Defense Top 5's by Position
1.J.Clowney, South Carolina
3.S.Tuitt, Notre Dame
Notes: Clowney is clearly top of the heap. Below him though is a lot of talent that fits a lot of types of defenses. Easley is an interesting case. Could have been higher if not for a season ending injury. Though the NFL is much more comfortable taking these risk in the draft these days
1.S.Tuitt, Notre Dame
5.T.Riciti, San Diego State
Notes: Tuitt is built for a 3-4/Hybrid DE. He should be high on all those teams boards. Below him there is a pretty big drop off for true 3-4 DEs. Though I like Hageman more and more every week.
1.L.Nix, Notre Dame
4.W.Sutton, Arizona State
5.T.Jernigan, Florida State
Notes: If you are a team in of a 3 tech, this is not your draft. The draft has some pretty decent 1 tech but overall there is not a whole lot of good interior pass rushers in the 2014 draft
1.CJ Mosley, Alabama
2.K.Van Noy, BYU
3.AJ Johnson, Tennessee
Notes: Class is deep with all players that fit every type of defense. I like a lot of the players at this position in this years class. Mosley leads this class as he has been in a steady upward trend but Van Noy and Johnson are very close behind him. The drop off from there is not significant either.
1.K.Van Noy, BYU
2.CJ Mosley, Alabama
Notes: it's becoming harder and harder to find true 4-3 OLB's these days. The class though is good this year. Lot of sideline to sideline players who make plays every week. Van Noy takes the lead here with his coverage ability and edge setting talents.
3.J.Clowney, South Carolina
4.K.Van Noy, BYU
Notes: Very top heavy with some depth. The top 3 could all be top 10 picks and most likely will be. I've got Clowney down a little bit because I think athletically and size wise Mack and Barr are a lil better fit as a stand up 3-4 OLB
4.D.Dennard, Michigan State
5.J.Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Notes: Most will notice Roby is not here and the reason is I don't see him as a CB on Sundays, I think he is a safety. I go back and forth between IEO and Purifoy but I give a slight edge to IEO because I think he is more dedicated player on and off the field. Verrett has the best coverage skills of all the CB's on the list but size will keep him down
2.B.Roby, Ohio State
4.D.Bucannon, Washington State
Notes: Haha-Dix continues the tradition of NFL ready safeties coming from Alabama and unlike the CB's from that school they actually fair pretty well on Sundays. Roby is a much better fit at S in my opinion. He is to tight hipped to be a CB but has good speed and instincts
3 Players I like for the Bills
-K.Van Noy: If you follow me on twitter (@merk256) it's no secrete I'm a big Van Noy fan. Reason being is he is the most complete LB in the draft. You will have a hard time finding a hole in his game. He is sideline to sideline player, good in coverage, good setting the edge, attacks down hill, and most importantly he makes a lot of impact plays. He would be a excellent fit next to Kiko in Buffalo
-S.Tuitt: there will be a lot of 3-4 and hybrid defenses very high on Tuitt. The reason being is you can play him inside or out right or left side. It doesn't matter he makes plays everywhere. To stick him on a front line with what Buffalo already has on the front line and that will be a lot for any opposing defense to handle every Sunday. He has a lot of D.Dockett to him
-A.Dixon: I've been pretty clear I like our Safety situation and the Bills should try to keep it in tact. If that doesn't happen Dixon is a player I would like to have. Every Baylor game I watch this kid is all over the place in both the run and the pass game. He also has that toughness that the Bills seem to now be putting a priority on
Week 10 Bills & NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
-This loss for all intensive purposes ends the Bills playoffs hopes and extends the longest drought in the NFL. Now is it possible? Yes. Likely at all? No. There is a much better chance at a top 10 draft right now than a playoff spot.
-What you saw was just how damaging the month missed by EJ Manuel was. He regressed back to the point where it looked like it was his first NFL start. He was erratic at best and often looked confused. The rest of this season has to be spent figuring out what exactly the Bills have in Manuel. Any more lost time will be a critical blow to not only him but the franchise
-The Bills OL needs some work but I’ll give the Steelers credit on how they game planned the Bills. They stacked 8 in the box and made a big effort to stop the run. They were not going to allow the Bills RB’s to beat them. They gambled on making the rookie QB coming off a month long absence beating them and they gambled right.
