Inside The Bills

Raji slipping

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2009 – 9:07 pm

Still not convinced he’ll make it to Buffalo, but if B.J. Raji falls to 11, Bills have to take him as I see it.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills

Be interesting to see if Raji drops

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2009 – 1:38 pm

With the SI.com report that Boston College DT B.J. Raji tested positive at the combine for marijuana, it’ll be interesting to see what it does to his draft stock. Raji was not expected to last beyond the sixth overall pick.

Raji did test positive for marijuana during his time at BC and NFL scouts were made aware of that. If this report is accurate Raji has no one but himself to blame for the millions of dollars he could potentially cost himself.

His situation is not unlike that of Warren Sapp. If you recall back in 1995 draft, Sapp, much like Raji, was the clear top defensive tackle in the class, with a severe drop off after him. Sapp also had some marijuana issues leading up to the draft.

Sapp was forecast as a top five pick. Where did he wind up coming off the board? Number 12 to Tampa.

I’d expect Raji to fall into a similar scenario. The DT class this year is a little better than it was in ’95, but I don’t see Raji taking a giant drop. How far do you think he falls?


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NFL.com’s Wyche has Bills taking DE Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on March 24, 2009 – 5:09 pm

Not exactly a surprise pick by NFL.com’s Steve Wyche in his latest updated mock draft as he has the Bills taking DE Everette Brown 11th overall.

Personally I’d be very happy with the pick. The only problem is way too many people are expecting Buffalo to take Brown at 11, which can only mean one thing. No way it’s going to happen.

I’ve liked Brown a lot and his numbers over the long haul are undeniable. I’m just getting concerned that with so many mocks pegging him as the Bills pick that it’ll prove too good to be true.

Alternatives with which I’d be happy if it’s not Brown at 11?

Boston College DT B.J. Raji, Penn State’s DE/LB Aaron Maybin, USC’s LB Brian Cushing, Ole Miss’ OT Michael Oher.

Beyond that I’m not crazy about too many other players at 11. I’m a believer in getting your big men early, so that’s why there’s a heavy OL/DL slant with the names above. Let me know who you like at 11 if it’s not Brown.


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Fan Friday 3-20

Posted by Chris Brown on March 20, 2009 – 5:53 pm

The draft is only about a month away, but there are still some free agent questions out there from you the fan. In addition to answering some of the more popular questions here, I’ve also been responding (as much as possible) personally to your emails as well. I’m a bit behind on them, but plowing through them as best I can.

Remember you can always email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net on anything Bills. Here we go.

1. Hello Mr.Brown,
 
I would like to know what you think about the Julius Peppers situation in Carolina! Do you think the Bills would be bold enough to sign him, if he is available? Also I was watching NFL network and Mayock said that the TE’s in this draft class are mostly good receiving TE’s not so much blocking classic TE’s, wouldn’t it be more advantageous to pick the best available Offensive Lineman? To help the run and also keeping Trent upright. Since Fine and Schouman, I feel performed okay when given the chance.
 
Regards,
Paul K.
Montreal,Q.C. Canada

CB: First, the Julius Peppers situation. I don’t see the Bills as a serious player because Peppers is likely to get upwards of $13-14 million dollars a year in a new contract. That’s too steep for a lot of teams including Buffalo.

I believe the Bills will address their pass rush in the draft.

As for the tight end position in the draft, Mayock is right, there are a lot more pass catchers than blockers at the tight end position. I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Bills, who have rarely if ever had a dynamic pass catching threat at the position.

I think Schouman and Fine are both good all-around tight ends, but I think the team would like to add a game breaking threat in the passing game there. Of course the staff considered Royal their best blocking tight end last year, which is why he retained the starting role in 2008. So even if they take a pass catching threat at the position, they will likely still be looking for a true in-line blocking TE too.

I think that’s why so many mock drafters have Pettigrew going to the Bills because he fills both of those roles better than anyone else in the draft for Buffalo. But if Buffalo stays at 11, I’m not sure the value is right to take him there.

2. Chris,
My question to you is: What if the Bills are on the clock at 11 and Maybin, Brown and Orakpo along with Defensive Tackle B.J.Raji are gone and one of the top Left Tackles, Jason Smith out of Baylor for example, is available; could you see the Bills drafting him and trading Jason Peters for a 1st round draft pick to a team that may need one like Detroit (20th) and Philadelphia (21st or 28th)?  There is no doubt that Peters is a gifted athlete but with another off season of potential hold outs by him and his agent, do you think it would be beneficial to the team to stop these distractions and get down to business?

