The 2011 NFL Draft is history, and now that the Buffalo Bills have a shiny new defensive building block in rookie defensive end Marcell Dareus, nothing else may matter to you. That's fine. We're going to talk about this anyway, because it serves as rationale for the team's Round 2 pick, and explains the team's stance on passing on a quarterback, as well.
Bills GM Buddy Nix was interviewed for an article with Clark Judge of CBSSports.com, and in it, he divulged that had the team not been able to select Dareus, the team would've looked strongly at not just quarterback, but also a cornerback.
"Now, did we consider a quarterback here? Yes, we did," Nix told Judge. "But we did our work as well as we could on every quarterback, and we passed. We also considered [LSU cornerback Patrick] Peterson. He was in the mix."
Last Thursday, I was privately informed that the Bills had Peterson graded very highly, and that he was a very real possibility for them at No. 3 overall if things fell a specific way. I took that to mean that the team would take Peterson - or perhaps Blaine Gabbert - if Dareus didn't fall to them. At that time, I was thoroughly convinced that Denver would take Dareus (oops), and was also convinced that they'd take Peterson over Gabbert in that event (which, in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have assumed). Needless to say, I went into Thursday evening with two write-ups ready to publish once the third pick was announced - one for Dareus, and one for Peterson.
I believe it's important to keep these little nuggets in mind as we continue to build a dossier on our GM. First and foremost, Nix has proven in two drafts that he is big on team depth; he started with "stacking players on players" in 2010, and then repeatedly stated - and then addressed - his belief that the team was thinnest defensively. Their emphasis on the cornerback position - first with Peterson's consideration, and then with the selection of Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers in subsequent rounds - was reflective of that depth concern.
More interestingly, Nix confirmed what we'd expected all along - that he's not a "force the issue" drafter. He liked - but did not love - Gabbert, and perhaps even a guy like Christian Ponder or Jake Locker. So he didn't take a quarterback because he had more conviction in players at other positions. That's fine. Nix has yet to prove that he's an adequate talent evaluator in Buffalo, but I'd rather evaluate him knowing that he's making decisions he's comfortable with, rather than aimlessly trying to plug holes.
Store this in the back of your mind for the 2012 NFL Draft. I, meanwhile, will be glad that we landed Dareus instead of Peterson. It made for a much smoother weekend in these parts.