Inside The Bills

2 of Bills rookies among undrafteds to watch

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 11:01 am

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper put together a list of top 30 undrafted players to watch in 2016. Two of the Bills 14 undrafted players made the list.

Kiper listed Bills FB Glenn Gronkowski and LB Eric Striker as two of his 30 undrafteds to keep an eye on. Here’s what he wrote on them.

Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Buffalo Bills
He’s not the second coming, but he’s one of the two best fullbacks in the draft and has a chance to make the Bills’ roster.

Eric Striker, OLB, Buffalo Bills
Undersized but productive, Striker can flat out rush the passer. The question is if he can help beyond that.

 


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Bills draft class draws from top football states

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

NFL.com put together a list of the states that produced the most draft choices in the 2016 NFL draft. Not surprisingly, Texas, Florida and California topped the list. Buffalo’s draft class reflected the top end of the list of traditional football producing states.

Buffalo’s seven-player draft class had a pair of players from Texas (J. Williams, Listenbee) and a pair from Ohio (Washington, Jones). The other three hailed from Alabama (Ragland), California (Seymour) and South Carolina (Lawson).

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of 2016 draft picks:

32 – Texas
30 – Florida
26 – California
15 – Georgia
14 – Ohio
10 – Illinois
9 – Pennsylvania
8 – North Carolina
7 – Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and South Carolina
6 – Alabama, Arizona and Indiana
5 – Louisiana and Tennessee
4 – Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Washington
3 – Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Wisconsin
2 – Connecticut, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah
1 – Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota and Nebraska

 


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Jones establishes early trust with coach Lee

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 9:06 am

As we profiled in our feature story on QB Cardale Jones, Buffalo’s fourth-round pick knows he has a lot of work in front of him if he’s to maximize his potential as an NFL caliber quarterback. Set to work most closely with him in that effort is Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee, a coach he met a few times before rookie minicamp last weekend.

“I met him there (at One Bills Drive on my pre-draft visit) and met him at my pro day and at the combine as well,” said Jones.

Jones is ready to work with Lee, offensive assistant Chris Palmer and offensive coordinator Greg Roman right away. Jones also has an additional connection to coach Lee.

“Me and coach Lee are represented by the same agency,” said Jones in an appearance on the John Murphy Show.


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Which is Bills’ game to circle in 2016?

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2016 – 8:32 am

SI.com took a look at the regular season schedule for each of the NFL’s 32 clubs to see which was that team’s game to circle. Essentially SI’s Don Banks looks at the toughest game on each team’s schedule that could potentially alter the course of that club’s season. The one game he picked for the Bills should come as little surprise.

He hedged a bit as he picked either of Buffalo’s two games against division nemesis New England, partly because it’s up in the air as to whether Tom Brady will be available for the Week 4 matchup, since that would be the last week of his upheld suspension for Deflategate. Here was his assessment.

Buffalo (Week 4 or 8 vs. New England): It almost goes without saying that for Rex Ryan and his long-suffering Bills, the white whale they both have long pursued hails from Foxborough, Mass. Beating the Patriots is where the story starts and ends for Buffalo, which is still working on that mind-boggling 16-year playoff drought. The Bills were 0–2 against Belichick and Brady last season, finishing 8–8 and in third place in the AFC East. This year, Week 4 brings the first test, with the Bills trying to win for the only second time ever at Gillette Stadium (and that 2014 Week 17 upset came when Brady was yanked early with the playoffs looming). If Brady’s suspension is in effect on Oct. 2, the focus will shift to the Week 8 rematch in Buffalo, with even more on the line in terms of the Bills’ quest to return to division relevancy.

Do you agree? I admit it’s hard to argue. If the Bills want to contend for the division title to ensure an end to the playoff drought they have to at least split with the Patriots this season.

For what it’s worth Banks had the Jets toughest game being their Week 2 matchup in Buffalo with the Bills. He even called it the Rex hex for the Jets after the Bills swept New York last season.


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LB Ragland eager to dive in with the Ryans

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 1:47 pm

Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland played in a defensive scheme at Alabama, that GM Doug Whaley claims will have a lot of carry over to Rex Ryan’s scheme in Buffalo. That will hopefully translate into a shorter learning curve for the physical linebacker. Either way Ragland is altogether anxious to get to work on the scheme with both head coach Rex Ryan and Assistant head coach Defense Rob Ryan.

“They’re great coaches,” said Ragland of the Ryans. “They love to joke around off the field. They love on you and do what they can for you and then once you get on the field it’s all business. I’m glad I’ve got a coach like that because I always wanted to play for coach Ryan, the Ryans actually, both of them. I’m getting an opportunity to do that so I’m really thankful and happy. Anytime you have the both of them together you know you’re going to have great schemes drawn up.”


