With so many holes heading into this past weekend's NFL Draft, there were bound to be some players on the Buffalo Bills who could be termed "winners" based on the new additions. The Bills were expected to address some of these holes over the weekend. After a surprising first couple of rounds, it was pretty easy to see that some veteran players will be holding onto starting roles, and roster spots, almost by default. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen, but there are undoubtedly guys who are breathing a sigh of relief based on what transpired.
There were roughly a dozen players that I thought could fit the theme of this article and were considered. Some of these guys were already in supporting roles and were likely to keep that tag regardless of what happened this weekend. Others were simply given a reprieve and one last chance to show their worth. The half dozen fortunate souls can be found after the jump.
OT Demetrius Bell - Perhaps the grand prize winner of this past week's events is Bell. Heading into an off-season where he would be spending the majority of his time rehabbing a torn ACL, Bell looked like a long shot to keep his starting left tackle job. After a quiet free agency period and now a draft without a surefire starting LT prospect added to the picture, Bell is on track to retain his starting spot. The kid is in a similar situation as last year, limited experience and question marks about whether he can handle the NFL game. The only difference is this year he's expected to start - and has very little competition to boot. The Bills drafted Ed Wang out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round on Saturday, but he is a project that will require some time and patience before being ready to contribute. The only other holdover is , who could push Bell for the job, but is expected to battle for the swing tackle job instead. Bell will get a shot to prove he is a long term solution at LT and can show the Bills they made the right move in passing on prospects such as , and Charles Brown.
QB Trent Edwards - The Bills had the opportunity to draft a player like Jimmy Clausen, or Colt McCoy, but were not intrigued enough to pull the trigger. Because of that, Edwards gets to live to see another day. The majority of Bills nation is ready to move on from the Edwards experience, but it's become apparent that he is likely to be given one last shot to prove he can quarterback this franchise out of the gutter. With , perhaps , and maybe later in the year, , around to provide token pressure, Edwards is likely the starting quarterback heading into the summer. His leash is likely to be shorter than most of the other starters around the league, but the opportunity for him to keep his job is certainly going to be there. We may not like it, but this is where the Bills are right now. This is his last chance, and with another year of failure, the Bills will be ready to move on to their next potential franchise QB next year.
OLB Chris Kelsay - What? You thought I could get through an article about any Bills lucky enough to have their jobs and not mention Kelsay? Kelsay was likely to keep his spot on the team for the 2010 season before moving onto greener pastures, but now it appears he'll be in line to hold a sizable role in the Bills' new 3-4 defense. After failing to address the OLB position until the sixth round with two small-school players that are unlikely to be ready to contribute immediately, the Bills will once again turn to Kelsay to take numerous snaps and discourage Bills fans everywhere. If Aaron Schobel decides to hang up his spikes, Kelsay could miraculously find himself in a starting role once again. It's amazing how these things work out, isn't it?
NT Kyle Williams - Williams was in no way in jeopardy of losing his spot on the team, nor was he likely to lose playing time. He was helped by the results of the draft because his role is now solidified and he knows who his competition for playing time will be. New NT Torell Troup will be a factor for this defense immediately, but will be sharing snaps with Williams. The veteran will be mixed in on first and second down, sharing those snaps with Troup, and is now more likely to be the NT on the field in passing situations. Troup is not a pass-rushing NT by any means, so Williams will get the opportunity to make his mark there, in addition to his role on run downs. The lack of a second NT addition this weekend also proves that Williams will continue as a key cog to the Bills' defense, despite not being a perfect fit.
OLB Aaron Maybin - Like Kelsay, Maybin is not going to feel much pressure from any rookie addition this season. He is likely to be handed a starting spot opposite the hopefully not-retired Schobel, and be given every opportunity to prove himself as a pass rusher in the new 3-4. The potential for a breakout season out of Maybin is certainly there, and luckily for him, he won't be feeling much pressure from any player behind him. Here's to hoping George Edwards can turn Mr. Maybin into the pass-rushing monster we had all hoped the Bills were acquiring last season.
WR James Hardy/Steve Johnson - I really wanted to give this last spot to and his lack of competition for a spot he has yet to earn, but I think I'll go with a pair of young WRs that will be given every opportunity to start. It's uncertain which player may have the edge at this point to start opposite , but it's pretty obvious that both will be given every chance to earn the job. It was unlikely the Bills were going to add a player that could push these guys for the starting spot immediately, but with the addition of the raw Marcus Easley, they won't really have to worry about such competition for some time.