Less than a month until the draft and we’ve got trade rumors and draft rumors galore floating around out there. I’d say believe about 10 percent of what you read this time of year, especially quotes from team executives. A lot of smoke and mirrors flying around. You can always email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and you can get a running scroll of my blog entries here. Let’s get to your questions.
1 - Hey Chris,
As much as I see the need for help on the O-Line, especially with Butler’s shocking retirement, what if all the top O-Line prospects are gone before the Bills get to pick?
What if players like Derrick Morgan or Rolando McClain are there at pick 9, who do you select?
CB: That’s a great question. I personally believe that this has the potential to happen if the Lions pick an offensive tackle instead of one of the top two DTs in Suh or McCoy. That would start the run on tackles early and with Washington (#4), KC (#5), Seattle (#6) and Oakland (#8) all in need of tackle help Buffalo could be left holding the bag.
If that scenario were to play out I think pass rusher is the way that they’ll go. Now there is some debate as to whether Derrick Morgan is athletic enough (in reverse) to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. Some talent evaluators around the league are of the opinion that he is not good in drop and cover situations, something required of an OLB in a 3-4.
But if anyone knows what Morgan is and is not capable of it’s Chan Gailey and defensive line coach Giff Smith, who recruited Morgan to Georgia Tech and coached him on a daily basis. McClain would not be a bad pick, but with the free agent signing of Andra Davis, inside LB help isn’t as pressing a positional need.
2 - Hey Chris,
Do you think the potential of a 2011 lockout has any affect on how the team pursues this year’s draft? I think it would be a risk to draft a QB this year if indeed there is lockout. I’m not sure what team activities take place in a lockout year, but I have to believe it would affect the development of a young QB having a year off.
CB: I think that’s a valid point, but the bigger issue for all of the teams are contract payouts. Knowing this year is likely the last in which draft picks taken in round one will see mega-fat contracts before they even play a down, NFL clubs could be more willing to part with first-round picks knowing first rounders in all likelihood will be much more affordable come 2011. That could mean more trades.
3 - Chris,
I keep hearing people talk about how Kyle Williams doesn’t really fit into the 3-4 system. I don’t see why he wouldn’t work out as a defensive end. I realize he’s probably a little bulkier and not quite as fast as a prototypical 3-4 DE, but he made a lot of plays this season when the coaches gave him the freedom to try to penetrate the line instead of hold his ground. I think that if we can sign a veteran NT or draft a Dan Williams or Mount Cody and put Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams on the ends, that would be a pretty intimidating front line to run against. And then our pass rush would come from the outside LB’s. Your thoughts are always appreciated.
-Brendan, Las Vegas
CB: Truthfully I don’t think it matters where they put Kyle Williams, he’ll make plays. He’s more athletic than he is given credit for and I think he could handle the five technique position. In all likelihood he’s the nose tackle in obvious passing situations and might see some work at end as well. You don’t take good players off the field. You find a way to make them fit and that’s exactly what defensive coordinator George Edwards intends to do.
4 - Hey Chris,
I was just wondering… with free agency here, what are the chances that Buffalo would trade for Jared Gaither to fill one of the two slots for offensive tackle. Would he be a good fit for the Bills offensive line? Considering the Ravens only tendered him for a 1st round compensation and other high quality stars have been traded for multiple picks of lesser degree, I feel the two sides can come to terms. I say a combination of Buffalo swapping their 2nd round pick this year and a 3rd from next year to bring Gaither to the Bills would allow Buffalo to address other positions of need with their 9th overall pick (Dan Williams, NT; Jimmy Clausen, QB; Bryan Bulaga, RT). Thanks.
-Mike, Los Angeles
CB: If you could find a way to avoid giving up the Bills pick at 9, I’d be listening. Gaither is believed to have Pro Bowl potential and has only scratched the surface of what he can do as a left tackle. But I don’t see Baltimore being willing to negotiate anything less than a one.
5 - Hey Chris,
I see Baltimore was interested in T.O but then I see they traded for Anquan Boldin and I see Derrick Mason is returning. Also in Cinncinati Chad’s lobbying to get T.O didn’t work. Is there any chance that we will re-sign T.O even though I saw that they weren’t gonna re-sign him? Do you think they will have a change of heart? I know T.O will want more money I say pay him! Have you talked to T.O lately, how is his attitude toward the Bills.Thanks.
CB: I do not see the Bills reversing their course on Terrell Owens. They said he will not be extended a contract offer and that’s the end of it. I have not spoken to Owens, but in speaking with people close to him it was never his intention to return to the Bills in 2010 anyway. So I think we can safely say it’s one and done in Buffalo for Owens.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, Derrick Morgan, Fan Friday, George Edwards, Jared Gaither, Kyle Williams, Rolando McClain, Terrell Owens
Posted in Inside the Bills
Alabama ILB prospect Rolando McClain has posted his 40 time at the Alabama pro day.
