By TPR Staff

As we continue the Team Needs series for the 2013 NFL Draft, we proceed to the team with the eighth overall pick; the Buffalo Bills. After another season of heightened expectations weren’t met, Chan Gailey was shown the door, probably a year too late.

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With new coach Doug Marrone making the transition from college to the pros, he finds himself in a situation where the team has plenty of talent, but haven’t been able to put it together. In fact, the franchise hasn’t been able to put it together since 1999; the last time they qualified for the NFL postseason. Here are some of the areas Marrone will look to improve during the draft this April.

Quarterback

Just less than two seasons removed from giving Ryan Fitzpatrick franchise quarterback money for simply beating the Patriots once, general manager Buddy Nix has done little to keep the secret that he plans on drafting a franchise quarterback this year. There should be no cap penalty for ditching Fitzpatrick, but this isn’t exactly the draft exploding with quarterback talent. Geno Smith will be gone, but they could target Marrone’s product Ryan Nassib if he falls to the second.

Draft Possibilities: Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson

Linebacker

After cutting Nick Barnett and spending about a billion dollars on defensive ends last year, this is likely to be a very linebacker heavy draft for the Bills. Kevin Sheppard suffered a sophomore slump, so an upgrade for him is a possibility as well. I could see Buffalo taking the best linebacker available in two of the first four rounds. Someone like Khaseem Greene looks like a Marrone type player.

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Draft Possibilities: Khaseem Greene, Arthur Brown

Wide Receiver

Buddy Nix is usually pretty upfront about what he’s looking for in the draft and right after quarterback, he mentioned the need for a second threat at receiver next to Stevie Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins would fit in quite well as a compliment to Johnson if he falls out of the first.

Draft Possibilities: DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson

Guard

The Bills have two big free agents that must be retained, however they’re both going to demand big dollars. One of these is left guard Andy Levitre, who is one of the most consistent at his position in the league. The option to franchise one of the two if a deal can’t be worked out it there, but the draft could be a good fall back if that route isn’t chosen. Jonathan Cooper could slide into that spot and can play multiple positions on the line.

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Draft Possibilities: Jonathan Cooper, Dallas Thomas

Safety

Jairus Byrd is one of the best in the game already at the safety position. The problem for Buffalo is that he knows it and he is going to get paid, be it there or elsewhere. He is the most likely to get the franchise tag if a long term agreement can’t be worked out, but the rumor is that they’ve been working towards a deal since November. Depth at the position is never a bad thing and Robert Lester could be a good compliment to Byrd.

Draft Possibilities: Robert Lester, Josh Evans

For all of the cash Buffalo has sunk into their pass rush, there is still plenty of improvement to be made. Mario Williams played much better after his surgery in the bye week, but Mark Anderson never returned from a knee injury early in the season and it’s unlikely he’ll be back. Linebacker depth and run protection up the middle needs to be a priority for a defense that allowed 146 yards per game on the ground in 2012.

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For Marrone, he has some good pieces on offense that Chan Gailey never seemed to find a way to exploit. Most of the blame goes on Fitzpatrick, and he did play poorly, but not using the talents of a game changer like C.J. Spiller more than fifteen carries eleven times last year is baffling. Hopefully Marrone won’t make the same mistakes and can make the Buffalo franchise relevant again.

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