Inside The Bills

Mayock on how many WRs could go in 1st

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2014 – 2:49 pm

By now everyone has heard that the 2014 draft offers one of the deepest classes of receiver talent in a long time. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes a good number of wideouts could come off the board in round one.

“I think there’s a chance that six wideouts will go in the first round and (Sammy) Watkins and (Mike) Evans will be the first two,” said Mayock. “I think the next two are going to be Odell Beckham from LSU and Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. Beckham is an explosive kid with return skills. He gets in and out of breaks as well as any receiver in this draft and has good size. Cooks is a smaller receiver, but might be the most explosive in the entire group and tough. Good route runner. Their value will start somewhere in that 13 to 20 range. After that Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee come into play.”

There are a good number of reports out there now however, that Benjamin is unlikely to go in round one due to concerns about his one year of production and intangibles.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Weighing Watkins vs. Evans

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2014 – 2:34 pm

Most NFL talent evaluators have Clemson’s Sammy Watkins as the top receiver on their draft board, but not far behind is Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. We asked NFL Network’s Mike Mayock to compare and contrast their respective games and how they were used may or may not help their transition to the NFL game.

“When I look at those wideouts it’s vanilla and chocolate. They make different flavors for different reasons,” said Mayock. “The Watkins kid is explosive. He’s a great route runner, great hands, tremendous run after catch. More than anything he’s a competitor. In addition to all the natural gifts he has there’s an edge about him when he plays and I love that.

“Mike Evans is more a product of what today’s NFL environment is. With the advent of the back shoulder throw has opened up the game for the big wideouts, the 6’5″ wideouts. Why? Because they can basically play outside the numbers. They don’t have to run as many routes and they don’t have to get in and out of breaks like the smaller wideouts, so they’re running a bunch of outside the number routes that become converted back shoulder throws. It’s just a jump ball. Anytime you get a one-on-one with a defensive back with his back turned and you get a big superior athlete and the odds favor the wide receiver. So Mike Evans I think is what today’s NFL is all about. He’s an outside the numbers and red zone guy.

“That being said I happen to think Watkins is a better football player.”

ESPN Monday night football commentator Jon Gruden also feels Watkins and Evans are two receivers whose games do not have much in common.

“I think Evans is a completely different receiver than Watkins, at least on the tape I’ve seen,” Gruden said. “Evans plays on the right side of the formation.  He is in a no-huddle offense.  He plays on the right every play. They don’t switch sides. He doesn’t go in motion. He’s not in the slot. He’s a big X receiver that is a prototype split end, much like Tampa already has in Vincent Jackson, a guy that is a dynamic force when the ball is in the air. He’s a threat to run it after the catch. When he wants to, he can be a dominant blocker.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-25

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2014 – 4:22 pm

The draft is less than two weeks away. Feels like we’ve been waiting forever. For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
Can you give some new insight  on how defensive ends will work under Schwartz? Besides Mario it seems like Bills have other options. Hughes was better as an OLB and I don’t see him as every down because of his size. Lawson also has never played DE as well. Do you see this as a major draft need? I feel worried that the sacks/pass rush will fall off because of the scheme change.

CB: While you are right that Lawson has very limited experience as a full time defensive end having played mostly in 3-4 defensive schemes in his career, he is an expert leverage player. So although long and wiry I believe Lawson can make that transition, most likely on the right side. He’s been up on the line enough in his career to know how to handle such a role. Of course the proof is in the pudding.

As for Hughes it’s certainly possible he’s reduced to a pass rushing role, but I think that’s something that will play out in the spring camps and training camp.

I do agree that it is somewhat of a hidden need for Buffalo that isn’t talked about much. They do need to find another fit for Schwartz’s scheme knowing things are changing.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Last year attending Bills training camp at St. John Fisher, it appeared to me that EJ Manuel had an extremely good long ball. His release was quick, the throws were accurate, and the offense was often successful completing those long throws. However during the season I did not often see EJ attempt long throws. I wonder did you see the same thing I did at camp? If so, have you any thoughts about why they didn’t make all that many long passing attempts during the season?  Do you think we might see more of a long passing game this year?

Thanks,

Bernie


CB:
Last year the aim was to keep the offense on the field so deep throws, while potentially rewarding don’t provide a high success rate. With a young QB running things, the plan was to string together high percentage plays and not create too much risk. That’s why Buffalo ran the ball so much last season (most rushes in the NFL in 2013).