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Starting job lured Slauson to San Diego

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 10:46 am

As I suspected in my Fan Friday column last week (answer No. 5), free agent guard Matt Slauson would only be given the opportunity to compete for a starting role here in Buffalo, and with the team’s three interior starters on the line pretty entrenched it was likely that Slauson would be a backup for the Bills in 2016 were he to sign here. With the strong likelihood of being the Chargers starting center, reports were already circulating over the weekend that he would sign a two-year deal with San Diego as early as today (Monday).

ESPN’s Adam Caplan had it first on Saturday that Slauson had agreed to terms with San Diego.

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So as attractive as playing for Rex Ryan and Aaron Kromer again may have been, most free agents prefer the better opportunity at playing time and he’ll have that with the Chargers.


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Phase 2 of offseason conditioning begins today

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 10:33 am

Bills players have been on site for the last few weeks doing weight training and conditioning work on the field without coaches, and classroom work with coaches. But today (Monday) begins phase two of the offseason program.

Under CBA rules, over the next three weeks of the program players can participate in on-field workouts that may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.

Buffalo’s OTA practices begin in two weeks on Monday May 23rd.


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Ragland listed as one of draft’s best fits

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 9:19 am

Former Bills safety Matt Bowen, now an NFL analyst for ESPN.com, has broken down what he feels are the best NFL draft fits for the teams who selected them. Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland was on his short list.

Bowen sees Ragland as a versatile, but perfect fit for Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. Here was his analysis.

Reggie Ragland, LB, Buffalo Bills

In Rex Ryan’s 3-4 front, Ragland is the big boy at the second-level, that linebacker with downhill power to eat up the run game: Stack and shed, fill the hole and put the running back on the ground. This guy is a tackling machine. But don’t peg Ragland as just a base defender who has to come off the field on third downs. He has enough juice in his legs to drop in zone coverage, close on the ball and be used as a matchup weapon in the blitz packages. Ragland versus a running back in protection? I’m taking the linebacker in that one — and broken chinstraps. This is an immediate upgrade for Ryan’s defense, an ideal fit for the 3-4 scheme and an absolute steal for the Bills in the second-round. It was a smart move to trade up with Ragland still on the board.

 


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PFF ranks Darby & Watkins in their top 100

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 8:47 am

The NFL Network apparently isn’t the only outlet doing a top 100 NFL player list. Pro Football Focus is doing their based on their film review from the 2016. Their findings have Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby ranked in the first release of ranked players from 100-76.

Watkins was ranked 95th overall while Darby checked in with a ranking of 82. Here was their breakdown as to why each Bills player wound up where they did.

95. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (unranked)

There may have been more impressive raw statistical performances from wide receivers out there, but Watkins posted an impressive receiving grade and averaged 17.5 yards per reception in 2015. At times he was short-changed by the rest of the offense, as passes didn’t quite get to him even after he did excellent work to get open, and the trouble he gave Darrelle Revis in both of their matchups this season really encapsulates the improvement in his game from one year to the next.

Best performance: Week 13 versus Houston: +3.5 grade

Key stat: Watkins had the second-most yards from deep passes (20-plus air yards) in the entire league at 606 yards.

82. Ronald Darby, CB, Buffalo Bills (unranked)

Rookie cornerbacks are not supposed to play as well as Darby did this past season. In contrast to Marcus Peters, who was very much boom-or-bust (eight interceptions and eight touchdowns surrendered), Darby was far more consistent in a down-to-down basis. He may have only notched two interceptions, but he also had 13 passes broken up and was beaten for an average of just 11.6 yards per reception.

Best performance: Week 4 versus Giants: +4.1 grade

Key stat: Darby had the eighth-highest coverage grade for CBs at +11.1.


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Bills credited with pair of draft bargains

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 8:42 am

The Bills 2016 draft haul by most accounts has been a very good one. Taking it a step further NFL.com put together a list of draft choices they felt were among the best bargains for where they were selected. Two of the newest Bills made the list in a look at the AFC East clubs.

NFL.com chose Bills second-round pick Reggie Ragland and fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams among their best bargains. Here was their assessment as to why.

LB Reggie Ragland, Buffalo Bills
Drafted:
2nd round (41st overall)
Why he’s a bargain: The heart-and-soul linebacker of the Alabama defense wasn’t expected to slip out of the first round, much less 10 picks deep into the second. Ragland is a Day 1 starter on run downs, and plays well enough in space to at least challenge for playing time on third down as well. The enlarged aorta that might have helped precipitate his slide isn’t expected to be a problem for his football career.

