Inside The Bills

Kiper’s Bills assessment

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2011 – 8:28 pm

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper did what he labeled a summer audit of the AFC East clubs and he had some interesting comments on the Bills.

He had some praise for the draft class they put together, but felt there are a couple of areas still to be addressed. Kiper pointed to the offensive line and the pass rush.


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Kiper: Williams a 1st rounder

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2011 – 1:58 pm

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, called Bills second-round pick Aaron Williams one of the steals of the 2011 draft class.

“Aaron Williams I really like at that point where they got him,” said Kiper in a national conference call this week. “He can play corner, he can play safety, he’s the toughest run support corner that I’ve graded in the last five years.

“He wound up going 34. I thought he’d be a late one. I thought teams like Philadelphia would look at him and some of those teams late (in the first). To get him where they did that’s a nice pick there.”

Here is his full list of draft steals.


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Kiper: Hairston key to class

Posted by Chris Brown on May 2, 2011 – 10:53 am

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who gave the Bills an overall grade of ‘B’ in this year’s draft, called fourth-round pick OT Chris Hairston the most critical piece of Buffalo’s draft class.

“With the offensive line you can only do so much,” said Kiper. “With the offensive line there was a big drop off after the top group. That’s why I think the key guy is going to be Chris Hairston. Chris Hairston has a lot of ability and potential. I think he’s not yet where he needs to be. Any time you get a kid that’s 6’6 ¼” and 326 pounds and is very, very strong in the upper body, he’s got incredibly long arms. The kid is a talent.

“(The question is) outside pass rushers, how much trouble will they give him? He’s got to get quicker out of his stance and do a better job of maintaining his frame between the defense and the quarterback, but that will come with coaching. Offensive line coaching will be critical for Hairston because he needs some coaching and the offensive line coach has to develop this kid. If they do it could be a very good pick there.”

With Bills offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, Hairston will be in good hands. Head coach Chan Gailey said over the weekend he envisions Hairston as a right tackle, even though he played left at Clemson. And Kiper apparently doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in Erik Pears, who is the Bills odds on favorite to be the starting right tackle in 2011, after a couple of strong starts last season as a late year pickup.


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Kiper’s newest mock

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2011 – 1:10 pm

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft (installment #3) has Cam Newton coming off the board after the Bills pick at 3.

Kiper has Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert going first overall to Carolina, followed by Nick Fairley to Denver with the Bills taking Marcell Dareus third. He then has Newton going to Cincinnati fourth. Here’s his take on why he sees Dareus going to Buffalo.

Many were surprised at Dareus’ measurements at the combine, where he weighed in at 319 pounds. And while Chan Gailey says his 2011 defense could resemble a hybrid — either a 3-4 or a 4-3 depending on available personnel and matchups — Dareus is a player who can fit any scheme well. With great quickness for his size, he can take up blockers and still provide a push as a 3-4 defensive end, perhaps solidifying that scheme for the Bills. A safe pick at No. 3.

Kiper just a day earlier had Buffalo pegged as one of the best fits for Newton saying he wouldn’t have to take a snap in 2011 as a rookie with Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter, which he saw as a good thing for the Heisman trophy winner. He also listed San Fran, Tennessee, Washington and Minnesota as good landing spots.


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Kiper not on Cam to Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2011 – 12:35 pm

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is not sold on Cam Newton going to the Bills at third overall. When asked on a national conference call why he felt that way he said the following.

“Just the different things you hear, different entities and different players and different things,” said Kiper. “I had Newton going there (at 3) a few weeks ago, and somebody I respected, different people you talk to over the years told me, ‘Well I don’t think you’re right on that.’ A guy I know that has been around this business a lot and you go back and forth with friends you have in the league. I just think that it’s going to be a very difficult scenario.”

Kiper said it’s a difficult scenario because of the risk involved with Newton, who he again said was the player with the most upside and the most risk in this draft.


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Kiper on QB vs. OT

Posted by Chris Brown on February 17, 2010 – 7:40 pm

The Washington Redskins pick fourth overall in the draft this April and has similar positional needs to that of the Bills who pick ninth. Mel Kiper shared the approach he would take faced with QB and OT as his top two positional needs.

On a national conference call, Kiper was asked specifically about Washington’s situation and whether he would take the QB or the OT with the Redskins pick at 4 and take an OT later. Here was his responsed.

“Would you rather have Anthony Davis (Rutgers) or Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) at four,” Kiper said referring to the highly regarded OTs, “and then Colt McCoy (Texas) or Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan) in the second round? Or would you rather have Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford at four, and then maybe a Bruce Campbell, the offensive tackle out of Maryland, or even a Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) if he fell down there? We’ve seen it happen before where tackles have dropped at times into the second round.

