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Inside The Bills

Kiper bumps up his 2013 draft grade for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2014 – 4:23 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper, to his credit, reviews his post-draft grades of each NFL club around this time of year when the first regular season for that draft class is complete. Kiper bumped up his grade for the Bills looking back on Buffalo’s 2013 draft class.

Kiper went from an initial grade of C- to a B. Here’s what he wrote.

Buffalo Bills

Round Pick Position Player College
(1) 16 QB EJ Manuel Florida State
(2) 41 WR Robert Woods USC
(2) 46 LB Kiko Alonso Oregon
(3) 78 WR Marquise Goodwin Texas
(4) 105 S Duke Williams Nevada
(5) 143 CB Jonathan Meeks Clemson
(6) 177 K Dustin Hopkins Florida State
(7) 222 TE Chris Gragg Arkansas

Post-draft grade: C-

Summary: Well, the Bills are due for a bump. Last April I summarized: “The Bills hit needs, I just think they made a major reach with the biggest need of all, so that value gained from the added picks was in some ways squandered on Manuel.” If you recall, the Bills traded down and added picks, but then they drafted Manuel at No. 16, which I simply thought was too high. Manuel had his moments, but he mostly just looked like a rookie QB and we’re still not sure if the Bills have a solution at the game’s most important position. But they clearly deserve a bump for value added later. Alonso was my top rookie of 2013 league-wide due to overall impact, Woods should be a pretty good No. 2 wide receiver and Goodwin added some value. They also get credit for Nickell Robey, one of the better undrafted signings in terms of early value. Decent return so far, but much is wrapped up in Manuel.

New grade: B


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills among few that kept entire draft class

Posted by Chris Brown on September 2, 2013 – 4:19 pm

After final cuts were made to Buffalo’s roster, their entire draft class made the 53-man roster. The Bills weren’t alone, but there were not many teams that kept all of their picks from this past spring.

According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt the Bills were one of just eight clubs to keep all of their draft choices on their active roster, which speaks well to the caliber of players selected by GM Doug Whaley and the personnel department.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Draft day for Goodwin special with sister

Posted by Chris Brown on June 23, 2013 – 10:20 am

Bills third-round pick Marques Goodwin has a special bond with his younger sister Deja, who has cerebral palsy, as profiled on Buffalobills.com. On draft day all three of Goodwin’s younger sisters were in attendance, but it may have been Deja that was the most excited when her brother was picked by the Buffalo Bills.

“It was an exciting time for everybody, not just my sister. She kind of knew what was going on and she was excited,” Goodwin told Buffalobills.com. “When everybody else was excited she was even more excited. It was great energy being around all the people that I love. That was a special day.”

Goodwin calls his younger sister his greatest inspiration.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Parameters set for EJ contract?

Posted by Chris Brown on June 4, 2013 – 12:36 pm

We often hear about NFL draft choices getting “slotted” with respect to their contract once the players immediately before and after them are signed to contracts. Such is the case for Bills top pick EJ Manuel.

The 15th overall pick, Kenny Vaccaro, has signed his rookie deal with the Saints and on Monday the Steelers signed their top pick Jarvis Jones, who was the 17th overall selection.

Jones’ deal is forecast to be a four-year deal worth about $8.5M while Vaccaro’s deal is a four-year pact worth a reported $9.4M.

Knowing Manuel is a quarterback his contract figures to be a bit more complicated, as is typically the case. The 16th overall pick last season (DE Quinton Coples) signed a four-year deal worth $8.8M.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-24

Posted by Chris Brown on May 24, 2013 – 11:51 am

Be sure to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country on this Memorial Day weekend. There’s a reason we can all have backyard barbecues this weekend. Let’s get to the latest edition of your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
I think we can still get players like Charles Woodson, etc . to further help this year if we can get them at the right price? Don’t get me wrong. I love what we have done so far this off season and draft.

CB: Sure you saw that Woodson returned to the Raiders where his career started on a one-year deal. I don’t know that he’s cornerback material anymore at his age. That being said I will say I’d feel better if the team added a veteran cornerback.

I think the team is well stocked with inside slot defenders, but outside where you need more size, Gilmore and McKelvin are the projected starters. Crezdon Butler (6’1”) and T.J. Heath (6’1”) both offer good size, but not much experience.

