Already loaded at RB, Bills select Clemson's Spiller with No. 9 pick

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Overlooking size for speed, the Buffalo Bills expect Clemson running back C.J. Spiller to spark their popgun offense.

The team selected Spiller with the No. 9 pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

"He's a playmaker," first-time general manager Buddy Nix said. "He's exciting. We need some excitement."

Certainly, the Bills need that. The team has missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive years, and the offense has ranked 25th or worst in the NFL in yards gained each of the past seven seasons.

The NFL's next big playmaker

Mike Mayock: C.J. Spiller is a special playmaker who can do it all. He had 31 touches in the special-teams game this year and took five to the house. In the ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech, he had 20 carries for 233 yards. Against Miami, six catches -- catches! -- for 104 yards. The bigger the game the better he plays. The Bills just got themselves one heck of a player.

Spiller, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, was regarded as "a dynamite athlete with blazing speed" in the NFL scouting report. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, he has drawn comparisons to New Orleans Saints multipurpose threat Reggie Bush.

Spiller's selection, though, is open to second-guessing on a team that had more pressing needs at offensive tackle, defensive tackle and quarterback.

Nix said the Bills' needs were secondary when it came to selecting a player with Spiller's ability.

"I know guys, we need a lot of things," Nix said. "But to be honest with you, there was only one Spiller. ... He's a dynamic player that can hurt you in a lot of ways."

Buffalo returns two running backs, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, who split the starting duties. But Lynch has been the subject of trade speculation after he failed to report for the team's voluntary workout program last month.

Nix again dismissed the trade speculation: "He's still ours, and we intend for him to be here."

Spiller said he had an inkling he might be Buffalo-bound Wednesday night, when he reflected on his pre-draft visit to Bills headquarters this spring.

"I'm very excited that they made the decision. It's one they will never regret," Spiller said. "Whatever my role is, my main focus is winning."

Spiller finished his college career with 1,212 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and he added another 503 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs and one punt for scores. He was an unanimous All-American selection and a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back, after breaking the school and league records with 2,680 multipurpose yards.

Though he started just 19 of 52 games, Spiller scored 51 touchdowns and set or tied 31 school records in four years, establishing himself as a rusher, receiver and returner.

The comparisons to Bush are fitting, as he and Spiller were the only two players to finish their college careers with 3,000 rushing yards, 1,500 kickoff-return yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 500 punt-return yards.

Barring a trade, the Bills have eight picks left through the three-day draft, starting with the 41st overall in Friday's second round.

Buffalo is coming off a 6-10 finish and the latest in a string of dysfunctional seasons, during which the Bills went through another coaching change. Dick Jauron was fired in November and eventually replaced by Chan Gailey, who becomes the franchise's fifth coach in 10 years.

Spiller joins an offense that finished 30th in the NFL in yards gained and 28th in points scored despite the presence of wide receiver Terrell Owens. The unit was unsettled at quarterback after Trent Edwards lost his starting job to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in November.

Nix sees Gailey using Spiller in a variety of ways, including as a returner.

"We are void of big playmakers," Nix said. "We have good players, but a guy that has this kind of world class speed can help us in so many ways."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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