With the 11th overall pick in this weekend's draft, the Bills sided with upside. Penn State's Aaron Maybin was the choice for a defense in desperate need of a pass rusher.
Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, widely considered the top end in the draft, was still available. But Maybin's mass potential was too high to ignore. In one year of starting at Penn State, Maybin had 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss -- flashing the pure speed Buffalo's defense lacked all last year.
The 6-foot-4, 249-pound Maybin relies on an explosive first step. At his pro day, Maybin lit it up in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.59. He plays with a high motor and should contribute instantly on a hurting defensive line.
Aaron Schobel is coming off a major foot injury and the combination of Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney was brutal last season. Buffalo finished with only 24 sacks last year -- good for 28th in the NFL. Despite boasting a promising bunch of defensive backs, the Bills pass defense suffered without a consistent push up front.
With Tom Brady returning from his season-ending ACL injury, this pick was critical. The Bills must get heat on Brady and Chad Pennington to compete in the AFC East.
Still, the pick is surely up for debate.
Buffalo could have also opted for offensive tackle Michael Oher, the rags-to-riches gem from Ole Miss. After dealing Jason Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bills now have a gaping hole at left tackle. Kirk Chambers could play in a pinch and maybe Langston Walker slides to the blind side, but both are shaky propositions.
Maybin does address a big-time need on the defensive front, though. Two years ago, a healthy Brady tore the Bills up for 684 yards and nine touchdowns in two laughers. Signing Terrell Owens gives Buffalo's 'O' a chance to keep pace offensively, but the team needed to add a disruptive force on defense. With Brady, Pennington and now Mark Sanchez in the division, adding a game-changer at defensive end was imperative.
Maybin's booming speed and raw athleticism should at least force Brady to break a sweat this time around.
Early on in the draft process, the one knock on Maybin was his playing weight. He was able to get by with a thin frame in the Big Ten. So he packed on 25 pounds of muscle over the past few months to gear up his frame for the NFL.
Penn State's track record of defensive ends in the NFL isn't very impressive. Courtney Brown, Michael Haynes and Tamba Hali didn't meet expectations. But Maybin is different. He's lighter, faster and has a much higher ceiling. Along with Paul Posluszny, Leodis McKelvin and Donte Whitner, the Bills are building a talented young core on defense.
See video of Maybin's pro day here