Inside The Bills

Whaley: Ragland a born leader

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2016 – 4:05 pm

The Bills do their best to make the most of their pre-draft visits. Often times they’ll host players in small groups on purpose. It’s designed to get a gauge on a player’s personality makeup. Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland was on such a visit in Buffalo and by all accounts stood out.

Buffalo had Ragland for both an NFL combine interview and a pre-draft visit, and on the pre-draft visit there were other prospects in town as well.

“We had another guy from Alabama and a couple of other prospects,” said GM Doug Whaley during an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “When you’re sitting down at dinner you’d like to see how they interact with each other, especially their teammates. He controlled the room, not only with his teammates, but with guys from other teams. Everybody says leaders are born, not made. This guy however he got it, he has it.”

 


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LB Striker’s emotions raw at end of draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2016 – 3:23 pm

Oklahoma LB Erik Striker went undrafted last weekend, but it doesn’t mean he’ll be without an opportunity. The Bills agreed to terms with him as an undrafted free agent.

Now begins the task of Striker trying to make a successful transition as a specialty edge rusher for the Sooners to an inside linebacker for the Bills in their 3-4 defensive front. He was one of 14 undrafted rookies who joined Buffalo’s roster. Here was Striker’s emotional address to his friends and family that came to his home to support him on draft weekend.


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Bills draft a rare match of value and need

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2016 – 2:16 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley has been in NFL scouting for about 20 years. Never has he seen the value of his team’s draft board match up so well to the club’s positional needs as they did this past weekend for Buffalo in the 2016 NFL draft.

Buffalo needed to fill some starting roles in their front seven on defense and with tight cap constraints had to rely on the draft to address them. Getting Shaq Lawson at pick 19 when the Bills thought he’d be long gone and then get another player with a first round grade in Reggie Ragland in round two, followed by yet another defensive player in DL Adophus Washington a round after they felt he should come off the board represented a rare occurrence.

“I told the Pegulas this rarely happens like this,” said Whaley in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “To be able to have the highest guy on your board… these guys truly filled our needs. To have Ragland there in the second round, where we were thinking that Shaq (Lawson) would be gone in the first round and we were targeting Ragland as our 19th pick, so for us to feel like we got two first rounders in the first two rounds and knowing they’re going to be starters due to need it’s a special draft. Hopefully it turns out years down the road that this was the draft that propelled us to where we want to go.”


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Buffalo TV market ranks top 10 for draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2016 – 8:10 am

The market by market TV ratings for viewing of the 2016 NFL draft are out and Buffalo ranked in the top 10 for viewing audience. SI.com provided the ratings.

These ratings are for ESPN’s draft coverage viewing of Round 1 coverage from Thursday night.

1a. Cleveland (13.3)
2. Columbus (13.1)
3. New Orleans (7.8)
4. Dayton (7.7)
5. Birmingham (7.5)
6. Jacksonville (7.2)
7. Philadelphia (7.0)
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul (6.9)
9. Buffalo (6.6)
10. Nashville (6.1)

Boston ranked last (1.5) among the 56 metered markets for ESPN’s coverage of the opening round. The Patriots did not have a first round pick.


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Power 5 conference sweep for Bills draft class

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2016 – 2:08 pm

The Bills weren’t shy about picking players from big programs on day 1 and 2 of the draft, but that theme carried all the way through the class. 

All seven of Buffalo’s draft choices came from Power 5 conference schools. Here’s a breakdown of Buffalo’s seven picks. 

SEC – 2 – Ragland, Williams

Big 10 – 2 – Washington, Jones

ACC – 1 – Lawson

Big 12 – 1 – Listenbee

PAC-12 – 1 – Seymour


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Bills unlikely to add at safety

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2016 – 9:28 am

One position that was not addressed during the draft was safety and by the sound of it GM Doug Whaley doesn’t intend to add there any time soon.

With the promising outlook for Aaron Williams in his return from neck surgery and some budget free agent additions, the Bills like their depth there.