According to MovetheSticks.com McClain ran a 4.74, which is what scouts and NFL talent evaluators expected. On his second attempt he ran a 4.71.
At 254 pounds his time is in the acceptable range for his position, especially at his size. He’s so instinctive that he often gets to the point or finds the ball just as quickly as a LB of greater speed because his diagnosis skills are so solid. His tape shows he’s a playmaker and in the end that’s all scouts care about.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, Rolando McClain
Posted in Inside the Bills
One of the top inside linebackers in the 2010 draft class has opted not to participate in the combine workout.
Alabama’s Rolando McClain, widely viewed as a mid-first round prospect, only said he did not believe the combine workout to be in his best interests and instead will wait until his pro day to perform a full workout. The Crimson Tide’s pro day is scheduled for March 10th.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, NFL Combine, Rolando McClain
Posted in Inside the Bills
Our combine coverage is less than a week away. Draft process heating up. Your questions at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Here is this week’s edition.
1 - Chris,
Reports are the Bills are in the market for a new franchise quarterback. I was curious if the management would look into a QB like Tony Pike out of Cincinnati. I seen a majority of the games he played in this year. Under Brian Kelly and New UB Coach Jeff Quinn, Pike managed many types of offense. Not just the spread offense. I am just curious where he would rank in a draft board.
CB: You’re right he has played in more than the spread, though it has mostly been spread for him. The concerns with Pike are durability and his competitive nature. He’s rail thin at 6’6” and 210 pounds so he’ll have to add some bulk, but I think he throws a nice ball.
There are some that think Pike is too laid back, but others maintain that he’s just a cool-headed signal caller. I suppose everyone has their own interpretation.
He has had some injury issues, but returned pretty quickly from a broken non-throwing arm in his final collegiate season. The so called experts have him no higher than the 3rd round.
2 - When it comes to the QB position I think Clausen is the only QB in the draft who might make it in the NFL, seriously. Bradford looks way too vulnerable to injury, Tebow has bad mechanics, no pro offense experience, and questionable vision, Pike – no body, mediocre arm, Hiller? Lefevour? McCoy – no arm strength, very spread offense oriented, or Snead coming off a pretty mediocre year, lots of interceptions, etc.?. A trade? For whom: Vick? Chris Redman? Russell? Thigpen? Rosenfels? Who’s out there who’d be worth a trade? It looks pretty bleak from here, thoughts?
CB: I do agree that filling the quarterback position won’t be easy, especially with what I believe is a far more restrictive free agent process. That’s why I think there’s a halfway decent chance Gailey has Trent Edwards as part of the competition at quarterback for 2010. I do believe in some way, shape or form they will add another QB to the mix on this roster to also compete for the starting job.
3 - Hello Chris,
Several draft sites have this pick as conditional.
The rumor when the trade was made was that it was a 6th rnd choice.
However, can you determine in view of Peters making the pro Bowl whether that pick could, as conditional, be higher than the 6th rnd?
CB: From what I have been told it’s a straight 6th, no conditions. So all together the Bills have nine picks this year, with that extra 6th and an extra 7th from the Ko Simpson trade.
4 - With the defensive scheme still up in the air, can you imagine a draft scenario in which the Bills take Rolando McClain with their pick?
CB: I don’t see them taking McClain unless there’s a run on OTs and one of their considerations is not there at 9 and both of the top QBs are also off the board. I like McClain, but you can argue that the Bills already have 2 starting ILBs in Mitchell and Poz.
5 – Hi Chris, Now that Brad Butler is retiring, do you see the Bills having a heavy draft emphasis on the offensive line? Also, with Julius Peppers probably leaving the Panthers, do you see the Bills making an effort to sign him? With the switch to the 3-4, having a marquee player of Peppers level would have a major impact. Your thoughts.
Tony, Daytona Beach
CB: I don’t think they have any choice. The only tackles on the roster under contract with playing experience are Demetrius Bell, Jamon Meredith and Kirk Chambers. They absolutely need to re-fortify the position with top flight talent. If they can’t find any in free agency, you can make the argument that they need to draft two offensive tackles, with one ready to start right away and that likely means with your first pick.
As for Peppers I think he’s a pipe dream. Yes, he wants to play in a 3-4, but he’s also going to be looking for upwards of $12-15M per season on a long term deal after playing last season at $16M and change.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, Brad Butler, Chan Gailey, Dan LeFevour, Fan Friday, Jason Peters, Jimmy Clausen, Julius Peppers, Michael Vick, Rolando McClain, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, Trent Edwards, Tyler Thigpen
Posted in Inside the Bills
Plenty of speculation out there about how the roster will be re-shaped this offseason at some key positions like QB and OT. Remember you can email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to this week’s edition.
