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COSTLY MISS

John Butler and his staff have had much success in recent years drafting players, specifically in the early rounds. With free agency losses and salary-cap constraints, just one mistake can have serious ramifications for years.

Case in point: the Bills' second round pick in 1995 -- QB Todd Collins, who was drafted to succeed Jim Kelly. Where is Todd now? Warming the bench in Kansas City. Imagine if the Bills instead had taken a QB who slipped to the fourth round and was taken by Jacksonville. Yes, Rob Johnson. The Bills would have retained their first- and fourth-round picks in the 1998 draft. That first-round pick was the ninth overall, and Jacksonville took RB Fred Taylor. Hmmmm. How would the Bills have performed this year with a seasoned veteran Rob Johnson running the team and Fred Taylor in the backfield? Could the precious cap dollars wasted on Todd and extending Flutie's contract been spent on a top-flight free-agent offensive lineman?

John Butler deserves credit for all he has done, but he does walk a fine line with no margin for error. This year's draft should set up the Bills for another extended run of greatness. Hopefully John and his staff never miss on an early-round pick like that again.
JEFF ODROBINA
Cheektowaga

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