Inside The Bills

Gruden on Dareus

Posted by Chris Brown on May 3, 2011 – 12:01 pm

ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden had his own assessment of Marcell Dareus and why he thought Dareus was superior to Auburn’s (and now Detroit’s) Nick Fairley.

“Well, Dareus, if you watch Dareus play two years ago, his film is even better than it was this year.  He got hurt in the Arkansas game (this year).  That ankle lingered throughout the season.  But I think Darius is a different player than Fairley.  Dareus is a three‑position player in a 3‑4 front.  He can play nose, either defensive end.  He is legitimate, sheer power.  This is a power player.  He is rare.  You’ve seen the physical nature this guy’s put together with a rare combination of explosive physical play, and a guy that’s well‑versed under Nick Saban.”

Gruden gave Dareus the edge because of his versatility and better all-around game.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix has high praise for Fairley

Posted by Chris Brown on April 26, 2011 – 11:58 am

With names like Von Miller and Cam Newton being plugged into Buffalo third overall pick in mock drafts everywhere, there has been little talk about Auburn DL Nick Fairley. But Bills GM Buddy Nix in a live chat on Sportsnet.ca today (Tuesday)  was asked specifically about Fairley and had high praise for the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

“I think he’s the best pass rusher in the defensive line group,” said Nix. “He is an impact guy that you can find a place for no matter what you play.”

In a year where the defensive line contingent is perhaps the deepest it has been in a generation, Nix’s comment is saying a lot about the high regard Buffalo has for him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dareus the fan pick at DT

Posted by Chris Brown on April 5, 2011 – 5:40 pm

The fans have once again spoken when it comes to the Countdown to Draft Day position previews on Buffalobills.com. At the defensive tackle position fans texted their votes overwhelmingly in favor of one elite prospect.

Just a couple of months ago it was considered a tight race for the best defensive tackle in the draft, but Marcell Dareus won Buffalo’s fan vote by a landslide, taking two-thirds of the votes cast to 64621 for the defensive tackle Bills fans believe is the best fit for Buffalo.

Dareus took hom 66.6% of the vote, which was even a great majority than Cam Newton had during the QB position preview (50%).

Nick Fairley came in second at the DT spot with 14% of the vote. Both Dareus and Fairley have visited One Bills Drive during the pre-draft process.

Our position previews will continue to air every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the top 5 have been counted down at all positions. Voting is now open for wide receivers.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-1

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2011 – 12:31 pm

No pre-draft smoke screens here, even on April Fool’s Day, though you’ve got to wonder if it’s a good idea for Da’Quan Bowers was wise to schedule his pro day on this date. Guess it’s better than Friday the 13th. Anyway on to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris, 
Can you break down what the scouts think about the three best mobile QB in the draft, that being Newton, Locker, and Kaepernick. Judging on Chan’s desire for a guy that can move out of the pocket and what round they can be had (NEWTON 1) (LOCKER/Kaepernick 2-3), who makes the most sense for the Bills just on talent and ability to drop back to be a full time passer. I think Kaepernick seems like a great talent and has put up better numbers than most QB’s. Locker could also develop better. He’s got major arm and legs. How interested are the Bills in Locker and Kaepernick compared to the rumors of Cam?

Jack

CB: Most draft analysts have these three guys specifically ranked Newton, Locker and Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been criticized for having a long wind up, but he has worked to shorten his delivery. Locker timed the fastest at the combine running a 4.5 flat, but Kaepernick (4.53) and Newton (4.58) were right behind him.

Kaepernick and Newton are two of only three QBs (Tebow is the other) to pass for 20 and rush for 20 touchdowns in a single season.
Kaepernick has the longest track record being a four-year starter and was extremely consistent in terms of production. With Locker the same cannot be said, though he improved in some areas of his game each year. Newton had only one year of major college football as a starter, but it was a special year obviously taking what was largely an average team and leading them to a national title. He and Nick Fairley made an average team an elite team with their talent.

What is certain is all three are athletes. All have guns for arms and all three can run.

I’m a fan of Kaepernick having the chance to interview him at the Senior Bowl one-on-one. He just came across well. I did not have that chance with Locker or Newton, though I was on hand for their group interviews at the combine.

With all three of these guys there is going to be an adjustment period. Newton and Kaepernick come from spread offenses. Locker has two years in a pro-style offense under Sarkisian at Washington.

Newton played in a superior conference, which is partly why most see him at the top of the board because he got it done despite facing elite athletes. Locker and Kaepernick however are not far behind.

How interested the Bills might be in each of these guys is tough to peg because of the way NFL clubs tend to mislead as much as they tell the truth. Even Buddy said 10 percent is truth this time of year. So for me to tell you who they think fits them best would be just guess work on my part. We do know that Newton visited, something that Locker and Kapernick have not done to this point.

2 - Hi Chris,
I know the SS position is kind of up in the air right now with Whitner only being tendered, but not re-signed and the top free agents signing to other teams. What do you think the chances are of George Wilson becoming a starter? In my opinion the guy has done a tremendous job whenever he has filled in. Being a converted receiver one would think consistent playing time would only help him perfect his craft.
Dan
From Western, MA
 
CB: I think George Wilson could contend for the starting role at strong safety in 2011. Bryan Scott is still in the fold as well. So as things are currently constituted with respect to the roster, those two are the prime candidates.

3 - Hey Chris,
Just want to start by saying I’m a big fan of yours and I think you do a great job for the Bills and their fans.

