For the Buffalo Bills, the NFL Combine and NFL Draft have become the scariest prime-time offseason events due to the team’s inability to correctly assess, evaluate and ultimately select the college prospect that later transforms into a star at the pro ranks. This year, because they’re drafting No. 3 overall, the draft process for the Buffalo Bills has been placed in much larger spotlight, and rightfully so.
Each week since the college game concluded, a different prospect has been slated by the draft experts to the Buffalo Bills, or so it has seemed.
Following his dominating performance in the National Title game, Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley was the most sought after entrant in this year’s class and was picked by the Carolina Panthers in nearly every NFL mock draft out there. Man, it looked like the Bills were going to miss out on another stud in Fairley, a player who could come to Western New York, solidify the defensive front and plug a gaping hole in the run defense.
Then, in typical pre-Combine, pre-Draft, pre-everything form, without playing any games, Cam Newton jumped into the picture and currently is said by some, to be a lock for the No. 1 overall selection. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bills fans, who were starting to warm to the idea of Newton in a Bills uniform. (myself included)
Sure, I think Newton’s skill set, size, and athletic ability make him an ideal fit in Buffalo, where he could work under the tutelage of both Ryan Fitzpatrick and quasi-quarterback guru Chan Gailey. But even if he runs a cornerback time in the 40-yard-dash, throws the ball out of Lucas Oil Stadium, demonstrates great footwork, and puts on a good enough show to convince Panthers GM Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera to make him the first choice, worry not Bills fans.
I’ll admit, this is the optimist in me, (why I’m an optimist with this team, I’ll never know) but it was less than two months ago when we cringed at the sight of each analyst penciling in Nick Fairley as the first choice. The exact player the Bills needed, gone, just like that.
Things will change, and change again, then change one last time before the draft, so we’ve still got a long way to go. Fairley may still be taken No. 1. Then it’s Newton you’ll likely see to Buffalo. You just never know with the NFL Draft. But for those who have hung onto a dream of Kyle Williams and Nick Fairley lining up side-by-side, you might just get your wish.
Either way, Newton or Fairley, the Bills aren’t in that bad a situation after all.