NFL Draft Notes: Bills Change Course, Make Surprise Move In Selecting E.J. Manuel
In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon came into his role late last year wanting to "set a bold new course for the franchise, one that wouldn't accept the safe way but would be willing to shoot for the stars." The Bills in taking Florida State QB E.J. Manuel 16th overall "lived up to that promise." It was a "shrewd maneuver, the kind the Bills have failed to execute too many times over the past decade or so." Sullivan: "You don’t undo a decade of miscalculation in one weekend." But this is "how you do it, by taking advantage of the desperation of other teams and using it to your advantage" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/26). BuffaloBills.com writer Chris Brown said of the Manuel pick, “Buddy Nix is probably towards the end of his career here and I think he felt like swinging for the fences on the guy that they felt had the most upside in this draft” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 4/26).
BEARING DOWN: In Chicago, David Haugh writes Bears GM Phil Emery "got cute again" in selecting Oregon G Kyle Long. A year after "drafting Shea McClellin out of Boise State in the first round, three months after hiring Marc Trestman out of the obscurity of the Canadian Football League, Emery followed the same unorthodox pattern." Taking Long "one day might make Emery look like the smartest guy in the room." However, it currently seems "more like a choice about Emery trying to prove it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/26).
THE AUTUMN WIND: The Raiders selected Houston CB D.J. Hayden 12th overall, and in Oakland, Monte Poole writes Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has "attached his reputation" to Hayden, who is "less than six months removed from nearly dying on the field." This is an "immense gamble for a franchise in rebuilding mode." Would McKenzie, "picking in the first round for the first time in his brief career as a top executive, have the hubris to choose a player many others in his position would prefer to avoid, out of fear of being second-guessed?" Poole: "Well, yes" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/26).
MAKING THE SAFE PLAY: SI.com's Don Banks writes new GMs John Dorsey (Chiefs), Dave Caldwell (Jaguars), and Howie Roseman (Eagles) went with the "conventional approach" in the first round, selecting the "three top offensive tackles." Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi also "didn't force the issue and do something ultra-risky" by taking LSU DE Barkevious Mingo. Meanwhile, new Cardinals GM Steve Keim "went smart and safe" with North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper (SI.com, 4/26)