Thoughts on The Kyle Orton Addition
Late last night EJ Manuel got a jolt of reality and had the pressure amped up him even more, the Bills added veteran QB Kyle Orton to the fold. A move that is very telling about the current mindset and state of this franchise. It’s also a reaction to 5 games that are supposed to mean nothing.
Marrone and Whaley have been around long enough in this league to know what they saw unfolding in front of them through 5 preseason games was unsettling at best. They saw a first team offense they couldn’t score a single TD despite numerous talented skill position players. They also saw a QB making dangerous throws to those skill players putting them in a position to get injured
The fans also saw the same thing and as can be expected the excuses started flowing as they did for Losman, Bledsoe, and Johnson before him. It’s Hackett, it’s the OL, it’s the preseason so its vanilla. Problem was it is none of those things as it hasn’t been in the past. No the problem is EJ Manuel. He has shown no progress from last year to this year and it could actually be argued that he has regressed. He is having trouble executing a vanilla scheme and playbook compounded with an inability to read defenses topped off with erratic at best accuracy. These issues go beyond the preseason and are not all of a sudden going to be cured when the regular season begins and the speed and pressure in the games gets maxed out times 100.
The Doug’s are not blind, they could see it. With a win now mentality something had to be done. So they scampered and they are able to add Kyle Orton. Orton who isn’t anything to write home about is still a competent vet who can manage games to wins if he has a good ground game and a good defense. He is this generations Kelly Holcomb, though I would say he is a little better.
The move is a wake up call to EJ because if you are EJ you do not want to ever see Orton take the field. If he does you may never take another live regular season snap in a Bills uniform again. Orton does a lot of what EJ can not do and that is be accurate on the short and intermediate throws. That is key because the game plan is simple at the moment against the Bills. Stop the run and make EJ beat you with his arm. More specifically with the intermediate or check down throws.
Make no mistake about it Orton is not here to mentor a young EJ Manuel.
Orton is here to take his job. There is a reason he waited it out to see how
the QB situations unfolded around the league. Manuel needs to understand this
and realize that its put up or shut up time as the starting QB for the Buffalo
Labor Day and the NFL, Missed Opportunity
One thing I think the NFL drops the ball on is not having its opening weekend on Labor Day weekend. It seems like the perfect marriage of two events. On the one side you have the unofficial end of summer and on the other you have the beginning of the NFL which is linked to the fall season. It seems like the marketing possibilities could be endless with this and I am surprised the NFL does not take advantage of it.
When I was a kid Labor Day was the weekend that football started. The NFL moved it because of two reasons. The first was they wanted to put the Super Bowl into February for sweeps and the Second is they wanted to get the game off of Labor Day weekend because of some sagging TV ratings. A lot has changed since these decisions were made. The NFL is now such a juggernaut that you can literally put it anywhere and it’s going to dominate the TV ratings
I understand that money talks and that’s the main reason they want to get the Super Bowl into a sweeps month. However I believe there is just as much if not more money to be made on Labor Day weekend. You could start the games on Thursday night and have one game a night into Sunday’s full slate of games, into Sunday night and cap it with a Monday night game. With no work on Monday you would appease all the fan bases because they can have parties as well as bars could market their specials around the 3 day weekend driving up the prices of commercial space from the TV commercials/ticket to the licensing of beer sales and specials.
This would also be the way the NFL gets to what they truly want, an 18 game schedule. The Labor Day opening idea can be sold to both the owners and NFLPA easily in my opinion. You would also still have the benefit of landing the Super Bowl in the sweeps month of February. You sell to the players that it will drive up revenue which will drive up cap room which in turn drives up the cap floor, meaning more money spent on players.
I personally hope the NFL one day realizes the potential to moving the opening day to Labor Day. They have made a few attempts to get that magic that baseball has with its opening day. To this point they have fallen a bit flat. That’s why I want and expect the NFL to one day again plant their flag on Labor Day weekend to claim it as their own
Preseason Quick Look: IOL
Eric Wood: I wouldn’t call Wood elite but he is good to very good week in and week out. He is the only stable force in the middle of the OL which lately has a revolving door at OG since the coaching switch to Marrone. Wood is very valuable to the Bills and their success in that he is able to handle the bigger NT in the AFC East. He has shaken off some early career injury issues and really settled into a team leader role.
Chris Williams: The Bills coaching staff and front office see something in Williams that I just don’t. I didn’t like the signing when it happened and 3 games into the preseason I still don’t like it. Williams is going to be a problem for the Bills. I expect him at some point this year to have his job taken from him. Lucky for the Bills his contract will be relatively easy to get rid of in the offseason.
Kraig Urbik: For some reason the Bills staff just does not like Urbik. While he is nothing special he is not the biggest issue this OL has or has had. He’s an average player who you can count on to at least be decent week in and week out. I can see the Bills wanting to upgrade but given what is on the roster it’s hard to believe that he won’t see a good amount of playing time
Cyril Richardson: Richardson was one of my favorite draft picks in this years draft. He needs some work on technique but he has a lot of what you like in an NFL OG and especially for a team that likes to run the ball as much as the Bills do. He likely won’t start the year as a starter but it wouldn’t surprise me if he finished the year as one. He has a bulldozer mentality that Marrone likes
Doug Legursky: Legursky has value in that he can play all 3 IOL positions a relatively respectable level. That aspect alone will make him a favorite to make the roster. He has a bit of jack of all trades master of none to him. He plays with a good mean streak but for a guy his size he gets pushed around a little too easily at times. As far as backups go the Bills could do worse.
JJ Unga: I had high hopes heading into the preseason for Unga. I like his size and his nasty streak. I however just haven’t seen him put it together consistently. Injuries could put him on the roster but at this point it doesn’t look like he will make it
Antoine McClain: McClain has looked ok at times and still could push Legursky. However I think he is on the outside looking in at this point
Jared Wheeler: Good size but no shot at the 53, playing for a practice squad spot
Macky MacPherson: Former Syracuse player under Marrone. Is undersized for what the Bills are currently looking for on the OL. Decent technician and is playing for a practice squad position
Overview: Outside of Eric Wood the Bills have a lot of questions marks at the OG spot. With Glenn and Henderson settling in at the OT spots the Bills are trying anyone and everyone at both OG spots hoping that someone steps up and grabs the opportunity. The Bills best outcome is if the rookie Richardson steps up as a rookie and mans at least one of the positions. That would be the best thing for the Bills now and in the future. The OG position like last year will likely have a revolving door look to it for the whole season
Preseason Quick Look: CB
Stephon Gilmore: Gilmore has had a bit of an up and down career so far. He has had a couple mental hiccups that all young CB’s have. He has also looked like a shutdown CB that he was drafted to be during stretches also. He looked great in preseason last year before he was robbed of the beginning of the season with a wrist injury and never really got into form. This is an important year for Gilmore. If you could draw up what a shutdown CB would look like physically you would draw Gilmore. He has the ability but he needs to put it all together. What isn’t helping is he has been in a different defensive scheme every year he has been in the league. With that said the best are the best in any defense. I expect for it to be a slow start but by the end of the year Gilmore will finally be reaching his potential as a top tier CB.
Leodis McKelvin: McKelvin had a decent year last year and finally found himself in a scheme built for his abilities. My hope is that Schwartz continues to build off of what seem to bring out the best in McKelvin last year. He is one of the most athletic players I have witnessed play, but still he still has the nasty habit of being in position all the way until the final moment when the ball arrives. I hope the new Bills staff can finally correct it for him
Nickell Robey: Robey is the nickel CB that the Bills seem to have spent a decade looking for to handle the likes of WR’s like Wes Welker who have historically killed the Bills over that decade plus time period. Ironically they find Robey and Welker leaves the East for the West in the AFC. None the less, Robey has a tremendous feel for the game and excellent quickness. He can be exposed a bit against bigger WR’s and on the outside. He doesn’t belong in either of those spots and will have a nice career as a nickel DB which in today’s NFL is consider a starter
Corey Graham: Graham was a nice addition to this roster. He could push McKelvin to start but it’s much more likely he will be a good special teams player and quality depth, which is what he is at this point. I don’t think Graham is a 16 game starter but he can get you through a couple weeks if injury does strike, which it did last year for the Bills. You could argue that the CB injuries cost the Bills at least two games last year due to a lack of depth. Graham hopefully provides some prevention against that same circumstance
Ron Brooks: Brooks is putting together a decent camp but the question will always remain with him if he can stay healthy enough to capitalize on it. That question will always linger with him because he likes to play bigger than he is and that makes him a bit injury prone. I like Brooks much more as a FS but it doesn’t look like the Bills are willing to give him a look there. He is a decent to good special teamer and that may be the way he finds his way on the roster
Ross Cockrell: Cockrell brings a very high football IQ to the table and the ability to be cross trained throughout the secondary. He was one of the key reasons the Duke football program turned around in recent years. I think that he is going to need a year before he can really contribute in anyway. I see him making the team but seeing the field mostly on special teams
Mario Butler: Butler has good size and speed but he makes a good amount of mental mistakes and his lack of short area quickness really hurts him against premier route runners. I’d say less than 50/50 shot and he’d have to light it up on Special Teams
Kamaal Mcilwain: Good measurable but it will be tough to crack the 53 at this point. Of the CB’s at the bottom he is the front runner for the Practice Squad
Bobby Felder: No real Shot at the roster. Will be in that cluster fighting for a practice squad spot
Sam Miller: No real shot at the roster. He is playing for a practice squad spot at this point
Overview: The position has a good amount of potential. If Gilmore can take the next step then the group could become close to elite. They have a good starting 3 and unlike last year they have some depth to get them through some injuries. If I am the Bills I feel really comfortable about this position heading into the season. If you are Schwartz you have to be near thrilled given you now have vastly more talent at CB than all the years in Detroit combined
Preseason Quick Look: OT
Cordy Glenn: I’ve already written that before the Bills drafted Sammy Watkins Glenn was the Bills most talented offensive player and their MVP on offense for the 2013 NFL season. Glenn has some sort of illness that has sidelined him for the beginning of training camp. It has recently been reported that it will not keep Glenn out for the entire camp and he should be ready for the start of the season. This is important because the Bills look like they have found their LT of now and the future. Glenn is a devastating run blocker and his pass blocking is catching up quickly.
Erik Pears: Pears to me was not as big a weak link as RG was last season but he was a very close second. I would call Pears a good run blocker, an ok pass blocker against power, and a poor pass blocker against speed. The reality is Pears should be a quality backup in the NFL, he really shouldn’t be a 16 game starter. The Bills were able to hide him in previous years by scheming around his weakness of speed rushers by getting the ball out quickly. I expect him to start the year as the starter but I don’t see him finishing the year as the starter
Cyrus Kouandjio: Cyrus has a chip on his shoulder heading into camp and his rookie season. Many thought had him as a first round draft pick and possible top 15 selection when the college season ended. Cyrus run blocking may already be on a NFL level but his pass blocking is not. Cyrus has always been the biggest player on the team and most the time the field. So he is used to overpowering players. The problem with that however is that he has never learned or mastered proper technique. He has a chance to be the starter at the end of the year but will be a work in progress
Seantrel Henderson: Everyone knows the story with Henderson, the talent is there but is the mental part and dedication? So far the early returns are good for Henderson. He has impressed at camp, with no problems off the field, and he seems to have taken to Doug Marrone and his style. If the Bills hit on what was a 7th round flier in Henderson, it will go a long way in seeing big improvements in the offense as a whole. Expect Henderson and Kouandjio to be in a battle all year to see who takes over for Pears. I would say Henderson has the inside track at this point
Chris Hairston: I’m including Hairston in the OT group even though he has seen a ton of time at OG during camp. Hairston is in competition for two roles on this team right now, starting OG and utility back up OL. I think he has a very strong shot at either. That said I think Hairston makes the roster as the utility OL for the team. That position has value because not every team has a player like that that can step in at 4 out of 5 OL spots and hold it down for a few games
Edawn Coughman: Coughman is a camp body at this point. I really don’t see him making the roster nor the practice squad. He’d be an emergency street player if injuries ravage the position
Overview: There is a lot of questions surrounding the position right now. If Glenn picks up where he left off and Henderson or Kouandjio step up and become a good starting RT then the Bills will have a good pair of bookend OT’s. However the opposite is also true, if Glenn is sicker then we are being told and the rookies play like rookies the position could really fall apart. The depth is ok but not strong enough to absorb big losses.
Dear Mr. Bon Jovi …. My reply letter to John Bongiovi, Jr.
Dear Mr. John Bongiovi Jr,
I would like to say that I appreciate the letter that you had published in the Buffalo News on Sunday but I can’t, I don’t appreciate it. In fact I don’t appreciate how much you have underestimated this city, the passion of the Bills fan base, and now their intelligence with that hollow letter.
You see Mr.Bongiovi Jr you, and your bid partners, seem to have greatly underestimate the passion this city has for this team. Buffalo has seen better days and they have seen worse days. One of the constant things the city can look forward to year in and year out is watching the Red, White, and Blue uniforms of the Buffalo Bills march out on that field in the fall to represent this small city and community in a world that is becoming more geared every day to the bigger markets and cities. It can be hard for someone like you and your partners to grasp that concept not being from the area, but I assure you it is a pride and a passion that you have never seen nor clearly understand.
Your actions are what the Bills fan base is reacting to. When the rumors first came out that you were looking to buy the team with a pair of investors from Toronto and subsequently move the Bills to Toronto nothing was said. There was no letter, there was no press conference saying you wanted to keep the Bills in Buffalo if you were fortunate enough to purchase them, just your silent actions.
Then it broke that your group was looking at stadium locations in the Toronto area with a game plan of get the team first and figure out how to move the team later. The media and fan base became louder and more vocal about your intentions with the Bills and still it seems you had hoped it would all go away by saying nothing. Problem is that is where you underestimated this fan base once again.
You then had Andre Reed, a player who put it all on the line for this city and team question your intentions. Not until that and realizing that this speculation of your bid groups plan did you feel forced to write and have published a letter that says and means nothing. Apparently you seem to think this fan base will all of a sudden become quiet after your attempt at good PR with that letter. I can assure you of one thing Mr. Bongiovi Jr, they will certainly not.