I just have a few questions regarding the D Linemen in this years draft and their values. I understand the combine means a lot to coaches and scouts but does Marcell Dareus’ performance really put him ahead of Fairley? I wasn’t able to watch Dareus as much as I did Fairley due to Auburns success but from what I saw in the National Championship, he looked un-blockable. And my last question is whether Da”Quan Bowers fits into the Bills defensive scheme for next year. He is such an athletic guy and I personally would love to have him line up for us but do you think he’d be able to handle the DE position in both the 3-4 and the 4-3?
Thanks for your time,
Mark from New Jersey

CB: Thanks for the kind words. With respect to Dareus just watch his performance in the National Championship game against Texas in 2010. Not only unblockable, but how about a 319-pound man making an interception and running almost 30 yards for a touchdown? Oh and throw in a knockout shot on Colt McCoy. Dareus, much like Fairley was this past January, was the Defensive MVP.
Dareus in all likelihood is not going to have the sack numbers of Fairley at the NFL level, but he is a superior run stopper and does push the pocket with consistency, which prevents quarterbacks from stepping up to elude pressure from defensive ends. Both Dareus and Fairley are special talents.

Dareus has just done it for longer (2 years) than Fairley (1 year).

With respect to Bowers, I thought head coach Chan Gailey had an interesting response to a question he got earlier this week from a Bills season ticket holder in a Tele-Forum we conducted on Tuesday. He was asked if Bowers was a fit for Buffalo’s base 3-4 scheme. Here is coach Gailey’s answer.

“He is an explosive player. He really is. He can make things happen as a pass rusher coming off the edge. He plays the run better than people give him credit for. I think that if we ended up taking that guy we’d find a place for him. We’d make it work. You can’t take a guy that is that good of a player and not make him fit in to what you’re trying to get done defensively. We’re not going to pass up a very, very good football player just because he might not fit perfectly. We’ll adjust to get good football players on our team.”

Knowing the Bills have intentions of playing a hybrid defense that employs 3-4 and 4-3 looks, I don’t think they’re going to rule anyone out even if they’re pegged by some as one scheme only defensive ends as has been the case with Bowers. Bowers is largely viewed as a 4-3 left defensive end.

But back in February I talked to C.J. Spiller, his former college teammate, about him and he believes Bowers is strong enough to play end in a 3-4. He’s 6’4” and 275 pounds and freakishly strong in the upper body. But it seems clear that the Bills wouldn’t shy away from him provided there isn’t a talent they have rated higher on their board when they pick.

4 – Hi Chris,
It looks like we have a lot of holes to fill especially with the release of Marcus Stroud, and potential free agents Drayton Florence, and Donte Whitner. I cannot help but think that we do not have enough depth at our DB’s position and believe we have more depth at the DT position. I think Leodis Mckelvin has regressed, and Terrance McGee cannot stay healthy in order to finish a season strong. I believe this is very problematic but I have not seen this concerned expressed on the Bills site. Do we have other DB’s that can fill in?

In light of this and assuming that we do not address these needs in free agency, I think we should go with CB, DT, or DE with our 3rd pick, also our second pick should be DT, DE, or perhaps ILB. Also, I would think Kaepernick would be a better selection at our 34th pick than Cam Newton at our 3rd overall. I cannot help but think about the the pressure the coaching staff will face if they draft Cam Newton. If Fitz starts to fizzle, then I can see the fans cheering, “Start Cam now!” The last thing we need is this pressure and distraction.

What say you!?

Best,

Stephen from Rancho Cucamonga, Ca

CB: Your point about the cornerback contingent is well taken. I think the Bills staff still believes they can make Leodis a more consistent corner and I think McGee will be given every opportunity to prove he can stay healthy because when he’s healthy he’s a solid corner. Reggie Corner is still on the roster as well and would likely serve as the nickel. But they do need to add talent at cornerback. This year’s draft class has only three prospects considered first round material, possibly four. For the Bills that’s good news, because hopefully it leaves some quality prospects to choose from in the middle rounds where the value should be relatively good.

As big a talent as Patrick Peterson is I’m a proponent of helping your defense in the front seven first. As for Cam Newton the kid is a talent. Granted there are some questions there, but the Bills will have done their due diligence on him and anyone else that plays quarterback to determine if any of them are potential franchise type QBs.

5 - Looking at the current roster in seems they need to develop a future ILB that can play the 3-4 and a SS. Do you expect Buddy to meet these needs in the draft? Who are the top players in the draft they may target? It would seem likely for the Bills to draft a linebacker but I haven’t heard anything on safety after losing on Sanders.
Thanks
Sean

CB: Buddy has told me himself in an interview on Buffalobills.com from the Senior Bowl that he feels they need to add two inside linebackers this offseason. Absent free agency, they’re likely to come in the draft. Who they’d target is tough to say, but they’ve had LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard in for a visit and had him down at the Senior Bowl for a week. Buddy also went to North Carolina’s pro day to see their two inside linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant. Beyond that I really don’t have any other names for you.
With George Wilson back in the fold I don’t see safety as a pressing positional need for them.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Draft prospects meet staff

Posted by Chris Brown on March 31, 2011 – 10:24 am

Bills head coach Chan Gailey and his assistant coaches are meeting with each of the three scheduled pre-draft visitors at One Bills Drive this morning.

Nick Fairley, Justin Houston and Christian Ponder are all having conversations with Gailey and his staff at One Bills Drive on their pre-draft visits.

Bills GM Buddy Nix stated earlier in the week that the team has 25 prospects scheduled to visit during the pre-draft visit period, which runs up until April 20th.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

M&T Draft Challenge update

Posted by Chris Brown on March 31, 2011 – 9:56 am

The M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge runs until April 25th. It’s your chance to predict who the Bills will take with their first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and if you guess correctly you could win a Bills Gameday Experience. Here’s an update on some of the voting thus far.

