First Thoughts on the 2008 Buffalo Bills Draft Class


Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)

The 2008 NFL Draft is “in the books” and the Bills came away with 10 new players to add to their ranks. Some fantastic picks, but a bit shocking that there were no trades at all. The Bills didn’t move up, down, sideways, or anyways. Most Bills fans (this writer included) expected to see some sort of deal done with such a surplus of picks. But in the end, the Bills added five new offensive players, and five new defensive players.

Among them are the best CB in the draft, the perfect WR for the Bills, a Corner named Corner, a Division II “Superman”, and the son of Karl Malone! Quite an interesting bunch!

Let’s take a quick glance at the draftees. (click their photos for an in-depth bio from BuffaloBills.com!)


1 – CB Leodis McKelvin – Troy

Leodis McKelvinThe Bills chose to stay put at the #11 pick and got arguably the best CB in the draft. The only knock on this guy is that he doesn’t have “great hands”. That seems like something he can learn with time, since the rest of his athletic package is apparently top notch. Fast, great vertical, powerful hitter, quick in change of direction, and he’s a great return man to boot. He compared himself to Devin Hester. (We’ll see if he can actually back that up…)

Some might question the Bills drafting a guy who is apparently very similar to Terrence McGee, but McKelvin was rated by most scouts and other experts as the best CB in the draft, and CB was a position of need for the Bills, so I really like the pick. It will be interesting to see how the return skills are used with McGee and Parrish being two of the better return guys in the NFL. The return game could be pretty exciting in 2008!

2 – WR James Hardy – Indiana

James HardyBills fans (myself included) were thrilled when their team landed Hardy with their second round pick. 6’6″, 220 pounds, 36 TDs, around a 37″ vertical… he is just what the Bills needed to (hopefully) solve their several-season Red Zone drought. Of all the WRs in the draft, Hardy seemed to best fit what the Bills were looking for. There may have been a few names that would make a bigger splash, but Hardy will likely add a half-dozen or more TDs for the Bills this season, and that’s much better than a big-name splash!

3 – DE Chris Ellis – Virginia Tech

Chris EllisSelecting a defensive end from Virginia Tech worked quite well for the Bills a couple decades ago. Of course, he was the number one overall selection in the 1985 draft – which third round pick, Chris Ellis was clearly not – but still Ellis does have that going for him.

There were a number of game changing DEs in the 2008 draft. One of them went to our division rivals, the NY Jets (Gholston). I actually projected the Bills might take DE Derrick Harvey out of the University of Florida in the first round, but they went with McKelvin instead. (Harvey was already gone… Jags took him at #8. So maybe they were going to?)

Ellis is smallish at only 220 pounds, but the Bills touted his run-stopping ability as well as his pass rushing, and ability to avoid being blocked (good hands). I think Ellis may be the sleeper in this draft (if a third rounder can be a “sleeper”) for the Bills, and could bolster what was a pretty pathetic pass rush in 2007.

4 – CB Reggie Corner – Akron

Reggie CornerIt’s quite obvious by pick #4 that the Bills had targeted the cornerback position as one of their top needs. With the first and fourth selection of the draft, their need at that position was addressed. The best part about this cornerback is that he will be wearing the name “Corner” on his back. 😉

When I was looking up information on Corner, I came across some game photos and recaps of Akron games, and his name was all over them. He was definitely a star at Akron, and it seems the Bills believe he can carry that over to the NFL level. He is in the same mold as our other corners – which is a bit surprising – and also offers some return abilities as well. The line from the Bills staff that stuck out to me was, “Honestly, there aren’t many negatives.” They also commented that he “plays bigger than his size.”

5 – TE Derek Fine – Kansas

Derek FineThe Bills finally grabbed a tight end with their second pick of the fourth round. He’s not what most Bills fans were hoping for – a game-breaking, pass-catching TE – but the Bills say he was “the most complete” tight end in this year’s draft.

Fine also was a special teams star at Kansas, which likely was one of the biggest reasons the Bills selected him to fill their need at TE. Having lost so many players to free agency, or just releasing them, the Bills were also looking to draft players who had experience playing special teams.