Provided EJ demonstrates more efficient decision making, particularly when under duress, through the offseason and preseason I do anticipate more long passes per game. Realistically though unless there is a flaw in an opponent’s secondary there are usually not much more than half a dozen of those kinds of plays attempted by one team in a game.

 

3 - Hi Chris.

Thanks for keeping everybody posted during free agency.  It’s certainly appreciated.

With the new CBA, is it legal for teams to have something like a “behavior clause” in a players contract?  For example “you lose  X number of dollars if you get more then 3 personal fouls this season” or you lose X number of dollars if you get in a fight with the media” etc.  I know Marrone is all about accountability and I think this would be a great way to increase accountability by hitting them where it hurts the most.  If that isn’t legal, could it be part of an incentive clause?  “No personal fouls equals a bonus at the end of the year, etc…

 

Thanks for your time.  Can’t wait for football season.

Harold

CB: To my knowledge morals clauses are permitted, but that doesn’t mean a player’s agent is going to openly accept it. In a good number of cases, the penalties handed down by the league for violation of personal conduct and substance abuse policies are pushed as sufficient deterrents by agents to avoid such morals clauses. However, if the money is significant a player is typically more accepting of the morals clauses that can sometimes come with it.

 

 

4 – Dear Chris,

Can you help me understand what the Bills are doing at both guard positions?  They just seem not to value that position very much on offense.  Kraig Urbik is an average player at best, and they seem to have a bit of a revolving door going on the left side.  Neither Colin Brown or Doug Legursky played very well last year.

Now they have signed Chris Williams, a move that attracted a lot of criticism from various sources, saying that he was the weakest link in a poor Rams line last season.  Why would the Bills want to bring such a player into Buffalo?

I would have thought they would like to better protect the huge investment they have made in EJ  Maunuel.  Can you provide me with some insight about what the Bills brain trust is thinking here?

Thanks and Regards,
Cameron Morrison
CB: I think we sometimes fall victim to media assessments of players and treat it as gospel. In the case of Chris Williams I think he’s a decided upgrade at left guard. As I’ve mentioned on my blog I watched three of his games last year against the #1, #5 and #6 ranked defenses last season, all of which he had to face twice since they were his division opponents in the NFC West in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.

Williams was steady and reliable in all three games, all the first meetings against each of those teams. He didn’t have any busts and performed well in both run and pass. Was he super spectacular and making eye popping plays? No, but he was effective and truthfully that’s all you need at left guard.

Knowing he’ll be playing in between two of Buffalo’s best starters in Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood should stand to raise his game another peg. Much like Williams I think Urbik is a steady player at right guard.
4 – Hey Chris,
What are your thoughts on the Bills saying that they’re good with their current qb situation as well as having their free safety in the roster already?! It’s mind boggling to me considering the mess they got into when EJ got injured. They didn’t have the confidence in Searcy/Williams/Meeks when Byrd had his injury to start the season, but now they do? Is it just pre-draft strategy or do you think they honestly believe it?

Thanks, Ryan

CB: I do think they believe it. Doug Whaley and his personnel department as well as the coaching staff has an enormous amount of confidence in EJ Manuel. They are also very high on Thad Lewis as a backup prospect. Now with Lewis’ former quarterbacks coach in Detroit now here in Todd Downing, they’re even more confident that Lewis and Manuel for that matter can both take the next step in their respective development.

As for safety I think they do genuinely believe in the talent they have on the roster. Aaron Williams is likely to be the free safety with the strong safety spot filled by one of the candidates trying to land the job. I really was impressed with what I saw from Duke Williams last year in the practice setting. I didn’t see enough of Meeks who was hurt and Da’Norris Searcy had his best season last year as a hybrid subpackage linebacker.

You have to remember the Bills drafted in advance of losing Byrd in last year’s draft when they took Williams and Meeks back to back in rounds four and five. They prepped for that loss. Now the defense is changing so they’ll essentially be rookies again. Knowing that the Bills picked up veteran Corey Graham, who granted has been a cornerback most of his career, but will be in the mix at safety as well.

I think they’ve done a good job of covering their bases there.

 

5 – Chris,

I don’t see the Bills drafting a right tackle in the draft because historical they don’t draft lineman that high. The Bills have depth at WR and TE but need that one big play-maker. Even with Chandler back and lots of speed wideouts, what director do you think they might go in rounds 1-2. Mike Evans and Eric Ebron will probably be on the board with Watkins gone. Which player do you think the Bills will covet more? What are the chances they pick either of them at 9?