Still out in front with the most votes is Auburn’s Cam Newton with 25% of the predictions for Buffalo’s first pick. His college teammate Nick Fairley, who is visiting One Bills Drive today (Thursday), has just 5% of the vote.

Be sure to enter for your chance to win a Bills game day experience package for two with all-inclusive M&T Bank Club tickets, pregame field passes and a Bills Alumni meet and greet opportunity, as well as a Bills helmet.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fairley to visit Bills?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2011 – 1:50 pm

It’s that time of the year when the top prospects make the rounds for pre-draft visits as NFL clubs tie up any remaining loose ends on elite players. The Bills could very well be doing that with a host of other clubs drafting in the top 10 on Auburn DL Nick Fairley.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Fairley will visit with eight of the NFL teams drafting in the top 10 this spring. The report doesn’t identify the teams specifically, and just about every team in the top 10 has defensive line needs. 

Carolina, Denver, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Francisco, Tennessee, Dallas and Washington could all address their defensive lines early. Arizona at 5 might be the only team that isn’t in dire need of D-line help.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-18

Posted by Chris Brown on March 18, 2011 – 12:24 pm

Hey Bills fans. I’m taking the day off for my birthday, but here are some answers to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Have a good weekend.

1 - Chris,
Can you break down how Bowers, Fairley, or Dareus would fit in the Bills 3-4. Can you explain the difference between a five technique and three technique lineman. Would they have to only play the DE position with Kyle up the middle. What are the future plans in the 3-4 for Troup and Carrington going forward in terms of starting next season.

Sean, NY

CB: Bowers and Fairley would be strictly defensive ends in the 3-4. Some believe Bowers can shift to an OLB role in a 3-4, but I think he’s strong enough at 275 pounds to stand in there at end in a 3-4. Fairley could be a three technique defensive tackle in a 4-3, and knowing Buffalo is going to be multiple with their fronts on defense next year, he has double value.

Dareus is the prospect with the trump card though. He is a fit in either defense because at 319 pounds he could stand in there and play nose tackle in a 3-4, but he’s athletic enough to play end in a 3-4, which is what he did at Alabama. He could also play the one technique or three technique defensive tackle in a 4-3.

The only difference between a three-technique and five-technique is the alignment of the defensive linemen. Now their roles are different in the scheme of the defense, but basically there are numbers assigned to the alignment of a defensive lineman. For example, if they are lined head up on a center they’re in a zero technique.

A one-technique defensive tackle is lined up on the shoulder of the center. This DT is typically the grinder that ties up blocker in a 4-3 front. A three technique DT is lined up on the outside shoulder of the guard and is usually the more athletic penetrating type defensive tackle.

A five-technique is an alignment usually for a DE in a 3-4 on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. Their role is to stand and grind with the OT and sometimes TE to hold the point of attack and allow linebackers to run free to make tackles, although they have full license to disengage and make plays themselves. The alignments go all the way up to nine, which is the widest alignment, usually taken by a pass rushing DE or OLB.
2 - Hi Chris, 
I’ve taken some heat for this question already.  But I’d like your take on it.  What are you thoughts on building up the defense and o-line this year and trying to pick Andrew Luck in next years draft?  Now I know he will probably be the #1 pick in the draft but if we package some picks together or some players and picks, we may be able to get him unless we have a horrible season and end up picking #1 overall.  I just think that no one besides ryan mallett would be worth grooming or putting any time into as far as a qb for the future.  Luck has everything your pretty much want in a qb coming out of college and i’d like the bills to have a player at QB  who isn’t so much of a question mark.  Besides Fitz is playing at a high level and we need to invest this season in other areas such as defense and o-line.  As always thank you for your time.
-Showtime.
 
CB : I don’t think your idea is so far-fetched. I’m all for loading up on the defensive side of the ball and if you still have time to address offensive tackle all the better. I don’t mind being aggressive and doing whatever it takes to get up to number one next year for Luck. Just keep in mind it’s anything but a guarantee, knowing first there’s likely to be a host of other NFL clubs looking to make a similar trade deal for Luck, and you’re likely to have a team in that number one spot all too happy to take Luck first off the board, and with no interest in trading out. It’s not something you can bank on.

That’s why I think there’s a good chance they take a QB somewhere in the draft.

3 – Chris,

I’ve been reading a lot about the right tackle position and the teams general need for linebackers.  In those conversations, I never see anything about Ed Wang or Arthur Moats.  Is Wang still that far away from contributing as a right tackle (even as a backup)?  Was his injury the big setback or does he just have a lot more to learn?  I was thinking Moats, Poz, and Merriman would be 3 of the 4 starting linebackers next year – the 4th being a new addition with a big, run-stuffing frame.  Do the Bills see Moats more of a 3rd down rush linebacker?  Do they see issues with his run defense?

Thanks.
Eric in Baltimore

CB: I think in the end Wang will be best suited to play guard. That’s just my opinion. Right now guard is a deep position. They worked him at both guard and tackle last year and I anticipate that will continue. I don’t see him getting on the field as a starter in 2011 however.

Buddy Nix has said he likes some of the young talent they have at OLB, and that includes Moats. He’s got potential, but if Merriman is healthy and the Bills draft a pass rushing LB high (e.g. Von Miller), Moats will not be a starter.

Personally I expect them to address ILB with more picks than OLB, not higher picks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see two picks used on ILBs.

4 – Hello Chris,
Kiper brings up an interesting observation with his 2.0 mock draft.  Newton to Bills.  Does the possibility of his tremendous upside make him too attractive for the Bills not to pass up?  Even if the Bills take someone like Von Miller that doesn’t mean he pans out either.  (i.e. Maybin)  Newton could be worth the gamble.
Jim (Skaneateles)

CB: It’s the 64 million dollar question Jim. Picking this high doesn’t happen often and it affords you the opportunity to get a franchise quarterback if you believe there is one in the draft. That’s what the Bills have to figure out. Is there a franchise type QB in the draft. If so they have to take him, whoever it is (Newton, Gabbert). If not, then they have to take a player that is considered a sure fire star. The safest picks at the top of the board are Marcell Dareus and Patrick Peterson.