Sincerely,
Dan

CB: That’s a tricky scenario. Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe won’t be there, but I understand your point. Michael Oher and Andre Smith should be there at 11, and with the way things are going regarding an extension for Jason Peters, what you’re proposing is more realistic than some might think.

If the Jason Peters situation is still unresolved come draft weekend, I can see the team moving him for a first and middle round pick, maybe more, maybe less. Acquiring an additional first round pick should give the Bills the luxury of taking one of the top four offensive tackles in the draft at 11.

I’d prefer Michael Oher to Smith because Oher is arguably the most athletic tackle in the draft. His instincts still need to be developed, but his athleticism makes up for a lot of those shortcomings that should get better in time. Oher could play on the left side, Smith cannot at this level as I see it.

Now keep in mind that they could address another position at 11 like linebacker in this scenario and get one of the bet of the bunch, whoever they determine that to be and if they’re down in the early 20’s with their other first round pick as you suggest, they could grab Arizona State OT Eben Britton, but he is more of a right tackle at the NFL level according to most scouts.

Things could certainly get very interesting for the Bills on draft weekend.

3.  Hey Chris,
 
I have seen all your blogs and answers to Fan Friday Questions on Brown, Orakpo and Maybin. Just wondering what your thoughts were on 3 other pretty good prospects: Michael Johnson, Paul Kruger and Tyson Jackson. Are they all stretches at #11, or is it conceivable that one of them may still be available in Rd 2?
If they were, it is possible to go after Raji at #11, a DE in Rd2 and maybe trade up to get one of the top 3 TE’s, Coffman maybe? Talk about hypothetical!
 
Randy
NL, CAN

CB: I think that Johnson and Kruger will both be available in round 2, but Jackson will be gone before the Bills pick at 42. Jackson is more of a 3-4 end anyway.

Johnson has freakish physical ability, but is raw and inconsistent. As a result I don’t know if he’ll be able to handle a full time role as a rookie, so that keeps him out of the first round.

Kruger’s upside is a bit limited as I see it. He’s got great straight line speed, but I’m not certain that he’s strong enough right now to hold the point against the run in the NFL. He’s also not that elite explosive type end (ran a 4.79 and 4.83) so he is probably a late 2nd to early 3rd round prospect.

A guy I’d consider in the round two is Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin. He’s more of the quick-twitch athlete you’re looking for to boost a pass rush. I think he could come in right away and help on passing downs, which is what Buffalo needs.

4. Chris,

What are your thoughts on the restructuring of Jason Peters’ contract?  I believe that his holding out at the beginning of the year impacted the team in a negative way.  It seemed that it ruined the whole chemistry of the O-line.  As we all know, it wasn’t until the Monday night game when the run game started to get going.  I wasn’t impressed all season with the protection of Trent Edwards.  Honestly, I don’t know how Peters was elected to the Pro-Bowl.  Do you foresee a possible trade, renegotiation, no action, or something else? Thanks for your time. 
-Joe Maciag

CB: From what I understand the two sides have yet to close the gap on a new contract. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills still work to come to a resolution until the NFL draft, and if there is no progress my feeling is they may look into trading him prior to draft weekend. It’ll be unfortunate if it comes to that, but it takes two parties to make an agreement work and if the Bills can’t get some kind of compromise from the Peters camp it doesn’t leave them with too many other alternatives. And I don’t believe they’d be interested in dragging a contract renegotiation through another season.

5. Chris

I know DE is the considered the most pressing need but you and others
have mentioned how the top guys in the draft may not be able to stand
up to the run or are straight ahead rushers, etc.  I’m just another
hopeless Bills fan, but if BJ Raji is available at 11, I’d take him. 
(Full disclosure:  I’m a BC grad but that’s pure coincidence in this
case.) Raji looks like a safer bet and more of a sure-fire thing.  If
Stroud and Raji are pushing in, it might free up the current DE’s. 
I’ve gotten a little sensitive to how the Bills have used some earlier
picks.

Kelley Yost
Fairport

CB: I’ve got no problem with taking Raji at 11 if he’s there and a couple of the top speed rushers are already gone. In fact I think he’s the best secondary option to Everette Brown, though Aaron Maybin is tempting.

