Inside The Bills

Bills tried to get a 3rd player with a 1st round grade

Posted by Chris Brown on May 5, 2016 – 2:14 pm

The Bills were obviously very happy to get two players with first round grades on their board in the first two rounds of the draft. On day two of the NFL draft after successfully trading up with Chicago to move to pick 41, Buffalo had two options that they would’ve been happy to take with that new pick at 41. Reggie Ragland was the top option so he was the choice. As the second round wore on however, their option ‘B’ was still available.

As we profiled in our final On the Clock feature – Inside the Draft Room, Buffalo made the trade with Chicago while the Giants were on the clock at pick 40. The reason they felt comfortable consummating the trade with the Bears before the Giants picked was because they had two players with first round grades they were ready to take there. So either way they were sure to get one of the two. In the end both wound up being there.

After taking Ragland however, their option ‘B’ was still sliding.

“The two guys that were there were Ragland and Jarran Reed,” Bills GM Doug Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “When Reed started falling we thought, ‘Hey, wait a minute. We’ve got a chance to get three first rounders with our first three picks.’ That would’ve put us over the edge.”

The problem was it was a long shot. Having already parted with a fourth-round pick along with another four in 2017 in the move up to get Ragland, Buffalo didn’t have a whole lot to work with, but the Bills thought they should at least attempt to find a way back into round two and land yet another player for whom they had a first round grade.

“We knew we didn’t have the ammo because it was so far away, but you’ve got to be greedy and see if there’s a way,” said Monos. “We were trying to come up with a way. You don’t want to mortgage the future. Sometimes you just have to sit.”

Buffalo put a call into some teams in the bottom third of the round. Among them was Seattle figuring it would take less to get up to pick 56, the 25th selection in round two. Seattle however, had plans to move up themselves. Ironically, the Seahawks found a trade partner in the Chicago Bears in the Bills original second-round slot at 49. Seattle moved up and took Jarran Reed off the board.


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Why Bills 2nd rd. pick believes he’s a 3 down LB

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2016 – 10:07 am

Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland has heard and read the criticism. He knows there were draftniks and probably some NFL clubs that did not see him as a three down linebacker. Ragland is ready to prove them all wrong.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this week, Ragland reiterated that he is wholly confident that he’s capable of being a three-down linebacker in the NFL.

“I can be a three down linebacker. I did it. I played all three downs in my last year,” he said. “Against Texas A&M I played the ‘mike’ the whole game, the inside backer covering backs and tight ends. Against other teams I played outside and played all three downs. I rushed and dropped from the end position. I can drop and I can cover. I don’t know why people feel that way. It doesn’t matter to me. Coach Ryan gave me an opportunity and I’m going to give it my all for the organization.”


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Report: Bills to host free agent G Slauson

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2016 – 9:46 am

The Bills will reportedly host free agent G Matt Slauson for a visit.

That according to ESPN NFL reporter Adam Caplan.

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Slauson spent his first four years in the NFL under head coach Rex Ryan in New York with the Jets. The 30-year old played his last three seasons for Chicago.


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Ragland: Enlarged aorta is a non-issue

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2016 – 9:25 am

Medical reports are hugely important in player evaluations and draft grades heading into the NFL draft. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith and UCLA’s Myles Jack are probably the two most notable examples in the 2016 NFL draft. Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland was another linebacker who had a medical issue publicized in the 11th hour leading up to the draft. Ragland didn’t understand why however, since he had been cleared by every doctor that examined him.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ragland explained how his enlarged aorta was checked by every doctor at the NFL combine and by an additional specialist. Who decided to make it an issue is something he can’t explain.

“Going into the combine I talked to the doctor and I got some extra tests done and I was good,” Ragland said. “Then I went to a specialist and she said I was good. Somebody put that out and teams got scared. They thought there was more to it, but there wasn’t. It was just the same. I’m good to go. I just have to get it checked once a year, but I’m good to go.”

Bills GM Doug Whaley said Buffalo’s medical staff completely cleared Ragland as well.

“We would’ve taken him at 19,” Whaley said. “There was no concern at all.”

According to medical research there are several dietary steps that can be taken to keep an enlarged aorta from growing any more and presenting future risks.


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Ragland’s chance meeting with the Ryans

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2016 – 8:53 am

Before his pre-draft meeting with the Bills in Orchard Park, Alabama LB Reggie Ragland ran into Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Assistant head coach Rob Ryan in a chance meeting a month before the draft.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ragland said he ran into the two coaches in Birmingham, Alabama of all places.

“Coach Ryan, it’s funny because about two months ago, a couple of days after my pro day and I’m walking out of the mall in Birmingham and both coach Ryans are walking into the mall,” Ragland said. “I stopped them for a second and we just got to talking for a second. When I came up on my visit coach Ryan told me he could tell I was raised up well by my parents because I was saying, ‘Yes sir and no sir.’ He could tell I was a good person, so he knew he’d be getting a good person off the field and a good football player. My parents always told me that a first impression means everything, so I always try to make a good first impression to everybody that I meet.”

On his pre-draft visit Ragland said he got a good vibe from Buffalo’s head coach and is encouraged to be playing for a defensive mind like Ryan.

“I had a great time with coach Ryan. He’s a down to earth person, but you can tell when he hits that football field he’s fired up,” Ragland said. “I’m very excited because I always wanted to play for coach Ryan because he’s always put his players in a position to be successful.”

 


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Whaley: Planning for key extensions up next

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2016 – 1:50 pm

The NFL draft has been the primary focus for the better part of the last month and a half. Now with the draft in the rearview mirror the focus of Buffalo’s front office shifts to formulating a plan on contract extensions for some of the more important pieces on the Bills roster.