The free agent market at corner however, doesn’t offer much. There are a lot of vets that are past their prime. Still, a vet that could be plugged in should injury strike that can still get the job done even for a four to six game stretch could prove valuable.

 

2 - Hi Chris,

I enjoy your articles and videos every day during the off season!

Buddy before he stepped down said there will be more veteran players released from their teams to make more cap room, etc.

What are any of the dates between now and training camp when teams will have to make decisions on keeping or releasing players?

Please keep up the good work, 40 year Bill’s fans like me can’t get enough updates and info.

Thanks again!

Bob S

CB: The releases that Buddy was referring to were due strictly to cap room being hard to come by for some NFL clubs. It’s not really any roster reduction dates that will prompt that between now and the start of training camp.

Offseason rosters are now at 90 players, but only the top 51 count toward the salary cap. The first cutdown from 90 to 75 players happens the last week in August, with the cut to 53 just a few days later.

 

3 – Hi, Chris! As a former WNYer, and a long time Bills fan living afar off in NJ, in the midst of huge numbers of Giants, Jets, and Eagles fans, thanks for helping me stay abreast of all things Bills related.  I was excited to see the schedule come out and find that I will be in the New Orleans area while my favorite team is playing the Saints! What’s the best way to get tickets to that game where I will be sitting among fellow  WNYers?  Keep up the great work, my friend!

Michael C.
Edison, NJ

CB: I’d recommend getting in touch with the local Bills Backers chapter in New Orleans. They can probably tell you where to park to tailgate and might be able to help you with tickets at the Superdome. Here is their info from the Bills Backers page on Buffalobills.com.

Big Easy Bills Backers
The Bricks Courtyard Bar & Grill
735 St. Joseph St.
New Orleans, LA
504-525-2396

 

4 – Chris,

After years of being one of the oldest in age from top to bottom run nfl operations the bills have emerged with young executives and coaching staff to possibly being one of the youngest. Can you comment on this ? Also have you seen Bill Polian walking the halls at 1 Bills Drive? Just asking ! As always enjoy your work…….

Wally J.  in Fredericksburg, Va.

CB: Thanks to our crack research staff the Bills front office (Brandon, Marrone, Whaley) is the youngest in the league in terms of average age, which we blogged last week. And no, no Bill Polian sightings.

 

5 – Dear Chris:

Great draft coverage and congratulations on predicting EJ Manuel as the 1st pick.  Can we play “What if”?  What if the Jets used their 2nd pick on Manuel instead of their 3rd on Geno Smith?  What would the Bills have done with their pick at 16 overall?

Thanks,

Neil in Jamestown, NY

CB: I think there’s a strong chance they would’ve tried to move back again, and there were multiple suitors for their pick at 16.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge winners

Posted by buffalobills.com on May 9, 2013 – 4:20 pm

draft-day-challege-logo

Out of those who correctly guessed EJ Manuel as the Bills first Draft pick, five winners were randomly selected.  They will each receive an exclusive “meet and greet” with EJ Manuel, a private tour of the Buffalo Bills facilities and an autographed NFL Draft helmet.  Congratulations to the following winners:

Cindie Johnson from West Seneca, NY

Dennis Longo from Cheektowaga, NY

Manuel Rosado from Kissimmee, FL

Ryan Spadaccini from Canton, NY

Gary Wisniewski from Cheektowaga, NY


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Posted in Corporate, Inside the Bills, Off the Field

Natl. media coming around to Manuel

Posted by Chris Brown on May 7, 2013 – 3:04 pm

When the Bills made the selection of EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick, it was roundly panned by the national media and the so called draft experts. Now that some of those experts have spoken to NFL scouts for other NFL clubs they have come around to believing that the Bills got it right on Day 1 of the NFL draft.

NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who spoke to reps from two NFL teams that had Manuel graded higher on their draft boards than Geno Smith wrote the following about their professional assessments of the quarterbacks.

I spoke with two clubs that had EJ Manuel ranked ahead of Geno Smith — one had Smith graded as a low third-round pick — and another two  that had them virtually even, with one feeling that Manuel had a higher ceiling and the other giving low second-round grades to both — and slotting Matt Barkley ahead of them.

