Inside The Bills

Texting in the draft room

Posted by Chris Brown on May 14, 2014 – 11:17 am

With our exclusive access to the Bills draft room on draft weekend we brought you a lot of behind the scenes coverage with our Bills Focus piece on the first two days of the draft for Buffalo as well as our On The Clock – presented by Michelin piece on Whaley’s Decisive Decision Making. There were some other interesting notes about the goings on in the draft room.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, President & CEO Russ Brandon and Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos were all texting a fair amount during the draft. It was most noticeable on day 1 and less so on days 2 and 3. Whaley confirmed for Buffalobills.com that they were staying in touch with other NFL clubs.

“You’re texting because it’s a faster and more efficient way just to make contact with people, especially in the draft room where things can get a little hectic, there might be a phone ringing,” said Whaley. “So it’s just as easy.”

At the start of the draft there was a lot of texting with other teams ahead of them at ninth overall.

“We were making contact with teams ahead of Cleveland just to see what they were thinking,” said Whaley.

Monos, Brandon and Whaley were each assigned different clubs to stay in touch with during round one.

“With that many teams you want to delegate different guys to talk to different teams so you’re not mixing up your information,” Whaley said. “That’s where mistakes can happen.”


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Steelers top teams with most drafted starters

Posted by Chris Brown on May 5, 2014 – 5:21 pm

As we covered in our third installment of ‘On the Clock’ driven by Michelin – ‘Believing in building through the draft’ we outlined how more of the successful NFL teams have draft picks as starters. It’s not an absolute by any means, but clubs with more homegrown talent tend to enjoy more success. Here’s the rankings of teams with the most starters on their roster who were their own draft choices.

The Bills are tied for the fifth-most draft choices that are starters on offense or defense. Here’s the rundown with Pittsburgh on top with 18.

# Starters            Team    
18                           Pittsburgh
17                           Green Bay
17                           Minnesota
16                           New England
15                           Atlanta
15                           Cincinnati
15                           San Francisco
14                           Baltimore
14                           Kansas City
14                           Philadelphia
14                           San Diego
14                           Seattle
14                           St. Louis
13                           Arizona
13                           Buffalo
13                           Dallas
13                           Houston
13                           NY Jets
12                           Cleveland
12                           Tennessee
11                           NY Giants
10                           Carolina
10                           Denver
10                           Detroit
10                           Miami
10                           New Orleans
9                              Chicago
9                              Jacksonville
8                              Indianapolis
8                              Oakland
8                              Tampa Bay
8                              Washington


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Building thru draft different in 80’s

Posted by Chris Brown on May 5, 2014 – 11:00 am

In the 1980’s when there was more time to groom players before plugging them in the starting lineup, building your team through the draft, as we covered in our latest ‘On the Clock’ installment driven by Michelin, mean something different. Free agency only existed in the form of ‘Plan B’ and NFL head coaches didn’t have to treat rookie draft choices with much respect because they were expected to earn their playing time through their play in practice and on special teams, if they even made the roster. Such was the case with the New York Giants when Bill Parcells was the head coach as Bills defensive line coach Pepper Johnson remembers.

Johnson, who was a second-round pick of the Giants in 1986, was joining a veteran team that had lost in the Divisional round of the playoffs the year before to an unstoppable Bears team, which went on win Super Bowl XX.

So even though Johnson was a second-round pick, in the first meeting between the draft choices and Parcells it was evident the Giants head coach didn’t value his rookie all that much.

“When Parcells steps into the room and says, ‘We don’t need any of you.’ That wasn’t an awakening, but I thought it was cold,” Johnson told Buffalobills.com. “I was like, ‘Whoa. I thought why did you pick me if you don’t need me?’ So for him to take that approach really lit a fire under all of us because everybody felt like he was directly talking to them. You weren’t promised anything and you’re definitely not going to be given anything or handed anything. We had to go earn our right to play.”

Johnson after he made the roster was told playing time on defense was anything but assured.

“He said, ‘You’re not scheduled to play on defense, but the more you show me on the show team, the more you show me that you want to play football on special teams, never being late to meetings, the more you will get the opportunity to play.’ And it all held true,” said Johnson. “By the time that the season ended that year and we got to the Super Bowl I played more than the guy who was starting over me. I never started a ball game my rookie year, but I had more snaps than he did including the postseason.”

But Johnson said Parcells maintained that approach even into the late 80’s. It led 1989 fifth-round pick Dave Meggett to take a unique approach to his time with the Giants at training camp.

“Dave Meggett came to camp in a Dodge Gremlin and everything he owned was packed up in that Gremlin and it stayed in there,” said Johnson. “He never really unpacked. He would grab clothes as he needed them. He felt like I’m coming to the Giants and if these guys cut me I don’t want to be trying to find stuff and pack up stuff and go back to South Carolina. I’ll already have everything packed into this car. So we used to tease him, ‘Hey rookie give me a ride!’ But he never could because there was no room for anyone to sit in that car.”

Those days are in stark contrast to today’s draft choices, who are often afforded every opportunity to make the 53-man roster.


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Mum was the word on Kiko

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2014 – 3:23 pm

In our second installment of our ‘On the Clock’ pre-draft series we took an in depth look at how the Bills came to draft a Rookie of the Year in Kiko Alonso last spring. They were sold on him as a player, but they had to know the person too. As high as they were on him they also had to keep their mouths shut when they were on the road in the presence of other NFL scouts.