In closing Mr. John Bongiovi Jr., it is clear as day that you and your partners underestimated this fan base and city from the moment you showed interest in acquiring the beloved team of this proud city. You also greatly overestimated the support you would have in moving the team out of this country. I would like to say there is something you can do that would prove that you and your partners want to keep this team in Buffalo for as long as there is a Buffalo and an NFL. However, there is not, because this fan base and myself Do Not Believe you.
A fan of Buffalo and the Bills (#BillsMafia)
Preseason Quick Look: LB
Kiko Alonso: Absolutely brutal injury for the Bills this offseason. Alonso exceeded all possible expectations last year. As a rookie he was one of the better LB in the league and had the whole Buffalo area buzzing about his bright future. The Bills who had been trying to find a young 3 down stalwart LB looks like they finally have found what they have been looking for. Despite his injury Alonso still has a bright future ahead of him and I look forward to seeing him back on the field in 2015
Brandon Spikes: I’ll admit I’m not a real big Spikes fan. I think the league has changed in such a way the two down thumper LB is more of a liability than an asset. However at what the Bills signed him for I can see why they are more than willing to take the risk. The Bills defense has been known for and consistent about one thing this century, they are flat out horrible against the run. Spikes should provide a boost in that area to finally stop the flood of RB’s having career days against the Bills. I actually think this will likely turn into a long term relationship for both sides though, Spikes and Schwartz are almost made for each other. Plus as much flack as Buffalo gets for not being a prime destination for players, once they do come here, there is a long track record of those same players not wanting to leave the area.
Nigel Bradham: It’s make or break time for Bradham in Buffalo, and it’s not starting off the right way with a one game suspension. Bradham physically is nearly a perfect design of what you want in a LB. While he has made some slow gains as a player thus far it’s time that he either makes the leap to the next level or the Bills must move on from him. I think the potential is there for him to be a solid starter in this league and at worst a good back up. He just needs to get his head on straight and finally put it all together.
Keith Rivers: Rivers is a solid NFL LB who can fill in at all three LB spots. I liked the signing when it happened because I believed him to be a great fit as depth on the roster and a vet the younger players could lean on. Due to the Alonso injury the Bills will have to cash in on this depth a lot sooner and for a lot more time than anticipated. Rivers at this point in his career isn’t going to wow anyone. You can however count on him to be where he is supposed to be and hold the fort down. In this league that has value
Preston Brown: With Alonso out Brown is getting some looks at OLB. It’s worth trying at this point but his true spot is roaming the middle of the field. Brown had a solid college career and is much in the mold of B.Spikes but with a little higher upside when it comes to defending the pass. With the Bradham suspension and the Alonso injury he is likely going to get his first start week 1. So the opportunity is there to impress right from the get go. Hopefully for him and the Bills he seizes it and gives them no reason to take him off the field the rest of the year
Randell Johnson: Johnson is a real raw athlete the Bills took a chance on in the 7th round. They have tried him at a couple spots such as DE and OLB. I think he is a bit of a long shot to make the roster unless he really flashes on special teams. I think Johnson is a project for the Bills that they hope to stash on the practice squad for the year. There is a lot to like about him athletically so I think a year from now he will be getting a much more serious look
Jimmy Gaines: Gaines is the local product that entered camp as a long shot to make the roster. The thing about that however is he is putting together a nice training camp. Gaines has already made some nice plays and is showing a good all-around skill set. I think he still has to make the team via special teams play but as of right now I think he is a lock for at minimum a practice squad spot. He may very well sneak onto the 53 if he keeps his upward trend momentum at camp going
Sylvester Stevenson: Stevenson has 4 years in the league so that gives him a little better shot at the roster. He has received some first team reps and flashed here and there much like every other LB not named Spikes or Rivers to date. I think he has a decent shot at the roster given his experience in the league
Ty Powell: Powell is an interesting player. He shows flashes here and there but can never seem to put it all together. I think he is a high effort player that will show enough to make the roster however. He does well on special teams and the snaps he has taken he doesn’t look completely lost. 50/50 shot and special teams play could be the difference
Xavius Boyd: Real long shot to make the roster. Would have to make an impression on Special Teams for consideration
Jacquies Smith: Another real long shot to make the roster. Special Teams play is his only way to the 53 or practice squad
Overview: LB had the potential to be a good unit prior to the Kiko injury. It can still be solid but the Bills will need to find a gem in the cluster of Lower Tier FA’s/UDFA’s or have Preston Brown come up big as a rookie much the way Kiko did. That however is pretty unrealistic at this point. I expect the group to be average. They will not kill the defense but they are not going to be a strength either. The real liability is in the passing game for this unit. Still the Bills may catch lightning in a bottle because competition brings out the best in players and there are a lot of open positions at this point. What is going to separate who makes the team I imagine will be the LB who displays the best skills in defending the pass and there play on special teams.
CJ Spiller, The Never Ending Debate...
Ah yes, the never ending CJ Spiller debate has popped up again. From the moment he was drafted Bills fans everywhere have been debating about him pretty much nonstop. From should the Bills have picked him with Lynch and Jackson on the roster? How smart is drafting a RB in today’s NFL in the top 10? Who should start, Jackson or Spiller?
The debate still rages on today. Now the Questions being debated are if Spiller should be traded or should he be extended? If extended, for how much? If traded, for how much? This is how the debate marches on for Spiller and Bills fans
What makes the topic so debatable is the talent that Spiller clearly has. In 2012 the Bills finally got to see what made Spiller a highlight show at Clemson and a top 10 pick. It looked like it had all finally clicked for CJ, he was decisive and explosive throughout the whole year. He made defensive players look silly week in and week out and finally started keeping opposing defensive coordinators up at night.
The problem however is that is not the Spiller the Bills and their fans always see. If it was extending his contract would be an absolute no brainer for the Bills and there would be no debate about whether or not to keep him. The only debate would be is if he can take down the single season rushing record.
Spiller has a pension for getting hurt, not major injuries mind you, but small nagging ones that always keep him from his full potential. That coupled with the fact that Spiller will go through stretches where he isn’t decisive, which renders his explosive ability moot. That Spiller is what drives the debate day in and day out with him and what exactly the Bills should do moving forward.
In reality it all comes down to what Spiller wants in terms of a deal and what the Bills want both short term and long term at the position. These are loaded questions and not easy ones to answer, especially when you are talking about a position in RB that has lost so much value in the league today. So first let’s look at the money situation from both sides.
From a contract perspective I have stated in the past that I believe Spillers worth to be just north of the Reggie Bush deal. He signed a deal for 4 years, 16 million, and 4 million of the deal is guaranteed. Spiller is better in my opinion but not by a whole lot at this point. They have similar styles and similar roles in an offense. I do however give Spiller the edge in that I believe him to be a better pure RB than Bush is. Bush has a slight edge over him in the passing game.
With that in mind I believe Spiller is worth about a 21 million dollar deal for 4 years and about 8 million guaranteed. What brings me to that contract outline is the value of RB’s in today’s game, his age, and who his comparable counterparts at his position. The deal represents a fair value for both sides. Now the real question is, where does Spiller perceive his value to be?
To answer that question you have to look at it from Spillers perspective. This will be his last and only chance at a major deal. He will be 27 this year and in the first year of the new deal he will be 28. So he has to strike and strike now. This year will be huge for Spiller in that he has to show that 2012 is the standard with him and not a fluke. So I would expect Spiller to be extra motivated and salivating for as many carries as possible. This will either lead to huge numbers or a down year because he is pressing.
(A side bar to this is that how the carries are distributed will be a delicate situation with this RB group. You have Spiller in a contract year, you have the proven vet in Jackson, and you have a young hungry RB in Bryson who has never had a big pay day in the league. This isn’t going to be easy for Marrone because they are all going to want the bulk of the carries. Two of the three are going to be really pressing for carries because it is directly tied to their immediate financial future. If not handled right you could see a very disgruntled group very early into the season.)
Now if a 2012 like year gets put on the books for Spiller in 2014 than his price will obviously be high. He will likely be looking for something in the 5 years, 35 million, 15 million guaranteed neighborhood. Now mind you all of these numbers are just educated guesses by myself based on deals I have seen in the past. Given that Spiller does not have an agent is also a big wild card in this situation.
The contract numbers represent around the average of what some of the upper tier RB’s have signed in recent years. Given Spillers explosive ability and if a big season happens in 2014 I expect that is where he will place his value. The problem is that is a significant gap to cover between the two sides. It’s such a gap that the two sides may just look at it as an insurmountable impasse. Which in turn may lead to the two sides parting ways.
Now before the Bills and Spiller even engage in contract discussions it should be asked if Spiller even fits what Marrone and the Bills want in a RB. The Bills chased Bryce Brown for a year and finally landed him, they added a bigger RB in Anthony Dixon in free agency, and just extended out Fred Jackson for one more year. So in terms of the position they have three players locked up past this year.
In terms of talent I would say that none of them are on Spillers level at this point. All three have one thing in common and it’s that they are all bigger than Spiller. With as much as the Bills like to run the ball Marrone seems to gravitate towards bigger RB’s who he can grind out drives with as opposed to the speedsters who while can pop one can also get dropped for no or minus yards are a regular basis until they do.
What also is not helping Spillers case to stay with the Bills after this season is that this RB draft class coming up has the potential to be the deepest and most talent crop in the last decade. You could see 2-4 RB’s taken in the first round, which in today’s NFL would be impressive. You will also be seeing good talent at the position all the way into the third round. Nothing is a lock but there is no way this isn’t in the back of a lot of teams minds right now.
So where do the Bills go from here? I wouldn’t say that the Bills are actively pursuing a trade but I don’t think you can say that they wouldn’t listen. For those who say they would never do it and its impossible haven’t been paying attention to this team over the last decade when they feel they have to many good players at one position. Trading Spiller is without a doubt a possibility.
In terms of value it varies on what is going on in the league in terms of injuries. If the Bills get offered a 1st rounder Spiller would be shipped out immediately. If some team offered a 2nd, depending on the team, I think they would strongly consider it and there would be a better than 50/50 shot of the Bills taking it. A 3rd rounder from a non-playoff team would give pause but I think they would turn it down. A 3rd from a playoff team I think would get turned down and anything after that.
When he would get traded is also a point of contention. I personally don’t think it will be in the preseason unless some team comes hard after him. I don’t think the Bills want to really move him right now and would like to talk contract through camp. The time I think you will really start to see the rumors and spec amp up is at the trading deadline. If the Bills season is not looking good at that point you may see the Bills go into seller mode with Spiller. To a playoff team he could be the offensive jolt needed to get that team to the Super Bowl. That would have value and the Bills would get a return on the asset instead of letting him walk away in free agency
Myself personally, I would like to see the Bills keep Spiller. If they are serious about making a run at the playoffs I don’t see how you can trade a dynamic player like Spiller and continue to sit there with a straight face telling the fans and media that it’s all about making the playoffs this year. At that point you are not only lying to the fans and media, you are lying to yourself
Spiller is a dynamic talent and the more of those players you have on offense the better you are going to be. Spiller combined with Watkins gives the Bills two players who are a threat to go the distance from anywhere on the field. That has a tremendous amount of value to any team trying to make a playoff run. To just give that away would be asinine at best
This is also a team that obviously like to run the ball. They have built an offense and an OL around that philosophy. You need as many good RB’s as possible if you are going to run the ball as much as the Bills like to. The reality is they are going to get banged up as the season goes along. The way the Bills roster sets up now, they can be depleted all the way down to third string and still have a starting caliber RB taking snaps. Why if you are the Bills give that advantage up? It makes no sense at this point
With that said however I do think this will be Spillers last year as a Bill. I cannot see the Bills with 3 RB’s already locked up giving Spiller close to the pay day he wants at age 28. Honestly I cannot blame them, those contracts with RB’s have a very strong history of blowing up in a team’s face. So I’m going to enjoy watching Spiller in what I think will be his final season in a Bills uniform. I would like to see him stay the year and hopefully be a key contributor in the first Bills playoff run in over a decade.
Preseason Quick Look: WR
( @merk256 )
Sammy Watkins: Get excited Bills fans, no seriously get excited. Watkins right now is displaying in training camp what made him such a special talent at Clemson and it's transitioning to the next level. There will be some to that say "slow down" and "he has to develop". Reality is this is what I and some others are talking about when we say you just know when some players are truly special right away, this is what that looks like. As some of you know I am a big Chicago Bulls fan (Bills? Bulls? Bills = Bulls... I don't know, it made sense when I was like 6) and this is what it was like when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose. From the moment Rose stepped on the court in summer league and then his first pro game against the Milwaukee Bucks you could just tell he was on another level. He hadn't yet mastered the finer points but you knew he would because he is just another rare level of talent. That's what I'm seeing with Watkins right now. He simply cannot be handled one on one by anyone from day one. Aside from his physical skills that are pretty blatant what gets you excited about Watkins is the dedication he has shown so far to improving and mastering his craft. It’s that type of dedication and work ethic that separates the good from the great.