RB Jonathan Williams, Buffalo Bills
Drafted:
5th round (156th overall)
Why he’s a bargain: After spending all of 2015 on the sideline due to a foot injury, Williams was something of a draft afterthought. His absence helped backfield mate Alex Collins enhance his draft profile last year, but when both shared the backfield as a healthy tandem in 2013 and 2014, Williams was the more consistent and reliable player. He’s an effective receiver and, barring an injury setback, should not only make the team but earn an early rotational role as well.


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Peyton Manning helping Tannehill

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2016 – 8:12 am

It’s likely rooted in the relationship between Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase and the now retired Peyton Manning. Gase, who was Manning’s offensive coordinator in Denver a few years ago, is entering his first season as head coach in Miami. According to the Miami Herald it was Manning’s idea to come down and help Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill out with the Dolphins new offense.

“It was really cool,” Tannehill told the Herald. “A guy that had his career, the living legend he is, coming off a Super Bowl winning season —  it was really cool just to be able to sit and pick his brain about things he’s done in this offense and football things in general: snap counts, things you like, the way you want guys to run routes, little details about the game. We really just got to talk the game, which is something we both love.”

Whether Manning will pop in for other tutoring sessions is unclear. But it does only serve to reinforce how the Dolphins are doing everything they can to maximize Tannehill’s abilities as a quarterback.


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Shaq and Reggie previously knew each other

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 4:20 pm

Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland both acknowledged they knew each other prior to arriving at One Bills Drive for rookie minicamp.

“Reggie and I were already close friends,” said Lawson. “We met a while ago. We met at the Nagurski award banquet. We were both finalists for the Nagurski award so we met then. We’ve been friends since the college all-star games so we had a great relationship even before we got on the same team.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of like four flats on a Cadillac,” said Ragland smiling. “No, I got really close to Shaq through the process. At first, I thought he’s crazy, heard a couple stories of him, but for the most part, I got to know him and he’s a really good guy and he’s a great friend of mine. So, I’m glad to be here with him and he’s one of the players I wanted to play with if I had a chance to during the process.”

When asked why Ragland said his offensive teammates at Alabama were really impressed with his playing ability.

“He’s a good player no doubt. When we were getting ready to play him for the national championship all my teammates were talking about what a good player he was,” said Ragland. “Then to meet him as a person he’s has a great personality. He likes to crack around and joke just like I do, so that’s what drew me to him.”


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Washington: Cardale will be better pro QB

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 4:17 pm

Teammates for the last four years at Ohio State, Adolphus Washington and Cardale Jones are pretty tight. Washington is all too familiar with Jones trials through his college career, including getting benched last season after winning the starting job for the Buckeyes. Washington’s eyes tell him that Jones might be one of those QBs who is better as a pro than he was as a collegiate QB.

“At Ohio State I always thought Cardale would be a better quarterback in the NFL and I hope that stays true,” said Washington. “He’s a smart guy and a great quarterback and he’s turning into that leader. I was hearing in the locker room some of the guys talking about how he was controlling the huddle and controlling the offense and I was proud to hear that because that’s something he needed to work on.”

When asked why he believes Jones skill set will flourish more in the NFL, Washington believes having more freedom to operate within an offense will allow his physical talents to be maximized.

“Just his arm and being able to make his own reads and not having a set person to throw the ball to or whatever the case might,” said Washington. “I just think he’ll be a lot better in the league.”


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Slauson ties are strong to Rex & Kromer

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 4:02 pm

Bills free agent visitor Matt Slauson was at One Bills Drive to meet with the coaching staff. He was drafted by the Jets when Bills head coach Rex Ryan was running the team down in New York. He also was coached by Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer in Chicago in 2013 and 2014. Ryan remembers how the Jets came to draft Slauson back in 2010.

“Matt when we we drafted him it was a funny thing,” said Ryan. “We had three or four guys that we were looking at with that last pick and we had taken all offensive players. All I heard was I was never going to draft an offensive players. The other three guys were defensive players, and we drafted the offensive player. And all he did was end up starting for six years now. So that one kind of worked out.”

“It was good to see him out here. Obviously he’s a guy we’re very familiar with. You have him do the physical to see where he is that way. But he played for Kromer and I had him with the Jets.”

Slauson stopped out to watch a little of rookie minicamp.


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Fan Friday 5-6

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 11:33 am

Time for post-draft analysis. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills with the drafting of Williams, can all 4 make the team? Or is he fighting Gillislee for a single spot?

Parasauralophus @lophus89

CB: I think all four could absolutely make the roster. I think Jonathan Williams is going to open some eyes very quickly at training camp. Talented kid with great feet for a downhill back.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills What Undrafted Free Agents do you see having the best chance of cracking the 53 man roster? Matt from England #Bills

Matt Swain @MSwain86

CB: I like LB Erik Striker’s athletic ability on the whole. Even though he’s making a position switch I think Rex and Rob Ryan find a way to find a role for him. Plus I think he can be a demon on special teams. I think G Jamison Lalk’s versatility could really help him. He’s played OT, G and C in his college career. I also like NT Justin Zimmer’s short area quickness, but we’ll see.