5 - Chris,
Doesnt the Bills releasing Marcus Stroud indicate that they will go for a defensive end with the no. 3 pick in the upcoming NFL draft?

Perhaps Marcell Dareus, if Bowers and Fairley are gone by the time Buffalo picks?

Or will it be LB Von Miller, who I believe Gailey likes?

LeeD

CB: I think it increases the positional need. With the three top flight talents you mentioned I think they feel good about having the chance to take one of them. Whether they feel all three are worthy of the third pick is another question. Von Miller is an option as well, and yes Gailey may like Von Miller, but there are very few head coaches in the NFL, if any, that don’t like him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-4

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2011 – 3:43 pm

Though there are bigger headlines concerning the NFL right now, we dive into your Bills and draft related questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net here on Fan Friday.

1 – Chris
 Do you think it’s possible that the Bills might go after Carson Palmer? It has been said that he has asked for a trade and will consider retirement if the team does not meet his wishes. Would Buffalo possibly show interest in acquiring him? With Fitz penciled in as starter as of right now I BILLieve he would be a great asset to the Bills organization, especially with the relationship that Fitz and Palmer share. If Buffalo decided not to pursue him are there any other veteran QBs out there that Buffalo might be interested in? With the #3 pick overall I just don’t see a QB at that spot being drafted when our D is the real soft spot, but there is no question we need a long term answer at our QB position and with Palmer being a former #1 pick he could be our guy. Love your blog thanks for keeping us Bills fans constantly informed.
-Jeff P.
Rochester, NY

CB: I’d be surprised if the Bills engaged in trade talks for Carson Palmer. It just doesn’t fit the Buddy Nix model of building a team, which is largely done through the draft. Nix and Chan Gailey are taking a methodical approach to building this team the right way. I don’t see Palmer being a part of that.

The only other free agent QB I thought made sense for them in a backup capacity to Fitz was Tyler Thigpen, who worked with Chan Gailey in Kansas City in 2008 and started games for the Chiefs. The two worked pretty well together despite a lack of talent around Thigpen at the time. Thigpen’s availability will ultimately be determined by what everyone is waiting for at the league level.

As for the pick at 3, I believe quarterback is a genuine consideration. The task for the Bills brass now is determining whether or not they believe one of the top quarterback prospects is truly a franchise QB. If so they’ll take one at 3, be it Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. I don’t believe anyone else falls into the discussion this year.

Otherwise it will be defensive line. Thanks for the kind words.

2 - Hi Chris,
 
I’ve seen Cam Newton, Mallett, and others, but I just recently watched video on Colin Kaepernick and I’m REALLY impressed. How is he not getting as much talk as all the others? What do you think about him? If you have a chance, watch his very first start against Boise St., the #3 ranked defense. Also hear that he light it up at the Manning QB camp.
 
Thanks,
Jerry
BillsFanInFl

CB: The reason Kaepernick is not getting as much consideration is because he’s considered more of a developmental project in terms of molding him into a pro QB. Kaepernick rushed for over 4,000 yards in Nevada’s Pistol offense. Chan Gailey ran a version of the pistol offense in Kansas City when he had Tyler Thigpen scrambling around.

Kaepernick has an NFL arm and obviously mobility, and he’s insisted to me that he had progressions in his offensive scheme at Nevada, but I don’t know if NFL talent evaluators are buying it. They feel there’s a longer learning curve there with him than some of the others in this class that come from spread offenses (Newton, Gabbert) and I think part of it has to do with his throwing mechanics. He does have a long wind up, but the Bills have said throwing mechanics do not carry a lot of weight with them in comparison to throwing it to the right spot at the right time and getting it there with accuracy.

3 – Chris,

I noticed One Bills Dr. added quite a few O-linemen during the later half of the season, including Kraig Urbik 6’5″ 323lbs, Chad Rinehart 6’5″ 307lbs, Colin Brown, 6’7″ 335lbs, Erik Pears, 6’8″ 305lbs and Mansfield Wrotto, 6’3″ 320lbs.  (Plus we already have Cordaro Howard and Hangartner).

If it comes to pass that Eric Wood gets moved to center during off season OTAs and training camp, who do you think has the best chance of becoming the starter at right Guard for the Bills?  The Bills played so many different combinations to finish out the year I never got a good feel for who seemed to be the best right Guard candidate.

P.S.  As a follow up, which of these players could be in the mix for right Tackle?

Thank you,
Tim N
Virginia

CB: The right guard in that scenario would be Kraig Urbik, and here’s why. Buddy Nix upon claiming Urbik off waivers stated that on their draft board in 2009, their three best guards were Eric Wood, Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik. With a big smile Nix said, “Now we’ve got all three.”

So if Wood moves to center he’ll be flanked by Levitre and Urbik in my opinion, unless Urbik’s play drops off dramatically this year and I don’t see any reason why it would.

As for right tackle the odds on favorite there is Erik Pears. He outperformed Mansfield Wrotto earning playing time at the end of the season, and is a former two-year starter for the Broncos at tackle. With Wrotto expected to play more on the interior and compete for a guard spot, Pears has less competition barring the addition of a draft choice.

4 - Hey Chris,
I was wondering with coach Gailey being able to work with the South QBs and also him being a offensive guy would the Bills conseder getting a quaterback like Ponder or Dalton. Ponder might have improved his draft stock to a late second round but Dalton might be there in the 3rd. Just wondering if they would take a quaterback.