CB: It’s hard to know for sure what the Bills think since they lock up their draft board like every other team. I will say that both players are dynamic difference makers for a passing game and both would be a huge help to EJ Manuel.

As we’ve drawn closer to the draft I think it’s becoming less likely that Mike Evans is still on the board at nine. He’s most likely to go to Tampa at pick 7 as they are in dire need of receiver help. Ebron is more likely to be on the board at nine.

I believe if the top tackles are off the board and Evans is gone as well, Ebron might be the best option left.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-28

Posted by Chris Brown on March 28, 2014 – 11:45 am

Pre-draft visits will begin next week. We’ll have you covered here at Buffalobills.com as the draft is just over a month away. Now we turn to some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hey CB,

Why are more people not talking about Martavis Bryant?  I saw his combine numbers and at 6 foot 5 I though they were quite impressive.  He was projected by some to go in the late 2nd or 3rd round and I was just thinking.  Wouldn’t that be a steal to get him in the 3rd round?  The bills need a tall receiver that can be a red zone threat.  Thank You

Morgan

CB: There’s no question that Bryant is an athlete after clocking a 4.42 at the NFL combine along with a 10’4” broad jump and a 39-inch vertical. His linear speed is unquestioned, but dropping his weight and getting in and out of breaks is still a bit of a question mark for him. He’s also considered a raw prospect, who wasn’t asked to run a full route tree at Clemson.

My biggest issue with him is his playing strength. Even though he had an impressive 16 reps on the bench it’s difficult to find that strength off the line or in traffic on the playing field in his game. He needs to add muscle to his frame as he goes just 211 pounds and has a slight build. Against the physical cornerbacks of the NFL he’s going to get knocked around. He’s probably a late second or early to mid-third round pick in a deep receiver class.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you believe his lack of “body of work” will lower the #Bills interest in Mike Evans? He just started playing ball.

rockydm92

CB: I think what intrigues most NFL clubs with Mike Evans is his amazing production despite still being young in football. As most talent evaluators see it there is a very high ceiling there knowing when he does gain more experience his production could be even better at the NFL level.

And the reason teams are happy to wait on that potential is because right now even in the NFL he’s a size mismatch and he should be able to produce just off his measurables to start. Then as he hones his game he’ll be an even greater asset to a team’s passing attack.

 

3 -  Chris,

With Jairus Byrd now in New Orleans, do you anticipate the Bills are happy with their current S depth with: Aaron Williams, Searcy, Meeks, Duke Williams?

Also a random question, do you know why the NFL football is nicknamed “the Duke”??

-Jim

CB: As you probably saw this week with our coverage of the league meetings in Orlando, led by our own John Murphy, head coach Doug Marrone is considering lining Corey Graham up at safety as part of the competition. It sounds like he’ll compete for a role there, in addition to cornerback, with Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy. Aaron Williams is a lock at one of the safety spots already.

As we outlined in our story on this development this week, Graham isn’t completely foreign to safety.

As for your question about NFL footballs being nicknamed ‘The Duke,’ here’s the history behind it courtesy of the Wilson Sporting goods website.

In honor of the late New York Giants owner, Wellington Mara, one of the most beloved and respected figures in professional sports history, the Official Football of the NFL is called “The Duke”.

Wellington Mara, who spent 81 years with the New York Giants and made numerous contributions to the NFL, was named Wellington by his father, Tim Mara, after the Duke of Wellington. He was given the nickname “The Duke” as a youngster by Giants players.

The NFL first used a ball in honor of Wellington Mara called “The Duke” in 1941 at the suggestion of George Halas, as Tim Mara (Wellington’s father) had helped him arrange for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. to become the league’s official supplier of game balls.

“The Duke” ball was used through 1969 but was discontinued prior to the 1970 season, the first to be played post NFL-AFL merger. The NFL and AFL continued using a Wilson football, but with a new design and no official name. In 2006, the NFL returned the name of “The Duke” to the ball after Mara’s passing in October, 2005.

 

4 – Chris,

I think the two best prospects the Bills should consider are Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins. Which do you think fits the team better? They would bit the best player available. What chances to you think they might make it to 9? How should the Bills protect a team jumping up to 7 or 8th pick if they find a player they love?

