Early draft primer: Buffalo Bills

Because of another down year in the division, it appears the New England Patriots are the only team vying for a playoff spot.

So the AFC East blog is getting a head start on the 2013 offseason with an early draft primer. Next up we preview Buffalo’s offseason.

Buffalo Bills (4-6)

Key free agents: S Jairus Byrd, G Andy Levitre, CB/KR Leodis McKelvin, WR Donald Jones

2013 draft picks: Seven

Biggest needs: LB, QB, WR

Early forecast: The Bills don’t have a ton of glaring holes. This roster has playmakers, but mostly underachieved this season because of poor play and shoddy coaching. On the free-agent front, Byrd and Levitre are must-signs for Buffalo. Both are core players and among the most underrated at their positions. Adding linebackers is a must for Buffalo. The Bills have been awful against the run, and a big reason is their linebackers have been pushed around. Buffalo needs a physical presence to toughen up its front seven. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is too streaky to build a franchise around. Fitzpatrick can bridge the gap for another year, but the Bills eventually need a franchise quarterback who can become the long-term solution and take this team to the next level. That probably won’t happen in the first round, because Buffalo most likely won’t have a top-five pick. So forget about quarterbacks like Matt Barkley of USC and Geno Smith of West Virginia. But the Bills could look at second-round quarterback options to groom. The offense also could use another playmaking receiver to go with Steve Johnson.

Early draft targets: LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia, WR Keenan Allen, Cal