Inside The Bills

A Mack signing could help Wood negotiations

Posted by Chris Brown on July 24, 2009 – 12:16 pm

With the news that Cleveland first-round pick Alex Mack is close to a contract agreement it could mean good news for the Bills and Eric Wood.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mack is close to reaching terms on his rookie deal. Mack was the 21st pick in the draft while Wood was pick 28. With them both playing up front on the line, I’m hopeful it can grease the wheels a bit more between the Wood camp and the Bills. We shall see.

There could also be some parameters for Andy Levitre with the reported signing of Dolphins second-round pick Sean Smith. Smith was the 61st overall selection, Levitre was pick 58.


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Fan Friday 4-24

Posted by Chris Brown on April 24, 2009 – 6:40 pm

On the eve of the draft we dispel some rumors and answer some final questions. If you had a question that did not get answered here, be sure to check the live chat we held at noon earlier today (Friday).

1. Chris, will the Bills make any overtures for Peppers??? Or would this be too much for the Bills’ to handle….or impractical??
D. Stratz

CB: Any overtures for Peppers are unrealistic for the Bills and a lot of other teams, and that includes the Patriots. The reason why is Peppers is reportedly looking for Albert Haynesworth type money. Most teams can fit that kind of contract into their budget. It’s going to be interesting to see what pans out on that front because the Panthers are really hamstrung by his situation.

 

2. What are your personal thoughts on Connor Barwin? Personally I like his high motor, versatility and passion for the game. Where, if at all, would Buffalo have him on the draft board?

Nick from Sodus, NY

CB: I like Barwin a lot. He’s extremely athletic and explosive. I see him as a defensive end for the Bills, though he’s probably capable of playing OLB as well on the strong side. To lead the Big East in sacks in his first year as a DE was impressive. As for where the Bills have him on their board, I don’t know, but I think he’s a safe bet to be a late first or early 2nd round pick. Bills may have a shot at him at 28.

 

3. Hi Chris.
With respect to your article on left guard I must say that I am still on the (Alex) Mack Truck Train! With Hangartner it would be a perfect match. If Mack isn’t ready, he could
start out at left guard. But with his smarts and low center of gravity, he might just start out as starting center. Now, how do we draft him? Well, we could take a TE with #11, or a pass rusher, and trade up to get Mack at the end of the first round. Or we could trade down in the first round. What is your take?
Pete

CB: Now armed with the 28th pick, Mack is a much more realistic possibility. Down there the Bills should be able to get the best interior linemen in the draft if they wanted. My feeling however, is that if they do get a pass rusher up at 11, they’re more likely to take a tackle at 28 (Eben Britton?) to fill the void left by Jason Peters. That way they could transition Demetrius Bell or Kirk Chambers inside at left guard.

 

4. Hello Chris,
 
Hope all is well!  Thanks for the in of this offseason so far!  Where do you think Pat Thomas fits in?  Seemed like an under the radar visit and signing.  I hope he is not looked at as a starter.
 
Also, how is Alvin Bowen doing?  Has he bulked up?  I saw he is listed at 222 lbs, would he maybe be better suited at SS.  Seems like he is built like Kerry Rhodes. 
 
Just wondering.
 
Thanks,
Greg Grzymala

CB: Pat Thomas is a reserve linebacker as I see it. I believe the Bills will look to fortify the SLB position in the draft this weekend. Thomas could help as a backup on the strong side or in the middle.

As for Alvin Bowen his rehab is going very well. He may be on the field for OTAs in mid-May. He’s added bulk to his frame and he’s a linebacker all the way.
5. Chris,
With Jason Peters traded, what are your thoughts of Demetrius Bell being groomed as his replacement at Left Tackle? Is there a decent chance of it? For some reason, I think he could turn out to be a better option for us than if we drafted say, Oher.
Thanks,
– Jeff

CB: I think the Bills are hopeful that Bell develops into a LT prospect. I don’t know if he’s there yet, but he has the potential and could be playing over there in a year or two if things go right. Right now I see Langston Walker as the LT, with either Bell, Kirk Chambers or a high draft pick on the right side. Oher I believe is an option though at 11.


