Inside The Bills

Watkins tops Kiper’s rookie rankings

Posted by Chris Brown on September 18, 2014 – 3:57 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper watches the rookie players who were drafted and ranks them through the course of their rookie seasons. Perhaps it isn’t a surprise to most, but Sammy Watkins tops his list.

Watkins was ranked first by Kiper with San Diego CB Jason Verrett ranked second and Miami RT Ju’Wuan James ranked third. Here’s what he wrote about Watkins.

1. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo

I didn’t like how much Buffalo gave up for the right to draft Watkins in a draft loaded with WR talent, but it’s not like I was ever down on the player (as you can see). So far Watkins has been really good, leading a surprising, 2-0 Buffalo team in catches (11) and targets (15), and he already has three plays of 20-plus yards. If drafting Watkins was about helping second-year QB EJ Manuel, so far it’s clearly been a smart strategy. If I’m watching one thing, it’s whether Watkins can stay healthy. Hopefully he will.

Fellow Bills rookie Preston Brown was ranked 10th.

10. Preston Brown, OLB, Buffalo

The third-rounder out of Louisville has been called on to play right away in part due to the injury to a preseason ACL injury to Kiko Alonso, and while he’s looked a bit over his head so far, he’s making tackles for a defense that has played well and he’s not coming off the field. He currently leads the Bills with 20 tackles.


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Bills high on LB Brown

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2014 – 11:40 am

He’s starting in place of suspended LB Nigel Bradham this week, but looking beyond the opener the future is bright for rookie third-round pick Preston Brown. Though Buffalo’s personnel department deserves the majority of the credit for targeting Brown in the draft, they didn’t get any argument from head coach Doug Marrone on Brown’s abilities.

That’s because Marrone faced him in college while he was the head coach at Syracuse in the Big East conference. Buffalo’s head coach was impressed with him then and he’s impressed with him now. In fact Marrone believes Brown’s rookie training camp was on par with that of Kiko Alonso’s rookie camp last year.

“When I first watched the film, my impression was this reminds me of how Kiko was last year,” said Marrone. “I know that’s saying a lot, but when Preston first came out on the field, he was doing that—running around, making plays, like Kiko was. That was my first impression.  Having played against them (Louisville) for a couple of years in college, I knew a lot about him. I thought he moved a lot better in person here than I thought he did when I was coaching against him. Those cats (at Louisville) were good on defense now.”

The Cardinals under Charlie Strong in fact were the top ranked defense in the nation one year, with Brown the team’s leading tackler his last two seasons.

“He’s a very good tackler, obviously, he has all those tackles,” said Marrone. “He matched up on some of our better players well in  man to man.  We tried to match up with him and he shut us down.”

Brown will make his first NFL start Sunday.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Brown, Powell vying to be Wk 1 starter at LB

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2014 – 10:10 pm

The Bills know they will be without Nigel Bradham in Week 1 of the regular season at Chicago as he serves a one game league-imposed suspension. Over the past week or so they’ve begun to narrow down who their best option might be to replace him in the lineup. Right now it’s down to two candidates according to head coach Doug Marrone.

“For the first game? Yes. Both [Preston Brown] and Ty [Powell] will play in there,” said Marrone.

Brown got first crack at playing in Bradham’s weak side linebacker position and did it alongside the other starters on defense Saturday night. Powell came in with the reserves and saw reps there as well. The defensive staff is expected to make a final decision in the next week.

“The more things I can do to help the team I’m just trying to do that,” Brown told Buffalobills.com. “Going out as SAM, WILL, mike, whatever it is I’m willing to do it.”


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Bills LBs listed as one of two elite units

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2014 – 11:32 am

We’re a long way from regular season football when Buffalo’s linebacking unit can prove it, but they’re getting an awful lot of pub as one of the top groups in the NFL.