Mike Williams: The Bills traded for Williams during the offseason in very much a low risk high reward move. Williams has been plagued with Injuries and some off the field concerns here and there. So the Bills bought low on a very talented player in hopes that a return home can get his career back on track. Williams is the physical presence that the Bills have been looking for in a WR for some time. He plays bigger than he is listed and can really hurt opposing defenses with the ball in his hands racking up YAC. There were some rumblings during OTA’s that Williams may not make the roster. I don’t buy that for a second, there will not be 6 WR’s at camp more talented than Williams. I expect big things from Williams this year, especially in the red zone
Robert Woods: Woods turned in a fine rookie season. So much so that the Bills felt comfortable trading away Stevie Johnson. Woods is a dedicated route runner with deceptive speed and good hands. He can play inside or out and has a hand up on both Williams and Watkins in that he is the one of the top 3 WR’s on this team that has actually a caught a regular season pass from EJ Manuel. With teams focusing in on Watkins and Williams early in the season I expect big things from Woods
Marquise Goodwin: If there is one thing Goodwin proved last year it’s that if you’re a CB and you make one wrong step while he is running any type of deep pattern, then you may be watching a TD celebration about 4 seconds later. Goodwin to my surprise is much more of a WR than I gave him credit for coming out of Texas. He is not just a track star masquerading as a football player. He is still a bit raw of a route runner but the skill is there. Goodwin main focus this year has to remain healthy. His speed does this team no good on the sideline
TJ Graham: Graham I feel is one of those players that the coaching staff and the front office desperately want to work out. The reality is though he shows on a game by game basis exactly why everyone thought he was drafted way to high. Is TJ fast? Without a doubt, the problem however is that is about all he is. He has very suspect hands as he did in college and if it’s not a go or a post he is a terrible route runner. For some reason though he still receives far more regular season snaps than he has shown that he deserves. I think he is very much on the bubble but the Bills may ride it out with him one more year
Marcus Easley: Easley will flash every now and then on offense. Which he should because he has pretty much everything you want in terms of a physical build for a WR. His niche in this league and team however is on Special Teams. Which should surprise no one considering when he was at UConn he was one of the top ST’s players in the country if not the top. Easley has a great shot at making the team because I don’t see anyone topping his special teams ability and the Bills have made upgrading that unit a goal this offseason. Cutting him would downgrade that unit
Chris Hogan: Here is the thing with Hogan, during the preseason he is an excellent slot WR who runs good routes and has excellent hands. During the regular season however that all seems to get downgraded. I think he has a bit of an uphill battle to make the team. On special teams he doesn’t show much so he is going to have to prove that he is an asset on offense. Problem is the Bills may be inclined to roll the dice on a more physical gifted WR with upside if they keep 6
Kevin Elliott: Elliott has a lot of raw ability, but the problem is he seems to be on the sideline a lot due to various ailments. He has a shot at the roster but must remain healthy through training camp. 50/50 for him at this point
Naaman Roosevelt: Local product who is on his second stint with the team. The advantage for him against the rest of the bottom of the roster is he has been around the league and has actually regular season games under his belt. I really don’t see him making the roster but could be pulled off the street in season if injuries take hold
Caleb Holley: Showed some skill during OTA’s. I really don’t think he has a shot at the roster this year with how deep the unit is shaping up right now. Holley is competing for a practice squad spot during camp
Tori Gurley: Good size, no real shot at the roster, playing for the practice squad
Chris Summers: Good measurable but Like Gurley is not really in play for the 53. He will be fighting it out for a practice squad spot
Overview: The potential of this group is extremely high at this point. It is deep and talented with a good mix of skill sets. With Watkins leading the way the WR group could end up being one of the better ones in the NFL this year. I imagine the team will keep 6 and the player who was on the team last year who’s spot is vulnerable is TJ Grahams. The most likely player to unseat him is Hogan but Elliott if he can stay healthy will make a push also. Ultimately though I think Graham edges them both out and makes the roster because the reality is you can’t teach speed
Preseason Quick Look: DT
( @merk256 )
Kyle Williams: I mean, what can you really say about Williams. He is still producing at a high level at a point where most DT’s would start declining rather rapidly. Williams is the pulse of the Bills defense and an obvious fan favorite. I don’t expect this to be the year father time starts to catch up with him but that time will eventually come. Bills fans should enjoy his level of play, effort, and toughness while they can
Marcell Dareus: From the end of the season through the offseason and up to the start of training camp have been pretty much a disaster for Dareus. There is no denying his talent, Dareus has the skill and athletic ability to be a consistent top 5 DT in the NFL. The problem however is his off the field actions really bring into question how dedicated Dareus is to maxing out his potential. For the Bills defense to take the next step, outside of Mario, Dareus has to be playing to the level that the Bills started to see last year. The Bills will have tough decision to make in the upcoming off-season’s as to whether or not to extend Dareus out. There is too much talent and Dareus is too important to the this defense reaching its potential to just give up on him
Alan Branch: Branch is another player that really took to Pettine’s scheme last year. While he may not be thrilled to be in Schwartz scheme I think he will eventually take to it. Branch is not great at any one thing but solid at all of them. He is pretty much exactly what you look for in a depth rotational player. The Bills were wise to lock him up long term before free agency kicked off
Stefan Charles: Charles is the DT I am most interested in seeing this preseason. I think he was a good fit for Pettine’s scheme but I think he is a great fit for Schwartz scheme. There is a lot of potential with Charles. He moves very well for a player his size and he also anchors very well. Charles has the athletic ability and while he showed flashes last year. What will take him to the next level is improvements in the finer points of the position including most importantly his hand technique
Corbin Bryant: Bryant was a solid contributor last year and a good back up. How and if he makes the roster will be interesting. The Bills could decide to keep 5 DT’s but if they don’t Bryant could sneak onto the roster as a DE. While he may not be an ideal fit at all he does have experience out there, add in the experience at DT and that versatility is what may get him onto the 53
Damien Jacobs: I really don’t see Jacobs making the roster. He is young enough where he may make it to the Practice squad but I see that as less than 50%
Landon Cohen: Cohen I don’t see making the roster either. He is a camp body at this point
Overview: The Bills have a good mix of vets, players heading into their prime, and Depth at the DT position. Williams is the rock that the group can count on. Dareus however is the player that is the most important at this point. He has to get his head on straight and fast. He is the difference for this position being one of strength for the next 5 years or one that needs to be overhauled.
Preseason Quick Look: DE
( @Merk256 )
Mario Williams: Mario is the type of talent and DE that you can put in any defense and he will produce. So the scheme switch I imagine will not have that great an impact on him. He really took to Pettine’s scheme last year but the early reports are that he is in even better shape this year and looks great so far in camp. This is big because Williams is going to be critical to the success of the Bills this year. Even when he isn’t getting to the QB he is drawing attention to him that allows other players along the Bills DL to flourish
Jerry Hughes: Hughes is the player I am most intrigued by in this defense. It looked like the lights clicked on last year and he became the player the Colts thought they were getting coming out of TCU. Now most of that pressure came from beating TE’s, RB’s, and taking advantage of overloaded side blitz’s. Those situations will not be as plentiful this year for Hughes. He will have to beat LT’s on an island for the most part in this defense. How he will fair will be something to follow but players like Hughes have had success in Schwartz style of defense in the past
Manny Lawson: Lawson has been a misfit for nearly every defense he has played in through his career. Then last year he finally finds himself in a defense that fits him and his skills to only have it taken away from him after only one year. It’s a tough break but so is life in the NFL. I think Lawson skills actually fit what Schwartz wants out of his DE’s. Now he needs to buy into it and I believe that he will. I expect a good amount of rotation between Hughes and Lawson from the DE spot
Jarius Wynn: Of the next 3 DE players in camp Wynn likely has the inside track on landing on the 53 man roster. I imagine they will want to keep a bigger DE around for obvious run plays. Wynn is by no means a lock to make the roster but his experience will give him a very good advantage
Bryan Johnson: Decent Measurable and fit for the scheme. I don’t see him making the roster but could be a candidate for the practice squad
Igbinosun Ikponmwosa: The name alone is reason enough to make the roster. He will be challenging Wynn to be the reserve DE in run situations. He is still young which may be to his advantage if the Bills staff decides that they value his upside over Wynn’s experience. Still, uphill climb to make the roster
Overview: The unit overall is not very deep and has question marks outside of Williams. It is really going to come down to how well and fast Lawson and Hughes adapt and take too the new defensive scheme. I was surprised that the Bills were not more aggressive this offseason with this position. From a starters standpoint it could work out. However the Bills become real vulnerable if even one injury occurs to Williams, Hughes, or Lawson
Preseason Quick Look: RB/FB
( Twitter: @merk256 )
Fred Jackson: Fred is arguably the most popular player on the roster from a fan standpoint. He pretty much embodies everything that the city of Buffalo stands for and wants in their players. Jackson at age 33 is still a jack of all trades RB who is useful and effective in any situation. While he always produces age is catching up with him and he is often banged up through the season. Luckily for him, though he may not agree, Buffalo has enough talent and depth to limit his carries which will ultimately make him more productive and extend his career.
CJ Spiller: Spiller is the constant tease for fans, coaches, and yes Fantasy Football players. The explosion is clearly there. When Spiller has the ball in his hands and is in his zone he is arguably the most feared and dangerous RB in the NFL. Problem is keeping the fine-tuned machine that is Spiller in good running condition has been an issue for him so far in his career. He also is very much a peak and valley player, either he is really on and feeling it making explosive runs or he is not feeling it and getting stopped for no gains. One thing I will say though is you really cannot question his toughness. He played though nagging painful injuries last year and was still the fastest player on the field most games. Given it’s his contract year I expect an extra motivated and focused Spiller. I also imagine you will see his name pop up in numerous trade rumors, especially if the bottom has already fallen out on the Bills season in October
Bryce Brown: League wide not very much was made or thought of with this trade that landed the Bills the former Eagle they have been chasing for a year now. In reality this could be the sleeper move of the offseason for the Bills. Brown has a good combination of speed and power that Marrone looks for in his RB’s. When adding Brown to the mix that is already on the roster the Bills have a very deep and talent stable of RB’s. The Bills also may have bigger plans beyond this season for him give that Fred and CJ are both FA’s at the end of the year, Brown however is not
Anthony Dixon: Dixon was a solid free agent signing by the Bills. He brings a jack of all trade ability to the back field group. He can serve a purpose in both the RB and FB roles. While he is not a lock to make the roster I wouldn’t bet against it at this point. The Bills clearly focused on upgrading the Special Teams unit this offseason and he is likely to be a key contributor in that upgrade. The fact that he comes from a winning team in a tough division is a nice bonus
Frank Summers: I see Summers as being on the bubble at this point. What’s helping him is that he is the only true FB with experience at the position currently on the roster. Summers making the team will come down to his special teams play and how much the Bills want to and will incorporate a true FB into the offense. I see it as a 50/50 shot
Ronnie Wingo: I don’t mind Wingo, he has some physical attributes you look for in a RB. The reality is however that if he is getting carries during the season you’re in trouble. I can’t see him making the 53 without big injuries
Evan Rodriguez: Has an uphill climb for to make the 53 but it’s not impossible. Good athlete but needs to make it via the Special team’s route
Overview: this is one of the most talented and deepest position on the Bills. Given how much the Bills like to run the ball it makes sense that it should be. What is going to be interesting is following the carries week to week and trying to keep the top 3 happy. History dictates that at least 2 of the 3 will have injuries that will keep them out of games through the year so the problem may solve itself. Looking forward it will also be interesting to see who the Bills keep between Spiller and Jackson. They may actually surprise everyone and let both walk. Spiller may want to much money and Jackson may want to spend his final couple years chasing a title. The bills however should be fine with Brown and what is shaping up to be the deepest and most talented RB draft class in nearly a decade coming up in 2015. The potential of that RB class may be a reason they are not in a rush to extend Spiller, that and his possible big money demands
Preseason Quick Look: QB
( Twitter: @Merk256 )
EJ Manuel: The clear cut starter has a lot on the line this year. The Bills made some bold moves and also never really entertained the idea of bringing in a vet to challenge EJ even with the moratorium from the organization to win now. EJ had a real up and down rookie year and lost really valuable time to some knee injuries. EJ doesn’t have to become Andrew Luck, he never will be, but he has to at least show he is heading in the right direction. When the Bills drafted him I stated either the Bills just drafted Jason Campbell or they just drafted Ben Roethlisberger. To date I don’t think you can make a definitive statement either way. By the end of the year, or possibly earlier, however the Bills and its fan base should have a much clearer picture
Thad Lewis: Right now the backup QB job is his to lose. Lewis was a nice surprise for the Bills last year in that when the trade was made no one really thought much about him. When he received his opportunities to play the offense didn’t really seem to look all that much different. Now, I don’t know if that means Lewis is better than most thought or maybe you can spin it into EJ isn’t as good, that’s a debate for another day. Lewis will face a battle from Jeff Tuel but Ultimately I see him making the team and winning the backup QB spot. He throws a nice deep ball and his toughness does not go unnoticed by teammates and fans
Jeff Tuel: Tuel put up some decent numbers during the preseason last year and by all accounts and reports from the Bills he has made some big strides in the offseason. Tuel has an uphill climb at this point to un-seed Lewis in the backup role but it’s not impossible. If he fails to do that he will be on the roster bubble for the final 53
Dennis Dixon: Dixon physical attributes have allowed him to stay in and out of the league for the last five years. The reality for Dixon however is that he is nothing more than a camp arm for the Bills and or a emergency QB than can pull off the street who has a clue about the team during the season if the injury bug strikes the team
Overview: This position and team comes down to one player, EJ Manuel. The season and future of the team rest squarely on his ability to get better and develop. Good news for the Bills is that they have 5 preseason games this year. That could not have come at a better time for the Bills or Manuel given the time he missed last year. Manuel needs as many reps as possible
Cordy Glenn, Big Questions About a Key Player
I’ll Admit, the Cordy Glenn illness and lack of information coming from the Bills has me a little nervous. Not only from a football standpoint but also looking at it from Glenn and his family’s standpoint. Glenn is well on his way to having a standout NFL career and hopefully it’s nothing serious. Given the complete lack of information though, its seems to be leaning toward the more serious side of things rather than just a flu virus
I like Glenn, in fact I like him so much I thought he was easily the Bills offensive MVP last year and clearly it’s most talented player on that side of the ball. I was wrong about him coming out of college. I thought when the Bills selected him in the 2nd round they just landed their RT for the next decade or at the very worst a good starting Guard for the same period of time. What I failed to realize it the Bills just landed themselves their franchise Left Tackle. Let’s be clear, that’s the level Glenn was playing at in 2013.
While most teams are chasing franchise LT’s in the first the Bills quietly selected one in the 2nd round in the 2012 NFL draft. It seems fitting because he has quietly become what so many teams spend first rounder’s and big free agent money trying to acquire. After an up and down rookie year Glenn settled right in at LT in 2013 and you rarely heard his name called at all during any of the Bills games. That is usually a very good sign for any offensive lineman.
