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Jake Long could affect Bills' pick at No. 3

How might the Miami Dolphins' decision to draft Jake Long first overall in 2008 impact what the Carolina Panthers do with the top pick this year?

The Panthers could take a quarterback because the importance of the position demands it. That, in turn, would influence what the Buffalo Bills do at No. 3.

When the Dolphins selected Long, they declined to grab a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan, who went third overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

In December, we revisited Miami's decision to draft Long over Ryan with a blog entry that generated more than 200 comments discussing the merits.

Long is an elite left tackle, a three-time Pro Bowler. But a left tackle's significance becomes marginalized when he's not protecting an effective quarterback. The Dolphins drafted Chad Henne in the second round that year, and he hasn't worked out as hoped.

Ryan, meanwhile, has guided the Falcons to the playoffs two of his three seasons.

That could be a lesson for Carolina this year.

ESPN's Adam Schefter pondered the theory Carolina won't be able to pass up Auburn quarterback Cam Newton or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert by choosing Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley or Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.