Wheeling and dealing
Bills stock up on picks, take corner in first round
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 9:53 PM
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Tom Donahoe couldn't have planned a better opening day in the NFL Draft on Saturday.
Three months since taking over as the Buffalo Bills president and general manager, Donahoe swung two deals acquiring two additional draft picks and addressed the team's defensive line and overall depth needs, starting with his first pick, Ohio State cornerback Nate Clements.
As an added bonus, Donahoe started the day agreeing in principal to re-sign veteran backup defensive lineman Shaun Price to a one-year contract.
"It was a good day, no question about it," said Donahoe, who took over for John Butler, who was fired last December. "We always talk about the draft that it's a lot like a football game, you have a game plan, you hope it works, you never know until it starts. ... We had a good day."
Establishing himself as a bit of a gambler, Donahoe traded Buffalo's first pick -- 14th overall -- to Tampa Bay, in exchange for the Buccaneers first-round pick, 21st overall, and their second-round selection, 51st. He then dealt the 51st pick to Denver for the Broncos' second-round pick -- 58th overall -- and their fourth-rounder (110th).
The moves gave the Bills 12 selections in the two-day draft, including five among Saturday's top 95. Rounds four through seven will be held Sunday.
"I don't think it's any secret we need depth and we need bodies," said Donahoe, whose Bills have lost 27 regulars to salary cap-related cuts or free agency over the last two seasons. "One player is not going to put us over the top but a host of players, with what we have here, that's what we went into the draft to try to accomplish."
In Clements, the Bills landed the strong, speedy defender they coveted to cover the NFL's top wide receivers. It's an added bonus for Buffalo -- seeking to revamp its porous special teams -- that Clements was Ohio State's top punt returner and backup kickoff returner.
In the second round, Buffalo drafted Texas Christian University defensive end Aaron Schobel with the 46th pick, and Tennessee running back Travis Henry at 58th.
Buffalo finished the day drafting Texas A&M defensive tackle Ron Edwards with the 76th pick and Georgia offensive tackle Jonas Jennings 95th overall.
Including Price's pending signing, the Bills bolstered their depleted defensive line which, over the past year, lost three starters -- defensive ends Marcellus Wiley and Bruce Smith, and nose tackle Ted Washington.
Coach Gregg Williams referred to Clements as "an impact player."
"I like the fact that he's aggressive," said Williams, who took over after Wade Phillips was fired in January. "You've got to want to make a play. ... I'd rather have the opportunity to start backing away from that than trying to get somebody to do that."
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 209 pounds, Clements is a former teammate of Bills cornerback Antoine Winfield, whom Buffalo selected with the 23rd overall pick in 1999.
A two-year starter, Clements was an All-Big 10 Conference first-team selection, finishing third on the Buckeyes with 68 tackles and second with four interceptions in his junior season last year. He also returned 39 punts for 513 yards and one touchdown.
Drawing upon his games against some of the Big 10's top wide receivers, Clements noted his aggressive style.
"If you let them come in and be aggressive with you, they know they have you," Clements said over the phone from his home in Shaker Heights, Ohio. "And that's why I like to make a statement that I'm going to be aggressive the whole game."
Henry's addition should spice up the competition for the starting running back's spot, which last season was shared by committee.
"Competition makes all of us better and all of those running backs just got better with another in the mix," said Williams.
Henry is a power runner who finished as Tennessee's all-time leading rusher. He finished the Southeastern Conference's second-leading rusher with 1,314 yards on 253 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.
Schobel, considered a disruptive pass rusher, was the Western Athletic Conference's defensive player of the year last season.
Edwards, the Aggies most valuable defensive lineman last season, fits Williams mold as being a quick, attacking rusher.
Jennings is a big strong offensive lineman who played guard, tackle and center in his four seasons at Georgia.
Notes: The deal with the Broncos involved the same fourth-round pick the Bills dealt Denver last September in exchange for acquiring Chris Watson. ... The Bills have never selected 21st overall prior to this year. ... The trade of first-round picks was the first time Buffalo swung a draft-day deal since 1997 when the Bills sent their first-rounder (third overall) to Houston for the eighth overall pick and a second-rounder. Buffalo then selected LB Shane Conlan with its top pick. ... All-time, the Bills have drafted seven cornerbacks in the first round, the most of any position.