Alright Bills fans this is the last Fan Friday before the NFL draft. The “hay is in the barn” as the scouts say, just got to wait and see how the board falls next week. Be sure to check out my 8th annual mock draft next Wednesday. It’ll be entertaining. Here now are your latest questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
CB: It’s my contention that the Bills would be very interested in trading down. As I covered in my story this week, after asking GM Buddy Nix about trading down, there could be some players for the eighth overall pick if prospects like Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson or West Virginia WR Tavon Austin are both still on the board.
I don’t get the sense that they like the value there at eight for positions they’d like to address early (QB, WR) so I believe if they can move back to an area where they like the value better (late teens or 20’s) and add a draft choice they would do it.
@ChrisBrownBills Williams to Safety. Does this open up the possibility of CB at pick 8? Dee Milliner, if he falls, or Xavier Rhodes??
CB: I think with Aaron Williams moving to safety it raises the level of importance for addressing cornerback in the draft. Outside of Stephon Gilmore the Bills lack size at corner, so a tough, physical corner is needed out there. If Milliner falls to eight I wouldn’t rule out him being a consideration. At the same time I believe moving back and adding another draft choice could trump it.
But with Williams moving to safety I believe it has made adding a cornerback a necessity at some point in this draft.
3 – Chris,
With our needs at SS, ILB, OLB, WR and QB most likely to be addressed thru the draft, I find it really strange that there has been very little noise about bringing in some quality free agent guards for visits. It seems like a glaring hole (let’s not forget Rinehart is gone as well). Have you heard anything on Mr. Nix’s plans for this position? I would like to see our RBs continue to run hard and whoever are QB may end up being it would be nice for him to be in one piece after a few games.
CB: I’ll give you Mr. Nix’s exact thoughts about the team’s status at the guard spot. Here is a direct quote from the draft luncheon when he was asked if losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency had altered their approach in the draft at all?
“Not at all,” said Nix. “Not at all, now having said that I know people have said we’re taking one of those top two guards. Our roster in house is better than I think we get credit for especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We’ve got six guards and we think a couple of them can play. Now having said all that before you write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the old boy at Alabama (Chance Warmack) and the kid at North Carolina (Jonathan Cooper). Both of those are great players so you have to give that a lot of thought when they come up.”
When asked as a follow up if he had enough confidence in the six guards on the roster to the point where if they did not draft a guard would he be fine, he said he would be.
To be clear the players they believe offer them ability at guard are starter Kraig Urbik and Colin Brown and Sam Young. Brown and Young rotated in with the starting unit at left guard. If there are no other additions at the position those two are likely to battle it out for the starting role.
Zebrie Sanders, who Doug Marrone views as a tackle first and guard second, could potentially be a part of that competition down the road when he’s healthy.
4 – Chris,
So I’ve been hearing that Tyler Bray has some of the best upside in the QB class I was wondering what you thought of him and if you think he’s worthy of our second pick. Also if you think that going after Patterson in the first round, Bray in the 2nd or 3rd to have some instantaneous chemistry on offense would be a good idea. Or do you see a prospect at QB worth it at eight and maybe go after the other Tennessee kid, Hunter in the second? I’d live to get some feedback on these thoughts.
CB: There’s no debating that Bray can throw the heck out of the ball. He is the only junior eligible in this QB class and is a bit unpolished. I’m a bit concerned about his capability of coming in and being a leader for your football team. He has the physical skills, but there are maturity issues that NFL clubs have been busy investigating.
I respect your thought of instantaneous chemistry, but it would be anything but instantaneous. Patterson is very green and might not be a big time contributor until his third NFL season. Likewise Bray is also not NFL ready right now. So while those two might have chemistry, I’m not sure you’d see it right away on an NFL field against NFL competition.
I do subscribe to your latter suggestion. In fact that’s what I believe will happen in this draft. I believe Buffalo goes quarterback in the first and receiver in the second. Now they may trade back in round one before taking the QB, but I believe there’s a good chance they do that and Hunter is a viable value in round two.
I’m also a fan of E.J. Manuel despite the naysayers.
5 – Chris,
With the Bills being deficient last year at WR (and getting rid of what little depth that they have by releasing Nelson and Jones) on top of not signing ANY free agent WRs this offseason, doesn’t it seem like there’s a VERY good chance they draft Cordarrelle Patterson with their 8th pick? I’m not even saying I want that, but what choice do they have? That position is looking thinner and thinner this offseason. This is assuming they can’t get their franchise QB in the first round…
PS- Go Bills
CB: I think your point is well taken. The Bills need to add an instant contributor at receiver. I believe this will happen in round two. There’s good value between rounds two and four where you can get a player that can help you sooner rather than later. The value at WR is not good in round one until the very end.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills took two receivers in the draft despite the fact that they have just six picks.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Aaron Williams, Andy Levitre, Buddy Nix, Chad Rinehart, Chance Warmack, Cordarrelle Patterson, Dee Milliner, Fan Friday, Justin Hunter, Lane Johnson, Ryan Nassib, Tavon Austin, Tyler Bray
Posted in Inside the Bills
Just hours after Tennessee WR Justin Hunter announced that he’s en route to Buffalo, presumably for a pre-draft visit, USC QB Matt Barkley tweeted the same.