Breer also mentioned that Smith’s slip in play late in the year soured some teams on his lofty draft status following his fast start. But the one constant that has remained throughout all the reviews of how the quarterbacks came off the board in the draft is that Manuel has the highest ceiling of all the rookie signal callers.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fans grade Bills draft higher than draftniks

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 11:49 am

draft-fans

We all saw how the NFL draftniks give the Bills average grades for their eight pick draft haul almost two weeks ago. Well the fans have spoken too and their grades are considerably higher for the Bills.

According to Group CSE’s analytics NFL fans gave the Bills an average grade of B+ compared to the so called experts average grade of C+. Positive tweets outnumbered negative tweets on the Bills draft by a margin of almost 10:1. The average draft grade for the Bills on Twitter by fans was a solid 87.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schefter thinks EJ will be 1st rookie QB to start

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 10:48 am

ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter was asked on ESPN’s Sportscenter Monday morning who he thinks will be the first rookie quarterback to start in 2013. Here was his opinion.

Schefter thought Buffalo’s EJ Manuel would be the first quarterback to start in 2013. Here was his reasoning.

“Whenever you have a first round pick invested in a player, that gives that quarterback, politically, the best chance to start quickest of any other quarterback. That would be EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills,” said Schefter. “When the Bills traded back and landed at spot 16 and positioned themselves to get EJ Manuel, that set them up to get EJ Manuel in the lineup and on the field as soon as possible.

“Now they did go out during the offseason and signed Kevin Kolb, but when you pick a quarterback in the first round at this time when we’ve seen Cam Newton experience the success that he did right after a lockout. When we saw Andrew Luck and RG III and Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson all start from the beginning that tells you that NFL teams are open to giving deserving rookie quarterbacks a shot. And clearly with all that Buffalo has invested in EJ Manuel it figures that he would be the first rookie quarterback to start this season.”

Head coach Doug Marrone did confirm on draft weekend that Manuel will be part of the open competition at quarterback.

“Absolutely. Every player that we’re taking no matter how we take them is entering a competition and at that position I’ve already said that and that remains the same,” said Marrone. “He’s thrown into the mix of that competition.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Trade with Rams was set Tues. before draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 9:30 am

When the Bills were on the clock with the eighth overall pick they executed their trade with the Rams in short order. Here’s where you can watch how quickly it happened.

Buffalo GM Buddy Nix tells Buffalobills.com in a the Bills Inside the Draft Room feature that the trade had been set in place two days prior to round one.

“I talked to them about two days before the draft, probably Tuesday and said this is what we’d do and we’ll see what the situation is. You can’t make those before pick time,” said Nix. “Is their guy going to be there? Is the one we want still be there when we move down? We talked about it and laid the groundwork for it and said we’ll talk again at pick 6 or 7.”

Nix also said he knew that Tavon Austin was the impetus for the deal even though the Rams never told him that was their guy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills had chance to move up in Rd. 1

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2013 – 8:05 am

The NFL draft is more than a week in the rearview mirror, but Buffalobills.com takes you inside the draft room on draft day on April 25th to see how things came down on day one when the Bills landed EJ Manuel.

Bills GM Buddy Nix, who narrates how things unfolded on draft day, revealed that Buffalo had a chance to move into the top five in a deal with Detroit. But Nix had no interest in moving up.

“Not at all,” Nix told Buffalobills.com. “You’ve got to give up too much to move up. We had guys that we thought would be there and had our favorite there so we weren’t interested in moving up.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone also provides background on the goings on in the draft room in this Bills draft special on Buffalobills.com.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills LB seen as pick of undrafted litter

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2013 – 1:40 pm

A lot of the exposure concerning Buffalo’s undrafted rookie free agents has gone to Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers. In terms of football ability many NFL teams had a first or second round grade on him, including Buffalo. Obviously his off the field history had him go undrafted. Though Buffalo landed him there is an undrafted prospect coming in at a position of need that is viewed as an even bigger steal.

Howard LB Keith Pough (pronounced pew) was an ultra productive player in the MEAC conference. At the Combine he didn’t run well, but plays faster than he times according to Bills scout Tom Roth.

“After he ran that time I went back to check his tape just to be sure,” Roth told Buffalobills.com. “And he does play faster than that. His play speed is closer to 4.75. I’m really excited about this kid.”