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Fan Friday 4-17

Posted by Chris Brown on April 17, 2009 – 7:24 pm

Only one more Fan Friday after this prior to the draft, and Jason Peters trumps everything so we start there. I’m going to be in full scramble mode answering all your pre-draft questions this week. Let’s get started.

1. Chris,

ESPN is reporting that Peters was traded for a 1st(28th overall) and Philly’s 4th round pick this year as well as a undisclosed 2010 pick.  Now that this is a done deal which tackle do you see Buffalo taking at #11?

Tks,

Kevin Klump 

CB: First Kevin, nothing is done until either of the teams confirms it. But to entertain your question, should this trade indeed come to fruition I would say that the chances of Buffalo taking an offensive tackle increase somewhat, but not significantly. Here’s why.

I think the Bills will move Langston Walker to left tackle and plug Demetrius Bell in at right tackle. Bell came a long way in the past year and is very, very athletic. Asking him to step in at left tackle right now however, is too much to ask of a second-year player with no NFL starts on his resume. 

If you remember the Bills started Jason Peters on the right side when he first played tackle in a game filling in for an injured Mike Williams back in ‘05. I think doing the same with Bell is not out of the realm of possibility. If that’s the course they choose to take, then I think the Bills can still target a premier pass rusher, like Everette Brown at 11, who I have liked all along.

Then at 28 they could scoop up a top flight center like Alex Mack (Cal), OLB/DE Connor Barwin (Connor Barwin) or Larry English (No. Illinois) or tight end Brandon Pettigrew (OK State) if he happens to still be on the board. Personally I think Pettigrew will be gone by 25 to Atlanta or 26 to Baltimore.  

I’m not saying that an offensive tackle like Michael Oher (Ole Miss) isn’t a possibility at 11, but I don’t think it means they’re forced to take one there. Heck they could even get a solid right tackle prospect in Eben Britton (Arizona St.) at 28 if they wanted.  

But this organization has a lot of faith in Bell’s long term potential and after successfully developing Peters, who wasn’t an offensive tackle until Buffalo moved him, I believe they feel they can develop Bell into a dependable starter.

I guess we’ll all know better in about a week.

 

2. Hey Chris,

I know the Bills have all but announced Hangartner the center for next season, but could it be a smoke screen and could the Bills be eying up someone like Alex Mack in the draft?  Then moving Hangartner to guard?

CB: I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point, but Hangartner has said his best position is center and I get the sense the organization is committed to him playing in the pivot. You want to put the players in positions where they can best succeed, and for Hangartner that’s center, in his opinion and the opinion of the organization.

 

3. Chris, just about everyone in the Bills community including yourself keeps saying that the team’s greatest need going into 2009 is to improve its pass rush.  But isn’t it a fact that the Bills had the # 13 defense in the NFL last year against the pass?  If that’s true, isn’t improving the pass rush more of a luxury than a necessity, especially given the fact that the offense ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every important category?  Shouldn’t landing a first-rate TE and Center trump acquiring a situational pass rusher who plays mainly on third down?  Last year we insisted on getting “value” from our first round pick by drafting a CB and ended up not getting the kind of TE we desperately needed, when we could have traded down and drafted John Carlson.  I hope that doesn’t happen in 2009, leaving the offense shortchanged once again.

Dan, Rochester

CB: While I understand the point you’re trying to make, the ranking of the pass defense in 2008 (13th) is a bit misleading. The reason why is because teams still had fair to good success running the ball against Buffalo when all was said and done. The Bills finished 22nd against the run and surrendered over 120 yards per game on the ground. 

When teams run that well against you they don’t have to throw as much reducing the yards a defense gives up passing thereby improving the ranking against the pass.

Some might say that run defense figure means they should get another defensive tackle, but any hope of getting B.J. Raji at 11 is a pipe dream. He’ll be gone by the sixth pick.

As for the pass rush here’s why myself and the majority of fans I’ve spoken with feel the pass rush has to be addressed. Over the past two years Buffalo has a total of 50 sacks. Combining 2007 and 2008 that ranks 29th in the league, with only Cleveland, Cincinnati and Kansas City with lesser production over that span. The pass rush has to be addressed early if you wish to get a player that can help you right away. 