“In the case of a player like Clausen or Bradford, I would take the quarterback first. I have Clausen and Bradford rated higher than Davis and Okung. So I would go the quarterback first, then try to get the offensive tackle in the second round and hope that a Bruce Campbell or a Bulaga or somebody like that fell down to me.”

It’s an interesting approach Kiper chooses, but it’s not surprising since he’s one of the few draft prognosticators that has Clausen coming off the board at 4 to the Redskins. Some “experts” don’t even have Clausen rated as a first-round pick. So his rationale is a direct reflection of where he has Clausen ranked.


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Ole Miss QB entering draft

Posted by Chris Brown on January 7, 2010 – 4:11 pm

Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead has decided to forgo his senior season with the Rebels.

Snead made the announcement Thursday.

“After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to forego my final year at Ole Miss and enter the NFL Draft,” Snead said. “In the end, I had to do what is best for me and my family. Having finished my degree, I look forward to the challenge and hard work that comes with pursuing my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.”

Snead (6’3″ 215) threw for 2,632 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior for the Rebels, who beat Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Snead didn’t exactly go out on a high note going 13-23 for 168 yards and three INTs in the bowl game.

Still he is a welcome addition to a weak quarterback class. Mel Kiper’s top 5 Junior QBs are as follows.

1. Jimmy Clausen – Notre Dame
2. Sam Bradford – Oklahoma
3. Jake Locker – Washington (going back to school for senior year)
4. Jevan Snead – Ole Miss
5. Case Keenum – Houston (has not declared)

His top five senior QBs are as follows, though he stated that none were worthy of 1st round pick.

1. Colt McCoy – Texas
2. Tim Tebow – Florida
3. Dan LeFevour – Central Michigan
4. Tony Pike – Cincinnati
5. Sean Canfield – Oregon State


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Kiper on Everette Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on April 16, 2009 – 4:56 pm

In the wake of my post on what Mike Mayock thought of Florida State DE Everette Brown, Mel Kiper addressed him in his national conference call Thursday. He basically said there’s a wide range of opinion out there on Brown, which also creates a wide range of where he could go on draft day.

“He could go as high as four and as low as 30,” said Kiper. “I think going 12th overall to Denver is realistic and even Buffalo at 11. He could go later, but I’ve had him as a mid-first round pick all along.”

Granted Kiper could be hedging his bets so putting a mid-first round grade on Brown splits the difference in terms of the wide range of opinions on Brown. No doubt some teams are scared off by his size (sub 6’2″) and realize he doesn’t have the frame to add much more weight if he struggles against the run at the NFL level.

I maintain that I think he can handle it at 252 pounds. He appears to know enough about leverage, and he is the most polished pass rusher in the class with respect to techniques and pass rush moves.


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UB QB Drew Willy ready to compete

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 4:01 pm

University at Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy just spoke with the media and he will, as expected, be doing everything here at the combine with respect to the workout.

“I”m looking forward to proving myself when I get the opportunity,” said Willy. “

“I’ve been working down in New Jersey where I’m from at the Parisi’s speed school and been going down to Atlanta on the weekends to train with Jerry Rhome, a quarterbacks coach, so I’ve learned a lot from him as far as protections and just my overall throwing mechanics. It’s been quite a process and I’ve enjoyed putting myself around the right people.”

Rhome, a former NFL quarterbacks coach, who has tutored the likes of Troy Aikman and others now runs a training program for quarterbacks. According to Willy however, Rhome is pretty satisfied with Willy’s mechanics.

“He pretty much liked my whole demeanor with getting back in the pocket and such,” said Willy. “We just worked on more protection stuff and a lot of the different defenses that you’re going to see at the next level. It’s been a big learning curve, but I think I’m up for the challenge, and I think I’ve learned a lot.”

Willy is expected to come off the board anywhere between the fifth and seventh round and Mel Kiper likes some of his qualities for the NFL level.

“I have him as the fifth best senior quarterback,” said Kiper. “Good height at 6’3 ¼” and doesn’t make a lot of bad decisions. Very good awareness in the pocket, a ton of experience at Buffalo. I wish he had a little stronger arm. His arm is strong enough I just wish it was a little stronger. He’s probably a fifth or seventh round possibility. At worst he gets in a camp with a chance to be a developmental young quarterback.”


