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

Fan Friday 4-3

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2009 – 3:24 pm

Another Fan Friday as we inch closer to the NFL Draft. Got some interesting questions this week. Keep them coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Chris
In college Brad Butler played right tackle. Do you think the Bills would think about switching Brad Butler and Langston Walker. Brad is quicker and Langston would be a monster inside?

Thanks
John

CB: I don’t see this change happening. Walker is best on the edge in my opinion and I felt had a very good season in 2008. Moving to left tackle for the opener in place of the ‘not ready’ Jason Peters, then back to right tackle was yeoman’s work.

Butler I believe is the type of player you want inside. A guy that likes to mix it up and get nasty. I don’t know that Brad is necessarily quicker than Walker. Just because Walker is 366 pounds, don’t assume the man can’t move. His feet are well above average for a man his size.

 
2. What’s happening with Chris Ellis? He was our 3rd rounder last year after all, his injury has set him back no doubt, but we haven’t heard any word on him lately? Is he healing well? Will he be the force we want him to be, allowing us to maybe go after one of the other needs that early at 11, like OL or TE where a lot of people are looking at players to fill gaps. Is Chris doing well enough for us to put DE at a second pick this year? If he’s not, than I sure hope we go DE -1st, and find some prospects to mold like we seem to do so well for our other positional needs.
-Jonathan Wyman
Virginia

CB: I think the team still has a lot of faith in what Chris Ellis can do for the defense. He is healthy and he’s here participating in the offseason conditioning program. I believe he needs to get stronger physically to hold up better against the run. It could get him more snaps this year.

The bottom line however, is the jury is still out on him so adding more pass rush talent is necessary and early. They need a pass rusher that was dominant at the college level. Someone that can make an impact as a rookie. You only get those kinds of players at 11. Aaron Maybin, Everette Brown and Brian Cushing (a LB) are the three I would target.

If it’s Cushing in round one I probably wouldn’t address DE until round three knowing the team needs offensive line or tight end help. Cushing can help on the pass rush.

The unconfirmed reports about Cushing testing positive for steroids would end my preference for him as a player if they proved to be true.

 
3. Chris,
 
       Wondering if Derrick Brooks is a possiblilty to help us with the Cover-2 Tampa defense ?
 
    Todd Logan

CB: I think the Bills will see how they fare in the draft at the LB position before they entertain the possibility of adding a player like Brooks.

 
4. Any word on Schobel’s foot injury?  Will he be able to be the force he once was and help the pass rush?  He is the rock of that line.
 
Curt

CB: Schobel is recovering nicely. Surgery as we reported back in early February will not be necessary. Whether he can be the force he once was as a pass rusher is a question only Schobel can answer through his play. He can say he feels fine and that he’s back to normal, but his play will be the only ammunition he has and he knows that.

 
5. Chris,
   
            What are your thoughts and opinions on Larry English, and him fitting in as a Buffalo Bill?  Also do you think we could draft him in the 2nd round, or will he probably be scooped up by then?  With his size and athleticism I believe he is a Terrell Suggs type player where he could play LB or DE…….What do you think he will be more of? 
 
Thanks – Showtime.

CB: If the right team likes English he could be off the board at the bottom of round one. After running a 4.74 and 4.79 40-times at his pro day I think that’s a possibility. There are some teams that are concerned that he might not be strong enough to hold up as an every down DE in a 4-3 system. I believe he can.

For a DE it’s more about explosiveness and with a 36-inch vertical and a 1.59 10-yard dash I believe he has the burst to be productive off the edge. He’s a little short at 6’2”, which is why some teams consider him a 3-4 OLB.

He has a similar issue to that of Everette Brown. Brown gets more of the benefit of the doubt having played in the ACC. Playing in the MAC knocks English down a peg by some talent evaluators, right or wrong.

I think if the Bills don’t get a DE in round one, English is definitely an option in round two, provided he’s still on the board.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

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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Posted in Inside the Bills