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DONAHOE DOESN'T REGRET TRADING NO. 1 PICK

Tom Donahoe has no second thoughts about giving up the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

The Buffalo Bills' president and general manager looks at the quarterbacks available in this year's draft and thinks he was fortunate to select J.P. Losman in the draft a year ago.

"I think he could be the first player taken (this year)," Donahoe said of Losman at a pre-draft media briefing Monday in Orchard Park. "That's just my opinion. I think he's definitely the first quarterback taken, and generally quarterbacks go first."

Donahoe obviously is biased in favor of Losman, whom the Bills acquired last year in exchange for this year's No. 1 choice, along with second- and fifth-rounders last year. However, all draft experts agree that the quarterback class this year pales in comparison to last year's class.

Two quarterbacks this year -- Utah's Alex Smith and California's Aaron Rodgers -- are rated as top 10 prospects. No experts suggest they would have been top 10 picks last year. And if the Bills had kept what turned out to be the 23rd overall pick this year, it's apparent there would not have been a prime QB candidate worthy of the pick.

"As an organization we felt last year going into the draft that we wanted to try to get a young quarterback either last year or this year," Donahoe said.
"When we looked at some of the grades Blesto (a national scouting service) had on juniors for this year -- you don't know what underclassmen are going to come out -- the junior grades on the quarterbacks were not exceptional. And there were four quarterbacks last year that we really liked."

"We wanted to try to get an impact guy with that 13th pick and we got that with Lee Evans," Donahoe said. "Then our plan was to try to get back into the first round. . . . John Guy (the Bills' top pro scout) did a great job on the phones just trying to find somebody who was interested to put us in position to get a quarterback."

Barring a draft-day trade, the Bills will be waiting until roughly the 7 p.m. hour on April 23 before they make their first pick, No. 55 overall.

Other highlights from the briefing:

Asked about the Bills' prime needs, Donahoe said: "You're always looking for linemen on both sides of the ball. It's hard to get enough of those guys -- good guys who are athletic and can play. That's kind of always a priority."

Donahoe said tight ends Mark Campbell and Tim Euhus, both recovering from knee surgery, are recovering well, making tight end less than an urgent need. "The fans are worried about the injuries and how guys are going to come back," he said, "but they have rehabbed extremely well. Both look like they'll be 100 percent even before training camp starts. But tight end is a position you'd look at."

Donahoe said he has offered Assistant General Manager Tom Modrak the GM title "about five times" but Modrak has declined.

"He does a great job," Donahoe said. "I told Tom this from the day he came here, whatever capacity, however he wants to work the job, we're very comfortable with it. . . . Tom's great at what he does. There's no doubt in my mind he should be a general manager. He has been passed over a couple of times, and I think it has been somebody else's mistake but I think it has been to our advantage."

Modrak said he likes his current responsibilities.

"I think Tom does such a great job at what he's doing that I'm not sure I could contribute enough to make that (worthwhile)," Modrak said. "I like being on the road. I like doing what I do. I think I'm good at it. If I don't get out enough (I'm not happy). And if you take that job you can't be out (scouting on the road) that much. . . . Believe me, I've thought about it a lot. Sometimes in the middle of October when I'm out for a long stretch, I've really thought about it."

Donahoe said he wants more in return for Travis Henry from Arizona than tackle L.J. Shelton. "We're not interested in that. We will listen. We will see what happens over the next couple weeks. If it happens, great, if it doesn't happen, Travis has a contract to play with the Buffalo Bills."

With a lack of elite players in the top half of the first round, more teams are looking to shop first-round picks: "This is most unusual, but we've already had some calls about teams with first round picks who want to get out of there," Donahoe said. "That may be more the norm than not this year because of all the uncertainty with who the first-rounders might be."
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com