“He was one of those guys that would come up when you would run into other scouts on the road and they would ask who you have seen and where have you been? How is so and so playing? He was one of those guys I didn’t want to talk about,” said Bills area scout Brad Forsyth. “You didn’t even want to bring his name up because I knew he wasn’t a high radar guy going into the fall.

“You definitely don’t want to alert anybody else to what you’re thinking about him. He’s one of those guys who even though he was at one of the better programs you don’t want to create any more buzz on a guy when you like him as much as we did.”

By keeping quiet on Alonso, who had off the field incidents and a wrist injury, some teams may not have thought quite as much of him as the Bills did last spring.


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How Bills knew Kiko was a football junkie

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2014 – 1:15 pm

In our second installment of our ‘On the Clock’ pre-draft series we took an in depth look at how the Bills came to draft a Rookie of the Year in Kiko Alonso last spring. They were sold on him as a player, but they had to know the person too. Here’s part of how they learned and became convinced Alonso was passionate about football.

Bills area scout Brad Forsyth, who scouted Alonso as one of Buffalo’s western scouts, said there were multiple layers in their scouting of Alonso that depicted Alonso’s love of the sport.

“Talking to him number one and you can just watch him on film and tell. Anytime you put on a film of whatever game you could see it and even when he went out to practice. Sometimes guys can go into a different mode when they’re on the practice field as opposed to the game. Kiko was the same whenever you watched him,” Forsyth said. “He loved to practice, loved to run around and it was full go all the time. The coaches had to hold him back whether it was on the practice field or in the weight room. Sometimes they told him he had to slow down. He’s addicted. As we always say in the scouting business, you’d much rather say ‘Whoa’ than ‘Giddyup’ and he’s a guy you’d have to say, ‘Whoa’ sometimes.”


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What Kiko was doing on draft day

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2014 – 11:09 am

Kiko Alonso has a passion for football, but not for laying around and watching TV. That’s why on draft day 2013 he was going to do anything, but plant himself on the couch and watch the NFL draft.

“I was at home in Los Gatos and I had some buddies over,” Alonso told Buffalobills.com. “We were just kind of hanging out. I knew it was a big day, but I didn’t want to just sit on the couch watching TV. I wanted to relax and hang out with my buddies and play some cards and stuff like that.”

After day one of the draft came and went Alonso did pay a bit more attention with the TV on in the background while he hung out with his friends.

“I honestly didn’t think I would go first round just from what people were telling me, like scouts and stuff,” said Alonso. “But I did figure based on what people were telling me that I would go day two. So I thought I had a good shot to go second round and it was an honor to go that high.

“I just remember I was excited just to get picked. After it sunk in that it was the Bills I was like, ‘Okay Buffalo.’ But I didn’t even know where the hell that was. It was just pure excitement.”

Today on Buffalobills.com we profile the painstaking process Buffalo’s scouting department went through to make Kiko Alonso their draft choice at 46th overall. It’s the second installment in our ‘On the Clock’ series leading up to the 2014 NFL draft.


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How highly Pac-12 thought of Kiko

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2014 – 9:54 am

As we profiled in the second installment of our ‘On the Clock’ pre-draft series – ‘How the Bills came to draft Kiko’ Buffalo’s scouting department in sticking to the process found Kiko Alonso to be the perfect fit for their gaping hole at middle linebacker in the 2013 NFL draft. Scouting Alonso as a player on tape may have been easy, and Buffalo area scouts Brad Forsyth and Matt Hand were pretty certain he’d be a solid NFL player right away. But if they had any doubts they were convinced after hearing coaches from other Pac-12 schools raving about him without even being asked to comment on Alonso.

“When you go to other schools it’s rare that coaches from one school bring up players from another school,” said Hand. “When you’re going through some of the best schools in the Pac-12 and a coach comes up to you and says, ‘That Kiko Alonso is probably the best player in the Pac-12 this year.’ Those are some pretty powerful words when you have a coach at another school saying that.”

It only served to reinforce what Hand and Forsyth thought of Alonso as a player.

 


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‘On the Clock’ series starts Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on March 18, 2014 – 4:00 pm

OT_Infographic

The staff here at Buffalobills.com is very enthused to bring you a new pre-draft series leading up to the 2014 NFL draft called ‘On the Clock’ beginning Wednesday morning. We’ll be covering various football subjects as they pertain to the draft and the impact they might have on the Bills as GM Doug Whaley prepares with his staff for his first NFL draft.

We’ll be examining league-wide trends that affect the Bills and the rest of the NFL with insight from front office decision makers and personnel experts from the front lines and the sidelines. Our first installment is ‘The Rise of the Right Tackle’ which debuts Wednesday. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for other in depth ‘On the Clock’ features soon.


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Report: QB Manziel to enter NFL draft

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2014 – 1:16 pm

It has been widely speculated, but now it’s being reported that Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel will declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.

That according to NFL.com and ESPN, which is reporting that the former Heisman trophy winner has filed the required paperwork to forgo his final two years of college eligibility.

Manziel has been projected to go as high as the top five in the 2014 NFL draft, with some already mocking Manziel to be taken by the Cleveland Browns with the fourth overall pick.


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