From a skill set perspective I would argue Glenn is already one of if not the best run blocking LT in the league right now. He is truly punishing in that aspect of the game. What has taken his game to the next level however is how far he has come in his pass blocking in such a short amount of time. Glenn only surrendered 1.5 sacks last year. That is an impressive number for a player most thought, including myself, couldn’t handle the speed and elite rushers that LT’s have to face game in and game out. However he proved he could handle those elite rushers and handle them at an elite level.
This is why the possibility of losing Glenn for any lengthy amount of time could have a very negative impact on the Bills offense. The QB’s are used to have blind side protection and a left tackle that they can create push and holes in the run game Sunday after Sunday. Removing that from the offense can have a detrimental effect that no one was expecting all offseason. So I along with all Bills fans hope that Glenn has a speedy recovery from whatever illness ails him so we can continue to watch him grow into an elite player, but most importantly for him to have a long and healthy life.
Are The Bills Ahead of The Offensive Trend in The NFL?
(twitter: @merk256 )
The NFL is a cyclical league, offenses and defenses react off each other all the time. The Tampa 2 for example was employed to slow down the West Coast offense. This required defenses to get smaller and quicker so they could cover more ground. Offenses then reacted again by getting bigger to take advantage of the smaller defenses they were facing. This round and round has been going on for decades in the NFL. The Bills over the past two off-season’s have been setting themselves up to be ahead of the curve this time instead of behind it
This is often dubbed a passing league now with more and more teams moving towards a spread offense. This is requiring defenses to sink more assets into players that have the movement skills to play in space. They also need to be faster up front to account for the QB getting the ball out of his hands quicker. In general, to gain speed you must sacrifice size. Minus the few freak athletes that will arise from time to time like the Clowney and Mario Williams of the world, but those are few and far between.
Eventually you will see offenses react to this to once again gain an advantage. San Francisco has already figured this out and built their team accordingly. The Bills however look to have also to recognized where the league is moving and decided to get out ahead of it. Buffalo this offseason and last offseason have set a premium on size when it comes to the OL. Players like Williams, Kouandjio, Richardson, Henderson, ect all have a lot in common. They are all well over 6 feet, all well past 300 pounds, and are all known more for their run blocking more than their pass blocking. That is a lot of power up front. Those additions also coincides with them having little issue letting a lighter better pass protector than run blocker, Andy Levitre, walk last offseason.
The Bills clearly are looking for and have acquired bigger offensive lineman who specialize in run blocking for a reason. They have also put a premium on acquiring and trying to hold together a stable of RB’s that can take advantage of this OL for the same reason. They see the league trending down in size on the defensive side and want to take advantage of it by having bigger stronger offensive lineman who can drive these defenders off the ball. This is important because with Jackson, Spiller, and now Brown in the fold the Bills will always have a fresh RB available to them with each having their own style of running. Some may think that the addition of Brown means the end of Spiller or Jackson but I don’t think it does. Too many times last year one or both were banged up and couldn’t go full speed. The addition of Brown(and Dixon to an extent, but he may be moved to FB) gives them a talented option to go to if they have a repeat of the nagging injuries to Spiller and Jackson.
The advantage of this is across the board. It allows the Bills to control the game speed and wear down opposing defenses. This in turn sets up nice for the Bills young QB EJ Manuel. The pressure is lifted off him if the Bills are controlling the game on the ground. It reduces the number of plays he has to make each game. It also opens up the play action and more plays against a worn down defense which will always favor any QB.
So why would the Bills sink so much into acquiring Sammy Watkins then? The reason is the Bills, even though Goodwin and sometimes Woods flashed here and there at this, need a consistant deep threat. If you are going to lead the league in rushing and attempts you are naturally going to drag more and more defenders into the box. You need a player or two that can take advantage of this and the Bills may have acquired two of them.
Both Watkins and Williams are very talented with the ball in their hands, Watkins especially, he is a YAC machine. So in reality EJ doesn’t need to complete a 30-50 yard bomb. What he needs to do is to get it to Watkins or Williams on the second level vs a defense that has sunken down slightly into the box to defend the run. If he can do this you have them one on one with a safety in space, advantage Bills. Watkins and Williams eyes will light up with that matchup because they are both virtually RB’s in space with the ball in their hand. Beat one defender and there is likely nothing between them and the end zone now. This is the type of WR the 49ers have been trying to add for years now but never seem to be able to. It’s why the 49ers were linked to Odell Beckham Jr. so much leading up to the draft. He is basically Sammy Watkins Light
A lot still has to play out in terms of draft picks living up to potential for this style of play to work out and be effective. I for one am finally glad to see that the Bills finally have a staff and a front office that seem to be cognizant of getting out in front of the league trends rather than being late to the party as they seem to have been doing for the past decade and a half.
2014 Draft Review: The Bills Go All In
(Twitter: @merk256 )
The 2014 NFL Draft has come to a close and now its time to look at the Buffalo Bills class of 2014. I’m going to hand out grades for each pick and the grade is a representation of a number of things. I base it on the overall talent of the prospect, the round he was selected, who else was on the board, and the need at the time. I do not factor in trades.
Round 1: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson- I don’t factor in trades but I’m going to use this to examine the entire scope and significance of this selection. Reason being is it could have a dramatic affect on the fortunes of this franchise both good and bad
The Trade: 2014 9th overall, 2015 1st rounder, 2015 4th rounder- The big part about this is obviously the 2015 first rounder. I have been clear on this for many years and the history of the league supports my stance, the trading away of future first round picks for non potential franchise QB’s does a team more harm than good. The examples are numerous. This trade is no different, I believe the Bills gave up too much to go up and get Watkins. For a team that isn’t exactly an elite free agent destination and year after year says that it will build through the draft, those 1st round picks are valuable assets.
The Risk: The risk is pretty significant for this trade. If the Bills get through the season and end up not making the playoffs with a losing record, chances are that the bottom fell out on EJ Manuel. If that happens then the Bills are in a real tough spot for 2015 and likely up to 4 years after that. They will have no way to select or move up for an elite QB prospect in 2015 and will have to settle to find one in the 2nd or wait till 2016. At this point the dismantling of the roster will likely have begun because guys like Kyle Williams and Mario will be heading out of their primes by the time 2016 rolls around. They will also burn through a good portion of Watkins rookie deal trying to find that QB again. EJ Manuel development is a big part of this working or not working
Then there is Watkins himself. There is a lot of pressure for him not just be good but be elite and not two years from now, he has to be a go to guy out of the gate. The front office made it clear they need to win right now. For that to happen Watkins needs to make an immediate impact. The risk is it usually takes WR’s a year or two to hit their full potential in the NFL. The Bills do not have that type of time right now
The risk is actually very minimal to non-existent for Whaley, Marrone, and Brandon. With new ownership on the way 9 times out of 10 the new owner is going to want to bring in his own guys. The only way to avoid that fate is to make the playoffs or come really close to doing so. If you are them, giving up that haul for Watkins is a no brainer because worst case you wont be around to have to deal with the fallout if it goes bad anyway
The Reward: Now as deep as the risk is the reward is just as high. If EJ takes the next step and starts looking the part and Watkins lives up to his pre draft hype the Bills could become an offensive juggernaut. Watkins skill set paired with Williams, Woods, and a great ground game that features Spiller, Jackson, and now Bryce Brown will be extremely tough to handle. The Bills will be set up from a financial standpoint and from a cohesive standpoint, as all the key players in the passing game are locked in for at least the next 3 years. That is a big deal in this league. How big a deal? The Bills could have just set themselves up for at possible 5 year long playoff run.
Summation of the trade: While I don’t agree with what the Bills gave up and the strategy employed, I can see why they did it. As the saying goes “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. This without a doubt breaks the Bills pattern of operation for the past 14 years.
Each Bills fan will differ on this trade and it will be a point of debate for a long time. Reality is if you are leaning towards believing EJ Manuel is a franchise QB then the compensation doesn’t bother you and it wont matter. If you are leaning towards the belief that EJ Manuel is not the guy at QB then you are likely not to be a fan of the compensation given up
Will it work? Only time will tell
The Player: The only player I had ranked ahead of S.Watkins was J.Clowney. Watkins is a really special talent and he showed that talent from the moment he stepped on the field at Clemson. He had three years of very good production and has beaten every type of CB and defense that opposing teams threw at him. Last year was no exception, teams knew he was getting the ball and could do nothing about it. He saved his best for when the lights were the brightest in the Orange Bowl. He put on a show in that game against Ohio State and displayed everything you would ever want in a number 1 WR. Watkins was the clear cut number 1 WR in what was a very deep WR class. Every Buffalo Bills fan should be excited about the talent that has been added. When he gets the ball in his hands he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field
Player Comparison: Sterling Sharpe-Some people reading this may not remember him but Sharpe in his prime was actually good enough to have a debate as to who was better between him and Jerry Rice. His career was cut short by a neck injury however. The reason I compare him to Sharpe is Watkins like Sharpe was the complete package at WR. One common skill between the two though is how they ran with the ball in there hand. Watkins much like Sharpe turned into a RB when he got the ball and was not afraid of contact. If Watkins can become a Sharpe type WR then the Bills hit a Home Run with this selection
Round 2: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama- Kouandjio for me had a first round grade, however given the medicals and some bad tape here and there he fell into the 2nd. I think the concern over is medical report is justified. I would not have, even though I graded him as such, spent a first rounder on him. 2nd round however I believe the risk becomes worth it. Kouandjio should fit right in on the right side. He plays with Power and has the length to handle the pass rushers he should see from that side. I think it’s a calculated risk and a no brainer pick for the Bills who have a massive hole on that side of the OL. What I really like about this pick is what I saw in the interviews afterwards and why I love the second round. Kouandjio looked absolutely livid that he fell to the 2nd. That is the exact motivation I want to see from a second round pick with that type of talent
Player Comparison: Orlando Franklin
Round 3: Preston Brown, LB, Louisville- I’ll admit I was not very high on Preston Brown pre draft. Personally I would have preferred C.Borland here. Brown to me is a little physically limited and I don’t think he has a future as a 3 down LB. I get the position as in the Bills need some protection for B.Spikes whom is on a one year deal. Brown I can see as some decent depth but I don’t know if I ever see him becoming a 16 game starter
Player Comparison: Andre Davis
Round 4:Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke- Shockingly I watched more Duke football last year than I have in the previous 20. What can I say they were good. Cockrell stood out the most on that defense. He has ok athletic ability but he makes up for it in toughness and football IQ. You won’t find to many players that will out work him. Some may recognize the name because he completely harassed Mike Evan last year to the point where he was having a mental breakdown on the sideline. That’s what Cockrell does he is physical, gets in your head, and beats you to your spot. A poor route runner like Evans gets real frustrated with CB’s like that. That is also a point of emphasis I look for every year in prospects, how does he perform when the lights get brighter? You want to see their game hit another level. This was a nice pick up by the Bills in the 4th round. I expect him to be cross-trained at both CB and S. With his football IQ it shouldn’t be too much for him
Player Comparison: Walter Thurmond
Round 5: Cyril Richardson, OL, Baylor- I’ll admit I’m a big Richardson fan. I had a 2nd round grade on him and one of the top 5 best OG’s in the class. Richardson is a good example of how the pre draft activities can sometimes hurt your stock more than it helps. If you were to go just off the Senior Bowl practices you think the 5th round is actually to high for him. His game tape however tells a much different story. Richardson is a mauler and road grader that will fit exactly what Marrone is trying to build on the OL. This pick may end up being the steal of the draft for the Bills
Player Comparison: Carl Nicks
Round 7: Randell Johnson, LB, FAU-The only reason I know this name is because Gil Brandt mention him as a possible Special Teams Ace on Sirius NFL radio. That was about three months ago and then I looked at him when I was looking through some sleeper picks. Physically Johnson has a lot of things you like in a player and is a team first guy. When it comes to 7th round picks this is what you tend to look for, a guy with good physical measurables that you might be able to mold into something. So for that I’m not going to kill them for this selection. There is a list of players I would have gone with over Johnson however but he is one to keep an eye on for in the development department. I imagine he lands on the practice squad
Player Comparison: Will Herring
Round 7: Sentrel Henderson, OT, Miami-This is the type of flier you take in the 7th round. You look for a player who has immense athletic ability, but has fallen for one reason or another. This could be a home run for the Bills if Henderson can get his act together. Marrone and company have apparently made it pretty clear he gets no strikes, any incident and he is gone. Hopefully this will awaken what could be an excellent player. I personally am rooting for him because it would be such a waste to see all his talent not used for what it was meant for. When he is on his A game he is a dominant OT that can handle both speed and power
Player Comparison: Michael Roos
2014 Draft Class Overall Grade: B+
The Bills entered this draft with a win now mind set and the players selected show it. They come out of it with arguably the best offensive player in the draft and possibly flipped the biggest hole left on the roster, RT, into a strength. They maneuvered around with what looked like a clear cut plan and attacked the draft rather then letting the draft just come to them. There is some risk among some of these prospects for varying degrees but the benefit is just as high with them. Sometimes you have to stop settling for walks and start swinging for the fences
Other Draft Weekend Notes
-Stevie Johnson trade: I’ll admit I am not happy about this move. The Bills after they picked Watkins gave themselves a big advantage over opposing defenses. With that Quartet of WR the Bills would have given themselves matchup advantages all over the field. They would have really tested the depth of an opposing secondary. No DC would want to figure out how to scheme and prepare for that much talent in an increasingly passing league. The Bills decided however they did not want that excellent advantage and gave it away for a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft.