Seen as a strong side linebacker for Buffalo, Pough (6’2″ 235), who had an astounding 71 tackles for loss in his college career and was the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year last season, was seen as one of the top undrafted player signings in the NFL by SI.com. Here was their assessment of the Pough acquisition by Buffalo.

Keith Pough, LB, Howard — Buffalo Bills: The Bills’ post-draft pickup WR Da’Rick Rogers, a very talented but problematic wide receiver, will garner the most attention going forward. But don’t overlook the potential for Pough to make an impact in Buffalo, too.

The 6-foot-2 linebacker set an FCS record with 71 tackles for loss in his career. Buffalo’s not particularly deep at that spot on the field either, despite the addition of second-round pick Kiko Alonso. Pough has a great shot to make the roster, and he could pay off down the line if he does.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Projecting starters from 2013 draft class

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2013 – 10:54 am

The number crunchers at DraftMetrics have compiled data to project how many starters each NFL club will get out of their 2013 NFL draft class, not only as rookies, but for the long haul. They’ve also statistically forecast how many draft choices from each of the team’s 2013 draft class will make it to the Pro Bowl over the length of their careers. Here are Buffalo’s projections.

With their eight draft choices, DraftMetrics forecasts that almost six of them will have NFL careers of three years or more (5.72), about two of them will be starters for three seasons or more (2.07), only one will be a rookie starter (1.07).

The team with the highest projected number of three-year starters from their 2013 NFL draft class was the Jets with 3.34 players expected to start for at least three seasons.

It should be noted that the data did favor teams that took less risky position picks (e.g. offensive linemen) as opposed to more risky position picks (wide receivers, running backs). Buffalo took a pair of receivers last week.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Some sobering draft statistics

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2013 – 10:40 am

There was a total of 254 players selected in last week’s NFL draft. We all know that some of them will not make an NFL roster this fall. But DraftMetrics.com went a little deeper in seeing just how long and how many of last week’s draft selections will last in the league.

Using data from the 1993-2006 NFL drafts, DraftMetrics came up with the following projection for the 254 players drafted last week.

  • 171 players will play at least three seasons
  • 130 players will play at least five seasons
  • 77 players will start for at least three seasons (starters deemed as those that start at least 8 games in a year)
  • 58 players will start for at least five seasons
  • 42 players will start as rookies (data used from 1993-2012)
  • 24 players will be selected for at least 1 Pro Bowl
  • 10 players will be selected for at least 3 Pro Bowls
  • 13 players will be selected as an All-Pro at least once
  • 3 players will be selected as an All-Pro at least three times

So while just over two-thirds of the draft choices will last three seasons in the NFL (67%) only 30 percent of the draft choices will be starters for three seasons in their career.

Even more telling is the fact that just 16.5 percent of the draft choices will start as rookies.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

How Bills scored on draft trade

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2013 – 11:54 am

The value looked relatively close when people assessed the trade between the Bills and Rams on day one of the draft, which allowed Buffalo to move down to 16 in round one and pick up an extra second-round pick and a seventh-round pick. But according to a new online trade value calculator the Bills came out on top in the deal.

The draft pick value calculator weighs trades and produces a value on the deal. Buffalo’s trade with St. Louis gave the Bills a trade value of 118. Anything over 100 indicates better than even value on the deal. If the value on the trade is under 100, that team “lost” the trade.

“I think getting the two extra picks and being able to fill an extra couple of needs was huge,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “We didn’t have a seventh and we wind up with a tight end that we wanted to get and we would not have been able to do that. Obviously the extra second is almost like a first to us.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watch Manuel’s first hours as a Buffalo Bill

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2013 – 11:05 am

Want to know what EJ Manuel was doing in the first hours after becoming a Buffalo Bill? Here’s your chance to watch exactly what he was doing from the time he was drafted to the time he arrived in Buffalo a day later.

Buffalobills.com was in New York City at the NFL draft to follow him from the time he was drafted by the Bills all the way to his arrival at One Bills Drive on Friday. It’s behind the scenes coverage you can only find right here.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills competed with 14 teams to land WR Rogers

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 11:55 pm

The Bills knew they liked the talent of Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers. The problem was so did half the NFL, so after the draft was over it was far from a sure thing that Rogers would agree to terms with the Bills. But Rogers came to Buffalo for a few reasons, which Bills GM Buddy Nix laid out.

