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Nix’s legacy with Bills will be debated

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Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:18 am

Expect Doug Whaley to be named Bills’ general manager ... soon.

As in, within the week.

After all, with Buddy Nix’s announcement that he’s stepping down, Buffalo can hardly be without a GM indefinitely.

You might be a little confused by Monday’s announcement as it was only last month that team president Russ Brandon, when asked about the GM’s future, said Nix would continue his role “for a long time.”

It might be semantics, but three weeks doesn’t seem to be a particularly lengthy span ... unless you’re a student waiting for the end of the school year.

Still, in recent months, the 73-year-old had indicated he was positioning himself to relinquish his duties and touted his assistant, Whaley, as a ready and well-schooled general manager-in-waiting.

Whether Nix jumped or was pushed is almost moot.

He’s still on the payroll as a special assistant though he’ll mostly work from his home in Chattanooga. And Brandon’s disinclination to immediately name Whaley as Nix’s replacement was likely nothing more than the courtesy of letting it be Buddy’s day.

That said, his successor must immediately deal with the Jairus Byrd situation.

The Bills put the franchise tag on the 26-year-old free safety, but he has yet to sign the $6.9 million, one-year contract, worth nearly seven times what he made last season.

Nix, as recently as the draft luncheon with the media, admitted he hadn’t thought much about Byrd’s situation, but now that the selection process is over, it becomes a priority with the budding star already skipping the current involuntary workouts.

ONE CERTAINTY is that Nix’s legacy will be debated.

When asked at Monday’s press conference what he assessed as his top accomplishment in three seasons and four drafts as GM, he said, “The thing that I’m probably most proud of will be the next two or three years ... if that makes any sense.

“I think we’ve got a really good young roster. I love our head coach ... I think he’s a guy that’s gonna win a lot of games here for a long time.”

Of course, that answer was unacceptable to some of the talk show guys who felt it was cop-out.

In reality, it was the right answer ... assessing talent acquisition requires time.

Nix’s four first round picks were running back C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and quarterback EJ Manuel. If the later is the QB Buffalo’s administration hopes, that’s a pretty good success rate ... even though Dareus and Gilmore weren’t particularly glitzy choices.

MISTAKES? He made a few.

Wide receiver T.J. Graham instead of quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round last year, cornerback-turned-safety Aaron Williams rather than QB Colin Kaepernick in 2011’s second round and defensive tackle Torrell Troup instead of tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second round of 2010 among clearly would qualify.

But pretty much every NFL general manager has had his share of dubious picks ...  virtually all the product of hindsight.

Nix’s first draft wasn’t good, though Spiller saved it from being a disaster and wide receiver Marcus Easley could make it look better.

The 2011 lottery was a shade better with Dareus, Williams, if he successfully transitions to safety where fellow draftee DaNorris Searcy has already looked good, and Chris Hairston, injured last year, might still help the offensive tackle situation.

Last year, Gilmore was a solid if not spectacular pick, second-rounder Cordy Glenn stepped right in at left tackle, Graham could still overcome an invisible rookie year, and linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerback Ron Brooks have upsides and figure to be contributors.

Nix and the Bills got mostly lousy grades on this year’s draft, but Manuel could change that by himself and the reality is, only time will complete the ultimate assessment.

THERE’S admittedly still a question about the Bills’ expensive acquisition of defensive end Mario Williams, his 10 1/2 sacks notwithstanding,  but the free-agent signing of linebacker Nick Barnett produced a prolific tackler.

And, despite a rash of injuries, Buffalo’s offensive line survived because Nix had great fortune — Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears and Chad Rinehart — trolling the waiver wire.

And his similar signing of tight end Scott Chandler was clearly a success.

That’s not to say Nix was the second coming of Ozzie Newsome or Trent Baalke, but he also wasn’t a total disaster as general manager ... which is more than you can about the franchise across town.

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at

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