It’s been a fun week at the Senior Bowl here in Mobile. The pre-draft process has begun. Time for your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris,
Unless the Bills take a QB with the third pick which seems unlikely do to the talent there on defensive what do you think about the middle round QB’s. Ponder from FSU seems overrated while Pat Devlin and the freakish 6’6′ speedy Colin Kaepernick looks like guys Chan could develop into a throwing quarterback. What do the scouts see of these guys?
CB: At this stage in the game scouts are hesitant to talk much about prospects. They’re still gathering the all important character background information now that they can talk to the players with the college seasons over. They did a lot of that this week at the Senior Bowl. The lobby at the hotel may as well have been a convention hall with all the one-on-one meetings I witnessed by all the NFL clubs.
As for the quarterbacks you mentioned. I love Ponder’s natural leadership and he has the physical skills to play in the league. I just want to be convinced that some of his late game mistakes this past season were a result of him trying to do too much, which could be corrected. Delaware’s Pat Devlin really struggled to complete passes at the East-West Shrine game by all accounts and that won’t fly in Buffalo’s weather, literally. Kaepernick is really intriguing. He’s got prototype size, can run around and make plays on the move and has a solid arm.
I’m really hoping he shows well in Saturday’s game, but even so he’s probably a second rounder at best at this point. I think Ponder has the best intangible/physical skills combination while Kaepernick has the most potential and I like TCU’s Andy Dalton too. He’s a smart quarterback that can make plays and rarely makes mistakes. Those are some of the middle round guys I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Bills uniform.
2 – Can you break down in general terms how the Bills scout college players? Do they travel to games or only break down game tape? Do they have scouts that focus on different regions of the country? And the non Division I schools? Since under Buddy they drafted small school guys like Batten, Moats, Brown, and free agent Donald Jones. How involved is Buddy in the scouting process or does that fall under Modrak. When does Chan fit into the process in looking at future guys? I’m sure lots of Bills fans are wondering how 1 team can look at 7 rounds of college players.
CB: Yes, scouts are assigned to specific regions of the country like the southeast or the west. They occasionally travel to games, but in large part they go to a school in the fall during the season during the week and go watch game tape at the schools. The school’s pro liaison generally sets up a room for all the scouts to make use of on campus.
Scouts look at seniors only at this time and put together full reports on any and all seniors that are believed to be draft worthy. Some schools have two, some schools have eight to 10. All of them must be done. After watching tape all morning, scouts will take in practice that afternoon on campus, and they might talk to an assistant coach to ask about a player’s work habits or talk to the strength and conditioning coach to get a feel for the player’s dedication.
Then it’s on to the next school that week and the process repeats itself week after week for about four months. In the end they usually come up with 350 draft eligible players on their board and about 150 players that they expect to go undrafted, but still might want to sign as undrafted free agents.
Buddy is involved in the scouting process. There were several weeks this season where he was out on the road from Thursday to Saturday and then re-joined the team for Sunday games. The coaching staff usually begins to focus their attention on the draft process after their review of the previous season through film study has concluded. That usually happens now during Senior Bowl week.
3 – Chris,
My question to you is: who are some of the big name free agents from other teams that you could see Buffalo going after in the offseason? Any holes that we could solve this way like the Merriman pick-up. Thanks for the daily info.
Chris in Atlanta
CB: I’ll be honest. I haven’t poured over the prospective free agents list just yet, primarily because we don’t what the state of free agency is going to be without a new labor agreement. They’ll all be in limbo. That being said I do know that Miami QB Tyler Thigpen is a free agent. Knowing his history with Chan Gailey when he was the offensive coordinator with him in Kansas City, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills make a play for his services as a backup quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
4 - Chris
Just a thought and I would like your feed back. I think and hope that Troup continues to get better. I really like the guy that was added late in the season, (Kellen Heard). I was watching him for a few years until he changed schools. He looks like a beast. What would you think of Heard and Troup rotating in the middle and get Fairley in the first round and have him and Kyle Williams at the ends? That could be a great line up. I think Kyle would be an animal at DE.
CB: Fairley is my personal favorite for the Bills pick, but I’m not sure he’ll be there at three. Heard is a guy that Buffalo wants to see a bit more of so it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes heading into next season. I don’t know if he’s starter worthy.
I’ve asked coach Gailey about playing Kyle at end and he believes that Kyle is so effective inside that he can’t afford to move him to the edge of their defensive front. He thinks he does his best work in there. And yes I do believe Troup will get better as well as Carrington.
5 – Chris
Any chance of the Bills getting compensatory draft picks this year?
CB: Unfortunately Scott I’m not optimistic. The main criteria needed to qualify for compensatory picks is a net loss in free agents. Basically you need to sign fewer than you lose. What also makes it tricky is only certain free agents signed by other clubs or by your club in a predetermined offseason time period qualify. So for example Terrell Owens, who did not sign with Cincinnati until the first day of training camp, would not qualify as a loss because he signed with another club very late.
By my count I don’t have the Bills sustaining a net loss of free agents this past offseason so I’m not expecting them to be awarded any compensatories.
Tags: 2011 NFL draft, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, compensatory picks, Fan Friday, Kyle Williams, Nick Fairley, Pat Devlin, scouts, Torell Troup, Tyler Thigpen
Posted in Inside the Bills