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April 28, 2013

MEILER: Bills draft a step in the right direction

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — On Thursday, I wrote a column titled “No perfect scenario for Bills in first round,” mostly because I honestly thought there wasn’t.

The team’s needs didn’t fit the strengths of the draft class, and if management wanted to fill those needs, they’d have to take a risk (outside of drafting Dee Milliner — but we’ll touch on that later).

But after maximizing assets, getting guys management wanted and coming out with three potential high-impact players, it’s safe to say the past three days could have a very positive impact on the future of the Buffalo Bills

Top pick E.J. Manuel was a surprise, but not as big a one as some have made it out to be. Some pundits wrote prior to the draft that Manuel had the most potential in this year’s class, but f you pay attention to anyone outside Buffalo management, you’d know by now what a risk the Bills took, even after the trade down to No. 16.

The first chance the brain trust of Buddy Nix, Doug Whaley and Doug Marrone took was passing on the top-rated cornerback in Milliner, who was then scooped up by the rival New York Jets. In Milliner, the Bills could’ve drafted a top-five talent at a position where Stephon Gilmore seems to be the only above-average player on the roster. Instead, they passed on that opportunity and let a super-talented player fall to a division rival.

The second risk was in actually taking Manuel, who was almost never mentioned as the top quarterback in this year’s class. The Bills had their choice of quarterbacks, and selected the Florida State product over bigger names like Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib. Smith ended up with Milliner with the Jets, a pairing the Bills could’ve had if they’d selected Milliner at No. 8. If Manuel isn’t a franchise quarterback and one of Milliner or Smith becomes a star (let alone both), it’s not likely Nix, Whaley or Marrone will be long for One Bills Drive.

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