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Why Derrick Harvey Makes Sense for Buffalo

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Harvey would solidify a strong D-Line (Gator Boosters)

The Buffalo Bills need a wide receiver. The Buffalo Bills need a cornerback. The Buffalo Bills need a tight end, a center and a strong safety. We all understand what the Buffalo Bills are most likely to target heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Yet we also know that in two years of drafting, the Bills have been known to pull some surprise selections. Safety Donte Whitner and quarterback Trent Edwards were among the most surprising selections that the team has made.

So while I've been trying to prepare myself for the inevitable selection of a wide receiver with the Bills' first pick - a move I still feel strongly will occur in late April - the Buffalo Rumblings community, led by a vocal contingent of intelligent football fans, have been promoting what many deem an unlikely draft selection. I like to call them the "Derrick Harvey Contingent". I'm here to tell you this morning that while I am not part of this contingent, and still believe that the team will look to a different position with their top pick, drafting Derrick Harvey actually makes a ton of sense. The following are reasons why:

Our defensive ends aren't young: The Bills have three legitimate defensive ends on their roster, all possessing rather large contracts. That has been the main argument against drafting a defensive end in the first round. But of those three (not-so-productive) players, the youngest - Chris Kelsay - is 28. Aaron Schobel and Ryan Denney, meanwhile, are already 30 years old, and beyond the top three players, the Bills have zero depth (sorry, Ryan Neill and Copeland Bryan). The team clearly needs a young player to groom as a future starter.

Our defensive ends get hurt: Outside of Schobel, both Denney and Kelsay have missed significant chunks of playing time. Denney missed 9 games last season dealing with a foot injury (though he had not missed a game for the entirety of the preceding four seasons), and Kelsay missed two games as well (though, again, he had full participation the previous four seasons). Those injuries put a lot of pressure on Schobel (who has never missed a pro game) last season, and destroyed the team's depth at the position. The older these players get, the more difficult it will be for them to withstand 16-game seasons. Finding depth is a must.

Our defensive ends aren't impactful: All three of Buffalo's ends are known as non-stop motor, blue-collar hustlers who pick up their sacks based on effort. Only Schobel has proven that he has the ability to draw double teams, and the lack of an impact pass rusher on the other side severely limited his impact in 2007. The Bills must find a way to add a rookie with the motor that the team likes in their ends, but that also possesses the talent to take blockers away from Schobel, especially on pass downs. They may not be able to find that after the first round.

Derrick Harvey is really, really good: Don't make the mistake of thinking Harvey's "poor" Combine numbers - specifically his timed speed - will hurt him on draft day. Harvey is probably second in this draft to Virginia's Chris Long in terms of being an all-around excellent defensive end. He has the pass rushing skills and is stout enough against the run to be an excellent every-down defender in this league, and his "lack" of speed makes him a better fit at left end. The young man picked up 20.5 sacks in just 18 career starts at Florida, and would benefit immensely from having talented linemen such as Schobel and Marcus Stroud next to him. It's very possible that if he were drafted to Buffalo, he'd assume starting left end duties by the time the 2008 season concluded.

The Glorious Hair Agrees: Many are aware that The Big Talking Hair, Mel Kiper, has projected Harvey to Buffalo in his most recent mock draft. This is exactly the type of crackpot, "where the heck did that come from" Kiper prognostication that ends up being true on draft day.

So there it is. I'm not advocating it, but I'm not denying its appeal, either. Derrick Harvey would be an excellent, if unexpected, draft choice for the Buffalo Bills.