Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 1-23

Posted by Chris Brown on January 23, 2015 – 1:11 pm

The new coaching staff is coming together. If you missed any of our Senior Bowl or Pro Bowl coverage check it out on Buffalobills.com. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I don’t think Hughes, Urbik, Lawson, Spiller, Spikes or Rivers will return next year as the money will be spent in other areas. I think the Bills will soon extend the contracts of Dareus and Glenn.  Do you have any insight on this?

Thanks,
Joe

CB: I think the Bills will work hard to bring Hughes back into the fold. Spiller is expected to have other suitors. Urbik, Lawson and Rivers are all still under contract. Rex Ryan in a conference call this past season said Spikes was a player he liked because he has a grit and attitude to his game that appeals to him, for whatever that’s worth.

As for Dareus and Glenn, the Bills typically address free agents first before worrying about players that are still under contract, so while Dareus and Glenn are seen as long term building blocks for the franchise I don’t see them getting done in short order.

 

2 - Hi, Chris

Looking for help in understanding what has happened to the offensive line over the past three years.

Fact: Four of the current five starters were also starters on the O-Line in 2012.
Fact: The rushing game produced over 2200 yards in 2012; less than 1400 this year.
Fact: Now former coach Marrone has publicly stated that the problem with the run game is not Coach Hackett’s schematics.

So — if the line has basically the same players, with the same talent, with a couple years more experience, and the techniques and schematics are correct and being taught properly — why has there been such a marked regression in performance, culminating in last Sunday’s horrific 13 yards gained on 13 attempts?

You are close to the scene and obviously can sense better than we fans what is going on.  Please help.

Thanks much,
Jim D.

CB: There were a number of factors at work. First and foremost you had your top two running backs injured for a stretch of the season. Spiller missed seven games. I think anyone on the offensive line in 2014 would tell you that their play regressed from the year before.

In 2012 their offensive scheme ran out of a spread formation, which created bigger running lanes for the backs. That was not the case in 2014 as they chose to run between the tackles more often than not. I don’t know that the approach offensively always fit the backs they had carrying the ball. That combined with an offensive line that took a step back led to the lowest rushing total in team history in a 16-game season.

 

3 – Chris,

All Bills fans are disappointed, but so are the fans of the Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, a few of them have $100 Million Quarterbacks !! There will be cries for EJ. You get better by practicing your skills, and proving in practice you’re ready to play. Do you feel EJ has shown he’s ready, how about Kouanjio and Richardson?
Jim in Florida

CB: I think the 12 weeks that Manuel had to focus on his personal game served him well over the last three quarters of the 2014 season. He also learned how to effectively prep yourself as a QB watching Kyle Orton get ready for games each week. From watching him the last month of the season in practice I felt his accuracy was improved. He was no longer thinking and concerned about throwing the perfect ball. He was just throwing.

I’m interested to see him as part of a competition for the starting job next year. Has he shown he’s ready? I don’t think we’ll know until we see him at training camp this summer.

As for Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson they worked to make the most of their reps. It sounds like Kouandjio will be given real consideration at the guard position, even though it’s very new to him. I also believe competition will be brought in to battle the youngsters for roles on the roster.

 

4 - Hi Chris:  I understand that the Bills offense has been unbalanced between run and pass this past year.  What I’m unsure of is the major cause.  Could it be that the running backs were banged up this year?  Could it be that the offensive line never jelled?  Or could it be that most defenses dared us to throw by overloading the box and our pass game didn’t respond as well as hoped?  Like everything in life, there’s usually more than one reason.  But I was wondering if you could shed some light on what might be the most significant factor(s).

Warm wishes for the New Year!
Paul in Portland (Formerly Paul in Beijing)

CB: I hate to give a token answer, but I think it was all of the above. The running backs were banged up this year. There were times when defenses loaded up the box with extra defenders. The offensive line did struggle to jell at the start of the season due to Cordy Glenn’s undisclosed illness, which kept him out of the majority of the preseason. There was also a move by Erik Pears from tackle to guard, there was a rookie at right tackle and starting LG Chris Williams missed half the preseason due to a recurring back injury.

I also think at times the offensive approach moved away from the strengths of their skill position players in an effort to protect the football with more conservative play.

5 – Hello Chris,

First I’d like to say Happy New Year! Thank You for your news and blogs that us Bills fans love to get answers and info from.. your passion for the Bills is the same that we fans have, and you help us to believe.

My question is about the Offensive line.. I am sure most are wanting to know about the QB, but a big fix we need is on the O-line.