Thanks for the time,
Josh

CB: I think the Bills taking a QB at third overall is a distinct possibility provided they believe one of the top candidates is a franchise QB. If not then your scenario is more likely with a third round prospect a possibility. Ponder performed well at the Senior Bowl (MVP) and did well at the combine both on the field and in interviews from what I’ve been told. So he might not be there in the third. Some even believe Seattle is considering him at 25th overall.

5 - Hi Chris,
I like you believe that the Bills need Fairley and I think he would help this defense out tremendously, do you see the Bills just making a deal if Carolina is willing to move 2 spots that way there is no anticipation whether the team or 2 before us is going to grab him. Because over the last few draft classes I really believe that they should have made some better picks or at least tried to jump up in the draft.
Thanks for your time               
JON
Tampa

CB: I do like Fairley’s game a lot, but I do believe Marcell Dareus is right there with him and just as good a pick. The Bills seem to believe Da’Quan Bowers is a multiple defense fit, but I don’t think he’s as versatile as those two, despite being a better pass rusher.

All that being said I’d be surprised if Buffalo moves up from pick 3. Sure there is the danger of missing out on somebody, but if a defensive lineman is what they’re after, there’s more than enough to choose from at three because even if two of the aforementioned players go first and second, there’s still one there to take. Also remember that Buddy Nix has said time and again he’s not a guy that likes to jump around the draft board. He likes to sit where he is and make his picks.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mariucci mock has DL to Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2011 – 1:58 pm

NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci put together his top 10 mock draft and he’s got a defensive lineman to Buffalo. He’s also got a surprise in front of Buffalo with Denver at 2.

Mariucci has Buffalo taking Auburn’s Nick Fairley with the third overall pick with Da’Quan Bowers going first overall to Carolina and North Carolina DE Robert Quinn going to Denver.

Mariucci had some interesting logic with respect to Quinn, saying John Fox, while head coach of the Panthers had Quinn in his backyard at UNC and he expects Fox to take him.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called Quinn the best pass rusher “he’s ever seen.” That’s saying an awful lot about a guy that didn’t even play his senior year due to suspension.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fairley to lift despite injury

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2011 – 2:05 pm

Nick Fairley said he’ll be working out fully. This despite the fact that he sustianed an injury in a mid-November game against Georgia.

“I had a shoulder injury in the Georgia game,” said Fairley. “It was a shoulder separation, AC joint and it wasn’t anything too serious. I played every game afterwards and it’s getting a lot better.”

That description makes it sound as if it might not quite be 100 percent even now although Fairley did say he checked out “real well” during his medical exam. He will participate in the bench press.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fairley looks trim

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2011 – 12:58 pm

Auburn DL Nick Fairley looked very fit as he made his way into the media room Sunday.

Fairley measured 6’4″ 291 pounds about five to 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight at Auburn. He said he played this past season between 290 and 300 as his weight fluctuated throughout the season. The defensive lineman was proud of the work he’s put in.

“I’ve been working out,” he said. “I’m going to run fast.”

Defensive linemen work out here at the combine on Monday. Here’s a photo of him just after his interview with the gathered media at the NFL combine.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fairley won’t lift

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2011 – 11:59 am

DraftInsiders is reporting that Auburn DL Nick Fairley is still rehabbing an injury that will prevent him from participating in the bench press here at the NFL combine.

Draft Insiders’ Tony Pauline tweeted the following on Fairley.

TonyPauline Nick Fairley/DL/Auburn has been rehabbing a small separation in his shoulder he suffered during the season.

UPDATE: DraftInsiders is reporting that Fairley will not participate in the bench press here at the combine, but otherwise is in shape and expected to weigh in at around 300 lbs.

Defensive linemen will be available for interviews on Saturday. The bench press is not a make or break type event here at the combine. Just ask Buddy Nix.

“The only time I’ve ever seen the bench press used in football is getting up off the ground and we don’t want that guy,” said Nix. “What it really does is tell you how much he’s been working. All this stuff is like little pieces of a puzzle and it makes the big picture at the end. It doesn’t carry a lot of weight.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Lombardi prefers Dareus

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2011 – 10:50 am

NFL Network draft analyst Michael Lombardi was asked about making a decision between taking Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus, a decision the Bills could be faced with at third overall in April.

Lombardi prefers Dareus due in large part to his proven production over the past three years versus the one year of production by Fairley.

“I would probably go Marcell right now because I think Nick, even though he had a great first year, there’s a lot of gaps in his college
career,” Lombardi said at the NFL combine. “He had the one year and then didn’t play as well and then went JC. So there’s a lot of gaps that you have to clean up.

“That’s what this is all about. Bill Walsh had a great saying. Don’t take the one-year player and look forward. Take the one-year player and look back. I’ve always followed that rule when a guy has one great year. Why didn’t he have it the other times? I think that’s proved to be correct.”

Rest assured that the Bills and the other teams at the top of the draft will be looking deep into Fairley’s past to get those answers this week. Dareus right now however, is the safer pick with his longer track record of success.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-18

Posted by Chris Brown on February 18, 2011 – 3:46 pm

A reminder that our NFL combine coverage from Indianapolis begins on Thursday here on Buffalobills.com and runs through the weekend. So be sure to check the blog, the home page and the media center for stories, one-on-one interviews and comment from the top NFL prospects. Now to your questions.