Fine joins a TE corp that includes another TE named Derek (Schouman), Robert Royal, Courtney Anderson (picked up from Atlanta via free agency) and a few more. (Including Kevin Everett, actually.) Will be interesting to see who emerges from that group to help stretch the field for Lynch in 2008.

6 – OLB Alvin Bowen – Iowa State

Alvin BowenThe Bills focused on defense again with their 5th round selection. This guy seems like a great pick for the middle of the draft. The Bills were looking for a bit of depth at the LB position, but what stands out from Bowen’s college career is his special teams contributions. He led the nation in special teams tackles with 155 during his junior year. He’s an exciting player, whom we’ll likely see a lot of on special teams this coming season.

7 – RB Xavier Omon – NW Missouri State

Xavier OmonNFL.com was showing the Bills positional needs as: WR, TE, CB, and RB. That they would say we needed a RB with Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and Dwayne Wright was surprising to me. Even more surprising was the Bills using their 6th round pick on an “unknown” Division II running back. He does have a cool name, though.

Little did I know that this little man from NW MO State was a Division II “Superman”! He is the only player in collegiate athletics history to record over 1500 rushing yards in each of his four seasons as a student. He finished his career with 7073 rushing yards, 92 rushing TDs, and 6 more receiving TDs on 90 receptions. He amassed 2,337 yards and 37 TDs in his senior year alone. Quite literally a “man among boys at his level,” as the Bills staff described him.

Omon is excited to contribute wherever he can with the Bills, but this is a fantastic selection if he can produce at the NFL level. He is a Maurice Jones-Drew-like RB with power, and great breakaway speed. Great late-round pick up by the Bills.

8 – OT Demetrius Bell – Northwestern State (LA)

Demetrius BellWith the first of three seventh-round picks, the Bills bolstered their offensive line by selecting the 6’5″ 300-pounder from Terrence McGee’s alma mater. Bell’s other “claim to fame” is that he is the son of baskteball great, Karl Malone.

Most Bills fans anticipated the team adding a center through the draft, but the Bills liked Bell’s size and athleticism. Definitely a late-round “project”, but always good to add beef to the offensive line.

9 – WR Steve Johnson – Kentucky

Steve JohnsonWide receiver (especially a tall wide receiver) was certainly a position of need going into this weekend’s draft. So, with their second to last selection, the Bills chose Kentucky WR, Steve Johnson. Johnson had over 1,000 yards receiving his senior year, and has good size as well at 6’2″ 210 pounds. As you would expect, a seventh round pick is most likely a “project”, but it was good to see the Bills add another tall receiver. Also of note is that he and Bills’ RB Marshawn Lynch are friends from the Bay area, where they are both from originally.

10 – CB Kennard Cox – Pittsburgh

Kennard CoxWith the second-to-last selection of the entire 2008 draft (and their third and final selection of the seventh round) the Bills selected their third cornerback of the draft, Kennard Cox of Pitt. Cox is a bigger CB at 6’0″ 192 pounds. Some scouts had him projected to play safety in the NFL, but the Bills want to keep him at CB. This is an interesting pick up for many reasons. First, there is now quite a lot of competition at the CB spot for the Bills. Second, his size does make a difference. The rest of the DBs are all quite short, which against tall WRs like Randy Moss, just makes life more difficult. Likely a project as the second-to-last selection in the draft, but a good addition to a very promising draft class for the Buffalo Bills.


As I mentioned last week, the Bills have drafted quite well recently, with a potentially outstanding draft class in 2007. This year’s group – on paper – matches that recent trend, and also seems to perfectly meet most of the needs the Bills had entering the draft. We got two tall WRs, and an excellent CB, and some great special teamers. We may have gotten a bonus star in Omon as well.

It’s a couple months before the season begins in earnest, but Bills fans can be excited about the product their team is preparing to field in 2008. Young players with a year or two under their belt, and a few rookies who will likely contribute right away, as well as veterans hoping to finally experience post-season play as a Buffalo Bill.

This could finally be the year!