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'Experts' give Bills OK marks; Kiper likes draft, but not Glenn at LT

The Buffalo Bills got generally good reviews for their work in the 2012 NFL Draft from the so-called experts and professional armchair quarterbacks of the college football scouting game.

The Bills were not named as one of the top five or six big winners of the draft by evaluators who ranked the league, but virtually all the national media outlets gave Buffalo a grade of B or better.

"When Buddy Nix was named GM in Buffalo a few years ago there were many that questioned the hire because of his age," wrote former Chicago Bears college scouting chief Greg Gabriel on the National Football Post. "For some reason in the NFL, the people who do the hiring around the league don't look at experience as a strong point. In any other business it's a prerequisite. Buddy has been a life-long football guy and he has done an outstanding job since taking over in Buffalo."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King agreed. He called Nix and San Francisco's Trent Baalke the "GMs of the weekend."

"As for Nix, who rebuilt his defensive end position in free agency (Mario Williams, Mark Anderson), he bought a new secondary over the weekend, with first- and fourth-round corners (Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks) who will become starting and nickel corners, respectively. The key to Buffalo's draft could end up being offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders, a fifth-round tackle from Florida State who started at age 18 in the ACC, and started 50 games in college. Cordy Glenn and Sanders one day could make this a great draft."

The major domo of NFL draftniks -- ESPN analyst Mel Kiper -- gave the Bills and Patriots both a B-minus in the AFC East. He gave the New York Jets and Miami both a C. Overall, said Kiper, "it was a pretty good weekend for Buddy Nix and the Bills."

Kiper likes Bills second-round pick Glenn but has doubts about him succeeding at left tackle.

"I'm a big Cordy Glenn supporter," Kiper said. "I've had him in my top 20, 25 all year. To get him at 41 is a great pick. I don't think he can hold up at left tackle. We'll see. That's something you'll have to see about. He did this year at Georgia. But I think the best scenario would be right tackle or guard. The great thing about this is even if he doesn't get it done at left tackle, you can move him to right tackle or guard. Either way, he's going to find the field. So it's a great pick for that reason. I just would have a different opinion on his ability to be a left tackle at the pro level on a game-to-game basis."

Kiper had the Bills drafting Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd for a long time in the weeks leading up to the draft. However, he said he understands the Bills' desire to get a faster wideout than Floyd opposite Stevie Johnson. Buffalo took North Carolina State's T.J. Graham in the third round.

"You looked at the fastest guys, and T.J. Graham is right there," Kiper said. "He ran a 4.35 at the combine. He could get a little stronger. He's a good athlete, no question about that. Legitimate speed merchant. He's got the ability in the return game, he showed that. But will he be consistent enough catching the ball? We'll have to wait and see on that. Was it a little earlier than I thought? Probably a round or two, but at the end of the day they wanted a speed guy and they got one of the guys who could really stretch it."

Gabriel didn't mind Graham and loved the fourth-round pick, Ron Brooks of Louisiana State.

"I thought that the Bills may have reached a little with receiver T.J. Graham, but he has what the Bills wanted: deep speed," Gabriel said. "Going back to a 4-3 defense, Buffalo needed an athletic OLB and got one in Nigel Bradham. LSU has a deeper group of corners than most NFL teams. Ron Brooks is one of those corners. At another school he may have been considered a star. Trust me, he can play!"

Former NFL coach Brian Billick, working for the NFL Network, wasn't convinced.

"Have they gained ground on the New England Patriots? I don't know that they have," Billick said.

Former NFL personnel man Mike Lombardi begged to differ on the NFL Network.

"The Buffalo Bills, I thought they had a really good draft," Lombardi said. "Stephon Gilmore is a very good cover man. I like Tank Carder, who they picked in the fifth round. They've got a lot of depth on their team. It's starting to come. They didn't close the gap all the way. They beat New England last year in one game. But I think it's getting closer."

Bills coach Chan Gailey made it clear after Friday's third round picks that he's not losing any sleep over what kind of reviews the Bills receive.

"You use that term experts loosely, by the way," Gailey said.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com