Day one of the 2008 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Buffalo Bills have to be pleased with the two prospects that they picked up. Entering draft weekend with major needs at cornerback and receiver, the Bills were able to address both needs with talented players that can start immediately.
Round 1, Pick 11: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
- As we reported earlier in the week, McKelvin was the top guy on Buffalo's draft board all along. There was some concern among Bills brass that McKelvin would not be available at pick 11, as COO Russ Brandon mentioned in today's press conference, but it was clear that if McKelvin was available, he was the pick.
McKelvin has been widely regarded as the best cornerback available this year for some time. Blessed with excellent size (5'10", 190) and speed (4.38 in the 40), McKelvin is a superb athlete with outstanding footwork. He is an aggressive all-around corner that is solid against the run, excels in zone coverage thanks to his top-notch instincts and aggressive demeanor, and he's the one cornerback in this draft that is most ready to start from day one in the NFL. The only knock on McKelvin is his lack of elite ball skills - something that Buffalo's coaching staff believes can be corrected at this level.
Had McKelvin been gone, they likely would have attempted to trade out of the eleventh pick. If that had not worked out, word was that they were set to select WR Devin Thomas of Michigan State. The events of the first round, however, left the Bills with their guy and made missing out on Thomas seem trivial.
Round 2, Pick 41: James Hardy, WR, Indiana
- Thanks to the fact that no wide receiver was selected in the first round for quite some time, the Bills had options at wide receiver when they chose in the second round. Thomas did not get snatched up until the Redskins chose him at pick 34; the draft's three best-known "big" receivers - Hardy, Texas' Limas Sweed and Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly - were all available when the Bills chose in the second round. At that point, the Bills had gotten their top player and had their choice of big receiver - the perfect day one scenario in their eyes.
The 6'5", 217-pound Hardy - who also runs at an above-average 4.51-second clip, very good for his size - was arguably the best red zone receiver available this year. He scored 36 touchdowns in three seasons at Indiana, and was that school's most productive receiver of all-time. He is not quick off the line and may struggle at times to separate from pro corners, but he has enough speed to be a vertical threat, and his size makes him a matchup nightmare.
Hardy does have some character concerns - namely domestic abuse charges in 2006, which were dropped after he completed a behavior program. But these character concerns got a passing grade from Buffalo's front office, and the potential that Hardy has as a scorer at the NFL level outweighs the character risks. The Bills have a strong locker room. Hardy should fit right in.
Day Two Coverage
- The Bills enter day two of the NFL Draft with eight more picks to make - one in each round with an extra fourth and two extra seventh-round picks. Buffalo Rumblings will be live-blogging day two of the Draft tomorrow, with updates and analysis on all the goings-on regarding the Bills. Don't miss it!