-S.Gilmore had another rough game. As of right now he doesn’t look like the player he was at the end of last year or in the preseason. He still looks to have trouble jamming WR’s at the LOS and that is a big part of his game. Due to that he is playing off more and is allowing quicker WR’s to get to much space
-The Bills keep flip flopping between Bradham and Moats on the early downs and neither has been anything to write home about. Teams also have identified both as a weak spot and make it a point to run right at him
-With teams now Doubling Mario every play it has allowed other Bills pass rushers some one on ones and J.Hughes finally took advantage in this game. Problem is the game was already out of reach
-The Bills have to start making throws down field. Even the attempt can have some positives as it will move the Safeties back a step or two. I understand wanting to get EJ in a rhythm with some short easy throws but eventually you have to take a shot at minimum twice a half. The Bills have way to much speed on the outside and they are letting it go to waste
-Bills have a big task on their hands coming up this weekend as they face the recharged Jets coming off a good performance and off a bye week. If Manuel plays the same way it could be a very ugly afternoon in Western NY
-I don’t want to pile on the obvious but I said before the season started that it was completely absurd to include Kaepernick among the NFL elite at the QB position. I like Jaws in the booth but he has a real shaky history when it comes to evaluating QB’s. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers are not in the QB hunt again sooner rather than later
-Why C.Kelly just won’t name Foles the starter is beyond me. Vick at his age is not the long term answer and cannot be counted on
-The NFC East is so bad that a team that was winless for the first 6 weeks of the season is actually back in the race
-Congrats to the Jacksonville. No one wants to see a team go 0-16
-T.Austin finally decided to show up and actually look like a top 10 pick. Now the question is can he keep it going? Personally I have my doubts. Austin is a player that is going to have big games from time to time because teams forget about him and then all of a sudden he explodes.
-If I am in the NFC I would want nothing to do with the Saints in that dome come playoff time. Brees is really good anywhere he plays. In that dome though his game reaches another level into the all time greats
-There is no more disappointing team than the Atlanta Falcons this year. I was wrong on them, I had them going to the NFC title game. I think you will see a complete overhaul of the defense and maybe the staff
-I don’t trust the Bengals. I think they will make it to the playoffs but will be one and done. I think M.Lewis gets worse when the pressure gets turned up and I don’t trust A.Dalton to win me a string of playoff games.
-Seattle has to be the favorite for the Super Bowl right now. They have the most complete team in the league in my opinion. I’m one of the few that think P.Carroll is a excellent coach(His track record is far better than people think) and he has done an excellent job with that team from the moment he got there
-If you are a Dolphins fan right now you have to not be feeling very good about that Jeff Ireland extension right now. Bills fans know your pan as something very similar happened to them with Dick Jauron. Still as the Dolphins move forward they keep getting exposed by a poorly constructed roster that is not going to get any better this offseason
Week 9 Bills & NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
-Carolina is going to the playoffs, and I wouldn’t want to play them. I don’t think they will go all here to edit text
Hard Luck Bills Lose Another Heartbreakerby Anthony D. Macari @nflwarroom
Correct me if you've heard this before. A young, apparently overmatched Bills team fights like hell, comes close to pulling off the upset, only to be done in by a combination of miscues, bad luck and tough penalties and calls. The perception going in, like all too often this season, the Bills had no chance against an undefeated Chiefs team firing on all cylinders. If you watched the game, you saw a dominant team rack up yards and the other struggling to string anything together on offense.
The surprising thing, at least to the experts, it was the Bills who imposed their will most of the day and the undefeated Chiefs who struggled.
That's a Bills team who seemingly every week is scraping the bottom of their roster and scouring the waiver wire and practice squad to field a team. This week, they started an undrafted free agent rookie QB to replace their former practice squad 2nd year QB, who replaced their other rookie QB. Oh yeah, both RB's where still hobbled and had question marks going into the week. Despite all that, despite having a punt return TD called back and despite a 100 yard pick 6 after having first and goal from the 1 and after another turnover led to a Chiefs TD on a fumble recovery, there were the Bills still competitive in the 4th Quarter. A close call on a long pass at midfield would have put them in position for a dramatic comeback, but again a challenge doesn't go the right way for Coach Marrone. Any one of a dozen plays could have broke the Bills way and changed the outcome, but once again, close but no cigar and the Bills have to settle for another moral victory of sorts.
The bottom line is in this league, the little things matter. Protecting the ball matters. Making critical plays at critical times is the difference between being 9-0 like the Chiefs and 3-6 like the Bills. The good news is the Bills are close. You have to feel with just a little luck and a healthy EJ Manuel, this team can compete, not only for the playoffs but for more, sooner rather than later. This season now is all about developing their talent, especially EJ Manuel. He showed glimpses of promise before going down with his 2nd knee injury of the season. The Bills really do need to get him back on the field, but he has to be fully healthy. They can't afford to make the same mistake the Redskins made a year ago with RGIII. This year is now in all reality about next. They need to finish strong to build some momentum for next season and they need to develop EJ to the point they feel confident he will be the man to lead them out of doldrums. The man to be the difference between close, heart breaking losses and wins.