1 – Chris, 
I’m delighted to see that you are intrigued about Colin Kaepernick – a guy I have had my eye on as a prime prospect for the Bills.  Buddy Nix says he likes to see consistent success at the college level and here’s a guy who has passed for 2,000 yards and run for over 1,000 for three straight years – the only player in NCAA history to do that.  He clearly needs work on his throwing motion, but he was already at 67% accuracy with his current motion.  What would he be like with some good coaching to get him to release the ball correctly?  But the best thing about him is his intelligence, leadership and character.  The intangibles don’t get much higher.  And he did lead his team to a #11 ranking in the final AP  poll. Let us know what you think.

Dan Singal
Rochester

CB: Kaepernick is intriguing to me because he has prototype size, arm strength and athleticism. What’s between the ears is what is going to be key in his evaluation. When NFL teams put him on the board and ask him to come up with answers for certain coverages or test his rate of retention with plays in the course of a 15-minute interview it’s designed to get a better handle on how he can adapt to a sophisticated NFL offense.

He ran a pistol offense at Nevada and in talking to him he’s well aware that he has to show that he can operate from under center. But more importantly he has to convince NFL decision makers that he can leaern, process and execute a complex NFL offense. All that being said I think at best he’s a late second-round pick.

2 – Chris,
I’ve been thinking about all of the people’s questions to you about getting a “slash” QB in the draft. Personally, I think we need more of pocket passer if we were going to get a QB early on in the draft. I was thinking that they go with a DE or a CB in the first pick, and then maybe trying to shoot for a Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallet, or, Jake Locker in the 2nd pick if they are still there, so he can be a backup for a year or two under Fitz’s Guidance. Your thoughts?
 
Thanks,
Zack
Vernon NY

CB: Gabbert is widely considered a top 10 pick. I’m not sure I’m ready to be convinced of that, but most draft analysts see him gone by Arizona’s pick at 10 at the latest. Locker or Mallett could slip into the second round if they don’t show much this week at the combine or their pro day or do not fare well in the interviews with NFL clubs. Locker and Mallett have inconsistencies in their game and Gabbert has questions as well. Of those three Mallett is the only true pocket guy. The other two are mobile so I’m not sure they fit your criteria.
Personally I think the Bills only take a QB in the first two rounds if they believe he can be a franchise QB in a year or two, otherwise I see them going defense.

3 - Hi Chris,
In some mock drafts that have Fairley going to Carolina, I see some people giving us Patrick Peterson.  I loved what I saw from Marcell Dareus and think he would make more sense and help our run defense immensely.  Do you think the Bills would go with more talent in Peterson or a bigger need in Dareus?

-John
Fredonia

CB: I’m not privy to their preferences or draft grades, but my thinking is if they’re down to a decision at 3 between Peterson and Dareus, and their grades on them are close, I believe Dareus would be the pick. Peterson is a special talent, but Dareus helps to answer your biggest problem, which is your run defense. I don’t see that going unrecognized in that kind of a debate.

4 – Chris,
Every since the Bills announced Doug Whaley as Assistant General Manager/Director of Pro Personnel he has kept a pretty low profile with the media.  His hiring was hailed as a great move but I think the jury is still out.  What are your thoughts?  Also could you detail how the Pro Personnel department is structured (personnel-wise) and what are everyone’s duties.  We constantly hear about Tom Modrak and his scouts preparing for the draft but how does the Pro Personnel department spend their time throughout the year?  Do they maintain a video library on every single player in the NFL or do they rely on other team’s pro departments for help when they need it?  Could you do an in-depth explanation sometime in the future?
 
Thanks,
Go Bills!

CB: Doug doesn’t mind keeping a low profile. He just likes to go about his business, which deals primarily with the pro personnel side of things. He the head guy on the pro side of the ledger and did a pretty good job in his first year bringing in talent like Kraig Urbik, who stands a good chance of starting at right guard next year if Wood goes to center permanently. He brought in Chad Rinehart, who is a capable reserve interior lineman. And Erik Pears, who was acquired late in the year could be the starting right tackle next season. Akin Ayodele to fortify a position hurt by injury were all good pickups.

I think his ability to secure talent at times of the year when talent is sparse speaks to his expertise. Buffalo is in good hands on that end of the roster building business.
5 - Hi chris,
How important is it to upgrade at right tackle this offseason?  Is it high on the priority list and do you see the bills bringing in a GOOD veteran or a higher draft pick rookie?  I was wondering your thoughts on the tackles in the draft and if any of them like Nate Solder would fit into a right tackle role for us, or if we even have a shot at him? 
 
Thanks – Showtime.

CB: I don’t see right tackle as high on the priority list. It’s fourth behind DL, LB and QB as I see it. The reason why is because of the aforementioned Erik Pears. He was a two-year starter for Denver before he fell out of favor there and bounced around since then. Is he a long term solution? That’s up to the coaches, but he’s at least a proven player at that position in the league and can hold the fort until they cultivate more talent.

I’m not saying they won’t draft a tackle. In fact I hope at some point they do just for capable depth, but with the needs so great on defense I don’t think it’s a lock to happen.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mayock on Bowers vs. Fairley

Posted by Chris Brown on February 17, 2011 – 4:43 pm

The three teams at the top of this year’s draft (Carolina, Denver, Buffalo) are faced with what many consider a good dilemma, should they have the choice. Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers or Auburn’s Nick Fairley to improve their defenses, which finished 26th (Car.), 28th (Buf) and 32nd (Den) in the league in points against. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock provided his two cents in a national conference call Thursday, and added in a third name that he feels merits consideration with Bowers and Fairley.

“Two incredibly talented guys that each have boom or bust potential,” said Mayock of Bowers and Fairley. “Da’Quan Bowers is a one-year wonder, and it was a wonderful one year, but you better make sure that you’re getting what you hope you’re getting because he didn’t have much production prior to that.”