My question is if the Bills are in a complete win now mode, why not keep that advantage? They would not have been pressed to the cap and opposing teams would have hated trying to matchup every week. To me the move made zero sense and was a very poor decision by the team. This team really has to stop giving away talented players for what amounts to nothing or peanuts
The only bonus is the Bills free up a good amount of cap room for 2015, cap room they will need in free agency for not having a 1st rounder and to extend out some up coming talent
-Bryce Brown Trade: Pretty even trade if you ask me. I like Brown better than any RB they could have taken in this draft and they do need a quality third RB. To many times last year Fred and CJ were both banged up at the same time. For a team that likes to run as much as the Bills do, you can’t have that and have sustained success. When R.Wingo and F.Summers are getting carries you have problems. Brown gives the Bills a quality 3rd RB who they won’t blink to get in the game while Spiller and Jackson get healthy
-The OL: Bills look like they are taking a page from the 49ers book in building the OL. They want big physical punishing run blockers. Add in the stable of Running Backs that both teams have and it’s pretty clear they plan on running the ball down opposing teams throats to soften them up. Then with the talent at WR take the top off them hopefully one or two times a game
-No DE: Little odd this weekend that the Bills didn’t take a DE. Lawson and Hughes are the players that will fill in across from Mario(I know some fans keep putting Branch at DE but he will not see any snaps there in Schwartz defense, the role in this D compared to Pettine D is completely different. Branch is a DT in this defense). Both players have had mixed results from playing that position over their careers. This to me is a pretty good risk for the Bills heading into the season. Reality is though you can’t fill every need
-Not taking a QB: Good amount of fans kept asking why are the Bills not taking a QB? Its pretty simple, either EJ is good or they are gone. That’s one of the statements made this weekend. They were not going to give up a pick on another QB when it can be used to help acquire more talent around EJ. Again this draft is about the right now, if EJ flops and new ownership takes over they will not get to see out the development of any QB selected this weekend
Bold Moves Will Define New Look Bills
Like last Year, the future grade on this draft will all fall on how special Sammy Watkins becomes. I like the aggressive move, but question the overall gain when factoring in the trading away of Stevie Johnson, who did not gel with the new Bills brass.
The Bills added depth and quality the rest of the way including Kounadijio who comes with a chip on his shoulder after being passed over in the first round. Kouandijio in the 1st round, potential bust, in the 2nd round with a motivating chip on his shoulder, potential beast.
The Bills continued the trend of drafting prospects they brought in for a visit. It's great that they get that extra time to build a comfort level. Finding prospects who want to be here is important. The Bills have finally started to draft well the past few years, but now to turn the corner they have to hold on to the stars they do find and develop. An endless carousel will only prolong the mediocrity.
Continue to: Full Bills Draft Analysis
2014 NFL Draft - Round 5 - Best of the Rest
- IOL: David Yankey, Stanford (Late 1st)
- CB: Marcus Roberson, Florida (Early 2nd)
- OT: James Hurst, North Carolina (Mid 2nd)
- OLB: Christian Jones, Florida State (Mid 2nd)
- RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (Mid 2nd) - Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
- IOL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (Mid 2nd)
- OT: Tiny Richardson, Tennessee (Late 2nd)
- DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (Late 2nd)
- OLB: Morgan Breslin, USC (Late 2nd)
- OLB: Jonathan Brown, Illinois (Late 2nd)
- ILB: Yawin Smallwood, UConn (Late 2nd)
- QB: AJ McCarron, Alabama (Early 3rd)
- SS: Craig Loston, LSU (3rd)
- CB: Louchiez Purifoy, Florida (3rd)
- SS: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (3rd)
- WR: Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State (Mid 3rd)
- ILB: Shayne Skov, Stanford (3rd)
- ILB: Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (3rd)
- DE: Aaron Lynch, South Florida (3rd)
- DT: Deandre Coleman, Cal (3rd)
- DT: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina (3rd)
- TE: Xavier Grimble, USC (3rd)
- QB: Zach Mettenberger, LSU(3rd)
- RB: Marion Grice, Arizona St (3rd)
- OLB: Trevor Reilly, Utah (3rd)
- OLB: Telvin Smith Florida State (3rd)
- RB: Terrence Cobb, Cumberlands
- OT: Charles Siddoway, Mississippi St - Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
- TE: Joe Don Duncan, Dixie St
- OT: Laurent Duverney-Tardit, Mcgill - Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
2014 NFL Draft - Round 4 - Best of the Rest
- OLB: Carl Bradford, Arizona St. (Late 1st)
- IOL: David Yankey, Stanford (Late 1st)
- RB: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona (Early 2nd)
- CB: Marcus Roberson, Florida (Early 2nd)
- OT: James Hurst, North Carolina (Mid 2nd)
- OLB: Christian Jones, Florida State (Mid 2nd)
- RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (Mid 2nd) - Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
- IOL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (Mid 2nd)
- OT: Tiny Richardson, Tennessee (Late 2nd)
- DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (Late 2nd)
- OLB: Morgan Breslin, USC (Late 2nd)
- OLB: Jonathan Brown, Illinois (Late 2nd)
- ILB: Yawin Smallwood, UConn (Late 2nd)
- QB: AJ McCarron, Alabama (Early 3rd)
- SS: Craig Loston, LSU (3rd)
- CB: Louchiez Purifoy, Florida (3rd)
- SS: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (3rd)
- WR: Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State (Mid 3rd)
- ILB: Shayne Skov, Stanford (3rd)
- ILB: Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (3rd)
- DE: Aaron Lynch, South Florida (3rd)
- OLB: Brent Urban, Virginia (3rd)
- DT: Deandre Coleman, Cal (3rd)
- DT: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina (3rd)
- IOL: Russell Bodine, North Carolina (3rd)
- TE: Xavier Grimble, USC (3rd)
- QB: Zach Mettenberger, LSU(3rd)
- RB: Marion Grice, Arizona St (3rd)
- OLB: Trevor Reilly, Utah (3rd)
- OLB: Telvin Smith Florida State (3rd)
- CB: Bashaud Breeland, Clemson - Buffalo Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
- CB: Ross Cockrell, Duke - Buffalo Bills Pre-Draft Visitor
- CB: Walt Aikens, Liberty
- RB: Terrence Cobb, Cumberlands
- OT: Charles Siddoway, Mississippi St
- TE: Joe Don Duncan, Dixie St
Some intriguing school prospects left on the board that the Bills may target on day 3. Liberty CB Walt Aikens and Cumberlands RB Terrence Cobb were both brought in to Buffalo for pre-draft visits and fill targeted needs. Dixie State TE Joe Don Duncan will make some GM look like a genius here today. Other Bills pre-draft visitors to keep an eye on are CB Ross Cockrell, CB Bashaud Breeland and RB Lache Seastrunk.
Top 9 for Round 2
(Twitter: @merk256 )
A quick look at who I think should be the top targets for the Bills in round 2. Anyone of these players I think can be an impactful player from day 1 on this team
1.Kyle Van Noy: One of my favorite players in the draft. He may not be the Bills biggest need but if they add him to this LB core this defense will take it to another level. All this kid does is make plays
2.S.Crichton: I am still of the thinking that the Bills are a lot thinner at DE then they think. I have a first round grade on Crichton, the guy is flat put relentless and would fit right in with this defense
3.C.Kouandjio: Health concerns kept him out of the first round. That risk becomes worth it in this round. When healthy he can be a very good OT and the right side would be an ideal fit for him
4.L.Nix: Again not the biggest need but the talent could just be too good to pass up. Nix when he is on is just a straight beast in the middle of a defense. Williams is getting up there in age and Dareus needs to get his head on straight so this could add some protection
5.A.Seferian-Jenkins: From an all around stand point, he’s the most complete TE in the draft. Some off the field concerns and consistency kept him out of the first. I still like the kid and think he can be an every down type of player
6.M.Moses: Plays with a lot of power and has a real good nasty streak about him. Has played LT but I believe his position on Sundays will be on the Right side of the OL. Would be a starter from day one
7.T.Niklas: He has some of the best hands in the draft regardless of position. I think he left a year too early so I think he may be a little bit of a work in progress but his upside is really high
8.M.Martin: I was late to the party on Martin but after going back over his games he really brings a lot to the table. He can play all 3 IOL positions at a very high level and while he is that road grader type Marrone likes he also plays light on his feet
9.S.Tuitt: System fluid player who is comfortable inside or out. In the Schwartz defense he would be a 3 tech, which would be a nice back up and future replacement for K.Williams
First Round Quick Takes
1.Houston: J.Clowney- With No QB on the board worth this pick Houston makes the obvious choice. Number one player on the board
2.St.Louis: G.Robinson-No brainer here, Robinson will in a year or two continue the great Ram tradition at LT
3.Jacksonville: B.Bortles-I don’t view this as big a surprise as it was painted to be. The need is clear and Bortles had a top 10 ranking
4.Buffalo: S.Watkins-Not a fan of what was given up but am a huge fan of the player. Watkins is my second rated player with only Clowney ahead of him. Make no mistake about it, no WR is close to him in this draft in terms of talent
5.Oakland: K.Mack-The 4 picks ahead of the Raiders could not have gone better for the Raiders
6.Atlanta: J.Matthews-The only OL that may be more poor last year was Miami. Need meets value at 6
7.Tampa Bay: M.Evans- I’ve never been a big fan of Evans and I think this is a reach based on my board. I think they will be right back to square one at this position in two years
8.Cleveland: .J.Gilbert-This trade made little sense to me because first I didn’t have Gilbert as the top rated CB and on top of that I don’t think anyone was really pushing to come up and get him
9.Minnesota: A.Barr-I like Barr more than most. Grant it, I’m not a fan of the scheme fit but Zimmer will find a way to get a lot out of him
10.Detroit: E.Ebron-This is about the right spot for him. I had him more in the teens but with C.Johnson grabbing all the attention he could put up good numbers
11.Tennessee: T.Lewan-As I tried to explain to some of my loyal Twitter Followers, the off the field issue will have no impact on his stock and the Titans showed it didn’t. He should be exactly like the player his is replacing in D.Stewart
12.NY Giants: O.Beckham Jr.-I like Beckham a lot. He was basically S.Watkins light in this draft. Great pick
13.St.Louis: A.Donald- I would have gone Fuller here but Donald added to those DE’s could make for a monster of a DL
14.Chicago: K.Fuller-Love this pick, I had Fuller as the top CB in the draft
15.Pittsburgh: R.Shazier-I’m not a big fan of this pick. I thought Shazier was an ideal 4-3 WLB. I don’t like the fit as a ILB in a 3-4
16.Dallas: Z.Martin- Jerry finally makes a pick that makes sense. Need meets value
17.Baltimore: CJ Mosley- I’ve never been high on Mosley I thought he was one of the more overrated players in the draft. It’s a system fit however
18.NY Jets: C.Pyor-Hate to say it, but this is an excellent pick by the Jets
19.Miami: J.James- Love to say it, this is a terrible pick by Miami and a big reach. Any Miami fan saying they are happy with this is lying
20.New Orleans: B.Cooks-One of the best picks of the first round. He in Brees will have a Welker Brady feel to it
21.Green Bay: H.Clinton-Dix- This is a good spot for Clinton-Dix. Need meets value for the Pack
22.Cleveland: J.Manziel- So Cleveland is the team that has made the Manziel mistake. They bought into the hype and reached big time for a very overrated player
23. Kansas City: D.Ford-Not a fan of the player nor fit. I thought this was a head scratcher. I would have gone with a WR like J.Matthews or M.Lee
24.Cincinatti: D.Dennard- I’m not a big Dennard fan. I feel he is destined to the same fate A.Williams has in Buffalo, a move to SS
25.San Diego: J.Verrett-In today’s NFL your nickel CB is now your starter
26.Phildelphia: M.Smith-Thought this was a bit of a Reach, I would have gone with Van Noy
27.Arizona: D.Bucannon- In my opinion one of the more underrated players in the draft. Should add to an already very good secondary
28.Carolina: K.Benjamin-Never a fan of Benjamin. I had a third round grade on him and I think he will have trouble separating in the NFL
29.New England: D.Easley-When healthy he can be a beast. Very boom or bust pick here but if it hits it will be one of the best steals of the draft
30.San Francisco: J.Ward-Ward will be an upgrade and make 49er fans forget Whitner very fast.
31.Denver: B.Roby-Real reach if they plan on keeping him at CB. If I’m Denver I move him to FS from day one
32.Minnesota: T.Bridgewater-It’s a good day when you can get the best QB in the draft with the last pick of the first round
Final First Round Mock of 2014
(Twitter: @merk256 )
1.Houston: J.Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2.St.Louis: G.Robinson, OT, Auburn
3.Jacksonville: K.Mack, LB, Buffalo
4.Cleveland: S.Watkins, WR, Clemson
5.Oakland: M.Evans, WR, Texas A&M
6.Atlanta: T.Lewan, OT, Michigan
7.Tampa Bay: J.Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
8.Minnesota: B.Bortles, QB, UCF
9.Buffalo: O.Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
10.Detroit: E.Ebron, TE, North Carolina
11.Tennessee: K.Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
12.NY Giants: A.Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
13.St.Louis: H.Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
14.Chicago: J.Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St
15.Pittsburgh: Z.Martin, OT, Notre Dame
16.Dallas: A.Barr, LB, UCLA
17.Baltimore: B.Cooks, WR, Oregon St
18.NY Jets: C.Pryor, S, Louisville
19.Miami: C.Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
20.Arizona: J.Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
21.Green Bay: CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
22.Philadelphia: D.Ford, LB, Auburn
23.Kansas City: M.Lee, WR, USC
24.Cincinnati: J.Ward, S, N.Illinois
25.San Diego: A.Dennard, CB, Michigan St
26.Cleveland: D.Carr, QB, Fresno St
27.New Orleans: J.Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
28.Carolina: M.Moses, OT, Virginia
29.New England: R.Hageman, DL, Minnesota
30.San Francisco: C.Latimer, WR, Indiana
31.Denver: R.Shazier, LB, Ohio State
32.Seattle: L.Nix, DL, Notre Dame
-From what I've been told the offensive staff is really high on Beckham. They have been all over him for most of the draft season. They went to LSU pro day, interviewed him at the Combine, and had him visit One Bills drive. He also makes an immediate impact on Special Teams which the Bills made a point of upgrading
-What would the Beckham bring to the Bills? First and foremost
he brings an immediate impact to Special Teams unit. This means improved field
position and possible points. From a WR point of view it’s hard to understand
why the Bills would add him after drafting two high last year and then trading
for Mike Williams. The Bills may be going for an overload at the position. In a
passing league if you can go 4 or 5 quality WR’s deep you can really test an
opposing teams depth at CB. That can turn into a big advantage and an even
bigger one if the opposing team has even one injury at the CB position
-I think OT will be a strong consideration if the Board falls a certain way. Problem is I keep coming back to the same thing every time I put an OT to the Bills at 9, Marrone believes he can coach up the OL and won’t want to use a high draft pick on one
-Which OT is pretty easily logically deduced. They don't think Robinson will make it down to them, Lewan was never brought in for a visit so I think you can say not interested. So you are left with Matthews who did visit and Martin who no one thought was a possibility at 9 until Mayock mentioned him for the Bills. Both are instant day 1 starters and an upgrade over the current incumbent E.Pears
-I think the only way the Bills move up is if Watkins or Robinson make it to 5 or 6
-I think Fans for the most part have become to consumed with adding draft picks in a trade down. Yes the additional picks can be beneficial. However it gets to a point where you are sacrificing better talent for more options. The Bills roster is as talented as it’s been in years. The depth is there and now it’s time to add one or two pieces and make a run
Rest of the Draft
-I really hope the NFL reconsiders keeping the draft in May. The Process is already drawn out way to far to begin with
-I think rotating the draft around the NFL cities is a good idea. New York is New York but for cities that will never get a Super Bowl this would be a consolation prize. I really think some of these smaller market teams would really embrace it and make it a week long festival that the local economy would enjoy
-Placing the QBs in the first is the hardest part of this
years draft. So much talent at other positions and you can still see a lot of
the remnants of the teams that reached big time on QBs in 2011 and got burned
-Raiders are the Raiders, completely unpredictable and the hardest team to gauge each year
-I really like K.Fuller, I think he is the best CB in the draft
-I didn't forecast any trades but I imagine there will be a good amount, especially teams jockeying for QBs
-Everyone looks at the amount of picks the 49ers
have and think it’s an asset but the reality is with a team as deep and
talented as their roster is, the draft picks don’t mean all that much. I would
expect them to look to start consolidating the picks
-It’s amazing the devaluation of the RB and ILB positions in this league. Look back at past draft over the 10 years, specifically the first round, and you will see teams blatantly say they can find those players anywhere
10 Prospects Outside the Top 10 that I think will be Good No Matter Where They Land
(twitter: @merk256 )
1.Kyle Van Noy, LB,
BYU: If you have been following me on Twitter the past two years you know I'm a
big fan of Van Noy. He has a complete game and is always attacking downhill.
