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Nix could opt for down time; GM had success trading picks in SD

Buddy Nix has been content to stand pat and make his pick in his two years of running the Buffalo Bills' draft. Could this year be different? Will Nix be working the phones, especially if an option to trade down is presented?

"I always hear sources quoted, sources say [we should trade down.] -- I wish when they say we'd be better off moving down they'd tell me who we can trade with because it takes two and it's normally not a lot of action with us for people wanting to move to 10," Nix said during the Bills' annual predraft luncheon. "We'd consider everything. You might get the same guy. A good chance you might get the same caliber guy. If that presents itself we'd consider it."

If you're slightly confused by that answer, welcome to draft season. Nix won't tip his hand this time of year, but a look back at his draft history during his time in San Diego shows he's been part of front offices unafraid to move down. The Chargers did so in the first round three out of four years.

*Nix was working as the director of player personnel in 2001 when they traded the first overall pick to Atlanta for the fifth pick, a third-rounder that year, a second-rounder in the 2002 draft and wide receiver Tim Dwight. The Falcons got Michael Vick, but the Chargers did just fine, coming away with running back LaDainian Tomlinson, cornerback Tay Cody, and wide receiver Reche Caldwell.

*By 2003, Nix was working as the Chargers' assistant general manager. In that year, San Diego traded the No. 15 pick in the first round to the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 30 pick in the first round and No. 62 overall in the second round. The Chargers wound up with two Texas A&M defensive backs -- Sammy Davis in the first and Terrence Kiel in the second -- and the Eagles took defensive end Jerome McDougal.

*In 2004, the Chargers famously drafted quarterback Eli Manning first overall, but traded him to the New York Giants for a package that included the fourth overall pick, quarterback Philip Rivers, along with the Giants' third-round pick that year, which they used on kicker Nate Kaeding, and first- and fifth-round selections in 2005. The Chargers drafted Shawne Merriman with the first-rounder and later traded the fifth-rounder.

Fueling speculation the Bills might explore moving down is the perception that the team's biggest positional need -- left tackle -- will not present great "value" at the No. 10 overall pick.

This could change if consensus No. 1 left tackle Matt Kalil begins to drop and the Bills make a move up to acquire him.

"My thought in this draft is -- what you get at nine, 10, 11, 12 is what you're going to get at 17, 18, 19, 20," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said in a conference call with reporters last month. "I think there is a drop-off, but there is a lot of depth in the middle of the first round.

" For a team that's done such a great job drafting or in free agency, I think they're in a tough spot. I'm intrigued to see how they get out of it or what they're able to get from that number 10 pick."

Nix was up front when discussing the issue last week.

"You probably would say this year is a little better for [trading down]. There's more equal guys," he said. "You might get the same guy from 10 to 20 that you get from 1 to 10. Now, you don't know that, but that could probably be the case this year. Again, I don't think, if there's a guy there -- even though he may not be one that's got the wow factor that some of them have -- if he's a guy that can come in and make a difference for us, I don't think you move from 10. You might not get one."

The Bills' recent draft history is sparse when it comes to trading down. The last time they did it in the first round was in 2001. In that year Buffalo traded the No. 14 selection to Tampa Bay, for first-round (No. 21) and second-round (No. 51) picks. The Bills took cornerback Nate Clements in the first and traded down again in the second round, sending No. 51 to Denver for the No. 58 pick, which they used on running back Travis Henry. Tampa, meanwhile, drafted offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker. Advantage: Bills.

The only other time Buffalo has moved down in the past 11 years was in '03, when the Bills traded with Green Bay, moving from No. 79 to No. 94 and picking up a fourth-round pick. Buffalo ended up with linebacker Angelo Crowell at 94 and receiver Sam Aiken at 127, while the Packers took defensive end Kenny Peterson.

By comparison, the Patriots under Bill Belichick have traded down -- or out -- of the first round in the last four drafts.

"It's a copycat league and there's certainly no one way to go about drafting," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call with reporters. "Bill is a bit of a poker player who likes to move up and down the board based on what his value is; not what he perceives the rest of the league is. But he knows league value, that's why he's able to move around. I think a lot of teams take a look at New England and they get nervous about whether they can move up and down as efficiently as Bill can."

Sometimes -- as in 2010, when he moved down twice in the first round and still ended up with cornerback Devin McCourty at 27th overall and got tight end Aaron Hernandez in the fourth round with an acquired pick -- Belichick hits a home run.

Other times, he hasn't been as successful. In 2009, the Pats again traded down in the first round twice. In the second deal, they gave up the 26th overall selection, which Green Bay used to select linebacker Clay Matthews. None of the Patriots acquired in those moves -- defensive back Darius Butler, running back Derek Cox or wide receiver Brandon Tate -- panned out.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com