It took this community a week, but we've finally accomplished our first goal of the off-season: assembling a full needs list for the Buffalo Bills. We've had some fantastic discussions, ranging from philosophical approaches to potential player acquisitions to actual player acquisitions. It's been a fun ride, and it's only the first step of many to come that we'll take this off-season.
This list is liquid, meaning that if you continue to have issues with where certain positions stand, feel free to make your arguments heard. We'll continue to tweak this list throughout the off-season, using the list as a reference point for future activities we'll be taking part in. For now (minus letters - numbers only), here's the first edition of the Buffalo Rumblings Community Needs List:
1. Defensive Tackle: Along with wide receiver, this position received the most consistent support community-wide as a top need for the Bills. The team needs to add a bigger tackle with strength to help shore up what has been a porous run defense the past two seasons.
2. Wide Receiver: Really, WR and DT could have been placed 1-2 because these positions received similar support; the community seems to be more defensive-minded, however, so WR slides down a spot. Obviously, the Bills need to find a #2 option (preferably with some size) to take pressure off of Lee Evans, help develop Trent Edwards and potentially solve some of the team's red zone woes.
3. Defensive End: It's a copycat league, and the New York Giants showed the world how to beat the New England Patriots: get pressure from your front four on Tom Brady. Buffalo will never be a playoff team until they can at least compete with the Patriots. We need a much more consistent pass rush to do just that.
4. Outside Linebacker: Received plenty of high rankings as well. The consensus here (and most everywhere else) is that the team needs a serious upgrade over Keith Ellison, who would be far better suited to a backup role. The team must also boost depth with several free agents in '08 (Angelo Crowell is also a free agent in '09). A player with great speed and coverage skills will be targeted.
5. Tight End: The most inconsistently backed up position of the top five after the team signed journeyman Teyo Johnson. Clearly, Trent Edwards favors throwing to his tight ends, and the Bills have not had consistently good production from the position since the days of Jay Riemersma. A pass-catching athlete with YAC ability would be a godsend for this offense.
6. Cornerback: The team may have some solid depth at the position, but none of those players - with the possible exclusion of Terrence McGee - have proven that they can play consistently in their roles. Jabari Greer, Kiwaukee Thomas and Ashton Youboty all would be best utilized in a reserve role. Greer had a break-out '07 season, so corner is pushed down the priority list a bit, but the team would be smart to draft a corner with some size and toughness to better fit their scheme. (Or, you could just develop already, Ashton.)
7. Interior O-Line: Melvin Fowler is set to become a free agent next off-season, and depth (Jason Whittle, who is a free agent, and Duke Preston) is sketchy at best. Drafting a player with potential that can play guard and center would work wonders for a team that needs tough depth inside and likes to cut back numbers-wise along the line.
8. Wide Receiver: Wideout makes its second appearance on the list. The consensus seems to be that adding just one wide receiver may be bad business, considering the free agency of Sam Aiken and the somewhat-agreed-upon departure (community-based, not reality-based) of Peerless Price. Adding a developmental prospect with special teams ability would be a smart move, hedging the team's bets with free agent-to-be Lee Evans.
9. Offensive Tackle: Kirk Chambers is sketchy depth at best, and it seems unlikely that starters Jason Peters and Langston Walker will combine for 31 starts between them again. Knock on wood, Bills fans. In a draft class that seems to be loaded with solid tackle prospects, it would be a good move for the team to, at a minimum, bring in a talented rookie to compete on the edges with Chambers and Patrick Estes.
10. Fullback: Even after the free agent signing of Darian Barnes to a six-year deal, fullback remains this high on the list. With Barnes, Jonathan Evans and Derek Schouman on board, I'm not sure if this position gets further addressed at all; still, the thought of adding a young, physical run blocker in front of Marshawn Lynch is tempting.
11. Linebacker: The aforementioned lack of depth at linebacker needs to be addressed. Assuming the Bills add a weak-side starter, the team will be left with Ellison, John DiGiorgio and Coy Wire as its reserves. All of these players have experience; one of the team's free agents (Mario Haggan and Josh Stamer) will likely be re-signed for special teams purposes. Still, it wouldn't hurt to bring in some young talent to push those depth vets.
12. Strong Safety: The team is set with Donte Whitner as its starter, but backup Bryan Scott is a free agent, and John Wendling is more of a specialist than a regular defender. If the team doesn't re-sign Scott, look for a low-priced free agent or a low-round draft pick to be added.
13. Quarterback: Makes the list only because of the trade demand of J.P. Losman. If Losman is a Bill in '08, the only way this position is addressed is with a developmental player to challenge Gibran Hamdan.