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Kiper thinks UB QB Willy could be late pick

Posted by Chris Brown on February 18, 2009 – 3:06 pm

Mel Kiper believes University at Buffalo quarterback Drew Willey could be a late round pick due to a few specific characteristics, not the least of which is playing experience.

“I have him as the fifth best senior quarterback,” said Kiper. “Good height at 6’3 ¼” and doesn’t make a lot of bad decisions. Very good awareness in the pocket, a ton of experience at Buffalo. I wish he had a little stronger arm. His arm is strong enough, I just wish it was a little stronger. He’s probably a fifth to seventh round possibility. At worst he gets in a camp with a chance to be a developmental young quarterback.”

Willy helped lead the Bulls to their first ever Mid-American conference title this past season and they also made an appearance in the International Bowl.


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DE Ayers could be 2nd round option

Posted by Chris Brown on February 12, 2009 – 1:25 pm

One guy that really impressed me as a pass rushing defensive end option is Tennessee’s Robert Ayers. He was the Defensive MVP for the South team in the Senior Bowl and had a monster week.

I also like that he is 273 pounds. With more “sand in the pants” he can probably be a legitimate left defensive end prospect and hold up against the run. I asked Mel Kiper about him specifically and he thinks he could be there in round 2 for Buffalo.

“Ayers has really helped himself obviously a big week down in Mobile, had a very good year at Tennessee for a team that didn’t have a lot to brag about this kid did,” said Kiper. “He’s a second round pick right now. A lot of people I’ve talked to in the league are raving about Robert Ayers. I think he’s a guy that’ll go early to mid second round is a possibility. No question Robert Ayers is a guy that’s moved up.”

If Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin aren’t options in round one and the Bills have to go in another direction with the 11th pick it’d be great if they could land a guy like Ayers in round two.


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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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Encouraging to hear

Posted by Chris Brown on February 11, 2009 – 5:44 pm

With all the talk lately from insiders and draft gurus that Everett Brown is a 3-4 OLB only, it was refreshing to hear that Mel Kiper believes Brown is strong enough to play DE in a 4-3. Now I’m not saying that Kiper knows better than some NFL scouts I’ve heard from, but he certainly does his homework.

The only thing is can he handle playing on the left side where the tight end usually resides and you have to hold the point of attack more often? 

Kiper also sees Penn State’s Aaron Maybin as versatile enough to play DE or OLB in a 4-3. He said so in an ESPN media conference call. I’ll have more on this Thursday on the home page.


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Where Kiper and Mayock differ

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2009 – 3:06 pm

While Mel Kiper has released his mock draft, in which he has the Bills taking Oklahoma St. TE Brandon Pettigrew, who has been tearing it up at the Senior Bowl incidentally, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock differs with him when it comes to the top two quarterbacks in the draft this year.

Kiper has Stafford going to Detroit at #1 and Mark Sanchez #3 to Kansas City. While I don’t question for a second that both teams sorely need a franchise QB, Mayock makes a very good point with respect to both QBs being far less experienced than the fifth-year senior QBs that came out last year in Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan and enjoyed great success as rookies.

“My concern with the underclassmen this year with Sanchez in particular was 16 starts,” said Mayock. “He can make every throw and I’m totally impressed with his arm strength, athletic ability, and toughness. Is he a talent that is starting quarterback worthy? Absolutely.

“My problem with he and Stafford is I don’t think they’ll be ready in the immediate future,” Mayock said. “I think 13 or 14 more starts would have helped Mark become a better quarterback. His pocket awareness and presence I would question for him and Stafford. Whether they can stand in an NFL pocket and keep their eyes downfield and make NFL throws and get rid of the football on time. I look at Ryan and Flacco and they are amazing talents, but they also had an emotional maturity and toughness about them. For Sanchez and Stafford I think they’re a bit of a project because they need more time.”

Due to their lack of experience on the college level, Mayock wonders if either are worthy of taking even in the top 10.

“I don’t know where he’s going to go and where Stafford is going to go,” Mayock said. “It’s way too early in the process. If you’re going to draft a quarterback high he’s got to play immediately and I don’t know that either are ready to step in immediately. That’s the first question I ask immediately. I’m not sure I’m taking (either of them) in the top 10 if they’re going to sit for a year or two.”

I tend to agree with Mayock. Ryan and Flacco’s success was based in part on their vast experience at the college level. Their greatest qualities were their ability to handle pressure in the pocket, make plays and not get rattled. You have to wonder if Stafford and Sanchez will be able to do the same. I think the odds are certainly lower that they will if thrust into the starting lineup right away.

But a desperate team like Detroit may not have a choice.


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