Barkley tweeted this morning that he’s got visits lined up with the Browns and Bills coming up.
Heading off to Cleveland and Buffalo this morning for team visits
— Matthew Barkley (@MattBarkley) April 8, 2013
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Justin Hunter, Matt Barkley
Posted in Inside the Bills
Tennessee WR Justin Hunter was part of a private workout with the Bills on Saturday with his college QB Tyler Bray and others. Now he says he’s coming to Buffalo, presumably for a pre-draft visit.
On to buffalo
— Justin Hunter (@justinhunter_11) April 8, 2013
Hunter led the Vols and finished third in the SEC with 73 catches for 1,083 yards in 2012. His 73 receptions were second-most in Tennessee single-season history.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Justin Hunter
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills conducted private workouts with some University of Tennessee prospects Saturday.
QB Tyler Bray was the headline prospect as the Bills tirelessly cover all bases with the quarterback prospects.
They also worked out other Tennessee prospects WRs Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers and TE Michael Rivera.
Rivera broke Jason Witten’s single-season receiving yardage record for a tight end this past year with 562 receiving yards. Witten’s had 493 as a Vol.
What’s interesting is WR Cordarrelle Patterson was not part of the private workout.
Of the group that was worked out Hunter is considered the highest ranked prospect as most draft prognosticators have him as a second round pick.
Tags: Justin Hunter, private workouts, Tyler Bray
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
Due to the advent of a new coaching staff, at what point in time can the Bills coaches give information to existing Bills players with reference to new terminology or verbiage that will be used in calling of plays? Also the new playbook, which would take even more time to put together. Is the timing this kind of information contractually limited by the CBA or otherwise? Or is it simply delayed until all is put together by the staff?
Thanks, Bill S.
CB: The new coaching staff does get the benefit of an additional voluntary camp here in the spring. Buffalo’s additional camp will run from April 15th to the 18th prior to the draft. At that point classroom work is permitted in addition to on the field work. The offseason conditioning program began on Tuesday. Yes, the timing is contractually limited by the CBA, as well as practice time (e.g. limited time on the field per day, days per week, etc.) So it does present a great challenge for a new staff coming in with constraints put on the amount of practice and classroom time.
2 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering if you might be able to enlighten some of us on practice squad eligibility & whether or not if in any way it counts towards the cap? Or is that a cost that is separate from the cap? I know those guys have to get paid but am unsure about the inner workings of it. Last year that was where we had David Snow stashed at right & I know he went back & forth for a bit, so how much longer would he be eligible?
I do know that they are not secure with the team once they are put there & can be signed away, but can the team offer them more to stay? Or once an offer has been made by another team or are they just gone? I know that in the past we have picked up a few players from other teams squads such as Brian Brohm & have tried to pick up others that either didn’t want to leave or were offered more money by the team we were trying to get them away from to stay – I guess?
I was just wondering if you might be able to clear some of that up for those of us that aren’t as well verse on the workings of that part of the team …
Thanks as always for your time !!
Mr T from Fort Myers Via Nashville
CB: First, practice squad players do not count against the cap. Only the top 51 player salaries count towards the cap, so the two lowest paid players on the 53-man roster don’t even count let alone the practice squad players.
Players are eligible for the practice squad for up to three years provided they do not appear in nine regular season games in one year. If they are in the third year of practice squad eligibility and they’re on the practice squad, whenever there is an opening on the 53-man roster they’re the automatic promotion (See: Gibran Hamdan).
You’re right the players on the practice squad can be signed to the active roster of any other NFL club at any time. There are instances where the team that he’s been with tries to retain him by putting him on their active roster.
It’s funny you mention Brian Brohm because that’s exactly what Green Bay tried to do when they found out the Bills were going to sign him off their practice squad. They offered him the same money that the Bills were offering on their active roster, but it’s the player’s choice. He thought he had a better chance to play in Buffalo with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Hope that helps.
3 – Chris:
It would seem that player evaluations can hinge on subtle differences, to me a player who doesn’t beat or come very close to their 1st 40, may not have the competitive spirit needed to succeed at the next level. I’d rather have someone who fights to the final whistle. Some of the QB’s did not impress at this, I’d rather have a not as developed player with desire, than a strong arm and quit in him. How would you and the coaches evaluate the two 40 times?
Jim from Florida
CB: While I don’t dispute for a second that it’s better to have a player that fights to the final whistle or is supremely self-motivated, I think you may be putting a bit too much weight on a player’s second run of the 40 at the Combine or a pro day.
There are several reasons why a player might run a slower 40 the second time. First, perhaps their get off wasn’t as technically sound. Their footing may not have been as good off the line. I realize this might sound a bit unrealistic, but players will tell you there is a fatigue factor involved from the first run.
I’m sure there are instances of some prospects that don’t fight to the final whistle, but that will be far more noticeable in games on tape than in their second run of the 40.