SB Nation in putting together their top linebacking corps in the league list the Bills as one of two “elite” units along with the 49ers. Here’s what was written about Buffalo’s group, which has new faces in Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers and Preston Brown.

Buffalo Bills
MLB/WLB Kiko Alonso, MLB Brandon Spikes, SLB Manny Lawson, WLB/ILB Nigel Bradham, OLB Ty Powell, MLB/OLB Keith Rivers, MLB Preston BrownThe Bills already had a very nice group of linebackers in 2013 featuring Nigel Bradham, Manny Lawson, and highlighted by Kiko Alonso’s Defensive Rookie of the Year performance. Alonso racked up an impressive 159 tackles while adding 11 passes defensed and four picks in his premiere season out of Oregon. Alonso is an instinctive, fast-flowing and aggressive linebacker built in the “new-school” mode which asks for more speed and coverage ability.

Because of this, he will now play on the weakside in base downs his sophomore season with the addition of Brandon Spikes in free agency. Spikes, a fearsome old-school run stopper that has yet to prove he’s a three-down player, will likely rotate a little bit with Bradham and Alonso in nickel or third down looks, as both are strong in pass coverage. Alonso in particular

With the selection of Preston Brown in the Draft, Buffalo’s linebackers group gets another talent infusion, and with Ty Powell and Keith Rivers for depth, I like the group they’ve built there.


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Winning arms Bills picks with mental toughness

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2014 – 9:30 am

This morning on Buffalobills.com we profiled how the Bills personnel department saw added value in drafting prospects who also happened to come from winning programs. Each of Buffalo’s first five draft choices came from winning backgrounds in college. It’s not the end all, be all characteristic, but being used to winning has its advantages.

One byproduct of winning regularly is mental toughness. Teams that win a lot more than they lose aren’t affected by adversity or a sizable deficit in a game.

“It made us really mentally strong just knowing that you can always win the game, and when you’re up you can’t ever let loose because you never know that other team might end up coming back,” Bills third-round pick told Buffalobills.com. “You just have to stay focused.”

And that unwavering belief that comes from winning stretches beyond the playing field and the faith one would have in his teammates. Fourth-round pick Ross Cockrell says the belief stretches to the sidelines as well.

“You have to stick in there and believe in your head coach and the process that he’s setting out for you,” he said. “Back at Duke we did that. We believed and made it happen. I believe in coach Marrone and the staff here that we can get that done.”


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Brown sees himself as every down LB

Posted by Chris Brown on May 10, 2014 – 10:35 am

Bills third-round pick Preston Brown has heard the critics. In fact he heard opinions directly from NFL clubs in interviews at the NFL combine back in February. Some teams don’t believe he’s capable of being a coverage linebacker at the pro level. Brown disagrees.

“You can’t get upset or take it personally,” said Brown of the critics. “They have a right to their own opinion. You’ve just got to go out there and prove to them that you are better than what they think you are. I just want to prove the doubters wrong any way I can.”

Brown, who ran a 4.78 at the combine and also had 23 reps on the bench along with a 33-inch vertical.

The hard hitting linebacker credits tough coaching at Louisville with helping him to improve his all around game.

“Going to Louisville I had five coaches screaming in my ear all day with coach Strong and Bedford so I’m used to it,” he said. “I take it in and really analyze it and try to get better at what they say I need to work on. (Can you cover at the next level?) I consider myself a four-down linebacker. I play special teams. I’ll be out there on third down covering. I feel I can do it all. I’m excited to show that.”


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LB Preston Brown is Bills 3rd rd pick

Posted by Chris Brown on May 9, 2014 – 10:02 pm

The Bills addressed their defense for the first time in round three of the 2014 NFL draft and took Louisville LB Preston Brown. Brown (6’1 1/4″ 251) is a prototype middle linebacker in a 4-3 system.

Brown was yet another pre-draft visitor of the Bills last month. All three of Buffalo’s choices were pre-draft visitors this spring.


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