Friday, October 27, 2006

Whitner an Excellent Pick
all football… all year

Bye week analysis of the Bills' draft (Day One)
By Connor J. Byrne on October 27, 2006 12:12 AM

Through their first seven regular-season games of 2006, the Buffalo Bills ' record is a horrendous 2-5, and the team is sitting in second-last place in the mediocre AFC East. Naturally, that's nowhere near where Buffalo wanted to be on its bye week, especially considering the team was impressive through its first four games.

One of the staples of the Bills' season thus far has been their youth. General manager Marv Levy and the remainder of his staff caught a great deal of grief from various media members and fans for their selections in April's NFL draft. Although it's still quite early in the rookies' careers, now's a good time to examine just how the Bills' youngsters have been faring this year.

This is the first of a two-part series analyzing the successes and failures of the Bills' first-year players. Today's edition will focus on Buffalo's Day One picks.

First round (eighth overall) - Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State. Projected by many as the most baffling pick of Round One, Whitner has, perhaps, been Buffalo's best defensive player this year. He was expected to be a reserve behind Matt Bowen for much of the season, but the veteran has been inactive all year thanks to injury. That's been a blessing for the Bills, though, because Whitner's been able to develop even more expeditiously than they'd originally hoped.

The 21-year-old Whitner, who was the league's Defensive Rookie of the Month in September, has racked up 45 tackles, an interception and two passes defensed so far. To think, he's only going to continue getting better. Early verdict: An excellent pick by the Bills, even if it meant not taking quarterback Matt Leinart. Whitner will be a top-notch DB for a long time.

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