Stephon Gilmore, Cordy Glenn and Tyrod Taylor are three key players who have a year on their contracts. Glenn was a franchise player and signed his tender. Bills GM Doug Whaley, in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportradio 550, said he, along with Senior VP of Football Administration Jim Overdorf, will enact a plan on addressing the contract situation of all three players.

“Negotiations took a hiatus for draft weekend,” he said. “We’ll regroup this week and set a game plan through to the minicamp. I’ll sit down with Jim Overdorf and reach out and see if we can just keep the lines of communication open.”

When asked if the team has a priority list where they want to get one extension done before another, Whaley indicated that they’ll be working to get all three players extended.

“They’re all the same,” he said. “We’re going to try to work as diligently as possible to get all three of those guys (extended). This is where we want to get to. Have good players on our team and then keep them instead of going out into free agency. We’d like to use free agency for the value guys. So when you have potential stars that we’ve drafted or acquired and they’re on our roster now, why not throw the money at those guys?”

Whaley said he’s “supremely confident” they can fit all three players on extensions under their salary cap heading into 2017 where the Bills right now have more than $50M in cap space. The only player with a true deadline on the horizon is Glenn. He signed his franchise tender, but he and the Bills have until July 15th to negotiate a long term deal, which would replace the current one-year guaranteed contract.

Gilmore and Taylor have until next March before they could even negotiate with anyone but Buffalo.


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QB Jones thought call from Bills was a prank

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2016 – 11:54 am

Bills fourth-round pick Cardale Jones initially didn’t believe it was in fact the Bills who were calling to tell him he was about to become the newest quarterback on their roster. Even though he met with offensive coordinator Greg Roman and quarterbacks coach David Lee at his pro day and had a pre-draft visit to One Bills Drive, there was a reason Jones was skeptical after answering his phone.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Jones explained that he had been getting some phony phone calls during day three of the draft.

“I thought initially it was a prank call,” said Jones of the call from Buffalo. “I was getting calls from some weird numbers all day and I would answer and they would hang up. So I didn’t believe it until really my name went across the TV screen. I was watching it with my family and my name popped up on the screen and I went crazy.”

As for the prank calls Jones can’t understand the motivation behind it.

“I guess they were expecting me to see a weird number and think I was getting drafted by that team,” he said. “I don’t know if it was one of my buddies playing a joke, but it wasn’t a great feeling I’ll tell you that.”

Ultimately it all wound up for the best as Jones is excited about his landing spot in Buffalo.

“I love it. I can’t think of a better situation to be in,” Jones said. “Couldn’t be around a better coach or better people. Just reflecting on my visit up to Buffalo with coach Ryan and him talking about the situation I would be in. Now it’s a reality. I’m going to try to take advantage of every situation from here on out.”

 


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Whaley assesses Cardale in 2014 & 2015

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2016 – 10:34 am

Any fan of college football remembers Cardale Jones heroic performance in the final three games of Ohio State’s run to the national championship when he helped the Buckeyes defeat Wisconsin for the Big 10 title, No. 1 Alabama in the national semifinal and No. 2 Oregon for the national title. What is not remembered as much is his 2015 season when some struggles and inconsistencies emerged. Bills GM Doug Whaley watched it all and compared his 2014 play to his 2015 play.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportradio 550, Whaley was asked to compare and contrast Jones’ quarterback play in 2014 to 2015.

“(In 2014) I saw a guy whose arm talent jumps off the tape,” said Whaley. “He was making throws when he was under pressure and getting hit. He was making throws when things weren’t perfect. That’s a key in the NFL because very rarely are you going to have a perfect pocket. So can you put that ball on a rope in that accurate catching zone while people are at your feet? People were bouncing off of this guy. Then you add that he can tuck it and run you over at 250. Those are some pretty special qualities for a quarterback.”

This past season Jones went 8-0 as a starter, but was benched by the Ohio State staff. Here was Whaley’s assessment.

“Saw the same (kind of play), but opponents saw where his weaknesses were,” said Whaley. “People were saying he had some inaccurate games, but his completion percentage at the end of the year was 62 percent, which is not that bad. What you did see was his lack of experience in reading defenses. That’s why we’re saying this guy is not going to come in and right off the bat know everything like a guy who has been in the league or even a guy who has played three or four years in college. This guy has had 11 starts. So he’s a piece of clay we can mold and we think his upside is just untapped.”


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Bills undrafted LB Striker receives award

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2016 – 10:12 am

Bills undrafted rookie LB Erik Striker was formally presented with the Otis Sullivant award on the Oklahoma University campus Monday.

Named the award’s 15th recipient last month, Striker was the first student to ever receive it according to the OU Daily. The Sooners pass rusher was given the award based on his leadership during the Sigma Alpha Epsilon incident in March 2015. Striker spearheaded discussions on diversity and helped to open dialogue between student leaders and SAE Chapter Officers and the Oklahoma University President.

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“Eric Striker is a good choice,” said Molly Shi Boren, wife of University President David Boren in a press release last month. “As a student leader he has truly helped to build a stronger sense of community and family on campus. He has many times demonstrated the moral courage to speak out against injustice both on campus and in the broader society. This award is being presented to Eric not as a student athlete but as a student leader who has outstanding personal qualities.”

OU began awarding the Sullivant Award in 2001 to someone on campus who exhibits “keen perceptivity, manifests intuitiveness, instant comprehension and empathy.”


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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.

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“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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