Most importantly though he always around the ball and making plays. Another key
factor is Van Noy fits any type of scheme you want to run which is becoming
more valuable every year in the NFL
2.Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: Matthews has a lot of things I like in WRs. He is an excellent route runner and attacks his preparation as if he's a QB. Matthews has been my #2 WR on the board since October and will stay there through the draft. If Matthews had been on a more successful team, he wouldn’t be available outside the first round
3.De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR/KR/PR, Oregon: I've been sold on this kid since his freshman year. I don't care about the combine times or the size. The kid just makes plays. The best part about him is his versatility. I see a D.Sproles V2.0
4.Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St.: Crichton puts up good stats but even they sell him short. The guy is always in the backfield disrupting plays. He makes QBs move off their spot and makes RBs make cuts earlier than they want to. He is absolutely relentless
5.Carl Bradford, LB/DE, Arizona State: The Often used phrase of “Plays like his Hair is on fire” is a pretty good description of Bradford. The thing I like about Bradford is he can play with his hand in the dirt, on the outside, and for me I have also projected him to be able to play on the inside. He’ll likely go somewhere in the 2nd and much like I said about LB J.Collins last year, he will end up making a GM and Coach look really smart
6.TJ Jones, WR, Notre Dame: If you watched you watched any Notre Dame games last year you most certainly noticed one WR in particular making plays every game. That Player was Jones, he is the ideal fit for any team looking to add a slot WR that can churn out first down
7.Tre Mason, RB, Auburn: I like the way Mason runs, he keeps a low center of gravity and rarely allows a defender to get a clean shot on him. He reminds me a lot of Travis Henry with hopefully a lot less baggage.
8.James Hurst, OT, North Carolina: Hust is the forgotten man at the OT position in this draft. What really has impacted him is that he broke his leg in his Bowl game thus he hasn’t been able to really work out all that much. I had a mid 2nd on him and I still do. Someone is going to steal him on possibly as late as day 3 and get in my opinion a good starting OT for the next decade
9.Christian Jones, LB, Florida State: Jones Stats look a little bit odd from 2013 due mostly to the fact that FSU had him as a DE on some snaps. Reality is Jones is a far better LB than he is a DE. I like him best at WLB where his range and instincts let him make a lot of plays
10.Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor: I watched a lot of Baylor games this past year, like most for the explosive offense. However there was always one player that stuck on defense every game and that player was Dixon. Whether it was in the box or playing the middle of the field Dixon seemed to be all over the place.
Bills Notes and Thoughts
-Coming Home: The more I think about the Mike Williams trade the more I like it. Yes Williams has had some off the field issues but his talent is undeniable. Some would be concerned that coming home could be the worst possible thing for him. If he was younger I would agree with that. With Recent events however with his brother I think he realizes that the nonsense really needs to stop or the money is going to. I think Williams in familiar territory might be the best thing for him
-Fit: From a fit standpoint Williams should fit right in. He is a big target and known red zone threat that the Bills have wanted for a while. He also gives S.Johnson a legit running mate at the position making it much harder to roll the coverage towards Johnson. Williams is threat all over the field however because of his YAC ability which should come in very handy with the way the Bills like to spread the field
-Formations: The formation I am most looking forward to and hope the Bills plan on using it often is the 20 Personal (2 RB, 3WR). This personnel grouping gives opposing defenses a lot of issues from a matchup stand point. The key is having one of the RB’s being a team first guy and willing to block sometimes, the Bills have that in Fred Jackson
-Plus One, Minus One: I will never get this fan line of thinking that since Player A has been acquired that means Player B who plays the same position must now go. In this case its Mike Williams and Stevie Johnson. I ask why must Johnson go? He isn’t even in the top 15 of WR paid and the cap jumps up big time next year. By this time next year he likely won’t even be in the top 20 for average per year for WR’s. The most important part though is he along with Williams gives the Bills a very deep and talented WR group. A group that if held in tact is an advantage gained over opposing teams. The Bills should just give that right up after gaining it? Makes ZERO sense to me
-Pressure is on: With each of these moves the pressure mounts on EJ Manuel. He has at the skill positions along with LT and OC a level of talent that any 2nd year QB would kill for. Manuel needs to show a good amount of progress and he needs to do it early. If he doesn’t, I originally thought they would give him the full 16 game slate, he may only get 8 if he doesn’t show something. Honestly he should and hopefully will. The pieces are there on both sides of the ball with the Draft still to go
-Williams draft implications: This move doesn’t say to me that the Bills didn’t like the WR’s in the draft nor does it mean they wont take one. If Watkins or Evans are on the board at 9 both could very well be the pick. What this does tell me however is that the Bills don’t think Watkins or Evans are making it to 9, and I think that assumption is right. I don’t see Watkins getting out of the top 5 and the Raiders and Tampa Bay are said to be really high on Evans
-#9: I think its between Lewan and Ebron right now and I think it’s a flip of the coin. What do the Bills value more at this point, giving the running game and Manuels time in the pocket a boost or giving opposing defenses even bigger matchup problems? My guess would be Lewan is the pick right now but its very slight advantage in my mind. This move also increases the likelihood of a trade down if they can get a team to play ball. Keep an eye on the Rams again
-Draft Plan: I still to date don’t think any of the moves made thus far will prohibit the Bills drafting players at the acquired players positions. I still think they are all still in play
-Defense Drafting: I still think LB and especially DE could be high picks for the Bills. At LB Spikes is on a one year deal, Rivers is getting up there and is more of a very good back up than 16 game starter, and behind them isn’t a whole lot. Expect the Bills to draft at least 1 LB in this draft…At DE I’m surprised the Bills haven’t acquired one in FA’cy thus far. Right now the plan of Lawson and Hughes is a shaky one at best. Lawson while decent at setting the edge at LB is in for a whole new role in Schwartz defense. Hughes seems to fit the defense but again he is going from a blitzer who beat, garnered most his sacks on overloaded side blitzes and beating TE’s for sacks into trying to beat opposing OT’s on an island. His history says that’s not a good fit for him. I expect the Bills to go DE as early as round 2, possibly round one on a trade down
-CJ28 vs CJ28: Interesting nugget came out Friday that the Bills had engaged in discussions with the Titans for Chris Johnson. This says a couple things in my opinion. First Spillers negotiations are going to be tricky and the Bills likely got some preliminary numbers from Spillers camp and didn’t like what they heard. Number 2, I don’t buy into the actual interest in Johnson. I think the Bills engaged in this hoping the story would get out there to send a signal to Spillers camp that they do have options. I’m not worried about getting Spiller done because I think he is a good but not necessary player and next years draft will be the deepest RB draft of the past decade. I have first round grades on 4 RB’s in next years draft right now and that number could get to 6 by this time next year
-Hughes: Rotoworld reported on Friday that the Bills are prioritizing an extension for Jerry Hughes. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think the Bills clearly won the trade with the Colts and Hughes really took to Pettines scheme. The latter is where the problem lies. Hughes had been nothing but average to below average until he found his way to Pettine. Until the Bills know how he will react within the new scheme I would hold off. I think it makes sense to at least wait to see what he looks like in camp and a few preseason games before extending him out
-Dareus Deal: Now the deal that needs to get
done is Dareus. Dareus is a key player both now and moving forward for the
Bills. He is now living up to what most thought he would be when the Bills made
him the third pick in the draft. What makes a player like Dareus so valuable is
that he fits any defense and has the skill set to excel in any defense. That is
a very valuable trait. If the Bills can get this extension done this offseason
it will be the most important and key move they make all year
PFWR Prospect Countdown
Mike Watkins: @merk256 3/31/14
College: Fresno State
Vert: 39 ½
-Good Build and could add more weight if needed
-Very good set of hands and knows how to track the ball in air
-Physical player can rack up YAC
-Will get sloppy with routes
-Blocking is suspect at best
Overview: Adams has been on a steady rise since the draft season started. So much so that you are starting to see him pop up in the late first round. I wouldn’t go that far with him. Adams has a lot to like about him in that he is your classic possession WR who isn’t afraid to go over the middle and will fight for yards after he catches it. He would fit best with a team that has an established down the field threat already on the roster
My Grade: Early 3rd
Where I think he will go: Middle 2nd
Mock Draft 1.0
(Twitter: @merk256 )
This is the first of my two Mock Drafts. The other Mock will be posted in the week leading up to the draft. I assume no trades and this is what I think teams will do not what I would do
1.Houston Texans: B.Bortles, QB, Central Florida-Is he the best player in the draft? No, but he plays the most important position in the draft and fits the style that O’Brien looks for in QB’s. Bortles to me is the front runner to go #1 right now
2.St.Louis Rams: S.Watkins, WR, Clemson- As much as an OT would make sense I can’t see them passing on a playmaker like Watkins. T.Austin was the pick last year but he needs to be in open space to make an impact. You add Watkins and that will free him up even more
3.Jacksonville Jaguars: T.Bridgewater, QB, Louisville- There will be a lot of tempting players at this spot but the reality is the Jaguars don’t have a single QB on the current roster that you would want being a 16 game starter. Bridgewater is the top QB in this class in my opinion and I can’t see the Jags passing on him
4.Cleveland Browns: J.Clowney, DE, South Carolina- Most people are thinking QB here but I think Pettine sees Clowney as a player that he can use much like he did with Mario Williams last year in Buffalo. You can line him up almost anywhere and he will cause havoc. I think Pettine first goal in Cleveland is to make the defense elite and Clowney could put them were they want to be with that
5.Oakland Raiders: K.Mack, LB, Buffalo- Ah yes, the Raiders, always one of the toughest teams to peg in the draft year in and year out. This year though if the top 5 fall like I have above this selection should be a no brainer. Mack is a versatile playmaker that would be in an instant shot in the arm for a Raiders team looking for an identity and a player to build around
6.Atlanta Falcons: C.Robinson, OT, Auburn-I think this pick is between Clowney, Mack, and Robinson. Robinson is the player still left on the board and the need matches the value. I’ve never been a big Sam Baker fan and I imagine they would kick him to the right side and hope they have selected their franchise LT in Robinson for the next 12 years.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: J.Matthews, OT, Texas A&M- Tampa Bay continues the overhauling of their Offensive Line with the selection of Matthews. With NFL bloodlines and the ability to play either side of the line Matthews would get Tampa moving in the right direction in the revamping. I imagine E.Ebron will get some strong consideration here as well
8.Minnesota Vikings: E.Ebron, TE, North Carolina- The Vikings are in a really tough spot at 8. They value here is not any of their needs. What this really comes down to is how they feel about Manziel. I’m starting to think that they don’t have that strong an opinion on him and that they can get a QB with similar talent, such as Carr, in the second round. Ebron adds another weapon to a very weak spot on their roster to help whatever QB is under center in 2014
9.Buffalo Bills: M.Evans, WR, Texas A&M- The Bills have a couple of different way they go here. I personally would liked to have gone defense because I think they right way to build this team around Manuel is to have a top 5 D supporting him so it reduces the amount of plays he has to make. By process of elimination let’s look at my thought process that leads me to the Bills Selecting Evans.
