The Buffalo Bills have now made their four picks in the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft, and there's a very good chance that they've come out of the first two days of the draft with two starters.
More intriguingly, the team is focusing on building an offense for the first time under GM Buddy Nix, who had three very defense-oriented drafts to start his tenure. This year, not only did Nix hand-pick a franchise quarterback for the team in first-round pick E.J. Manuel, he's now drafted two wide receivers that fit perfectly into the West Coast, up-tempo offense being installed by Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett.
Robert Woods, a junior from USC drafted No. 41 overall earlier this evening, should walk into the starting lineup opposite Stevie Johnson. Marquise Goodwin, the team's third-round pick out of Texas, pairs with 2012 third-round pick T.J. Graham to give the Bills two Olympic-level track athletes (yes, seriously) to get creative with, and to take the top off of defenses. The shape of Buffalo's offense is becoming evident: within the context of the no-huddle, the Bills will eat away at you with possession-type receivers that can hurt you after the catch (Johnson and Woods), throw in top-notch speed wrinkles to keep you off-balance pre-snap (Graham and Goodwin), and a monster athlete at quarterback to distribute and make plays with his legs (Manuel).
Oh, and it's also probably worth mentioning that C.J. Spiller is on the team, too.
Clearly, we won't know if this new-look, fast-in-every-way offense the Bills are building will work, but it's certainly a heck of a lot of fun to ponder on paper. Marrone and Hackett have a vision for this attack, and Nix is finding them talented athletes to work with. An interesting summer and fall lie ahead, particularly if Manuel can make waves in the upcoming quarterback competition.
Meanwhile, the lone defender the team has selected has a great chance of starting as a rookie, as well. Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso was picked at No. 46 overall - acquired from St. Louis in the Bills' trade down in the first round on Thursday - and he fits into Mike Pettine's hybrid defense as a middle linebacker. Alonso is a big, rangy athlete that plays the game aggressively, is completely fearless attacking blocks, and is also highly underrated in coverage (four career interceptions). There are durability and character concerns that will be covered at a later point in time - they're present, but not overly worrisome at the moment - but Alonso's versatility and playing style will complement weak-side linebacker Nigel Bradham and his underrated athleticism quite well.
Buffalo still has areas of need to address - guard, tight end and the defensive backfield remain unaddressed - but they have four more picks to make on Saturday that can provide depth and competition in those areas. Make no mistake, Bills fans: this is a risky draft class in a lot of ways. The Bills are going big; time will tell if they go home, or if they hit the jackpot.
We'll see you all bright and early tomorrow morning for even more on the draft, and Round 4 kicks off at Noon ET. Until then, leave your thoughts after two days in the comments section below.
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