The most distressing thing about looking at the current Bills roster is the lack of truly elite talent. Take a glance at the Bills’ depth chart – is there a single player who you would rate as even one of the top five players at his position?
Certainly none of the offensive skill players. I love Fred Jackson, but he’s not a top-five back. Lee Evans is paid like an elite receiver, but his 578-yard, four-touchdown 2011 season says otherwise. Stevie Johnson needs a few more 1,000-yard seasons to be considered elite.
The offensive line is (and this is being generous) average across the board. Eric Wood could get to the elite class, particularly with a move to center, but isn’t quite there yet.
On defense, the only player who could even really be considered elite is Kyle Williams. Williams had a tremendous 2010, and just might have been the best interior defensive lineman in football last season. But with a possible permanent switch to a 3-4 defense looming, who knows if Williams will manage to keep up his stellar production.
No one else on defense is even close to elite at the moment. Jairus Byrd had a pronounced sophomore slump last season. Shawne Merriman has been an elite pass-rusher in San Diego, but we’ll see if he even survives training camp healthy before we ask too much there. Terrence McGee is a solid veteran when healthy, but nowhere near a top-five corner.
Even Brian Moorman, Buffalo’s most outstanding player in the past decade (which says a lot about the last 10 years), had a down year in 2010 and really wasn’t close to being a top punter.
This lack of top-flight talent on the roster (and the undesirability of Buffalo for elite free-agents) makes the impending draft even more important for Buddy Nix and company. The #3 pick represents a rare opportunity to land a first-tier talent. If the Bills are going to make any sort of ground up on the Patriots and Jets, the talent gap needs to be closed. A (rare) successful first-round selection would be an excellent place to start.