 

3 – Chris,

Thanks for all your efforts in keeping us diehard fans up to date.   My question is, with the issues Dan Carpenter had last year in missed extra points and field goals, do you foresee any change? It would be nice to have a player fill both roles for kick offs and field goals, extra points. Kickoffs surely are an important factor in keeping an opponent backed up and a whole field in front of them. But missing an extra point changes future decisions and you are usually down a point instead of tied.

Thanks for your insight.
Gary in Indianapolis

CB: While I understand your frustration with the extra point issues Carpenter had last year, if you look at his NFL track record I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills look at his 2015 season as an aberration. Now that being said the coaching staff isn’t turning a blind eye to what ailed Carpenter last season. Hopefully those days are behind him, but they did bring in an undrafted rookie free agent kicker in Georgia’s Marshall Morgan as competition.

We profiled Morgan’s college career earlier this week.

 

4 – Chris,
How do you feel about the Bills 1st round pick considering who was available? Nkemdiche for example. I feel like it was a bit of a homer pick considering Rex wore a Clemson helmet to a press conference. Do you think he was on the top of our board or was Rex being Rex?

Great work as always Chris!
Thanks!

GaynorGuarantee

CB: Having the privilege of being in the draft room I can assure you he was the top player available for them. As I covered in my Inside the Draft Room feature, the Bills thought he’d be gone in the first dozen picks. That’s how high they had him graded.

The Bills and just about every other team doesn’t let personal attachments affect draft grades. There’s too much investment involved to let that play a factor.


5 –
@ChrisBrownBills Thoughts on Slauson? Does he leave town? Lots of connections to Rex/Kromer. Can play across the line other than LT

Mavin @BillsFanNY

CB: I think the Bills would like to add him and they do have one open roster spot at this point. The money saved by signing Cordy Glenn to his big extension helps make that a greater possibility. Have to see what Slauson is willing to accept if he likes what his role would be, which at this point would be a backup. Not certain he’s ready to accept such a role.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills Season Ticket Member of the Month – May

Posted by buffalobills.com on May 6, 2016 – 10:53 am

stm-month-story

Name: Bob Ostempowski

Hometown: Sloan, NY, lives in Lancaster, NY

Season Ticket Member Since: 5/1/1993

Favorite Current Bills: Kyle Williams

Favorite Bills Legends: Jim Kelly, Tom Sestak, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith

Favorite Bills Memory: When Terry Pegula bought the Bills and saved the franchise

Favorite part of Sundays at Ralph Wilson Stadium: The anticipation before kickoff

Best part of being a Bills Season Ticket Member: Knowing you have the same seat week in and week out, and the people you get to know around you.

Favorite Bills Season Ticket Member Perk: Getting money back to use at the stadium on their Bills Bucks card.

Favorite Tailgate Ritual: Cooking on the grill, having some sausages and some cold brews.

The Buffalo Bills would like to thank Bob for his 20+ years as a Bills Season Ticket Member. As our Season Ticket Member of the month for May, Bob will receive two pregame on field passes to a home game of his choice, an autographed helmet, and select 2016 Bills merchandise.

If you would like to nominate a Season Ticket Member of the Month, email us the account number, name, and the reason for your nomination to Tickets@bills.nfl.net. Please use the subject line, “STM of the Month Nomination.” A new Season Ticket Member will be recognized and featured each month for the 2016 season.

*Above photo is Bob with his son Kevin and daughter Christine.


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Taylor makes top 20 for rising retail stars

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 9:22 am

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), via its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc., has unveiled their second annual NFLPA 2016 Rising list, which identifies players best positioned to rank among top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars. And there’s a Bills player on it.

Tyrod Taylor made the list ranking 16th overall, and was the only Bills player to do so. (top 25 listed below)

The NFLPA Rising 50 rankings take into account on-field performances during the 2015 season, fantasy-league popularity, early demand from current sponsors and licensees, and new faces in strong markets as factors determining potential future sales popularity.

To be considered for this ranking, players must not have appeared in previous NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales quarterly lists.The NFLPA Rising 50 is updated annually.

Top 25 of NFLPA 2016 Rising 50:

  1. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
  2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
  3. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
  4. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
  5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  6. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
  7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
  8. Josh Norman, DB, Washington Redskins
  9. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
  10. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  11. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
  12. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
  13. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  14. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals
  15. Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears
  16. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
  17. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
  18. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
  19. Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Seattle Seahawks
  20. Aaron Donald, DL, Los Angeles Rams
  21. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
  22. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
  23. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
  24. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
  25. Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans

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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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