“With [Robert] Blanton and Colt Anderson and then Corey [Graham] coming back, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks… we’ve got a glut of safeties there and it is time for one of those guys to step up outside of Aaron [Williams] and if Aaron seems regress or have a medical issues, which we hope he doesn’t, we don’t expect him but injuries play in on it but we think we have some depth there,” Whaley said.


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QB Jones won’t alter EJ’s spot on depth chart in 2016

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 9:17 pm

The drafting of QB Cardale Jones with the last pick in round four is not expected to have any impact on EJ Manuel’s role as the number two quarterback on Buffalo’s roster in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley said Jones will come in as the team’s third quarterback and get to work on building his game from the ground up after making just 11 starts and attempting just 270 passes in his college career. Whaley also said they feel more than comfortable with Manuel as their backup to Tyrod Taylor.

“Very comfortable,” said Whaley. “If you look around the league we think he’s as good a number two as most out there. He’s a No. 2 for a reason as are a lot of other guys. We think he could come in and hold serve if Tyrod loses some playing time. He’s a consummate professional and he’s going to try to get better and better each day.

“Granted everybody is going to say, ‘Oh look at the Jacksonville game.’ But we were leading before that last drive and he came back from a 28-point deficit. If we win the game everybody is talking about it being the biggest comeback victory since Frank Reich. So we think the guy has some talent and we know we’re comfortable with him as our number two.”

Manuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2016 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.


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Bills receive Responsibility Bowl Trophy

Posted by buffalobills.com on April 30, 2016 – 11:10 am

Thursday evening, the Buffalo Bills received the Responsibility Bowl Trophy for their efforts during the 2015 season. The Bills were named the Responsibility Bowl champions in 2015 for the second year in a row, due to fans who took part in the Bud Light Good Sport program. With over 20,000 designated drivers recorded, the Bills hit a season record. Fans who contributed to Buffalo’s achievement watched as Christy Verbosky, of Team Coalition, presented the trophy.

responsibility-bowl-trophy-presentation

“We’re especially proud of the Buffalo Bills and their repeat Responsibility Bowl victory,” said Jill Pepper, TEAM Coalition executive director. “The Bills and all their stadium partners, including Delaware North Sportservice and Contemporary Services Corporation, have truly embraced the message of alcohol responsibility from training and certifying employees in alcohol management to encouraging fans to pledge to be designated drivers. There is no better proof of the Buffalo Bills’ commitment to responsible fan behavior than winning a second Responsibility Bowl trophy. Congratulations to the team, your stadium partners and your fans.”


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Bills day 3 approach might shift a bit

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 6:53 am

The Bills have gone all defense with their first three picks. One could argue that they still have needs on the defensive side of the ball (cornerback, safety). But at this stage of the draft, GM Doug Whaley admits that their approach the rest of the way will shift a bit.

“I think once you start getting through the fourth through seventh rounds, you start getting to, ‘Alright, let’s start looking at where are the other holes that we need to fill.’ We may diverge from the board just a little bit because we may need to fill this position or that position with depth.”


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Bills picks all from big programs

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 12:52 am

Buffalo’s first three draft choices are all from big college programs, championship level programs. Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland squared off in the title game this past January and Adolphus Washington won a national title the year before. Bills GM Doug Whaley says that is partly by design.

“There’s always going to be that transition,” said Whaley of moving from college to the NFL. “Would you say it’s easier (for a big school kid)? Maybe they’re around the magnitude of what they’re about to step into maybe more than a small-school guy but what intrigues us most is they’re from intriguing programs so they know how to win. They expect to win. And that’s the type of attitude and type of belief we want players coming into Buffalo.

“(These players think) those 16 years (of no playoffs), that has nothing to do with us. I’ve come from winning programs that have won national championships. I know how to win, I know what it takes to win. So we want to infuse that feeling and that energy into this building.”


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Don’t doubt Ragland

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 12:35 am

Reggie Ragland knows the doubters are out there. Some don’t believe he’s athletic enough to play on third down in coverage assignments. Some wonder if his straight line speed is sufficient enough to make plays sideline to sideline. Ragland doesn’t pay attention to the critics. Just tell him he can’t do something and watch what he does.

