- Associated Press - Monday, April 25, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - At first glance, Buddy Nix’s plan entering the NFL draft appears to be as easy as 1-2-3.

Once the first two selections are made Thursday night, the Buffalo Bills general manager figures all he has to do is look down the list of his top-three prospects and pick the one still available.

“We’ve got three guys and we figure one of them will be there,” Nix said. “Actually, I could tell you exactly who we’re going to take if you would guarantee me who the first two picks are.”

It sounds simple enough. With so many holes to address on a team that’s coming off a 4-12 season, the Bills aren’t in a position to be choosy.

A pass-rushing or run-stopping linebacker’s an option, with Texas A&M’s Von Miller listed in numerous mock drafts as a potential selection. Buffalo’s porous defensive line can use help. How about an offensive tackle?

Who knows, with coach Chan Gailey’s reputation for developing quarterbacks, maybe this is the year Buffalo takes a serious run at filling the face-of-the-franchise-sized position that’s been left unsettled since Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, anyone?

Nix, of course, won’t provide any hints. But with four picks among the first 100, and nine overall during the three-day draft, he considers this weekend an ideal opportunity to help make the Bills relevant once again.

“We feel really good about making the next step,” Nix said in addressing season-ticket holders last month. “I know you’ve heard that before, but we’re optimistic.”

He was right about one thing, at least.

In his second season on the job, Nix isn’t the first Bills general manager to have made that claim to a win-starved fanbase that’s endured 11 seasons without a playoff berth _ tied with Detroit for the NFL’s longest active drought.

If Nix intends on delivering upon his high hopes, it begins with reversing a spotty drafting history that has put the Bills in this position as a perennial NFL pushover in the first place.

Of all the holes the Bills have, the one thing they don’t need is yet another first-round bust.

There was offensive tackle Mike Williams, who flamed out and was cut three seasons after being selected fourth overall in 2002. The Bills got very little in return from trading back into the first round to land quarterback J.P. Losman (22nd overall in 2004) and defensive tackle John McCargo (26th overall, 2006).

Then there’s supposed pass-rushing specialist Aaron Maybin, who has as many NFL career sacks as he does starts _ namely, zero _ since being selected 11th overall two years ago.

“Certainly we’ve had our misses up at the top,” chief scout Tom Modrak said. “But there are a bunch of things that go into making a team. In this draft, you’re going to try to solve some of those problems. I don’t think that you can solve them all.”

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