 

 

4. Chris,

Just read your blog on S. Carolina TE Cook. I can see where interest in this guy is growing and Nelson/Cook could be neck and neck. I don’t agree however with your assessment that with the addition of T.O. the Bills need for a TE is reduced. Personally I believe the addition of a real TE is of paramount importance. That along with improving the OL interior to me should be of primary importance to the Bills. I know you believe the Bills should go after a DE with their first pick to improve the pass rush, but I believe making the offense significantly better is the real key. Our struggles last season were offense related.

Your thoughts?

Bill Kubera

Cicero, NY

CB: Perhaps I didn’t state my opinion on the tight end well enough. When I said that the need for a playmaking tight end was reduced by the signing of Owens, I meant for 2009. This year, if you don’t have a playmaking tight end ready to make plays and have an instant impact on your offense you’re not dead in the water.

I still maintain that the pass rush is priority number one. I think tight end can be addressed in rounds two or three depending on what players the Bills covet most at that position. That player can come in as a rookie in 2009, get his feet wet without the pressure of making tons of plays. Then the following year when Owens is probably gone he and James Hardy can step up and fill the void in the passing game together.

I agree offensive line is a need area too. In my ideal draft Buffalo gets a premier pass rusher in the first (Brown?), a solid interior lineman in the second (Wood?) and a pass catching tight end in the third (Coffman?). If this reported Peters trade happens, then pass rusher first, OL bottom of first, pass catching TE in 2nd.

 

5. Hey Chris,
I wanted to get your opinion on Oregon OL Max Unger.  In doing some player research I have developed a man crush on Unger and would love to see him in a Bills uniform.  I love his versalitility as he can play center, guard, or tackle plus he brings top notch intangibles and experience to the table.  I think he would be a great add with our second round pick, if he lasts that long.  Anyways, your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You,
 
Brad

CB: I think Max Unger would be a good pick. Yes, he is versatile having played some tackle. Though he’s never played guard, I think he could handle it.  

Personally I prefer Alex Mack and Eric Wood to Unger. Mack and Wood have a little more nastiness and tenacity to their game, while Unger is more of a technician.

Don’t get me wrong I respect Unger’s game a lot and wouldn’t be upset if he wound up with the Bills. I just like Mack and Wood a bit better.


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3 round mock for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2009 – 1:45 pm

The mock drafts keep coming and this one from nooffseason.com goes three rounds. On the whole I like the majority of their picks with respect to where they have players valued. I like their first two picks for Buffalo, but I’m not crazy about the third rounder.

In round one they’ve got Buffalo taking Everette Brown, who everyone knows at this point is a player I like a lot, though there are some that don’t see him as that valuable (top half of 1st round).

In round two they’ve got the Bills taking Alex Mack 42nd overall, but I’m not 100 percent sure he’ll still be on the board. I think Pittsburgh could grab him at the bottom of the first, though these guys have the Steelers taking Louisville’s Eric Wood.

I like Wood, but I like Mack better.

In round three they go a bit off the board with Michigan State’s Javon Ringer. While there’s no question that the Bills need a third running back especially now in light of the Lynch suspension, I can’t see Dick Jauron wanting to add a rookie. Counting on rookies, especially early in the season when Lynch is out of the lineup doesn’t add up.

That’s why Buffalo has been bringing in a bevy of veteran backs on free agent visits, Dominic Rhodes most recently (Tuesday).

In round three I think a linebacker or tight end is more likely if they go DE and OL in the first two rounds as these mockers have done.


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Mack looks like a ‘can’t miss’

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2009 – 8:14 pm

The guy has a squeaky clean resume off the field. He’s got academic awards up and down and he’s a darn good football player. Alex Mack appears to be about as close to a ‘can’t miss’ as you can get. But there were some questions prior to his senior year.

Mack did have problems from time to time holding up against the bull rush according to some west coast scouts as a junior.

But re-dedicating himself with a more rigorous offseason weight program prior to his senior year helped him add the strength he needed and he was vastly improved in that area, to the point where NFL talent evaluators feel he’ll be able to handle it.