When asked on a conference call after being drafted if he could play the weak inside linebacker position after being mainly a true mike linebacker in college, Ragland had a straightforward response.

“I can do it, you give me the opportunity so I can show you I can do,” said Ragland. “I am not scared of competition I am not going to back down from nobody. That is how I have always been. I had to earn my way at Alabama to play and that is what I am going to do here.”


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Washington part of Ohio St. pre-draft visit

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2016 – 12:16 am

The Bills had a collection of Ohio State draft prospects in for pre-draft visits. One thing they did differently was they had them all in on the same day.

Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Taylor Decker, Cardale Jones, Darron Lee and Adolphus Washington all had a pre-draft visit in Orchard Park on the same day. The added benefit for Buffalo’s personnel department was they got to see how the individuals interacted with one another within the group.

“We wanted to see which person in that group had their role and what their role was in that group,” said GM Doug Whaley. “And Adolphus was one of those guys that when he spoke, a lot of people listened. He didn’t dominate the conversation but when he spoke, everyone payed attention. So it taught us, it showed us, that he has the respect of his teammates.”

There were a host of other reasons why Washington wound up being their main target in round three of the draft, perhaps the biggest being his uncommonly quick feet for a big man.


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Bills front 7 haul has 2 Players of the Yr.

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 8:13 pm

The Buffalo Bills in two rounds have acquired two very accomplished players for their defense. Bills GM Doug Whaley was quick to outline their credentials as he approached the lectern following the pick of Reggie Ragland in round two.

“Well we started the draft with the ACC Player of the Year, so we decided to back it up with the SEC Defensive Player of the Year,” said Whaley. “We made a concerted effort to improve the defense and I think we did it. It’s that carbon copy phrase, best player on the board. We would’ve taken this guy at 19. That’s how high he was on our board.”

 


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How Shaq provided assurance on his shoulder

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 5:29 pm

There was one team, one team out of the 32 NFL clubs who flagged Shaq Lawson’s shoulder as a potential problem. It forced Lawson to return to Indianapolis for the combine medical re-check on April 15th, even though 31 other clubs had passed him.

All the other teams looked at his shoulder again in mid-April, but the consensus was he was good to go.

“At the time when I went to the Combine one team that had flagged me was Jacksonville, they had flagged me, everybody else had passed me,” Lawson said. “And when I went back to the re-check a lot of teams said my range of motion was great. Everything was great, I had improved.”

Lawson also went a step further to demonstrate the level of strength he had in the shoulder that was being re-checked. After not benching at the combine or his pro day he did so on video.

“I sent the video out Monday to all 32 teams of my bench press, and the whole full show of the workout,” said Lawson.

 


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Fan Friday 4-29

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 5:15 pm

Day two of the NFL draft. Right now the Bills hold the 49th and 80th picks. What do they do tonight? Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Hey Chris, who do you expect with be their at pick 49?

ryan marx 

CB: I think it’s hard to know what’s going to be left if the Bills stay put at 49 overall. If the value on defense keeps getting pushed down they could go on that side of the ball again. Players like Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed all figure to go early tonight in round two. But there’s still good talent after that like Kevin Dodd, A’Shawn Robinson and Kamalei Correa. On offense you’ve got Connor Cook, but he’ll probably go in the top two picks tonight.

I took a look at the best talent that’s on the board that might be a good fit for the Bills.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance bills trade up to select a top remaining linebacker?

Zach @ZWinterberg

CB: I don’t think you can rule anything out with Doug Whaley at the wheel. He’s not afraid to make a deal if it makes sense for the team. Based on the old trade value chart the Bills would have to give up a third-round pick to get up to the top of round two tonight from their current spot at 49.

There’s also going to be competition to move up that high with reports that Dallas wants to get up there, probably to take a shot at Connor Cook. Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland would be great for Buffalo, but the price to go to the top of round two might be too much.

Perhaps they choose to wait to see how the first few picks unfold and if one of their top players is still on the board they make some calls.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Bills move Manny Lawson to MLB now that Shaq is starting OLB opposite Jerry Hughes?