I am wondering what your thoughts(and i’ll get the fans thoughts in the comments section after) on

shifting around the line a bit. What about Buffalo using either their 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of the top 2-3 Centers in the 2015 Draft.. like Dismukes from Auburn, Grasu from Oregon, or Gallik from BC. We can then move Wood back to RG where he did well for us in his first 2 years before moving to Center.. he can still call the protections and he shows the ability to move around to run block very well and the aggression.

Then Chris Williams(we lost a lot when he got hurt) coming back to be the LG.. again, we hope he stays healthy. Glenn as the LT and putting the sophomore slump that seems to bite so many and bouncing back. And then Kouandjio and Henderson fighting for the RT position.

So.. LT Glenn, LG Williams, C Best avail in 2015 Draft, RG Wood, RT Henderson/Kouandjio

NE did something like this with a new Center this year in Stork and they seemed to find a good rhythm in the season… and we could even if need be bring in whomever is not the starter at RT out once in a while to line up next to the starter giving us a 6th Lineman as protection if need be.

Just looking for your thoughts.. as far as where instead of going out to get 2 new G’s in FA and maybe in the draft where a good Center can change it all up and be giving us depth also.

Thanks.. have a nice weekend watching the post season.

Brian Moss

CB: I think your thought about moving Eric Wood out to guard, where he began his NFL career is an interesting idea. However, I think the only way it happens is if the Bills bring in a veteran center, not a rookie by way of the draft. If they add an offensive lineman in the draft I would expect it to be more of a guard. But knowing they have a second-year guard in Cyril Richardson and possibly a second guard option in Cyrus Kouandjio they may elect to add a veteran guard as they did last year (Chris Williams).

I think Seantrel Henderson can only improve in his second season if he takes to good coaching with the new staff and his athleticism alone gives him a leg up on Kouandjio for the right tackle job.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiper: Pass rushers aplenty in 2015 draft

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2015 – 1:14 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper is already expressing opinions on the 2015 NFL draft class and he espoused on the deeper positions he sees in this year’s crop of talent.

“In terms of pass rushers there are a lot of them,” said Kiper. “That’s probably the strongest position in this draft, those combo guys who can get after the quarterback.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing concerning the Bills. Sure they have linebacker talent and pass rushing talent, but one of those pass rushers is a free agent in Jerry Hughes. If Buffalo somehow can’t bring Hughes back into the fold, it sounds like there is good depth in the draft at that position.

“Early on you’ve got Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Shane Ray (Missouri), but you also have some guys like Nate Orchard at Utah, who is more of a second or third rounder. Trey Flowers at Arkansas, Lorenzo Mauldin at Louisville is another who would fall into that category. Alvin “Bud” Dupree from Kentucky, who is a good pass rusher. So this is the kind of year if you want those types of players they’re out there in high numbers this season.”

Kiper also said the running back class is deep thanks in large part to the junior eligibles who declared for the draft.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley undaunted by no 1st rd. pick

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2015 – 1:10 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley is well aware that there are fewer draft picks in his arsenal this spring for the 2015 NFL draft. With no first-round pick and no fourth-round pick, Buffalo has just six total (2 in the 5th). But Whaley and his scouting staff like the challenge of having to find players when they don’t have a premium pick.

“It’s exciting. It’s a challenging time and everybody that knows me knows I’m not afraid of a challenge,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “Our scouting staff feels the same way. Unfortunately we’ve been drafting high recently and that’s a little easier than drafting lower. We want to get to that point where we’re drafting low consistently so that for us is a challenge and we’re up for the challenge and excited about it.”

Buffalo gave their original fourth-round pick with their first rounder in the Sammy Watkins trade. They got a fourth back in the Stevie Johnson trade, but then shipped that to Philadelphia for Bryce Brown. They did acquire a second fifth-round pick from Tampa in a day three trade last year.

“We also look at it this way, we think Bryce Brown is worth a fourth-round pick,” Whaley said on the John Murphy Show. “Any back we get in the fourth round would be just like Bryce Brown. With Sammy Watkins people say we gave up two number ones. But to have a number one wide receiver for the next 10 years we would’ve have had to maybe draft two wide receivers to come up with that. So we think the value is there for both of those and we’re excited about what we can accomplish.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fewer underclassmen in 2015 draft pool

Posted by Chris Brown on January 20, 2015 – 3:01 pm

The numbers had been steadily rising when it came to the number of eligible underclassmen each year in the NFL draft, but after a giant increase last year to 98 the figure dropped for the first time in six years.

This year the number of eligible underclassmen for the 2015 draft is just 74, down two dozen from 2014. Here’s a look at the last several years and the number of underclassmen eligibles.

Yr Players Granted Special Eligibility   Yr Players Granted Special Eligibility
2015 74 2010 53
2014 98 2009 46
2013 73 2008 53
2012 65 2007 40
2011 56 2006 52

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Official eligible underclassmen for 2015 draft

Posted by Chris Brown on January 20, 2015 – 2:55 pm

Here is the official list of eligible underclassmen for the 2015 NFL draft, to be held in Chicago.

