Bills continue to address needs in late rounds

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills opened the second day of the NFL Draft on Sunday picking up where they left off a day earlier by addressing yet another need in selecting defensive end Chris Ellis in the third round.

Taken with the 72nd pick, the Virginia Tech product provides the Bills depth at what had been a depleted position last year, and he becomes the latest addition to what's becoming a vastly revamped defensive line. It's a line that was significantly bolstered last month when the Bills acquired three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud in a trade with Jacksonville.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 267 pounds, Ellis is a lanky but quick pass-rushing specialist who registered 22 sacks in 52 career games, including 35 starts over a four-year career with the Hokies.

While it's too early to determine how much playing time he'll get as a rookie with the Bills, he will be given every opportunity to compete for a backup spot behind starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay.

With their next four picks, Buffalo selected the aptly named Akron cornerback Reggie Corner (114th overall), Kansas tight end Derek Fine (132nd), Iowa State linebacker Alvin Bowen (147th) and Northwest Missouri State running back Xavier Omon (179th).

Corner, who had 15 career interceptions, flew under the radar in most draft projections, but was highly coveted by the Bills after he impressed scout Tom Roth with his explosive speed. He's expected to challenge Ashton Youboty for one of the Bills backup spots.

Fine and Bowen add to the Bills depth, while Omon's selection was curious considering the team's already stocked at running back. Omon, who even expressed surprise that Buffalo chose him, is coming off an exceptional college career. A two-time Division II offensive player of the year, he finished with 7,073 career yards rushing and scored an eye-popping 98 touchdowns, including six receiving.

The Bills close the draft with three seventh-round picks.

Ellis' addition continues a trend the Bills established in the first two rounds on Saturday. That's when they filled their most immediate holes by selecting cornerback Leodis McKelvin with the No. 11 pick, and followed by landing a much-needed, big-bodied receiver in James Hardy with the 41st pick.

With those positions out of the way, defensive end and tight end were considered the next two spots Buffalo needed to address in the early rounds. Besides returning backup Ryan Denney, the Bills defensive end ranks lost experience when Anthony Hargrove was suspended by the NFL for all of this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Bills, who also signed linebacker Kawika Mitchell in free agency, have spent the offseason retooling a defense that finished 31st in the NFL in yards allowed last season.

Ellis was excited to be selected by Buffalo, in part because the team plays a 4-3 scheme (four linemen, three linebackers), allowing him to stay at defensive end. Some draft experts projected Ellis might have to switch to linebacker if he were selected by a team that plays with a three-linemen set.

"Defensive end is second nature, so I'm looking forward to going out there and playing. I can just let it hang now," Ellis said. "They need some pass rushers, so hopefully I can come in and be an early addition to that."

Ellis is coming off a career-high season in which he was credited with 38 quarterback pressures and 8½ sacks. He also recovered three fumbles and had an interception.

One of his best game came last season against Boston College, when he finished with four tackles, 1½ sacks and a career-best seven pressures.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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