4 – The off season though the combine has been frustrating because once again I have no clue what the defense is going to look like, so I have no idea who I should be paying attention to. OLB seems to be a glaring need, but is it? It looks to be Bradham and that’s it, but because of the uncertainty surrounding the scheme, I’m left asking are Kyle Moore, Mark Anderson & Mario Williams DEs or OLBs? Should I be paying attention to the interior D Line guys, guys that are projected as 3-4 DEs? Right now the only projected first round front seven defender who I’m sure can fit into whatever D they run is Ogletree. I used to love this time of year. Any light you can shine on this situation would be appreciated.
CB: When coach Pettine says his scheme is going to be multiple he means it. Gone are the days where you can sit in a 4-3 or 3-4 and not change things up. A perfect example of this was the way that former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt chose to sit in the same 4-3 front last season. Despite having great depth of talent on his front line, the same looks became easy to block and counter for opposing offensive line, which is why they weren’t all that effective last season.
Pettine knows to be effective you have to be multiple. Just as it’s difficult for you to not plug DEs and OLBs into roles, Pettine wants opposing offenses to have that same difficulty. He doesn’t want opponents knowing where anyone is going to line up on any given play. Keeping an offense guessing while also possessing an attacking mindset unnerves an offense.
All that being said I think they will line up more in the 3-4 than the 4-3, but roles will shift and change from week to week. Manny Lawson might be a true SLB on first down, but he might shift to a third down pass rusher in passing situations and Mario Williams might kick inside. That’s just one example.
5 – CB,
Buddy had mentioned following the way the Bengals drafted AJ Green and Andy Dalton. Do you seen a scenario where the Bills go QB in round 1 and WR in round two? What do you think of the possibility of Geno Smith and Justin Hunter? I think these two are the might be the best players available when the Bills will pick in rounds 1 and 2. What are the scouts saying about Hunter, can he separate from DB’s at his size/speed?
CB: I think this could definitely be a possibility in the first two rounds. Buffalo needs to add a quarterback early. And the value at wide receiver in this draft begins in round two and lasts all the way until round four. Hunter has some intriguing physical skills. He ran a 4.36 at the Combine and is 6’4”, but he’s just 196 pounds and has a lean build, which means he’ll be limited in the bulk he can add.
He also has a reputation for inconsistent hands. That’s why despite first round physical skills he’s expected to last until round two.
As for his separation ability, he’s not considered very good run after catch despite his speed because he’s a straight line speed guy. Elusiveness is not a strength.
Personally I’d prefer Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins in round two if he’s there for Buffalo.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, CBA, DeAndre Hopkins, Doug Marrone, Fan Friday, Justin Hunter, Mike Pettine, practice squad
Posted in Inside the Bills
A day after hosting Tennessee WR Justin Hunter for a pre-draft visit, the Detroit Lions are reportedly hosting his former college teammate.
According to the team’s website, the Lions are hosting Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson for a pre-draft visit. Patterson and Hunter as widely ranked as two of the top five receivers in the draft class. Patterson ran a 4.42 at the NFL Combine to Hunter’s 4.44.
Bills GM Buddy Nix has listed wide receiver as one of the team’s top positional needs this offseason.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills are in going to be in the market for a wide receiver come draft weekend, but so will a lot of other clubs. That list of teams includes the Detroit Lions apparently as they have already begun their pre-draft visit schedule hosting Tennessee WR Justin Hunter Thursday.
That according to their team website. Hunter told DetroitLions.com that he’d love to line up opposite Calvin Johnson.
“I know they have two people on (Calvin Johnson) every time he lines up and people base their game plan on him,” Hunter said. “It would be nice (playing next to a guy like that) because usually that happens to me. I know how it feels. I think one-on-one coverage would be great. I’d be excited for that.”
After the disastrous end of the Lions’ relationship with WR Titus Young, who was suspended and eventually released, Detroit is in the market for another receiving talent to complement Johnson and Ryan Broyles.
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Justin Hunter, pre-draft visits
Posted in Inside the Bills
It’s an embarassment of riches at the wide receiver spot when it comes to University of Tennessee products. The Vols have both Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson on the field Sunday for the wide receiver workouts. And they both could wind up in the first round of the draft.
Patterson was in the second group of QB-WR workouts on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. And watching from the stands, he seemed a little off-kilter. He looked awkward running some routes, but did make a great adjustment on a deep pass thrown by FSU’s E.J. Manuel, and made a great catch. Patterson’s combination of size and speed make him an attractive first round target for teams in need of a WR.
It was his Tennessee teammate, Justin Hunter, who impressed most of all. In the morning session on the field, Hunter ran smooth, decisive routes with quick cuts. He’s got great size (6-4, 197 pounds) and long, smooth strides. He suffered a serious knee injury in 2011, but rebounded strongly last year with 73 catches, nine of them for touchdowns. Hunter also seemed to do a nice job catching the ball with his hands, not his body.
With David Nelson and Donald Jones knocked off the Bills roster, you’d have to think WR moves up high, maybe to the top, of their draft needs in the next two months.
Tags: Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, NFL Combine
Posted in Inside the Bills