Josh

CB: I don’t disagree that Mack and Watkins are two of the best prospects in the class, but I’d be surprised if either are available at nine. If either one gets past the fifth pick I think a few teams will be making efforts to move up to six or seven to grab them. If both are still on the board when Tampa Bay is on the clock at 7, I think it’d be very tempting for Buffalo to swap spots with Minnesota at 8 to ensure they would get at least one of them. Still, parting with picks is not what the Bills typically do. Then again it’s Doug Whaley’s first draft and we don’t have a track record to work with concerning his approach in a fluid draft situation.

 

5 – Hi, Chris!

What criteria did the Bills and New York Giants, and the rest of the NFL teams qualify to be the selected matchup for the annual NFL HOF Game? Does both the PFHOF in Canton, OH, and the NFL decide which teams to play, is the selection if teams always announced in February, especially after the Super Bowl? Thanks. Llewellyn.

CB:  The league doesn’t have a specific criteria, but the fact that both NFL franchises have some of their most popular all-time players being inducted in this year’s Hall of Fame class in Andre Reed and Michael Strahan does play a factor. The NFL also takes into account the likelihood of fans from the respective teams traveling to the game. Knowing that fans of the Bills and Giants will already be on hand for the induction ceremony, there’s a strong likelihood that many of them will make a full weekend of it and take in the Hall of Fame game Sunday as well.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

WR Evans shows well

Posted by Chris Brown on March 27, 2014 – 2:32 pm

He certainly wasn’t the focal point of Johnny Manziel’s personal pro day at Texas A&M, but wide receiver Mike Evans impressed as well on Thursday.

Evans caught just about everything that was thrown to him. The deceptive thing about Evans is he doesn’t appear to be running fast, but the ground he covers is remarkable. NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, who was a personnel executive for the Dallas Cowboys for 30 years, made a pretty big statement concerning Evans’ catching ability.


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McShay mocks OT to Bills at 9

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2014 – 11:15 am

The momentum of an offensive tackle for the Bills keep building among NFL draft prognosticators. ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay is the latest to do so.

In his third mock draft he has the Bills taking offensive tackle Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M. What’s interesting is in his synopsis he opens the door to the possibility of Buffalo taking a college teammate of Matthews in WR Mike Evans.

9 Jake Matthews
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
COLLEGE: Texas A&M
AGE: 21 HT: 6-5 WT: 308 POS: OT

Analysis: Eric Ebron would be an interesting pick here, as would Mike Evans, because both guys are big-play weapons in the passing game with their size and ball skills. Both of whom would help young QB EJ Manuel. But I think in this scenario they’d go with a guy who can help protect Manuel in Matthews. He is versatile enough to play either tackle spot, and he’s a great value here as one of the top 10 and maybe one of the top five prospects in this draft.

Evans certainly raised his draft stock in the eyes of NFL draft analysts after his performance at the NFL combine. Most of them believe Evans has moved into the top half of round one as a result.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Latest mock goes WR for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2014 – 12:38 pm

In one of the newest mock drafts, this one by USA Today, they project a wide receiver to the Bills, but it’s not the one you think.

USA Today projects Clemson WR Sammy Watkins to be off the board and to the Raiders with the fifth pick. So at ninth overall they’ve got Buffalo getting Texas A&M WR Mike Evans. Here’s their analysis.

9. Buffalo Bills — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The 6-5, 231-pounder could be the perfect solution to Buffalo’s passing woes. Most importantly, he’d be a major upgrade in the red zone for a team that didn’t have anyone catch more than three TDs in 2013.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lofton working with WR prospect Evans

Posted by Chris Brown on February 3, 2014 – 9:31 am

Bills Hall of Fame WR James Lofton has been a wide receivers coach in the NFL. Right now he’s a successful broadcaster as he was part of the Super Bowl radio broadcast Sunday. He’s also still tutoring young players like NFL wide receiver prospect Mike Evans out of Texas A&M.

Widely considered a top 15 draft pick by prognosticators, Lofton confirmed in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 that he’s been coaching up the tall and productive Aggies wideout.

“He turns 21 in August. He is a talented young man and I’ve had a good time working with him the last few weeks,” said Lofton. “I’ll keep working with him until he gets to training camp. I don’t know if the Bills are drafting high enough to get him.”

Buffalo has the ninth pick in the 2014 NFL draft.


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Posted in Inside the Bills