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Bills fill their biggest holes Depth at cornerback fails to be addressed NFL Draft: Buffalo boosts running game, run defense

As drafts go, this one couldn't have worked out better for the Buffalo Bills.

They addressed their two biggest needs -- running back and linebacker -- with their first two picks while also getting the best players available on their draft board. They also stayed true to that board and drafted for value in the latter rounds.

"We liked the players we picked," General Manager Marv Levy said during the Bills' post-draft news conference Sunday. "We think they are going to help us be better. I don't ever want to be satisfied. But we feel like we have taken some steps to help our team be better. Hopefully it's a lot better."

By drafting running back Marshawn Lynch in the first round, the Bills are intent on improving what has been a mediocre offense. They ranked 30th in the NFL in yards and 28th in rushing last year. They have not ranked among the top 12 in the league in rushing in eight years and haven't ranked in the top half of the league in yards per carry in six years.

The Bills hope the days of sputtering offense are over now that they have a home-run-hitting running back in Lynch playing behind a revamped offensive line.

"I've said this privately many times that the brunt of the success of this team certainly doesn't fall totally on [quarterback] J.P. [Losman], but the focus will," coach Dick Jauron said. "In order to help him succeed we need to make ourselves as good as we can around him to give him every opportunity to continue to improve and succeed."

The Bills had to get a linebacker early in the draft and they ended up with the guy most analysts rated as second best in the draft. Paul Posluszny gives the Bills size, quickness and athleticism at a vital position. He also gives them flexibility because he can play middle linebacker or on the strong side.

The Bills gave some consideration to moving last year's weak side starter, Angelo Crowell, to middle linebacker, but Jauron would prefer to play Posluszny in the middle and keep Crowell outside, where he's more comfortable.

Quarterback Trent Edwards was a surprise pick in the third round, if only because he was still available. The Bills needed a third quarterback and had planned to take one later in the draft. But Edwards, projected as an early second-rounder, was too good to pass up.

"We never even thought that Trent Edwards would be there beyond the early second round," Levy said. "His grade was so much higher than the others. We had to take him."

While the Bills had an excellent first day, the second day picks were a little puzzling. They didn't address the need for depth at cornerback. There were 30 cornerbacks drafted, including 20 on Sunday.

"We would love to have been able to be in a position to draft a cornerback," Levy said. "At the time we picked, it just didn't fit given who was there. There are needs we need to fill. Have we filled that one? No, not yet."

Fresno State running back Dwayne Wright, a talented player with size and power, seemed to be a luxury pick in the fourth round based on what the Bills already have. But he was rated high on their board.

Taking John Wendling of Wyoming made sense because the Bills had only three safeties (Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson and Jim Leonhard) on the roster now that Coy Wire is at linebacker. The two seventh-rounders, Boise State tight end Derek Schouman and Oklahoma defensive end C.J. Ah You, are athletic players but they must overcome large numbers at their positions to make it.

With everything the Bills have done this offseason, they will be a much younger team in 2007. Despite all of their youth, the Bills think they are talented enough to win now.

"We know with the team that is built the way it's built now we're hoping that we're right in what we're doing and we have a window of opportunity that lasts for a few years," Jauron said.

Here's a closer look at each of the Bills' draft choices and what their roles might be this season:

First round: RB Marshawn Lynch, California (12th overall), 5-11, 215: Fills a huge vacancy created by the Willis McGahee trade. He is a versatile three-down back who thrived in a pro-style, two-back offense against high level college competition. Lynch is strong enough to run inside, has the speed to bounce outside and the strength and balance to break tackles and gain extra yards after contact. He also is an outstanding receiver who can line up in the slot and create matchup problems, and he is a willing blocker.

Second round: LB Paul Posluszny, Penn State (34th overall), 6-1, 238: Can play all three spots, but is expected to challenge immediately for a starting role in the middle. He's a smart, instinctive and competitive player with a nose for the ball and is tough enough to take on blockers at the point of attack.

Third round: QB Trent Edwards, Stanford (92nd overall), 6-4, 231: Combines excellent size and the arm strength and accuracy to make the required throws in the Bills' offense. J.P. Losman is the unquestioned starter, but Edwards is expected to push Craig Nall as the No. 2 signal-caller. Edwards has all the physical tools needed to be a solid pro.

Fourth round: RB Dwayne Wright, Fresno State (111th overall), 5-11 1/2 , 228: A big, physical back who can move the pile. Rarely goes down after first contact because he has good balance, strength and power. Could develop into a solid short-yardage back and a complement to Lynch.

Sixth round: S John Wendling, Wyoming (184th overall), 6-1, 222: A good athlete who can play either safety spot. Needs work on technique and coverage. Adds depth to a thin position and should make an immediate impact on special teams.

Seventh round: TE Derek Schouman, Boise State (222 overall), 6-2, 240: Sure-handed, has potential as an H-back and a blocker on the edges because he's tough and plays with good leverage.

Seventh round: DE C.J. Ah You, Oklahoma (239th overall), 6-4, 275: Has outstanding athletic ability and potential as a situational pass rusher, but he must play with a more consistent motor.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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