Player Pos.
1 Nelson Agholor WR Southern California
2 Jay Ajayi RB Boise State
3 Kwon Alexander LB Louisiana State
4 Javorius Allen RB Southern California
5 Arik Armstead DE Oregon
6 Malcom Brown DT Texas
7 Alex Carter DB Stanford
8 B.J. Catalon RB Texas Christian
9 Tevin Coleman RB Indiana
10 Jalen Collins DB Louisiana State
11 Landon Collins DB Alabama
12 Amari Cooper WR Alabama
13 Xavier Cooper DT Washington State
14 Christian Covington DT Rice
15 DaVaris Daniels WR Notre Dame
16 Ronald Darby DB Florida State
17 Mike Davis RB South Carolina
18 Stefon Diggs WR Maryland
19 Lorenzo Doss DB Tulane
20 Mario Edwards DE Florida State
21 Durell Eskridge DB Syracuse
22 George Farmer WR Southern California
23 Max Flores LB Northern Colorado
24 Ereck Flowers T Miami
25 Dante Fowler DE Florida
26 Devin Funchess WR Michigan
27 Jacoby Glenn DB Central Florida
28 Eddie Goldman DT Florida State
29 Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin
30 Dorial Green-Beckham WR Missouri
31 Deontay Greenberry WR Houston
32 Randy Gregory DE Nebraska
33 Todd Gurley RB Georgia
34 Chris Hackett DB Texas Christian
35 Eli Harold DE Virginia
36 Chris Harper WR California
37 Braylon Heard RB Kentucky
38 Gerod Holliman DB Louisville
39 D.J. Humphries T Florida
40 Danielle Hunter DE Louisiana State
41 David Irving DT Iowa State
42 Jesse James TE Penn State
43 Duke Johnson RB Miami
44 Matt Jones RB Florida
45 Tyler Kroft TE Rutgers
46 Ellis McCarthy DT UCLA
47 Benardrick McKinney LB Mississippi State
48 Patrick Miller T Auburn
49 Tyler Moore G Florida
50 Rakeem Nunez-Roches DT Southern Mississippi
51 Andrus Peat T Stanford
52 Breshad Perriman WR Central Florida
53 Marcus Peters DB Washington
54 Jordan Phillips DT Oklahoma
55 Darius Philon DT Arkansas
56 Bradley Pinion P Clemson
57 Jaquel Pitts WR Trinity International
58 Jeremiah Poutasi T Utah
59 Darien Rankin LB North Carolina
60 Shane Ray DE Missouri
61 Josh Robinson RB Mississippi State
62 James Sample DB Louisville
63 Jean Sifrin TE Massachusetts
64 Jaelen Strong WR Arizona State
65 Shaq Thompson LB Washington
66 Max Valles LB Virginia
67 Easton Wahlstrom LS Arizona State
68 Trae Waynes DB Michigan State
69 Leonard Williams DE Southern California
70 Maxx Williams TE Minnesota
71 P.J. Williams DB Florida State
72 Trey Williams RB Texas A&M
73 Jameis Winston QB Florida State
74 T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-9

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2015 – 11:44 am

The season is over and the head coaching search is underway. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Can you give Bills fans an update on the picks we get for the Stevie Johnson and Bryce Brown trades and where the picks could be for both players based on their playing time? Is it a 3rd for both players if they have a certain amount of games?

Josh

CB: Both trades were in exchange for conditional fourth-round picks. What most are not aware of is Buffalo was using one trade to facilitate the other.

While I don’t have the exact terms that would have bumped both picks to third-round selections I do know that both the pick acquired in the Johnson trade remained a fourth-round pick, as did the pick Philadelphia is owed by Buffalo.

Since the Bills original fourth-round pick in 2015 was traded to Cleveland in the Sammy Watkins deal, the fourth-round pick acquired from San Francisco for Stevie Johnson must be sent to Philadelphia for Bryce Brown.

So this spring the Bills do not have a first or fourth round selection. They have a second, third, two fifths, sixth and seventh.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for the great coverage and all that you do.  A lot has been made around the NFL about the NFC South and one of those teams making the playoffs with a record less than .500.  My question is that with the Bills finishing with a better record than the NFC South champion (Carolina 7-8-1) will they pick after them in the draft?  The draft normally goes by record but do things change once a team makes the playoffs?  Thanks for the response.

J-P from Corning, NY but now in Frederick, MD
CB: Yes, by rule playoff teams pick after non-playoff teams. So the Bills first-round pick at 19, which is owned by Cleveland comes before Carolina. In fact even the playoff teams with better records who were eliminated Wild Card weekend will pick ahead of the Panthers. The best Carolina can do if they lose to Seattle this weekend is the 25th pick in round one.

