Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 5-13

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 12:42 pm

It’s a special Friday the 13th edition of Fan Friday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills bring in a 4th QB to compete for backup position?

Ace Jay Legend @BillsBacker77

CB: I am not anticipating a fourth quarterback coming in to compete. The main reason why is Cardale Jones needs as many reps as he can possibly get to develop consistent mechanics. From his drop backs to his throwing mechanics, Jones needs all the work he can get in the practice setting. If there’s a fourth quarterback here, every rep he takes is a rep that Jones doesn’t get.

With Jones being a long-term investment I can’t see the Bills bringing in a fourth QB, who is a long shot to make the roster anyway, taking reps away from Jones on the back end of the quarterback rotation in the practice setting.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the Bills taking listenbee in the draft how are the chances Goodwin makes the team?

Jared Bailey @JaredBailey23

CB: I think that’s a very valid question. There’s no denying that Listenbee’s speed rivals that of Goodwin. Listenbee also offers superior size and in watching his game tape is really good at tracking the deep ball. He’s coming off sports hernia surgery and also has inflammation of the pelvis, which will take time to heal.

Listenbee may not be getting physical reps in the practice setting until training camp, so unseating Goodwin for a roster spot might take longer than some might anticipate.

Goodwin has been given the freedom to pursue a spot on the 2016 Olympic team to try to compete in the long jump in Rio. If he makes the Olympic team it will cost him time in training camp with the Olympics taking place in August. I believe that will pose the biggest risk for Goodwin losing a roster spot than Listenbee’s presence on the roster.

There are no ‘seat saves’ in the NFL. That’s a crucial part of the NFL calendar to be missing time.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think the drafting of Washington means anything regarding Kyle Williams future with the team?

JBills32 @JLasher10

CB: If you’re asking whether Kyle’s roster spot could be in jeopardy because Washington is on the roster my answer is no. The plan right now is for Washington to be the team’s left defensive end, with Dareus at nose tackle and Kyle starting at right defensive end.

I don’t think it’s any secret that Kyle is on the back side of his career, but I think the Bills would like to get two more seasons out of him (2016 & 2017) as long as he’s interested in doing so.

The hidden additional value with Kyle is his leadership, which was sorely missed in the locker room last season when he went out in Week 6 with his knee injury (see: Mario Williams).

The addition of Washington should be seen as a complement to the games of Dareus and Williams, not a threat.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you see the Bills making any FA/Trade moves along the right side of the offensive line?

Kevin @KevinMassare

CB: I don’t think you can ever rule out a possible move with Doug Whaley as GM. If it makes sense and improves the team he’s shown he’s willing to do it. I know Peter King reported last month that the 49ers would be interested in trading former first-round pick OT Anthony Davis, who chose to take a one-year sabbatical from football, and now wants to resume his NFL career.

A proven player who is just 26-years old would probably come at a high price, even after taking off a year. It would be interesting to see what the 49ers would be looking for in return, even though San Francisco GM Trent Baalke has told Davis that he is not interested in trading him.

His cap hit, if his old contract was re-instated, would be just over $5M for 2016, a bargain by most standards for a player of his caliber. But that’s where things could get sticky too. If he is going to be traded, must that team negotiate a new contract with him? A lot of potential hurdles there.

Besides him there are some veteran guard options out there, but I believe the Bills might play the wait and see game. I don’t believe there’s any sense of panic there. I think they feel good about what they have to work with.
5 – 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!

CB: As you saw in our Inside the Draft Room feature and video, the Bills never even thought Shaq Lawson would be available to them there at 19. They had him off the board by the 12th pick in their final stack of the board based on how they thought the first round would fall.

For them Lawson was a tremendous value there at 19. As for Nkemdiche, it was evident that his off the field concerns and on the field concerns were too much for a number of teams besides the Bills. Buffalo just parted ways with a player who did not give his best on the field for the last 10 weeks of last season in Mario Williams. Did you really think they would bring in another player with a history of similar play, especially with their first-round pick?

There was no way that was going to happen.


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Listenbee on being more than just a speed WR

Posted by Chris Brown on May 12, 2016 – 1:33 pm

Bills sixth-round pick Kolby Listenbee, who signed his rookie contract today, is known as a speed receiver and understandably so with 40 times consistently in the 4.3s. But when you have that label you often want to show you can be more than that. Listenbee however, had no choice but to fill that role at TCU.

“At TCU I was labeled as a good speed receiver because we had Josh Doctson and he was a possession receiver and a playmaker. So we had to complement each other. We couldn’t have two idential receivers. I don’t like it sometimes getting labeled as a receiver because I know I can catch the ball and coach Sanjay is going to help me get my routes right.”

Listenbee is credited with improving his route running in his final collegiate season, but he’s excited to work with Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who breaks it down to the finest details to get precise routes and timing on game days.

“I want to be an all-around receiver and working with coach Sanjay you can see he’s there coaching everybody up,” said Listenbee. “I’m glad to have somebody who will definitely work with me. Just watching all the veterans I’m taking mental reps right now, but it’s cool to see.”

 


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 day 3 approach might shift a bit

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

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

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


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Bills picks all from big programs

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

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

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

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


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Don’t doubt Ragland

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

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

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

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


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Washington part of Ohio St. pre-draft visit

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

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

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

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

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


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Bills front 7 haul has 2 Players of the Yr.

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

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

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

 


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How Shaq provided assurance on his shoulder

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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