“As far as Nick Fairley is concerned I would also throw in Marcell Dareus’ name with Fairley. I think Nick Fairley might have a tiny bit more upside than Dareus, but Dareus has a higher floor. I think you know what you’re getting with Dareus.

“I would throw all three of those names in the hopper and grind the heck out of Da’Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley (tape and background) because they’re great football players with all kinds of upside, but you just better know what you’re getting after you hand that guy millions of dollars.”

Bowers had a 15 sack season in 2010, but had just four in the two seasons prior. Fairley was a part time starter as a sophomore before exploding onto the scene in 2010 with a nine sack season and 18 of his 31 tackles going for loss.

Dareus meanwhile has put together a pair of solid seasons including the one that helped Alabama win the national championship in 2010 when he most notably knocked Colt McCoy out of the title game.

On a pick where you can’t afford to miss one wonders if the concerns Mayock raises becomes an issue or if the questions still out there are answered at the NFL combine next week.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

CB to Bills in mock draft

Posted by Chris Brown on February 7, 2011 – 3:58 pm

The latest mock draft from Pro Football Weekly has a cornerback going to the Bills with the third overall pick and does not have Nick Fairley off the board until pick #6.

PFW has Buffalo taking LSU CB Patrick Peterson third overall after Carolina takes Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers and Denver takes Alabama DL Marcel Dareus. They don’t have Auburn DL Nick Fairley come off the board until pick #6 to the Browns.

I suppose there could be some concern on the part of scouts that Fairley came out of nowhere this year for the Tigers as a JUCO transfer and is a player that’s been dominant for just one season. So I guess it’s possible he could slide out of the top 5, but I just don’t see it. Fairley dominated in the most talented conference in college football and had some of his best games against the best that conference has to offer in competition in games against LSU and Alabama.

In my mind the kid is just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of, which is a scary thought.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fairley prepping for Combine

Posted by Chris Brown on February 7, 2011 – 3:08 pm

Auburn DT Nick Fairley, widely considered the most likely prospect to go number one overall to Carolina, made the rounds during Super Bowl week in Dallas, but was back training for the Combine before Super Bowl weekend arrived.

Fairley appeared on the Shredd and Ragan show on 103.3 the Edge while they were on Radio Row in Dallas and was asked if he’s had thoughts about possibly landing in Buffalo knowing they have the third overall pick. (interview starts at 9:30 mark).

“I’ve thought about going to a lot of places,” Fairley said. “I’m just getting ready for the Combine and working on my technique, hands and footwork and get the mental side ready too.”

Ironically, Fairley is going to be answering questions tonight (Monday) from 6:30 pm to 7 from Carolina Panther fans on his twitter account, which should be an indication as to where his agent sees him coming off the draft board in late April.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-4

Posted by Chris Brown on February 4, 2011 – 12:25 pm

Hall of Fame selection weekend. Best of luck to Andre Reed. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1 – Chris,
it seems that going to an 18-game schedule is a foregone conclusion, unfortunately. But I haven’t seen anywhere where those two extra games will come from.

In the Bills’ case, would it be two extra games against NFC teams, or two non-divisional AFC opponents? I’m assuming we wouldn’t play a third game against two divisional rivals, but I guess I shouldn’t rule that out. Has the NFL announced how it would work?
 
Thanks, and Go Bills!
Tom in Austin
 
CB: I don’t know if I’d call an 18-game regular season schedule a lock, despite what Bill Polian has gone on record saying regarding it being a “done deal.” To my knowledge determining the two extra opponents for each of the 32 teams would also prove to be no easy task for a couple of reasons. Two added games would obviously not be enough to play your division opponents a third time through.

My guess is they’d take a similar approach to what they do now with the last two games in which you play the teams in the two intra-conference divisions that you don’t face in the rotational schedule format that finished in the same place as you did the previous season.

So much like the Bills will face the last place finishers in the AFC South (Tennessee) and AFC North (Cincinnati), I would think the league would have teams square off against interconference division teams that also finished in the same place in their division.

For example, for Buffalo they play the NFC East next season, so to add two more regular season games my guess is they would add a pair of NFC opponents from two of the other three NFC divisions that also finished in last place in 2010 (Arizona, Carolina, Minnesota).
Even by adding two more interconference opponents, 12 of their 18 games would still be against the AFC (two-thirds).  

I have read that if the 18-game schedule goes through in a new CBA that it would not take effect until the 2012 season.

2 - Hi Chris,
My question is why do you think the Bills had such a hard time rushing this season? I know Fred did pretty good for not starting the season, but there were a lot of games that the average up the middle runs went for one or two yards. Fred had a monster season the year before and the line hadn’t changed that dramatically. Ironically their pass protection improved greatly, but I was under the impression run blocking was easier and more enjoyable for an offensive line.
 
Dan
Western MA

CB: Believe it or not the Bills rushing offense was not that bad up the middle as they averaged just over four yards per carry on 153 rushes (4.03 yards). As a team their average yards per carry ranked a respectable 13th in the league (4.3).

Blocking on the edges is where things proved difficult, though the averages wouldn’t suggest it. Part of that problem was due to Demetrius Bell’s compromised state of readiness for the season coming off of major offseason knee surgery. He also told me personally that one area of his game that needs the most improvement is his run blocking. Also the state of flux at right tackle throughout the season with a handful of players starting there in 2010.

The main reason the pass protection was better was due mainly to Fitzpatrick’s ability to get the ball out quickly or adjust the protection to fit the blitz or rush scheme coming at him. Chan Gailey’s play calling also helped. You likely saw the difference when Fitz was not in the lineup in the season finale.
3 – Chris,
I have a couple predictions for the Bills offseason moves.   I see them letting Donte Whitner and Drayton Florence go if reasonable deals can’t get done.  For that reason, I see Patrick Peterson being our pick at #3.  I hope Buffalo goes after front 7 help, buy if Fairley is off the board, I think Peterson is the next best talent.  (also, Buffalo has history of neglecting front seven help with their top pick)

I also felt the Bills were strong contenders to draft Tim Tebow last year.  Now that Denver has had changes in the front office and their coaching staff, how likely do u see Tebow being traded to Buffalo?? 