On Defense you have a place on each level where a talented player could be added. On the DL the Bills could use a DE that is a better fit for Schwartz defense but there isn’t one left that really is worth a top 10 pick. OLB could still be considered a need but Barr doesn’t fit the defense and this would be a little high for any of Mosley, Shazier, and Van Noy. CB you have a player that is worth it value wise in Gilbert but I feel the Bills are happy with their current group of CB’s. At least happy enough where they won’t spend a top 10 pick on one. That leaves Safety, this is the dark horse position for the Bills here as much as its fan base doesn’t want to hear it. Clinton-Dix and Pryor are not top 10 picks but they are not far off either. The Bills coaches and front office say they are high on Williams and Meeks but that could all just be lip service. That said I don’t think this is the direction they will go at 9
That moves the selection to the other side of the ball. You have a couple of options that I imagine the Bills will consider. Those options are OT, WR, OG, and TE. With Ebron already off the board I think it’s safe to say you can remove the TE option. I don’t see an anyway possible an OG is the pick so that is off the board. That brings us to OT, both the need and the value are there with Lewan on the board. The drop off is also significant to the next OT on the board. The issue is however two fold. The first one is the lesson from free agency and the signing of C.Williams. Williams has been considered a bust his entire career and the Bills signed him to a bit of a head scratcher deal. The deal was struck because Marrone said himself he believes he can coach Williams up and out of the bust label. This is important when it comes to the draft. If Marrone believes he can take lesser talent and coach it up Bills fans should really ever expect the Bills to draft an OL very high in the draft. They, and specifically Marrone, believe they can hold off on the position due to his ability as a coach. Is that smart strategy, that’s debatable given the disaster of the LG position last year. When it comes to the draft though I wouldn’t think the Bills will even consider an OL until round 3 at the earliest.
The next issue would be where Whaley’s background and where he came up from as a scout. He comes from a system in Pittsburgh and a GM in Nix where Best Player Available(BPA) takes precedent, especially in the first round. In this system certain positions hold greater weight than others. All skill positions are going to outweigh what are considered non skill positions. In this case the impact of a WR is going to outweigh that of a RT. If Whaley, and we don’t know his true philosophy yet considering this is his first draft in the captains chair, is beholden to this line of draft Philosophy then he will take a WR over a OT nearly every single time
Now that leads us to WR and the selection of Mike Evans. I’m personally not that high on Mike Evans. I think his lack of route running ability is really going to be an issue for him especially early in his career. I think this whole “High Pointing” and “Contested Catches” ability has been way over blown by media and fans alike. They are luxury skills that account for about 5% of a WR receptions in a given year. The red zone argument is also a false reality as a reasoning because again the amount of contested receptions in that area in reality is far lower than the perception of how many are made.
That said the Bills have made it pretty clear they would like a receiving option with some size on the roster. They have been sniffing around a WR or two in Free Agency that would give them that. Evans would provide the size and has the ceiling the Bills would want in a first round WR. Throw him into the mix with Stevie, Woods, and Goodwin and that gives the Bills a great mix of depth and skill sets for EJ Manuel to work with.
If the Bills can tap into Evans Physical gifts and improve him as a route runner(This is where having one of if not the best route runner in the game in S.Johnson comes in handy) then the sky is the limit for Evans. The things I like about Evans are his aggressive nature playing the position of WR on top of very good hands. Evans has the makings of a number one WR but he is going to take some time to get there. Given where the Bills are with their current group of WR’s they can allow Evans to grow into the position and not put it all on him from day 1.
Now with that said, if this selection is made with the intent of green lighting a S.Johnson trade than I am not for this selection at all in any way. I believe this selection should be made with the intent of keeping Stevie and dropping a player like TJ Graham down the depth chart or straight off the roster. Again as stated before, adding Evans to this WR group makes it borderline elite with potential. Adding Evans and taking away Johnson, strips the Bills of that gain.
Trading down: If the draft falls this way some will want to trade down. Problem with that is that with the draft being this deep, most teams will want to go down and not up. That will make it very difficult to get teams to part with any type of valuable draft pick to go down a couple slots.
10.Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State- To me this is a no brainer pick where value meets need. The Lions have had trouble with the CB position for what seems like forever. Gilbert is the most complete CB in the draft and should start from day one to finally shore up this position on the Lions
Tennessee Titans: A.Barr, LB, UCLA- The Titans can go a number of different
ways here. Barr however is an excellent fit for new DC Ray Horton's scheme.
Barr could start immediately and have an impact under Horton
12.New York Giants: T.Lewan, OT, Michigan- The Giants want out of this spot but if they stay Jerry Reese is a BPA drafter through and through. Rumor is he is high on both Ebron and Evans, but both are gone at this point. Lewan getting down to here would be to tough for them to pass on as they are in the middle of rebuilding their OL
13.St.Louis Rams: H.Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama- The Safety spot has been an issue for awhile for the Rams. Pryor could also be the pick here but I think Fisher would prefer a center fielder type who can cover TE's and slot WR. Clinton-Dix fits that. If the Rams can come out of day 1 with the top WR and arguably the top Safety it would be a home run.
14.Chicago Bears: A.Dennard, CB, Michigan State- The Bears defense is in the midst of an overhaul. So I imagine this will be the highest rated defensive player on the board no matter the position. Ideally the Bears would like a DL to be the top guy on the board here but I don't see that being the case. Dennard to me is the guy and it fills a need
15.Pittsburgh Steelers: L.Nix, DT, Notre Dame- Pittsburgh calling card has always been defense and last year it took a bit of a step back. The D misses C.Hampton in the worst way and getting in my opinion the top rated DT at 15 who could be in the rotation from day 1 would be a good get for the Steelers
16.Dallas Cowboys: A.Donald, DT, Pittsburgh- Jerry Jones is quickly becoming the new Al Davis when it comes to the draft. He's going to take players he wants when he wants. Despite Donald stock rising faster than any other player I still think this is too high for him. The reality is though for the Tampa 2 to work correctly you really need to have a disruptive 3 tech. Donald has flashed the skill set to be that player
17.Baltimore Ravens: K.Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech- Ozzie Newsome is another BPA drafter, question is, who would he have as the highest player on the board at this point? That's anyone's guess but I'm going to go with Fuller here. It's not the biggest current need but the bottom could drop out on the position for Ravens over the next couple of years
18.New York Jets: C.Pryor, S, Louisville- Rex will always want to keep his defense stocked with talent and with the talent they lost at CB a talented Safety could go a long way in helping making a smooth transition with the new CB's. I would see a WR here or maybe an OL, but again the Jets are built on a dominating defense and an offense that does just enough.
19.Miami Dolphins: Z.Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame- Dolphins needed 4 new OL starters when the offseason began. They landed one in B.Albert and adding Martin provides them with options at both OT and OG depending on where they need him the most
20.Arizona Cardinals: D.Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn-Abraham had a good 2013 but it's only a matter of time before the bottom drops out on him. Having Ford on board could lessen that blow
21.Green Bay Packers: M.Lee, WR, USC- I could see defense here but I think Lee will be too good to pass up. The Packers are built on a "our offense and QB are better than yours" philosophy. The more weapons at Rodgers disposal the better
22. Philadelphia Eagles: R.Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota- The transition to a 3-4 continues. Hageman gives the Eagles options at both the 0 and the 5 tech. They can score points with some of the best offenses in the league but until they can stop opposing teams it will limit their ceiling
23.Kansas City Chiefs: B.Cooks, WR, Oregon State- Bowe is a good possession WR and Cooks will add the explosion dynamic to the offense. Cooks should be a good fit in Andy Reid's system
24.Cincinnati Bengals: X.Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA- I imagine the Bengals want to move Whitworth back out to LT. With that move it leaves a big gaping hole at OG. Su'-Filo fills that immediately.
25.San Diego Chargers: B.Roby, CB, Ohio State- I think this is way too high for Roby and I see him more as a safety. That said a lot of teams see him as a CB and a 1st rounder
26.Cleveland Browns: J.Manziel, QB, Texas A&M- I don't see the Browns liking Manziel enough to take him top 5. Down here however, I think the Browns pull the trigger.
27.New Orleans Saints: K.Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri- Ealy is the type of pass rusher the Ryan defense likes. He's comfortable both with his hand on the dirt, kick inside, or from a two point stance
28.Carolina Panthers: J.Verrett, CB, TCU- Most have a WR earmarked for here but I think they will hold off for that addition
29.New England Patriots: T.Jernigan, DT, FSU- Patriots added massive upgrades at the CB spot in free agency and now the pass rush from up the middle will get a shot in the arm
30. San Francisco 49ers: K.Benjamin, WR, FSU- 49ers continue their search for young WR to pair with Crabtree.
31.Denver Broncos: CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama- Defense, defense, and more defense for the Broncos. They have the offense and they need players that can start immediately during Manning’s last year or two max
32.Seattle Seahawks: O.Beckham Jr, WR, LSU- Lot of ways Seattle could go here. The defense comes back mostly intact. Beckham gives the Seahawks more explosion on offense to get them back to the big game.
-I expect there to be a real heavy run on WRs in the 2nd and early third. If that's the case and the Bills who already took a WR in round one should be prime to cash in on another position. I see LB and DE being the target in round two if the Bills go WR in round 1
-The wild card in this draft for the Bills is the DE spot. Mario Williams is locked in at one spot but outside of him there are some serious questions marks. Lawson and Hughes are ok fits for Schwartz defense but mostly on passing downs. Lawson was good at run defense in Pettiness system at LB, at DE in Schwartz system however it's a different ball game. I've seen some mention Branch at DE because he played it in Pettiness system. In this system Branch exclusively a DT and will not play DE unless of an emergency situation. With questions at both starting DE and depth I could easily see the Bills drafting two DE
-DT is also another dark horse position. In either this year or next year’s draft the Bills should start to find a replacement for life after Kyle Williams
-The Bills need to take advantage of a very deep draft at the OG spot. I know Marrone thinks he can coach players up but given the talent in this draft at that position he should take a good player and make him great rather than an average player and make him above average
-I wouldn’t mind the Bills taking a flier on a QB in day 3. Two names I would like would be either A.Murray or T.Savage.
Thank You for Your "Foolishness" Mr. WilsonAnthony D. Macari @nflwarroom
There are certain men, whose lives touch more than the norm. Who's unique vision, passion, talent or perseverance make a dramatic difference in the lives of so many more than their immediate circle of friends and family. The world lost such a man today.
As a young business man, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. joined a group of visionary men to form what became known as the Foolish Club. They saw a potential market for professional football and chose a different path to launch a new league to compete with the established National Football League. Ralph Wilson founded the Buffalo Bills and along with his American Football League colleagues, shook the foundation of american sports.
Without their vision there would be no Super Bowl. Furthermore,without Mr. Wilson's integrity and perseverance there would be no football Sundays in Orchard Park, NY. At any time, he could have followed the lead of other owners who in the middle of the night packed up helmets, pads and footballs and left a community behind for greener pastures. Instead, Mr. Wilson was the one who stood up each time an owner threatened to move and made the case for loyalty to a community. He became the voice of the small market fighting for the shared revenue model that has kept the competitive balance in the league. He was the eloquent voice of the loyal fan who loved their local team and couldn't bare to see them leave town.
In the next days and weeks, we will finally learn the post Wilson Era fate of the Buffalo Bills, but no matter the outcome, Bills fans today should be grateful for the man who fought and risked it all to bring football here in the first place. Across the social media world, they are doing exactly that by honoring the man who stayed loyal to the community from start to the end, which sadly came today.
I have no knowledge of what the plan is for the Bills ownership beyond today, but I feel confident Mr. Wilson had a plan that would keep them in Buffalo. No matter the fate of the Bills, I as a fan of the Buffalo Bills am thankful for the Hall of Fame life of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
Rest in Peace Mr. Wilson!
Bills Free Agent Thoughts: Spikes, Dixon, Chandler
(Twitter: @merk256 )
Brandon Spikes, LB: I’m not a real big Brandon Spikes fan. I think he is a limited player who does one thing well and everything else below average. I really wasn’t really high on him as a free agent because of the money he would want wouldn’t match what he actually provides on the field. That said, even I can’t argue against the one year deal he signed with the Bills. The risk is almost nothing and the Bills don’t get financially tied to a player who likely doesn’t warrant that commitment. The Bills got there two down run stopping thumping LB to get them through the year. Worst case is he leaves at the end of the year no harm no foul. It also doesn’t prevent the Bills from drafting his replacement this year because guys like Spikes can be found on the third day of the draft
Read the full article: Bills Free Agency Notes
A look at the Bills 3 Signings from Day 2 of Free Agency
(Twitter: @merk256 )
Chris Williams, OG: I don’t like this signing. It’s not because of the money, 1 million a year or 10 million a year wouldn’t make a difference and it’s not because of his PFF rating because if you follow me at all you know I never use that system because I think it is inherently flawed. Chris Williams just isn’t any good, I thought he was a reach and a bust when the Bears drafted him and then he goes on to the Rams and starts 16 games but was not good at all. Sure can you isolate some moments but overall Williams was part of their problem not part of their solution. People say “well he has to b e better than Lergursky”, Does he? Honestly I don’t think he is. I think they are close if not the same with the only difference being some size. In the end all I can hope for is that Marrone sees something in him that he can coach up, because he needs a lot of coaching up. I felt there were better options to be had out there if the Bills were looking for a vet upgrade at the position. It is what it is but I’ll be shocked if he is on the roster or even in the league in 2 years
Corey Graham, CB: This signing to me makes more sense. The Bills secondary was ravaged by injuries last year and cost the Bills at least one game if not multiple as they tried to patchwork it together. Graham the 16 game starter I don’t like, but that is not what he was signed for. He was signed for depth behind McKelvin and Gilmore, to give the Bills a bigger Nickel option to Robey, and to upgrade the Special Team’s. For that he is well worth what they are paying him and the fact that he is a home town kid is a nice bonus
Keith Rivers, LB: This may sound odd but I have wanted the Bills to acquire Rivers for the past three years. Rivers to me is the type of LB every team needs on its team. He is a bit of a Jack of all trades master of none. He has experience at both OLB spots and can fill in at ILB in pinch. He is not a 16 game starter but if you have a LB that goes down for a month he can hold the fort on not kill you in the process. Add in that he is a great locker room guy and I feel the Bills got a real bargain at 5 million
-I hope the Graham signing means the Bills staff is looking to move Ron Brooks to Safety to give him a look. I have been banging this drum since last offseason that I think he would make a better FS than a CB in the NFL
-It’s pretty clear the Bills strategy in free agency this year. Stock up on depth while waiting out some of the bigger name starters price to drop. The Bills once again last year had to deal with an onslaught of injuries that hurt them by exposing the back end of the roster. I would expect 2 more signings from the Bills. One more depth player and then make a run at a starter
-I don’t think any of the above signings takes any of those positions of the Bills draft board
-Eric Decker is a nice player, but the one thing jets fans are going to realize real quick is how different a WR can look depending on who is throwing him the ball
-The R.Saffold sign and failed physical is about as Raider as it gets
-No doubt in my mind Revis was landing in New England once he was released.
