NEW DIRECTION: Nix will build through draft

Buddy Nix is not the outsider that many wanted as Buffalo's new general manger. But make no mistake, he does bring a new flair to the team. At his presser today, Buffalo's new boss touted the importance of the draft and hinted at who he will be pursuing as the team's head coach. Maybe the team didn't shake things up, but Nix is a breath of fresh air. BFR's Tyler Dunne explains...

Buddy Nix knows he won't be Mr. Popular. He knows he is not what people wanted.

At his press conference Thursday, Nix glanced around the media room, absorbed the somber mood and quickly addressed the elephant in the room.

"I can see a little disappointment on your faces that a genius isn't standing up here," Nix said. "But it's kind of like getting up in the morning after the draft and reading the newspaper and seeing a A-plus…and two years later you're fired."

Agreed. On the surface, Nix is not the outsider Buffalo needs. He was part of the self-destruction at One Bills Drive this season. But really, he wasn't. Instead, Nix's claim to fame is bringing back the San Diego Chargers.

Nix worked under John Butler in Buffalo as a scout from 1993-2000, joined Butler in San Diego and just recently returned to the Bills in February 2009. With the Chargers, Nix played a huge role in turning a 1-15 team into a perennial playoff contender.

So why the long faces? Why the hate threads on forums across Bills Nation? Give Nix a chance. Finally, the team has direction. Finally, the team has a football man making football decisions.Maybe the front office didn't see a total recall, but that's OK. A fresh, new face is in charge. Be sure of that.

No longer will the Bills look for the quick fix. While assuring that Buffalo isn't far away — the "league is watered down" — Nix vowed that he will rebuild the team through the draft. He will cultivate a roster from ground zero. Sounds simple. But that was something that Tom Donahoe, Marv Levy and Russ Brandon never grasped. Instead, money was constantly wasted on overpaid free agents.

Nix will not go that route.

"Free agency to me should be middle-priced to low-priced guys," Nix said, "not the high-priced guy that will bring the big-bang when you sign him."

At least that's how San Diego turned it around so quickly. Promoted to assistant G.M. in 2003, Nix helped build a powerhouse. The Chargers are loaded with draft-day steals. Who knows how influential Nix was on which picks. Doesn't matter.

The list goes on and on. San Diego has owned April.

Philip Rivers (1st round, 2004), Shaun Phillips (4th round, 2004), Michael Turner (5th round, 2004), Vincent Jackson (2nd round, 2005), Shawne Merriman (1st round, 2005), Luis Castillo (1st round, 2005), Darren Sproles (4th round, 2005), Antonio Cromartie (1st round, 2006), Marcus McNeill (2nd round, 2006) and Eric Weddle (2nd round, 2007) are a handful of guys Nix had a hand in drafting. All but Turner are huge reasons San Diego is deemed a Super Bowl favorite by many.

Above all, Nix is the offspring of a John Butler/A.J. Smith front office. While it would have been great to think outside the box Nix may fit like a glove in Western New York.

No, he didn't ever expect to eventually be the G.M. It just worked out that way. But in comparing the State of the Bills 2009 to the State of the Chargers 2001, things are not nearly as grim.

"I think we were further away at San Diego," Nix said. "They were 1-15 the year before we got there. There were very few players in house. We were fortunate enough to draft guys that got better."

This is how Buffalo must rebuild. No more T.O. flash-in-a-pan signings. No more draft-day disasters. Time to do it old fashion. And, wow, Nix is old fashion. Speaking in a matter-of-fact, 60s southern twang, Nix trumpeted the value of the draft. All decade, Buffalo has been plagued by poor investments in free agency and horrible drafts. Nix brands himself as the antithesis of that. He is a scout in the purest sense. A specialist in Southeastern region, he grew into a national scout.

As he said, Nix had to "go out and smell their breath, see them in person."

Of course, the NFL Draft is months away. Nix's first order of business is finding a head coach. He didn't get into specifics. He has a list. No use elaborating further. But Nix did tip his hand a bit. The last question a reporter asked Nix was if Marty Schottenheimer was on his list. After all, Schottenheimer worked under Butler, Smith and Nix in San Diego from 2002-06. When Schottenheimer was fired in San Diego's publicized power struggle, Nix was an ardent pro-Martyball guy.

Schottenheimer has said he doesn't want to coach next season, but it sounds like Nix's first order of business will be changing his mind. Genuine and forthright throughout his 15-minute presser, Nix tried his best to keep things vague.

"We have a list and I'd rather not talk about the names," Nix said of Schottenheimer. "We're in the process of tracing them down."

Then a smirking Nix fought back a smile and posed for photos. Finally, the Bills have direction.

thdunne@gmail.com

Get the lowdown on Nix from Scout.com's Chargers insider here.

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