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News » Bills decide to lay it on the line


Bills decide to lay it on the line


Bills decide to lay it on the line
The Buffalo Bills went big in the NFL draft Saturday.


The Bills addressed their need for pressure on the quarterback by drafting Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin with the 11th overall pick. Then they tried to get tougher up the middle on offense by drafting Louisville center Eric Wood, who they plan to play at guard.

It's the first time since 1992 the Bills have taken linemen with their first two selections of the draft. In the Bills' previous five drafts, they picked one trench player in the first two rounds.

In the second round the Bills pulled a mild surprise, drafting cornerback Jairus Byrd of Oregon at pick No. 42. The Bills intend to play him at free safety, which is where many teams projected him. That could create a tandem of Byrd at free and Donte Whitner at strong safety early in the upcoming season.

Then the Bills traded up into the middle of the second round, acquiring pick No. 51 from Dallas. They drafted another offensive lineman, Oregon State's Andy Levitre. He played tackle the past two years in college. However, he's a tad short (6-foot-2) for the position in the NFL and most scouts project him at guard as a pro. The Bills gave Dallas their third-round pick (No. 75) and the first of their two fourth-rounders (No. 110).

The Bills ranked tied for 28th in quarterback sacks last season and tied for 20th intakeaways. Maybin figures to see the field right away as a rusher in passing situations.

quot;We have to make the quarterback uncomfortable, and he gives us an opportunity to do that,quot; said Russ Brandon, Bills chief operating officer and general manager.

Maybin, 6-4 and 250 pounds, has the quickest first step of any pass rusher in the draft. As a redshirt sophomore last season, Maybin had 12 sacks for the Nittany Lions, along with 20 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles.

quot;He's good on both sides of the ball, right or left defensive end, which is not always the case for players,quot; said Tom Modrak, Bills vice president of college scouting. quot;His quick first step is equally good [on] both sides of the ball. And he can run. When he gets in the open field he can chase you down. He's a speed rusher who can get up the field.

quot;He plays very, very hard all the time. Talking to their people there, he has the same mentality in practice. The combination of those things made it good for us.quot;

Maybin's ability to turn the corner and get to the quarterback with speed has drawn comparisons to Atlanta star John Abraham and Colts star Robert Mathis. Abraham is bigger, at 6-4 and 260. Mathis is smaller, at 6-2 and 245.

Maybin's ability to burst off the edge is evidenced by his explosive workout numbers (40-inch vertical jump; 10-feet, 10-inch broad jump). His 40 time was about 4.6 seconds. By comparison, Bills end Aaron Schobel, a superb athlete, ran 4.75 in the 40 with a 38-inch vertical jump and a 9-11 broad jump.

quot;He's got almost extraordinary longish arms and a nice reach,quot; said Bills coach Dick Jauron. quot;He's got that first step. . . . Once he gets close he can edge and turn that thing toward the quarterback and he can reach . . . [and] get to the ball.quot;

Maybin played at just 234 pounds for Penn State but bulked up this spring. He also was only a one-year starter.

quot;We were all very comfortable with the production he did have,quot; Brandon said.

Wood, 6-4 and 304, started 49 games at center for Louisville. But he played well at guard at the Senior Bowl, and the Bills project him at that position to start his NFL career. Wood was regarded as one of the smartest players in the draft.

Free agent pickup Geoff Hangartner, from Carolina, will start at center, and Wood now is the prospective starter at left guard.

Whether Levitre has the size to contend for the right tackle job is uncertain. The battle at right tackle looks like it will be between Kirk Chambers and second-year man Demetrius Bell. Regardless, the Bills think they have made themselves tougher up front.

quot;Getting tougher up front,quot; Brandon said of the rationale for picking Wood. quot;He's a highly intelligent player, and when you add Geoff Hangartner at center and put Eric in the mix at guard and add Brad Butler in at guard, we've gotten much tougher up front and versatile and smart.quot;

quot;He's a four-year starter,quot; Modrak said of Wood. quot;He's a strong kid, and he's a tough kid, and he's a very, very competitive kid. He's one of those guys who tries to finish and tries to pin people.quot;

quot;As far as all of the players that we looked at, his competitiveness stands him above everybody else,quot; said Bills offensive line coach Sean Kugler. quot;He's an avid film watcher. He was probably the most impressive interview I've ever been around down at the combine as far as him explaining his responsibilities and how he prepares for a game.quot;

Byrd, 5-10 and 207, had the second-most interceptions (17) of any player in the draft. He was a three-year starter.

quot;He has excellent ball skills, he's very instinctive, he's a good tackler,quot; said Bills defensive backs coach George Catavolos. quot;He's a very intelligent young man, and Football is very important to him. . . . He reads the quarterback well, he plays the ball well in the air. He can come down and cover the third wide receiver. So this is a flexible athlete for us.quot;

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

Peyton Manning Name: Peyton Manning
#18
Position: QB
Age: 32
Experience: 11 years
College: Tennessee
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