-Let the Revis trade be added to the long list of examples of why you never trade away your first round picks
Free Agent Thoughts
(Twitter: @merk256 )
-The 3 day tampering window needs to end. I get what the NFL was going for when they first put it in, they wanted a college signing day atmosphere when Free Agency actually opens 3 days later. That however at this point is clearly never going to happen. The rules in this 3 day grace period are not exactly clear and teams have a dip your toe in the water mentality to it. I think it’s a gigantic waste of time and the NFL should jut have opened up Free Agency 3 days ago
-M.Vick is a name that intrigues me as a Bills fan. I think that the Bills want to have some type of veteran QB on the roster for multiple reasons. First in foremost you need a QB on the roster that has actually won games in the league. This is something that could help EJ just as much as a good QB coach or OC. He needs someone to bounce things off of in game from a guy who has played the opposing team. The other reason, If EJ flounders early I think the Bills may be quick to pull the trigger on him. Reality is the Bills need to get back to the playoffs. Patience waived bye bye a decade ago. The team is now going on a decade and a half with no appearance. You cannot sit there and worry about fan support if the main thing that breads that support hasn’t been accomplished this century, winning
-I think there is no single Free Agent this year being more overrated by Bills fans than ILB B.Spikes. Yes he is a thumper against the run, but that’s about it. In my opinion you can find guys like that in the middle of the draft at a fraction of the cost. He is a two down LB, but he is going to want to be paid like a 3 down one. If you want a two down thumper that has to come off the field on passing downs because he gets exploited by TE’s and RB’s then I suggest the Bills draft A.Jackson from Western Kentucky in the 5th or 6th round. That guy lays hits on players that make them forget their childhoods
-I have been saying it since the Bills hired Schwartz, the Bills have to add a couple DE’s to the roster. They only have one right now is Mario Williams that comes close to the profile of what Schwartz will run. Hughes will be a DE but he is not a 3 down DE by any stretch. Personally guys like J.Allen and Peppers (if released) would be a decent adds on two year deals. I however would expect a signing more in the line of a W.Young or a M.Shaughnessy, then for the Bills to double back in the draft on day two or early day 3
-Finding a good OL at a decent price in this period is going to be a bit difficult. So many teams have issue along the OL that the price is going to naturally go up. If I am the Bills I wait for the dust to settle and try and pick off a decent veteran. The draft is just too deep along the OL to spend any real big money in FA’cy on it
-Bills should upgrade their 3rd RB position. Jackson and Spiller are the clear horses but far too often they were both banged up at the same time this past year. A name I like for that spot is James Stark
-The Byrd watch has been an interesting one as it seems he is not getting the attention that most thought he would. Every day it seems like a possible option of his goes in another direction. However like I tweeted out on Sunday I am hearing both NY teams have contacted him and are interested. Rex wants a center fielder ala Ed Reed from his Baltimore days, and the Giants front office has always been high on Byrd. You also add in that Perry Fewell is the DC that welcomed Byrd into the league and is the coach who pushed the hardest for him in the Bills draft room in 2009
-I like Veldheer but in my opinion for the long run he is going to find himself on the right side of the line instead of the left sooner rather than later.
-Overall I think this free agency class is below average. B.Orakpo was the only player I would have given big money to if he had ever seen the light of day on the open market
-I think H.Nicks is well worth the risk on a one year deal
-I like E.Decker but you have to be careful what you pay him. He is not a #1 WR in this league but would be a great compliment to a team that does have that established #1
-I think Major Wright will be a steal in this Free Agency class. I liked him a lot coming out of Florida and I think he can be had for a decent price
Tony's Mock 1.0
Anthony D. Macari
The first round is in the books. I projected 4 QBs, and 6 WR's to go. The more you look at this draft the more you realize how deep it is. I will update this every week from now until the draft and will start working on adding a 2nd and eventually 3rd round.
Read the full draft here: ADM Mock
My Ten Guidelines to Navigating NFL Free Agency
(Twitter: @merk256 )
1.Age: Ideally you are looking for players in the 25-28 year old range. These are the players that are in the primes of their careers and thus those are the years you are willing to pay a premium for
2.Name vs Game: Everyone has seen it on so many mediums. Player A gets released, Fan has heard player A’s name before, thus he must be good and fits what the team is doing. Far too often, but not as much as when FA’cy first started, front offices and fans got caught up in a player’s name instead of what he actually is or where his talent level is currently… which leads us to number 3
3. Pay players for what they will do not what they have done: Too many players, especially coming off a Super Bowl, are looking for a retirement plan and a team to fund it. You can’t get suckered into that as a team. Players on the wrong side of 30 should never be given anything over a 3 year deal or paid a premium for that deal. If anything the team should stick to one year deals with players at this age
4. Don’t give long term deals to any RB at or over 28: Pretty simple, the line for RB’s is 30 and the value on them has plummeted. Give any type of RB that type of money that late in his career and it usually ends up being a horrible deal that can and will really mess up your cap situation. The cost of which could be retaining a more talented younger player. RB’s peak earlier than any other position and once they hit 30 the production usually drops like a rock. So at 28 you MAY get 2 years of decent production but not enough to be tied to the years 30 and after
5.They are free for a reason: Most fans seem to forget this. Most teams in the league are not in the habit of just letting good players walk out the door. It’s not always the case but 9 times out of 10 a good player hits the market for a reason, and usually it’s not a good reason. Understand why the player is being allowed to walk, and no, it’s not always because he wants more money than the team is willing to pay
6.Stop gapping: If you are a rebuilding team this is a waste of time and will actually hurt the team in the long run. Let the younger players play, no amount of practice time will ever value live in game regular season snaps. For playoff teams looking to get one or two more steps farther it can be useful but you can’t go overboard, 2 starters max. It also helps if the stop gap player(s) are ringless. One year deals only
7.Big Game Hunting: Ultimately this should only be done every three years for a team. It is key that a few things line up, Age, Need, and Timing. In his Prime, Your team has a big need at that position, timing in that the team letting him go is doing so for non negative reasons as in against the cap or an adequate replacement already on the roster. Big game hunting every 3 years as opposed to every year keeps you in good cap condition as opposed to in cap jail
8.In house: Ultimately signing your own FA’s is the most productive. You know what you are getting. The key here, for the more talented players, is to get a year ahead of their impending FA’cy year. The better team’s in the league such as Seattle have become masters at this
9.FA’cy caries the same risk as the draft, just with bigger numbers: There is this logic out there that singing a player via FA’cy vs drafting carries less risk due to the player already producing in the league. The risk is generally determined to be far less given the “known quantity”. Problem with this theory is its completely false and many teams have been bit thinking it. The risk is the same and here’s why. While a player may be producing on this level on a team that isn’t yours it doesn’t mean he can do it anywhere. That player has been coached a certain way, played around a certain type of player, in a certain scheme, and in a different part of the country. There is no way to mimic those exact conditions on your team. For example, If say a WR goes from a league MVP at QB to a Rookie starter at QB it is completely unrealistic to expect the same results. Up until recently the term bust hadn’t been applied to free agent signings. Now you are seeing it more and more as it begins to resonate with people that that term should be applied to free agency.
10.The most important rule: FA’cy should augment your draft not the other way around. If you as a team keep continually using free agency as the main pipeline of talent for your team, you will forever be mediocre. If you draft well you do well, plain and simple. Great teams are not built in March, they are built in April(Well, May this year)
PFWR Big Board Countdown
WR: Paul Richardson
Height: 6003 Weight: 175lbs
40: 4.40 10: 1.54
Bench: x VJ: 38"
-Explosive player with speed to keep defenses honest
-Good hands, Doesn’t body catch
-Lot of nagging injuries
-Blocking leaves a lot to be desired
-Will avoid contact
Overview: I have Richardson as a first round prospect to start the season but the more I saw of him the more limitations I saw as a player. While he is an explosive athlete he lacks the refinement of the better WR’s in college. His intermediate routs need a lot of work and he also needs to know how to take hits as he often leaves his body exposed which leads to him missing portions of almost every game he is in. He is a willing team player so if he can find his way onto a team that doesn’t need his contribution immediately it will help him in the long run
My Grade: 3rd
Where I think he will go: Late 2nd
Bills Front Office Leave Stones Unturned AgainAnthony D. Macari @nflwarroom
"Leave No Stone Unturned" "Draft Well and Retain Your Own Stars" "Build Through the Draft" "Don't confuse effort with results" Those are just some of the quotes Bills fans have heard repeatedly from the Bills front office as they preach patience to a fan base who has been subjected to sub-mediocrity for well over a decade now.
Read the Full Story Here: Stones Un-Turned
Final Thoughts on Byrd
(Twitter: @merk256 )
-First things first, Byrd should be commended for being a Pro’s Pro both on and off the field. He provided many exciting moments during his tenure as a Buffalo Bill and for that I along with many other Bills fans thank him
Read Full Story: Byrd
-Good Football IQ
-Plays with good leverage
-Comfortable with the hand in the dirt or standing up
-Not a great overall athlete
-Will get exposed in coverage
-Age, will be a 26 year old rookie
Overview: Reilly is one of these players that every coach loves to have on his team. He works hard every day and will run through a wall if you ask him to. He really only fits Hybrid and 3-4 defenses, which will keep his stock level through most of the draft process. I think at worst a team will be getting a good special teams player who can give quality pass rushing snaps on obvious passing downs.
My Grade: 5th
Round where I think he'll go: 5th
Height: 6030 Weight: 218lbs
Hands: 10 1/4 Arms: 32 1/2
40: 4.52 10yd: 1.53
Bench: DNP VJ: 31.5
-Very Good first steps
-Seeks out contact
-Will have the Tweener label
-Out of position a lot
-Coverage Skills average for both LB or S
Overview: Smith may get a little boost from teams that are looking to incorporate the Hybrid LB/S spot into their defense. He will however not even be on the board for teams looking for the more traditional player at either spot. As a player he is really well rounded and by all accounts a very devoted player Those two things alone are enough to get drafted and find a place in the league
My Grade: 4th
Where I think he will go: 3rd
(Twitter: @merk256 )
Post Combine NFL and Draft Thoughts
(Twitter: @merk256 )
-I think how the OT shake out will be interesting to watch during this draft. On the one hand there is so many possible quality ones that teams may feel they can wait. However when the draft draws closer and on draft day their stock always takes a late rise. Teams always need OL and a starting OT is usually seen as a safe pick. You will be hard pressed to find fans that ultimately won’t get behind the upgrading of that position
Read Full Article: Post Combine
PFWR Pre-Combine TOP 100 Rankings
Our Pre-Season number one prospect, Jadeveon Clowney, remains in the top spot heading into the combine. In a deep and talented class starters can be found throughout the top 100. The class is particularly deep at Tackle, Wide Receiver and Linebacker.
PFWR Big Board
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1.Houston Texans: B.Bortles, QB, Central Florida
2.St.Louis Rams: S.Watkins, WR, Clemson-
3.Jacksonville Jaguars: T.Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
4.Cleveland Browns: J.Clowney, DE, South Carolina
5.Oakland Raiders: K.Mack, LB, Buffalo
6.Atlanta Falcons: C.Robinson, OT, Auburn
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: J.Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
8.Minnesota Vikings: E.Ebron, TE, North Carolina
9.Buffalo Bills: M.Evans, WR, Texas A&M-
10.Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
11. Tennessee Titans: A.Barr, LB, UCLA
12.New York Giants: T.Lewan, OT, Michigan
13.St.Louis Rams: H.Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
14.Chicago Bears: A.Dennard, CB, Michigan State
15.Pittsburgh Steelers: L.Nix, DT, Notre Dame
16.Dallas Cowboys: A.Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
17.Baltimore Ravens: K.Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
18.New York Jets: C.Pryor, S, Louisville
19.Miami Dolphins: Z.Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame
20.Arizona Cardinals: D.Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn
21.Green Bay Packers: M.Lee, WR, USC
22. Philadelphia Eagles: R.Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota
23.Kansas City Chiefs: B.Cooks, WR, Oregon State
24.Cincinnati Bengals: X.Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
25.San Diego Chargers: B.Roby, CB, Ohio State
26.Cleveland Browns: J.Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
27.New Orleans Saints: K.Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
28.Carolina Panthers: J.Verrett, CB, TCU
29.New England Patriots: T.Jernigan, DT, FSU
30. San Francisco 49ers: K.Benjamin, WR, FSU
31.Denver Broncos: CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
32.Seattle Seahawks: O.Beckham Jr, WR, LSU
1. Texans-DE:Jadeveon Clowney
2. Rams-OT:Greg Robinson
3. Jaguars-QB:Blake Bortles
5. Raiders-QB :Johnny Manziel
6. Falcons-LB:Khalil Mack
7. Bucs-OT:Jake Matthews
8. Vikes-QB:Teddy Bridgewater
9. Bills-OT:Taylor Lewan
10. Lions-WR:Mike Evans
11. Titans-OLB:Anthony Barr
12. Giants-OLB: C.J.Mosley
13. Rams-CB: Justin Gilbert
14. Bears-CB: Darqueze Dennard
15. Steelers-S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
16. Cowboys-DT: Louis Nix
17. Ravens-WR:Marqise Lee
18. Jets-TE: Eric Ebron
19. Dolphins-OG: Zack Martin
20. Cardinals-S: Calvin Pryor
21. Packers-OLB: Kyle Van Noy
22. Eagles-S: Deone Bucannon
23. Chiefs-WR: Brandin Cooks
24. Bengals-CB: Jason Verrett
25. Chargers-DE: Stephon Tuitt
26. Browns-QB Derek Carr
27. Saints-DE Dee Ford
28. Panthers-OT Morgan Moses
29. Patriots-DT Ra'Shede Hageman
30. 49ers-WR: Jordan Matthews
31. Broncos-DT Aaron Donald
32. Seahawks- WR: Odell Beckham