entering his twilight years as an NFL quarterback, and Sanchez would be in a completely ideal situation learning for a couple of years behind a player as intelligent as Hasselbeck.

5.  Cleveland Browns: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Reports are indicating that the Browns are going to take either Sanchez or Crabtree.  There's an outside shot that they try to sneak ahead of Seattle to pick up Sanchez; the Browns' new regime clearly aren't infatuated with either Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn.  However, in the event they can't move up (they only have five draft picks, after all), they'll stay put and take Crabtree - a smart move considering the Browns' unique predicament at wideout.

6.  Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
As discussed above, there's one player that the Bengals would pass on an OT for - and here he is, ripe for the picking.  You have to believe that the idea of teaming Curry with 2008 first-round pick Keith Rivers has got to be enticing to Marvin Lewis, a coach that has been working hard to build his defense into a dominant unit.  Curry is a safer pick at this point than either of the two OT prospects remaining as well - and I think Curry would be the pick in this scenario.

7.  Oakland Raiders: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
There exists an outside chance that head coach Tom Cable will exert some of his influence (if it exists at all) and take an OT here - but the Raiders have signed three of them (Khalif Barnes, Marcus Johnson, Erik Pears) this off-season.  Far more likely, the Raiders will look for the best athlete at a position of need that they can find; in this scenario, I think that Maclin, DE Brian Orakpo and Raji would be the leading candidates.  In the end, Maclin is the typical Al Davis pick - fast and sexy with oodles of upside.  The Raiders could actually use a WR, however, so this pick makes sense.

8.  Buffalo Bills (f/JAX): Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Here it is, folks - No. 8 overall is the highest I think the Bills would be willing to move up for an OT - and since both Smith and Oher are available, I think they'd pull the trigger, particularly since Jacksonville is desperate to move down.  It might only cost us a pair of fourth-round picks (along with No. 11 overall) to do it - and there are some who believe that it's a possibility.  I'm not so sure the Bills would be thrilled with the idea of swapping three picks for one, unless they feel like moving a future pick - but for the sake of the war game, let's assume the linked report is accurate.

Both Green Bay and San Francisco (Nos. 9 and 10 overall, respectively) are in the market for an OT, and in particular Smith, a player the Bills are high on.  It's not clear that the Bills are desperate enough for an OT to move up - but no one should discount that possibility, especially in the case of Smith.  In this scenario, the Bills would be giving up Nos. 11, 110 and 121 for a player that has more potential than any OT in the draft this year - and an immediate replacement for the departed Peters.

There's a poll.  And a comments section.  Put on your war room hats and get brainstorming, Bills fans.

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