National draft projections had Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn going somewhere in the first round of the NFL Draft, but in the first round for certain. Maybe he'd go as high as No. 13, as an NFL.com prognosticator envisioned.
No way that Glenn would fall past No. 21, reasoned an analyst at CBSSports.com. And so Glenn did what likely first-round draft picks are wont to do: He accepted an NFL invitation and took up a seat at Radio City Music Hall for Thursday night's opening round.
But an agonizing thing happened on Glenn's way to the NFL. His name never came off the board during the celebrated opening-night selection process. All those certainties had proved as reliable as last week's forecast of a major snow storm. Glenn returned home to Georgia and waited by the phone until the Buffalo Bills called nine picks into Friday's second round and made him the 41st overall selection.
"I'm just happy I get to play football and I know where I'm playing it now," Glenn said. "It's a big relief."
Glenn's fall into Buffalo's lap was wrapped in surprise. He was an Associated Press third-team All-American, an all-SEC offensive lineman, and the conference's Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Bulldogs victory over Florida. He started 50 of 53 games, tying Clint Boling's record for career starts by a guard/tackle.
But there were some concerns that for some apparently overrode Glenn's alluring size (6-foot-5, 345 pounds), 36-inch arms and his 31 reps in the 225-pound bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine. He didn't become a permanent left tackle until this season, and struggled early with the transition. His motivation and aggressiveness also have been called into question.
"I think I got better as the season went on and I got more comfortable out there," Glenn said. "I think I still haven't played my best game there yet though."
"I think he's a good athlete," Bills national scout Darrell Moody said. "I think he's a tough kid. I don't think he's a trained killer. At this time, I think when you evaluate film, which is unusual when you evaluate college players, I think he's a better pass blocker than he is a run blocker right now, but I think that will come.
"I think football players are a lot like spouses. What looks good to one don't look good to another. Obviously he looked good to us and I'm glad he didn't look good to maybe some of the others."
Glenn became familiar with the Bills during a visit here and was impressed with offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris.
"I like the coaching staff," Glenn said. "I like the offensive line coach. I like the way he coaches. [The visit] definitely was a big favorite of mine.
"I'm extremely pleased," Glenn said. "This process is finally over. I'm expecting to go out there and play. I'll be ready for it."
The Bills traded up in the third round to snag wideout T.J. Graham out of North Carolina State. Graham (5-foot-11 1/2 , 189 pounds) also ran track and was all-ACC in the indoor 60 meters and 200 meters. The Bills acknowledged leading into the draft they would target a field-stretching receiver.
"The worry was he wouldn't be there," GM Buddy Nix said in explaining the rare decision to move up.
The Bills gave away one of their two seventh-round picks to swap spots with the Washington Redskins.
"We're riverboat gamblers," Nix said.
Head coach Chan Gailey said Graham will be employed on the outside and gives the Bills the field-stretching receiver they coveted.
"He's close to 6-foot there and he can run by most everybody," Gailey said. "I mean, the guy can fly. He played different spots for them and did different things for them. He wasn't just one of those little fast guys that ran the bubble (screen) where they dump it to him. He wasn't one of those guys. He's a guy that has some skill running the football."
Graham had receptions of at least 47 yards in five games this season while catching a team-high 46 passes.
Graham's father is Trevor Graham, the former track coach who worked with Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, among others, before his career was derailed by involvement in the BALCO steroids scandal.
"It's something I worked for all my whole life and I'm just going to enjoy the opportunity I have now with the Buffalo Bills," Graham said.
He lined up both outside and in the slot with the Wolfpack.
"Anywhere I can play, it doesn't really matter to me," Graham said. "I just want to get on the field and contribute to the success of the offense. I can definitely stretch the field and make the defense have to play the full field instead of a short field."
The draft's final four rounds begin at noon today. The Bills will pick 10th and 29th in the fourth round (Nos. 105 and 124), ninth and 12th in the fifth round (Nos. 144 and 147), eighth in the sixth round (No. 178) and 44th in the seventh round (No. 251).
The Graham file
Height: 5-11 1/2
Weight: 189 pounds
School: N.C. State
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Fast facts: Burner who ran 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. Caught 46 passes for 757 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011 but isn't considered a strong route runner. Averaged 22.5 yards per kick return in his four seasons.