I get the impression Brohm/Brown aren’t the long term fix.   It makes sense to me (assuming Elway and Fox aren’t sold on Tebow).  Any thoughts?

Thanks
Jim Eimer

CB:  If Whitner and Florence are not in the fold come draft weekend, I think Peterson is a distinct possibility. With Terrence McGee 30-years old and Leodis McKelvin still trying to find consistency with his game and Ashton Youboty also a free agent it’s not unrealistic to see that happen. I do believe that Denver with the 2nd pick is also going to take a long look at Peterson themselves with Champ Bailey not expected back in 2011.

Even though there is talk straight from Team President John Elway that Kyle Orton could still start next year at QB  for the Broncos, I do not see Denver moving Tim Tebow, so to me he’s not an option. 

GM Buddy Nix mentioned at the Senior Bowl that they do intend to add a quarterback, but I’m not certain it will be in the draft. If there is some kind of free agent period prior to the draft because a new labor agreement is in place, then I think Miami free agent Tyler Thigpen is a possibility knowing his history with Chan Gailey in Kansas City.

I believe the Bills would prefer to go with a signal caller with some NFL experience rather than another young player knowing they already have that in Levi Brown.

4 - Chris,

1.   I heard that the Ravens DL Haloti Ngata, who was the guy the Bills should have picked when Levy took Donte Whitner in the 1st round, that he is a free agent this year. Do you think that the Bills could sign him? If so, that and if Buffalo could draft Nick Fairley this year, and with a healthy Lights Out Merriman playing LB, would improve the Bills defense 100%. They would get well in a hurry.
2.  If the Bills cant pick Fairley or Bowers with the 3rd pick in this years draft, what do you think they should do? Draft A J Green? Trade down and try to get extra picks? Or draft the best QB or offensive lineman available?
3.  C J Spiller was a disappointment this year. Both as a runner and as a kick returner. Made too many fair catches. It looks like the Bills made the wrong pick in the 1st round once again. Do you think Spiller could be a wide receiver? He seems to have good hands and speed.

regards
LeeD

CB: Ngata is expected to be given the franchise tag by the Ravens between Feb. 10th and the 24th when it can be used, so he won’t be available, unless the NFLPA’s argument that the tags can’t be used are upheld. Even if they can’t use the tags we’ve heard Buddy Nix say that going after high-priced free agents in not part of their plan to build this team back into a contender.

I’m not anticipating Nick Fairley to be available either. I think he’ll go first or second to Carolina or Denver. If he is there at three I’d take him in a second.

I’m not crazy about Bowers for Buffalo’s defense, but if he and Fairley are both gone, I’d entertain Patrick Peterson as a pick. There’s talk he could be the next Charles Woodson and Woodson went fourth overall. I’d also be inclined to take DL Marcel Dareus there too. There are no offensive linemen worthy of the number three pick and in my opinion I don’t believe there’s a QB worthy either.

As for C.J. I think you’re giving up on him way too early. Take a look at Jamaal Charles’ numbers his first NFL season. They’re very similar to C.J.’s and they have a similar skill set. Charles was second in the league in rushing this season, his third in the NFL. I think in due time Spiller will be the impact player the Bills believe he can be.

5 - Chris,
With the number of guard possibilities that we now have, has there been any thought to trying Andy Levitre at RT. He played some tackle in college.
 
Mark
Ashburn, Va

CB: While I don’t dismiss Andy’s ability to kick out to tackle in a pinch, I believe the Bills feel they have at least a short term solution at right tackle in Erik Pears, who was signed late in the season. Pears is a former two-year starter for the Denver Broncos and showed well in the time he got down the stretch in 2010. In my mind he’s the odds on favorite to start at right tackle in 2011, not only because of his steady play, but because he adds a valuable veteran presence to the line.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Telling mock pick for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2011 – 1:01 pm

In a recently released mock draft by FOXSports.com they have both Auburn’s Nick Fairley and Alabama’s Marcel Dareus on the board for the Bills when they’re on the clock at 3. Guess who they’ve got Buffalo taking?

FOX Sports.com’s Peter Schrager in his mock draft has Buffalo taking DL Marcel Dareus over Nick Fairley with the third overall pick. He has Carolina taking Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers and Denver taking LSU CB Patrick Peterson. Here was his reasoning as to why he think the Bills will take Dareus over Fairley.

Everyone’s talking about Nick Fairley after his dominant BCS Championship Game, but I actually like his in-state rival Dareus for Buffalo a bit more. With him fresh off a dominant Capital One Bowl, I could see Dareus getting the nod here over Fairley and being the man for Buffalo, lining up at defensive end in the 3-4. The Bills were last in the league in rush defense last year. No one’s running over Dareus — a smart and sound selection for the perennial AFC East doormats.

While I would be more than happy to see Dareus in a Bills uniform because I believe he much like Fairley could help Buffalo’s run defense, I think the one thing that Fairley has in his skill set is his pass rush ability. While the run defense is priority number one in terms of what needs fixing, improving the pass rush is a close second. Though Dareus has proven dominant against the run at times in his college career, Fairley is pretty stout as well, and he is superior to Dareus with his pass rush ability.

If Buffalo was in such a fortunate position as to have their choice between these two it would be a win-win situation. I like Dareus a lot, but I like Fairley just a bit more.


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Posted in Inside the Bills