Matt Dermod

CB: Since we saw that transpire late last season I think it’s an option. Manny Lawson is a player that is valued by Rex Ryan. He’s stated more than once that he’s one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He can fill roles at OLB, DE and inside at LB. His versatility gives the Ryans options.

So while I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario, it’s possible. Personally I think Lawson takes on a jack of all trades role because mentally he’s more than capable of playing different roles week to week.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

Not much is mentioned about Robert Woods and his future with the Bills.  I know he is going into his contract year and has some to prove in 2016.  Do you think the Bills will want to get him under another contract?  I know he had a down year in 2015 due to a groin injury but I think Robert is a very underrated receiver and I would really hate to see him leave the team.  Thanks for all your insight.  Jillian

CB: It’s pretty clear to everyone that the contract extension priorities on the roster are Tyrod Taylor, Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore. I like Robert Woods and I too believe he’s underrated. To his credit he played hurt last season and almost had a 50-catch season.

Unfortunately with the other players in front of him on the list for extensions it’s probably a wait and see situation for him.

 

5 – Chris,

With all the talk about Tyrod Taylor as the starting QB for the Bills and talk about the Bills drafting a QB this year, what has been going on with EJ Manuel?  I have been a big EJ fan since he came in the league and I would like to know what the Bills staff’s plans are for him and what are the chances he will be with the team after his contract is up next year?  What is really preventing him from Starting for the Bills?

CB: Manuel is expected to serve as the backup this season, the final under his rookie contract. What happens beyond that I believe is tied to the other quarterback the Bills acquire, presumably through the draft. If the hypothetical rookie makes a lot of progress and convinces the offensive staff he could handle a backup role in 2017 then Manuel probably is not re-signed. If the progress isn’t happening at a rate the staff feels comfortable with, perhaps EJ is brought back on a short term deal.

As for your last question on what is preventing him from starting for the Bills, it’s Tyrod Taylor. The seventh-highest rated quarterback in the league, a 3.33:1 touchdown to interception ratio and a solid deep passing game.


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Day 2 mocks for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 5:01 pm

As if round one mock drafts weren’t enough, we’ve got day two mock drafts of where the so called experts think the Bills are headed tonight.

The Buffalo Bills have picks at 49 and 80 and guessing who they pick is just that, a guess.

Marc Sessler – NFL.com writer

The depth in the front seven is evident and many of those prospects are rolling over to day two. Sessler sees the Alabama duo, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, quickly departing off the boards in round two.

“It’s a surprise that neither of Alabama’s stellar defensive tackles were taken in Round 1. Look for a steady run on “hog mollies” starting early Friday. Clemson end Kevin Dodd won’t last long, either.”

In his article, he writes who are the best prospects where he ranks these two in third. Then he follows up with it by saying the respective players perfect fit, where in this case is at One Bills Drive.

“Coach Rex Ryan isn’t finished adding depth to a line that let him down last season. Either one of these big -bodied defenders would make the Bills coach a happy camper.”

Lance Zierlein – NFL Media draft analyst

There’s mock drafts aplenty on the internet and Zierlein has Buffalo picking Jonathan Bullard. The defensive end is a 6-foot-3 defensive lineman who had a knack to stuffing up the middle and at times got to the quarterback.

“Not a sexy pick, but has the ability to play along the line of scrimmage and can get to the other side of the line,” Zierlein said of the pick.

This addition would add security behind Kyle Williams. Williams only saw the field for six games and isn’t getting any young as he enters his 11th year in the NFL.

Evan Silva – NBC’s Rotoworld writer

With the 49th pick, Silva has the Bills selecting Bronson Kaufusi from Brigham Young University. The defensive end has the stature needed for the position. He stands at 6-foot-6 and is a force against the offensive line at 285 pounds.

However, he is projected by some, like NFL.com, to be a later round pick like 4 or 5. He’s questioned to be unable to become a major threat to the quarterback and not as versatile to being a linebacker.

