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The Buffalo Bills are expected to continue their efforts to acquire one of the top two or three picks when the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft commences tonight.

The Bills have been rumored as a trade-up candidate for weeks. Buffalo still was in the mix of teams making calls around the league about a potential deal for one of the top two or three picks, two NFL sources said Wednesday.

The target would be a big impact player, either defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, offensive tackle Greg Robinson or receiver Sammy Watkins. South Carolina’s Clowney is the top defensive lineman in the draft. Auburn’s Robinson is the most talented, physical tackle. Clemson’s Watkins is the best, game-breaking receiver.

Meanwhile, Monday’s arrest of Marcell Dareus was the other last-minute factor looming over the Bills entering Round One. While Dareus’ arrest in Alabama on a drug charge does not impact the team’s first-round plans, it could cause them to more strongly consider a defensive tackle in later rounds.

All the draft hype finally reaches a climax when the first round begins at 8 p.m. Each team has 10 minutes to pick in the first round. The second and third rounds will be held Friday, starting at 7 p.m. The fourth to seventh rounds run Saturday, starting at noon.

Trade rumors figure to swirl all day.

At least three teams in the top five – No. 1 Houston, No. 2 St. Louis and No. 5 Oakland – are believed to be interested in trading down.

How much would it cost to move up and how badly do the Bills want a top-three pick? Last year, Miami moved up from No. 12 to No. 3 with Oakland, and it cost the Dolphins only the No. 42 overall pick.

It’s likely to cost more this year because the top of the draft is better than last year and there should be more competition to move up. Would the Bills be willing to part with their No. 1 pick in 2015? That’s surely what it would take – and more – to move up to Houston’s No. 1 spot. There’s good reason to think that’s what it would take to move up to No. 2 or No. 3 (held by Jacksonville).

St. Louis already has 12 picks in this year’s draft. Jacksonville has 11. Neither is desperate for a lot more picks this year. The Bills do not have much ammunition in this draft. They have no extra picks in any round and don’t have a sixth-rounder.

It would be a win-now gamble by the Bills to move up.

This is regarded as one of the deepest drafts in years. There will be quality players available early in the second round.

Giving up next year’s No. 1 would be the equivalent for Buffalo of doubling down on quarterback EJ Manuel. If Manuel disappoints this year or spends much of the season injured, next year’s top pick might be useful to draft another quarterback. Next year’s quarterback draft class is likely to be at least as good as this year’s crop.

If the Bills stay at No. 9, it’s expected they will get to choose among a big receiving weapon (like North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron), the best tackle available (Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews or Notre Dame’s Zack Martin) or the next best player on their board (perhaps Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley).

Dareus, meanwhile, faces a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance in the wake of a drug arrest in Alabama.

The 24-year-old defensive tackle still is under contract for another season, and the Bills have picked up his option for 2015, potentially keeping him for that season, as well.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley released the following statement Wednesday:

“We are, obviously, disappointed with this latest development involving Marcell Dareus. We will be in contact with the league regarding the situation and continue to offer support and assistance to Marcell.”

The NFL commissioner has the authority to suspend Dareus for up to four games, regardless of whether it was his first offense of the NFL substance abuse policy or not.

The Bills have one quality backup defensive tackle in seven-year veteran Alan Branch, whose contract they extended in December through 2016. Branch could be viewed as the backup to both Dareus and defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Branch could see playing time at defensive end, too. After Branch, the next two defensive tackles in the fold are Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles. Bryant played 29 percent of the snaps last season. Charles saw spot duty the last eight games.

The draft this year offers good depth at the defensive tackle position throughout the second day and into the third.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com