Through a series of posts analyzing the Buffalo Bills' roster, then polls asking fans to rate the team's needs, the Buffalo Rumblings community has collectively determined the team's top five needs heading into a critical off-season. Without further ado, those needs are as follows:
1. 4-3 defensive end. The Bills are switching back to the 4-3 defense under new coordinator Dave Wannstedt, and the team's need for impact pass rushers has shifted to this position in particular. Chris Kelsay - who has averaged 3.4 sacks per season over his nine-year career - is a likely starter. The team doesn't need just impact here, however; they're also sorely in need of depth.
2. 4-3 outside linebacker. In switching back to the 4-3, second-year pro Kelvin Sheppard will become the starting middle linebacker, which will almost certainly relegate the team's best linebacker - Nick Barnett - to weak-side responsibilities. That leaves the team with a need for a strong-side linebacker, who will play on the tight end side on run downs, then leave the field in lieu of a defensive back in passing situations.
3. Wide Receiver. Stevie Johnson is a free agent. If the team is able to re-sign him, they desperately need a big target on the other side of the field. If they can't re-sign Johnson, their top receiver becomes David Nelson - and the team sees Nelson solely as a slot receiver. Ergo, if the Bills can't re-sign Johnson, they'll be searching for two starting outside receivers.
4. Cornerback. Buffalo is already looking to address this need by bringing in free agent Stanford Routt. The team has two young players it likes in Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers, but the highly-priced veteran trio of Drayton Florence, Leodis McKelvin and particularly Terrence McGee leave a lot to be desired. The team may very well weed out two of those three veterans in favor of new blood, and depth is a concern.
5. Offensive Tackle. The Bills are set at one position, as Erik Pears is freshly inked into the starting right tackle job. Left tackle is a bit more concerning, where second-year pro Chris Hairston may not be ready to be handed a job that could end up back in the hands of free agent Demetrius Bell. If the team can't get Bell back, they'll need depth at the position - and ideally, said depth will be able to push Hairston for a starting job.
What changes would you make to the community's list, folks?
I know that I, personally, think that the blog got the five positions right from an immediate-needs standpoint. I would re-arrange them in the following order: DE, WR, CB, OT, OLB. I still can't fathom how a part-time player would rank so highly on this list (I'm speaking of outside linebacker), but I appear to be in the very distinct minority on that front.