Nix appearing on the John Murphy Show laid out the reasons why he felt Rogers saw Buffalo as a good spot for him.

“There were 14 teams after him after the draft and we were able to get him,” said Nix. “I think there were a lot of reasons (President and CEO) Russ (Brandon) and (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim (Overdorf) have been pretty close with his agent. Plus his agent also represents Robert Woods and they had worked out together during the pre-draft process and knew each other.

“I think Da’Rick felt comfortable here. Plus he was one of our 30 (pre-draft) visits and he sat in my office and I told him how it would be here. He can either make a living playing football or get a job. I think he understands, plus he went to dinner with our coaches here and I think he liked it.”

Nix believes Rogers understands he’s got to make good on this opportunity.

“This guy is talented and he can play,” said Nix.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bad weather at EJ’s workout helped

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 10:59 pm

When the Bills went to work out EJ Manuel privately the weather was not cooperative. There were thunderstorms and it was windy in Tallahassee on the day the quarterback was performing, and Manuel performed very well. Bills head coach Doug Marrone said Manuel’s performance solidified what they felt he could do in inclement weather.

Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Marrone said knowing what the weather can be like in Buffalo, especially come playoff time in January, their research indicated they needed a strong-armed quarterback that could handle poor or wet weather conditions.

“Going into it as far as what we were putting down that was one of the things as far as criteria for playing up here,” Marrone admitted. “I remember when I first got the job here in Buffalo, and I had been up here and played up here before, and I got out of the car in January and the wind I was like, ‘Wow.’ I never realized how windy it was that time of the year.

“We started talking about the quarterbacks, and we went back and researched all the teams that played in the Northeast in the bad weather and all the success they had with quarterbacks and the common traits that they had. They were big and had big hands and were able to throw the ball in tough weather and that’s what we were looking at.”

EJ Manuel had the largest hands (10 3/8″) and longest arms (35″) of any of the quarterbacks at the Combine.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Marrone: work on QBs was most I’ve seen

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 10:51 pm

The Bills scouting department was exhaustive in their efforts to research and examine all of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Even Bills GM Buddy Nix admitted to digging even deeper than they usually do during this past calendar year. For head coach Doug Marrone it was as extensive a process as he’s ever been a part of.

In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Rich Gannon, Marrone described why he felt their efforts went the extra mile.

“Obviously with the quarterback it was the most work in terms of any place I’ve been on all the quarterbacks available,” said Marrone. “We met with all of them at the Senior Bowl and Indianapolis, private workouts and taking them to dinner. So we had a lot of exposure to them. At the end we felt there were a couple of guys that we felt that we could win with and were lucky enough to get the guy we wanted in EJ.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Manuel’s numbers tell story

Posted by Chris Brown on April 30, 2013 – 12:47 pm

While the world of draftniks panned the Bills pick of EJ Manuel as being far too early, Bills GM Buddy Nix and his scouting staff had all the proof they need, and if outside observers didn’t have the time to do all the travel, interviewing, tape watching, research and background checks then all you need to do is look at the numbers.

ESPN.com put together a comprehensive set of figures related to Manuel’s play and checked how it compared to the rest of the quarterbacks in the draft class. Here are just a couple of examples that should get Bills fans excited.

He can throw the football vertically down the field
Manuel improved his completion percentage on passes of 20 yards or longer in his junior and senior seasons. In 2012, Manuel completed 49.2 percent of his passes of 20 yards or longer, the highest completion percentage of any of Scouts Inc.’s top six quarterback prospects.

He can get himself out of trouble
In 2012, Manuel completed 55.8 percent of his passes when under duress, a higher completion percentage than Geno Smith (49.3), Matt Barkley (49.3) and Landry Jones (37.1).

These are two big areas where the quarterback play had been lacking, plays under pressure and deep throws. Add in that Manuel’s completion percentage actually went up last year when he threw from outside the pocket (66.8 to 70%) and add in his 81% figure for passes on target and you can see why the Bills saw him as the best quarterback in the draft.


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Posted in Inside the Bills