The defense really did deserve a win today. They held the Chiefs to 6 points and that really didn't even tell the whole story. At no point could the Chiefs establish any consistency or rythym on offense. As was the case against the Patriots, Jets and Saints, a play here or there would have been the difference. The pieces are in place to make a run for the next few seasons. 1 more solid draft, sign their own, and keep EJ Healthy and I think they can be the Chiefs of 2014. They just need a little bit of luck to finally start going their way.
Week 8 Bills & NFL Notes
Week 7 Bills Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Week 7 NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Week 6 Bills and NFL Notes
Mike's Week 5 Bills Game Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 4 Bills Game Notes
Mike's Week 4 NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 3 Bills Game NotesMike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 3 NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 2 NFL Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 2 NCAA Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
Mike's Week 1 Notes: Pats 23 - Bills 21by Mike Watkins @Merk256
Putting EJ Manuel & Geno Smith's Rookie Debuts in Historic Perspective
Rookie QBs EJ Manuel and Geno Smith make their starting debut for the Bills and Jets today respectively. Expectations for team and individual success should be tempered by history. The fact is winning or even quality performances are few and far between.
Last year's rookie QB class is widely considered the best rookie class since the Marino, Kelly Elway class of 1983. However, among the 8 rookie debuts by QB's last year, only Washington's RGIII and Kirk Cousin's had successful debuts. The 8 Rookies who started games went a combined 2-6 with only 6 TDs vs 18 Interceptions. Of the 8 starts only Luck and Cousins topped 60% completion a 65 QB rating. Top pick Andrew Luck went 23 of 41 51.1% with 1 TD vs 3 Interceptions for a 52.9 QB Rating in a 23-45 loss to Chicago. He did manage 309 yards through the air, 1 of 4 300+ yard rookie debuts last year.
Going further back to the debuts of future Hall of Famers offers only better individual results but rare team success. Buffalo's Jim Kelly, even after 2 years in the USFL, still couldn't lead the Bills to victory against the Jets in 1986. However, Kelly did give a glimpse into the future with an impressive 3TD 305 yard performance. Dan Marino in 1983 also lost his debut, but impressed with 19 of 29 322 yard 3 TD performance. Elway completed only 1 pass and had a 0.0 passer rating in his rookie debut (1-8 14yds 0TDs 1 Int )... but Denver won 14-10 vs Pittsburgh.
Taking a look at some other 1st round QB's debuts shows a similar trend of either solid performances in losses like 2011's Cam Newton's 422 yard 2 TD 1 int debut in a losing cause vs the Cardinals and Peyton Manning's 302 yard 1TD 3 Int debut loss to the Dolphins in 1998.
At least a part of the equation here is that QBs making starts as rookies usually are doing so for a team who had little recent success. However, the fact remains expecting a QB like Manuel or Smith to lead their team to victory today defies logic on many levels. Moral victories typically mean little to teams looking to turn their fortunes around and both fan bases are likely not to take much solace in yet another team loss, but a seemingly modest QB performance of over 2 TDs, less than 2 Interceptions, over 60% completion, a QB rate over 80 and more than 275 passing yards would put their debuts in an elite class.
Here are the stat lines for Smith and Manuel to look to if they hope to match or out perform their team'st HOF legendary QB's Debuts:
Joe Namath 1965 Jets 21 vs Bills 33 (Played but did not start Game 1 in Loss to KC)
19 Comp 40 Attempts 47.5% 287 yards 2 Tds 2 Ints 67.4 Rate 7.18 Y/A
Rushing: 0 attempts 0 Yards 0.0 Y/A
Jim Kelly 1986 Bills 28 vs Jets 31
25 Comp 42 Attempts 59.52% 305 Yards 3 Tds 1 Int 95.8 Rate 7.26 Y/A
Rushing: 0 Attempts 0 Yards 0.0 Y/A
Mike's NCAA Week 1 Notesby Mike Watkins @Merk256
2014 PFWR Pre-Season Rankings
2 Cyrus Kouandjio* OT Alabama
3 Teddy Bridgewater* QB Louisville
4 Marqise Lee* WR USC
5 Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
6 Anthony Barr LB UCLA
7 Louis Nix DT Notre Dame
8 Kyle Van Noy LB BYU
9 Sammy Watkins* WR Clemson
10 Stephen Tuitt DE Notre Dame