Bills bulk up O-line with T WilliamsPosted: Saturday April 20, 2002 8:09 PM
Updated: Saturday April 27, 2002 2:24 PM
The Bills selected 6-foot-5, 375-pound offensive tackle Mike Williams of Texas with the fourth pick, and then drafted Louisiana State receiver Josh Reed in the second round.
Williams was the first offensive lineman selected in the draft, signaling the Bills' desire to improve a unit that was banged up and in disarray for much of last season.
"He's very physical, very aggressive in his approach to the game," Bills president Tom Donahoe said. "If we want to be a quality football team in Buffalo, it starts with the offensive line. It's our number one priority.
"A quality offensive line which puts your team in a position to control the football for 33-35 minutes a game, it improves your defense."
Reed, who set numerous SEC records during his three-year college career, was drafted 36th overall. Although relatively short, at 5-foot-10, Reed is considered quick and, with a 210-pound frame, tough to bring down.
"He's tough and he's going to give you a full day's work," said Tom Modrak, Bills director of football operations. "He'll sneak deep on you. ... He knows how to get open."
Williams was the 11th offensive lineman selected by the Bills in the first round, and first since they drafted guard Ruben Brown 14th overall in 1995.
He is also the Bills' highest selection since they drafted Bruce Smith with the first overall pick in 1985.
Williams can play both right and left tackle, and is expected to compete for the starting job to replace aging veteran John Fina, who struggled with knee problems last season.
Despite his bulk, Williams is considered light on his feet and an aggressive run blocker. In 28 games at Texas, he allowed only two quarterback sacks.
Bills head coach Gregg Williams immediately liked what he saw when Mike Williams visited the team's headquarters earlier this month.
"He had to turn sideways when he came in my office door," Williams said, with a laugh. "We had some other players in that day with him, that he dwarfed. You couldn't come away without being in awe about how big he was, how compact he was and how together he was."
Mike Williams was excited about being drafted by Buffalo, having grown up in Texas being a Bills fan as a result of a video game he once played.
He admitted that he's not taking anything for granted.
"I earned an opportunity to go to a great team and a great place," Williams said. "And I don't need to go in there thinking I'm big stuff. I need to go in there and try to make an immediate impact."
Reed, who scored seven touchdowns and averaged 145 yards receiving in 12 games last season, called it a challenge to crack a Bills lineup that includes Eric Moulds and Peerless Price.
"I felt like they wouldn't have made that pick if they didn't think I could do it," Reed said. "They showed some belief in me so now I'm going to have to show some belief in myself."
The draft overshadowed Buffalo's monthlong pursuit of Bledsoe, the New England quarterback who lost his job due to injury last season to eventual Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.
Donahoe said he had a number of discussions with the Patriots, but found it difficult negotiating a deal with both teams concentrating on the draft.
Donahoe also said he wasn't willing to part with a selection in this year's draft because the Patriots refused the Bills' request to meet with or speak with Bledsoe.
"We're not going to be put in that type of position," Donahoe said, although he wouldn't rule out further discussions.