Rookies arrived at One Bills Drive for physicals and team pictures. The team officially released the list of their signed rookie free agents. One of them is a familiar name to those in Western New York. Canisius High graduate and former University of Miami linebacker James Gaines was in studio. Gaines played safety in high school but made the transition to linebacker during his time at Miami.
“I’m pretty much sold on linebacker as I’ve been playing it for the last four years. I’m really familiar with it now and comfortable with it, too.”
After going undrafted over the weekend, Gaines had a list of teams that were interested in his services but he chose Buffalo for the chance to compete within the linebacking group.
“Buffalo is the best for me not only because it is home but because of the system. I like the system they have, the defense that they have, and the linebacker situation. I feel like I have a chance to compete for a job. I came here to compete. Free agent or undrafted, that’s what I came here to do.”
At the top of the hour, Bills Insider Chris Brown called in to discuss his recent post on www.buffalobills.com , “On The Clock: Whaley’s Decisive Deal Making.” Brown was inside the draft room during the weekend and gave us a play-by-play on what went down throughout the weekend, including the trade that brought the Bills Clemson WR Sammy Watkins.
“There was certainly a chance Jacksonville could have taken Watkins at three but once they took Blake Bortles, there were smiles at the head table and Doug Whaley was on the phone in about three seconds calling Cleveland and then it was calls back and forth.”
After they settled on the deal to trade up to the fourth spot with Cleveland, the Bills were still on the clock and with about six minutes left. They then had to call in the terms of the deal as the clock ticked on.
“Jim Overdorf had to call the league with the trade terms and get them approved. Rob Hanrahan had to then send them in electronically through email. Then they had to call Sammy Watkins to make sure he was OK and healthy and send the pick in. They sent the pick in with probably about four and half minutes left.”
Brown also got a good look at Bills General Manager Doug Whaley. Whaley was involved in his first draft as a GM. He was described as even-keeled throughout each trade made during the draft weekend.
“When he was in Pittsburgh working in the personnel department there, he was operating the trade phone. It was his job to get in contact with the others teams with their offers for trades and to hear their counter offers in return. I would think after eleven years at doing that, if you don’t have the trade value chart memorized or know what is an equitable deal right off the top of your head, you’re never going to know it. I think he used those eleven years and put them to good use.”
Brown also discussed wide receiver Stevie Johnson’s trade to San Francisco and how the team acquired running back Bryce Brown from Philadelphia. Each trade had a unique time-table, especially with Brown. That trade had been in discussion for over a year.
Finally, Joe Hampton joined us to discuss his time mentoring and coaching Sammy Watkins in high school. Hampton was the freshman football coach at South Fort Myers High School in Florida where Watkins attended. He continued mentoring the wide-out throughout his high school years and the relationship continued throughout Watkins time at Clemson. Hampton even accompanied him at the NFL Draft in New York City.
“I wasn’t expecting it but when he called me sometime at the end of March, I was surprised and honored that he called and asked me.”
Hampton says Watkins forte is that he does the things to make himself better on and off the field and he is confident that will translate to the next level in the NFL.
“He’s (Watkins) worked hard and has the skills. He puts himself into it mentally. Now, I had no clue that his freshman year at Clemson, with that big transition from high school to college, that he would have a freshman year like he had. That was all attributed to him getting in there and learning stuff mentally and that aspect of the game. I think that’s where he’s ahead of a lot of other people.”
You can listen to the full John Murphy Show below which includes soundbites from Bills second round pick, Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
(Gaines – 25:20, Brown – 41:02, Hampton – 01:01:40)
Posted in Inside the Bills