Your point about Raji and Stroud is valid, but I still think you could add talent at end in the second round with a Connor Barwin, for example if you took Raji at 11. So I’m not opposed to that approach at all. Heck I wanted Haloti Ngata back in 2006 (no offense Donte). I just believe in getting your big men early.

6. Chris,
Does JP Losman have any suitors or teams expressing interest?  I mean I always supported JP and was actually excited when he got a shot to play this past year but he did so awful.  Is it a possibility we might see JP in the CFL???
Thanks
RF

CB: From what I’ve heard the Denver Broncos were interested in J.P. as a backup, but Chris Simms signed with them before Losman’s agent could enter into any hard core negotiations with Denver. Other than that I’ve heard very little as to interest in him by other teams.

I think his physical ability will convince some team to bring him in as a backup.

You are right that his play last year didn’t do much to help his cause so I’m not confident he could be part of a competition somewhere for a starter’s job. I think he’s got to take a backup role somewhere and hope he gets a chance to step on the field to prove he’s capable.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

D-line 40 times

Posted by Chris Brown on February 23, 2009 – 4:52 pm

Here is a sampling of some initial 40 times posted by some of the more notable defensive linemen at the Combine this morning. These times are unofficial.

DT B.J. Raji – Boston College – 5.13

DE Robert Ayers – Tennessee – 4.8

DE Connor Barwin – Cincinnait – 4.56

DE Paul Kruger – Utah – 4.84

DE Everette Brown – Florida State – 4.63

DE Brian Orakpo – Texas – 4.63

Obviously Brown and Orakpo ran well. Barwin was very fast and that 40 time will help him. Kruger was a bit disappointing at 4.84. Ayers was not expected to run a super fast time since he’s not considered an elite pass rusher, but more of an all-around prospect.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

No problems with this mock

Posted by Chris Brown on February 9, 2009 – 8:42 pm

The National Football Post just issued their third mock draft (yep they all just keep churning them out don’t they?) and I have to say I like the way I see their first round falling.

For those that would like to see a defensive end fall to the Bills it doesn’t happen. NFP has Everette Brown going to the Browns (how fitting) at 5 and Brian Orakpo going to the Packers (now a 3-4 defense) at 9.

For round two they have the Bills taking Southern Miss TE Shawn Nelson.

They also have all of the top four offensive tackles off the board in the top 8 picks including Alabama’s Andre Smith going first overall to Detroit. I think seeing all four go in the top 8 picks might be a bit of a stretch, but I subscribe to their thought that one of the top QBs won’t go until 10 when the Niners take Matt Stafford in their mock.

But what I like best is they have the Bills taking BC’s B.J. Raji with the 11th pick, with the reasoning that with no value for a pass rusher at 11, beefing up the defensive interior is a very attractive second option. I couldn’t agree more.

Stroud and Raji lining up next to each other with Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson rotating in. I like the sound of that a lot. Somehow though I see Raji going earlier to be a future anchor in a 3-4 system (Green Bay at #9?).

But I’m all for grabbing a big DT if the right value isn’t there for the Bills at 11. I also like Ole Miss’ Peria Jerry a lot, but not sure if he’s a proper value at 11.

They also have the Bills taking Southern Miss TE Shawn Nelson in round two. Again no problem with that either, though I’d prefer a veteran free agent signee at that position like Tennessee’s Bo Scaife.


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Senior Bowl standouts

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2009 – 10:17 pm

By no means did I watch every snap of practice during the week, but I focused on the centers and defensive ends as much as I could.

I liked Oregon’s Max Unger at the center spot. There was some mixed opinion out there on just what kind of week he had, but I thought he fared well in the one-on-ones and showed some versatility at guard.

I wasn’t as impressed with what I saw of Cal’s Alex Mack. For a guy ballyhooed by some draft experts as the best in the draft, I just didn’t see it. I’m hoping the reps I saw in the practices were an aberration rather than the norm. The deeper the center class the better for the Bills.

At defensive end there were a couple of players I thought did well. Tennessee’s Robert Ayers stood out in practice almost as much as he did in the game. And at 273, he’s a pretty effective pass rusher despite carrying a little more than a lot of the other speed rushers as there are a handful of tweeners in this class.

That being said I was impressed by Northern Illinois Larry English’s burst off the ball. He did well in one-on-ones throughout the week.

I also thought UCONN’s Cody Brown did pretty well too.

At DT B.J. Raji (Boston College) and Peria Jerry (Ole Miss) were the most dominant interior D-linemen.


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