Ryan’s defensive scheme is based around the front seven and the deception between who’s blitzing and who may drop back into coverage. Picking Kaufusi at 49 has a risk, but then again there’s no sure thing as a safe pick.

The second pick, barring a trade, is at 80. The Bills could use this pick as a filler for some of the holes in the roster. One position is at quarterback due to Tyrod’s contract ending after this season, the Bills may not want all their eggs in one basket.

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is who Silva has for Buffalo in round three. The quarterback would be the fifth selected in his draft with Connor Cook, of Michigan State, going before him at pick 67.

Hackenberg brings a lot to the table. But like many college athletes, there’s much to learn to translate success to the NFL.

“Christian Hackenberg from Penn State has a ton of talent,” said NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock… “He’s going to be a wild card because his upside from a skills perspective is he has starter skills, but his tape is poor.”

Justis Mosqueda – Featured Columnist for Bleacher report

A needed position for any NFL team is at left tackle. This position is famous for protecting the blindside. Currently, the Bills have four-year-pro Cordy Glenn and through his prediction, he has Joe Dahl at 80. This pick may not be to replace Glenn, but maybe to transfer to the other side which has been an insecurity for the Bills in recent past.

“He’s fairly similar to David Bakhtiari coming out of Colorado, a left tackle prospect from the Pac-12 who many had pinned as an interior offensive lineman, even a top-end center prospect, because of his size. Dahl is a solid developmental, flexible piece of a zone blocking scheme.”

Day two of the NFL draft is difficult to pin down who picks who when each team has different needs. Every General Manager has their own views on talent. NFL draft prospect Correa summed it up best in his tweet last night.

This post was put together by Contributing Correspondent Andrew Kuczkowski


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Dr. Andrews offers opinion on Jack’s knee

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 4:54 pm

With UCLA LB Myles Jack sliding down the draft board last night, his representatives got to work. They’ve solicited the opinion of famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who has stated that Jack does not need further surgery on his knee.

That according to ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter.

Clearly this is a bit of damage control, albeit too late. And many expect Jack to be one of the first picks off the board tonight in round two tonight anyway.


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Rams taking offers for 2 QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 4:51 pm

Rams QB Case Keenum was a player on the L.A. roster who was rumored to be on the trade block earlier this week. Apparently their other quarterback is too.

No, not Carson Wentz. Nick Foles is up for grabs if any team is interested. That according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver.

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Presumably the Rams would take the best off they can get for one of them and keep the other.


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Bills release LB Tarpley, TE Maxwell

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 4:20 pm

The Bills released a pair of players Friday.

Buffalo waived LB A.J. Tarpley and TE Jacob Maxwell. Tarpley announced earlier in the offseason that he would be retiring from the NFL.

The Bills still have five tight ends on their roster following the Maxwell release.


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2nd rd. mock predicts Bills trade & QB

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 2:32 pm

ProFootballTalk put together a round two mock draft in advance of tonight’s actual round two and they have the Bills moving up the board to take a quarterback.

PFT had the Bills moving up from their pick at 49 to pick 36 with Baltimore. With that 36th pick they have the Bills taking Michigan State QB Connor Cook. Here’s a look at their rundown for round two with their most interesting trade being Jacksonville trading up to 32 with Cleveland and taking UCLA LB Myles Jack.

32. Jaguars* (projected trade): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

33. Titans: Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor

34. Cowboys: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

35. Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

36. Bills* (projected trade): Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

37. Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

38. Browns* (projected trade): Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State

39. Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

40. Giants: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

41: Bears: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

42. Dolphins: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

43. Titans: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

44. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

45. Titans: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

46. Lions: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

47. Saints: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida

48. Colts: Kamalei Correa, OLB/DE, Boise State

49. Ravens* (projected trade): Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky

50. Falcons: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

51. Jets: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

52. Texans: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

53. Redskins: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State

54: Vikings: Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame

55: Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt

56. Seahawks: Su’a Cravens, LB, USC

57. Cowboys* (projected trade): Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

58. Steelers: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

59. Chiefs: Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA

60. Patriots: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State

61. Patriots: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

62. Panthers: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

63. Broncos: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

 


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