What I like is this guy is a last off the field, last out of the film room kind of player and he’s got some ‘mean’ to his game. The Bills like players with a little grit to them.

The big question is do the Bills, or any other team for that matter, think he can play guard? 

If so then I think Buffalo could be a possible destination even with Geoff Hangartner on board.


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Cal C Mack makes good

Posted by Chris Brown on March 19, 2009 – 1:59 pm

After not working out at the NFL combine last month due to an ankle injury, Cal C Alex Mack did not disappoint in his pro day workout.

Mack ran a 5.17 and a 5.23 according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt and had an impressive 7.31 time in the three cone drill. He also had a 28 1/2 inch vertical and got 20 reps on the bench.

Some of those times would have been among the best at the combine for offensive linemen, so Mack’s status as one of the top centers held steady at the very least.


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C Mack has spoken with Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2009 – 1:49 am

It doesn’t sound like anything in major depth, but Cal C Alex Mack confirmed that he spoke informally with the Bills among other teams.

“The Bills was one of those ‘Get to know you’ sessions,” said Mack. “I talked to them about the players who are already on the Bills. I know they have Langston (Walker) and Marshawn Lynch. There is a history of Cal people playing there.”

Mack would be a good fit for the Bills in the pivot where three of their veteran interior players are all free agents in Jason Whittle, Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler. And Mack, does a decent job of anchoring down against bigger defensive tackles, an important quality to have if you’re going to play in the AFC East.


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OT Jason Smith is a specimen

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2009 – 7:02 pm

Baylor OT Jason Smith, one of the top four tackles in the draft is a lean 309 pounds. If there’s more than 8 percent body fat I’d be shocked. The only thing I did notice is for a tackle he appears to have small hands.

That’s not the case for Virginia OT Eugene Monroe. The guy has got meat hooks at the ends of his arms.

Cal C Alex Mack looks to be strong through his lower body, which will be important in the NFL when it comes to anchoring down against the bigger DTs in the league, which seem to exist on every team in the AFC East.

More to come in subsequent blogs, the players are coming in here fast and furious for media interviews.


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No combine workout for C Mack

Posted by Chris Brown on February 18, 2009 – 3:55 pm

According to NFL Network’s Adam Schefter, Cal center Alex Mack will not be working out at the NFL Combine due to an ankle injury suffered Monday.

“While preparing for the combine on Monday with my trainer, I suffered a sprained ankle,” Mack told Schefter. “The injury isn’t serious, but unfortunately, it is going to keep me from working out this week in Indianapolis. No one is more disappointed than me, as I have been working tirelessly to further prove myself as a first-round pick. However, I don’t want to perform at anything less than 100 percent.”

Mack will be doing the interviews with teams at the combine, just skipping the physical stuff.

Mack is forecast to be a late first or early second round pick. Cal’s pro day is March 18th when Mack is expected to work out for scouts.


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When Kiper sees top 2 centers going

Posted by Chris Brown on February 12, 2009 – 1:15 pm

Mel Kiper speaking on a national conference call Wednesday had a couple of comments on the top centers in the draft. Cal’s Alex Mack and Oregon’s Max Unger are widely considered the top two centers. Unger didn’t have a great Senior Bowl week, but Kiper doesn’t see it hurting him much in the draft.

“Max Unger is a center and I think that’s his best spot even though he’s played all the positions. He didn’t look as good as Mack did down at the Senior Bowl, but I think he’s possibly a second round draft choice,” said Kiper. “Mack had a great career at Cal and can play center or guard. I’ve got him going to Pittsburgh at pick 32.”

Talking to some NFL scouts, it sounds as if Mack would be a better fit for the Bills. While Unger is more mobile and get pull and get out on the edges on toss and sweep plays better, Mack is more adept at holding his ground inside against the big DTs.

That’s far more important a quality to have if you’re going to play in the AFC East against the big boys inside in New England, New York and Miami. Unfortunately if Kiper’s mock is right Mack won’t be there for the Bills to consider in round two. 

Gotta give it up to Mel Kiper yesterday. He did a two hour conference call with the media on Wednesday. Two hours is almost unheard of. Most conference calls go an hour tops.


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