 

3 – Chris,

Watching the Bills this season always leaves me thinking how many games would they have won if we had a top QB. Despite some games that Orton played well, he is surely not the guy to lead the Bills to the playoffs. I was wondering if picking up Sam Bradford would be a possibility and keeping EJ as a backup. I was also thinking that even though our offensive line has struggled this year, would we take a QB with our 2nd round pick this year?

-Bennett

CB: Sam Bradford is an interesting consideration. He has more than three times the experience of EJ Manuel in terms NFL starts with 49 on his NFL resume, but what is of concern to me is his completion percentage. It’s 58.6 percent, which is exactly the same as EJ Manuel.

I think the Bills need better than that if they decide acquiring a veteran quarterback is the route to take again this offseason. Now I’ll admit it is slim pickings in terms of the free agent market, and Bradford might be seen as one of the better options available.

Buffalo has limited capital to offer in a trade for a QB knowing they’re without a first and fourth-round pick this year.

The plan going forward concerning the quarterback position is certainly going to be one of the more intriguing developments for the Bills this offseason. And as for taking a QB in round two of the draft I don’t think anything can be ruled out at this point, but I do believe quarterback might be addressed before the draft rolls around.

 

4 – Chris,

How do you assess the prospects of OGs Kouandjio and Richardson? Do they have a chance to start on the Bills’ O-line  or will the Bills be shopping for guards in free agency and the draft next year.

Thanks,
Bob

CB: I think Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson are still seen as long term investments by the organization. As I’ve written here before Kouandjio is still very young in football. He turned 21 during training camp last summer and has not played football his entire life. There is talent there. I just think what he needs is time on the job. Richardson has the physical tools, but they need to be refined more.

With that in mind I think it would be prudent for the Bills to seek NFL ready help at the guard position, especially with Erik Pears a free agent this offseason. The draft is another possibility, but it would have to be addressed early (2nd, 3rd round).

 

5 – Hi Chris,

My question pertains to re-signing several key players. I’ve read that there is some questions about whether or not we can sign Jerry Hughes, and renegotiate CJ and Marcel’s deals to keep them here long term, while also finding some key free agents and solid draft picks. Don’t we have a considerable amount of dead money coming off the books at the end of this year (Fitz, Stevie, Anderson, Lindell)? Overthecap.com says that it is about $21.6 million. With that money freed up, and the expansion of the salary cap don’t we have enough room to work with to bring back Jerry and give Marcel and CJ a raise?

(If this doesn’t make the list of questions on the blog post I would still love to hear your thoughts about where we stand financially going forward and how we can keep our defensive and offensive playmakers in Buffalo.)

Kevin

CB: You’re right there is a good amount of dead money coming off the books. I have seen the dead cap number closer to $24M. Per GM Doug Whaley – they will make every effort to bring Jerry Hughes and C.J. Spiller back into the fold.

There are reports that NFL clubs are expecting the cap to go up about $10M this year, which helps as well. It’s certainly possible that Dareus’ contract will be addressed to reduce his $8M cap figure this year and extend it.

However, I don’t think Dareus’ contract has to be extended in order for the club to formulate competitive offers for Hughes, Spiller and possibly Da’Norris Searcy.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

State of the 2015 draft

Posted by Chris Brown on May 11, 2014 – 10:29 am

The Bills made a handful of trades in the 2014 NFL draft, some of which affected their pick total in 2015. Here’s a look at where things stand right now.

2015 draft picks traded away
1st round pick – to Cleveland
4th round pick – to Cleveland
Possible conditional pick to Philadelphia (Bryce Brown trade)

2015 draft picks added
4th round pick – from San Francisco (Stevie Johnson trade)
5th round pick – from Tampa Bay

So at this point Buffalo has a total of seven picks for the 2015 draft (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th, 7th), but they could lose one if certain statistical figures are attained by Bryce Brown for the Bills in the 2014 season.

They do have the potential to have eight total picks in 2015 if Stevie Johnson hits certain statistical marks in San Francisco in 2014 because the fourth rounder they received from the 49ers will turn into a third and the conditional pick they would owe Philadelphia (4th rounder) would move ahead to 2016.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills trade first 5th-round pick to Tampa

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2014 – 2:28 pm

The Bills have traded their first of two fifth-round picks to Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers gets the Bills fifth-round pick at 149 overall. In exchange the Bills get Tampa’s seventh-round pick at 221 overall and the Bucs fifth-round pick in 2015.

Buffalo still has another fifth-round pick at 153 overall.


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Posted in Inside the Bills