1. Hey Chris,
Who are some players you think the bills should look at in free agency and the draft that you yourself are pretty high on? Also are there any trade possibilites you can think of ? And any chance some of the current bills players under contract get traded this offseason? I think we need more picks in the draft do you?
CB: First, I don’t think the Bills are hurting for draft picks. They have nine total with an extra six and seven. I would not be surprised however, if they trade out of the ninth pick to move down in round one and scoop up an extra three.
I do think free agency in this uncapped year is going to restrict player movement to a certain degree, but there are still some big names out there like Karlos Dansby, Julius Peppers and Vince Wilfork, though I do see Wilfork getting franchised. Players I wouldn’t mind the Bills targeting would be New England DE Jarvis Green, San Fran NT Aubrayo Franklin or Baltimore DE Dwan Edwards.
Signing restricted free agents away from other teams will prove difficult. Poison pill offer sheets really won’t exist anymore for restricted free agents because there’s no cap.
I think trading for a QB might prove to be the best means of getting someone in here to either take hold of the starting job or compete for it. It’s going to depend a lot on who is made available by what teams and what they’re looking for in return.
As for players on this roster that could be traded, I believe with a new defensive system and a new coaching staff that almost any player is fair game.
2. Hi Chris,
Can you please give us an update on Keith Ellison’s recovery? Do you think he will be back with the team next year? Even with missing 1/2 the season he is 8th in tackles on the team?
CB: To my knowledge Keith’s injury wasn’t one that was going to require a major offseason of rehabilitation. As to whether he’ll be back with the team next season, I believe it’s more in doubt now with the 3-4 defensive scheme being implemented by defensive coordinator George Edwards. I don’t see him as a fit in that scheme.
3. Hey Chris,
Do you actually think that the Bills will take McClain at 9? I think it would be the best option for them, but as of right now they are projected to be taking a tackle in that spot.
I know we are in desperate need of a tackle, but is it worth taking the 4th best tackle at 9, when you can get the top LB, or one of them at that spot to help improve our run defense.
CB: I think a lot of fans believe it makes more sense now that the Bills are moving to a 3-4 defensive scheme. There’s no question that certain positions like RB or LB are spots where talented college prospects can make an instant impact for an NFL team as a rookie.
But I still stick to the philosophy of getting your big people early in the draft. The left tackle spot needs to be addressed with a player that is NFL ready. The players at the top of the draft have the best skill set and in many cases the greatest chance to succeed sooner rather than later (see: Michael Oher).
With the 3-4 being implemented NT is a bigger need now as well. I do like McClain, but I’m having a hard time overlooking the OT need of the Bills after last season’s struggles up front for Buffalo’s offense.
4. Hey Chris
Who do you think the bills would draft if they moved up 1 or 2 or more picks in the draft? Also do you think that they could trade aaron schobel to another team for maybe another draft pick and have two 1st round picks or two 2nd round picks?
CB: I don’t see the Bills moving up in round one. If anything I see them moving back a bit into the mid-teens. If they could find a willing trade partner close to Schobel’s Texas home like New Orleans or Houston I don’t see a 32-year old defensive end fetching a 1st or 2nd round pick. Believe a 3rd is more like it.
5. Hi Chris,
George Edwards seems like a good hire, but I’m curious about the 3-4 scheme. By my count, we don’t have a true nose tackle for a 3-4 defence and we’re already short on linebackers before adding another to the field.
Moving Maybin to LB means we have to get two new DEs to replace Schobel and Kelsay in a year or two, plus a true nose tackle, plus we still need another linebacker like we would have in a 4-3 — meanwhile it turns Stroud and Williams from playmakers into role players since neither of them really fits the nose tackle position.
That means instead of needing one DE and one LB to shore up the front seven in a 4-3 scheme, now we need two DEs, a NT and a LB for a 3-4 scheme.
Seems like we’re making life tough on ourselves from a personnel standpoint in the rebuilding process (I’m scared to think how we can rebuild the offence with all this to focus on already). Am I off base?
Thanks a lot,
CB: I’d agree that there will be more of a personnel focus on defense now with the new 3-4 alignment as I had suspected. I agree that Stroud is not a true nose, but could play it in a pinch. He’s better suited as a five-technique DE like a Richard Seymour.
I believe Chris Kelsay could bulk up to play end and I think Spencer Johnson is a perfect end in a 3-4 as well. Kyle Williams is athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 and on passing downs he can kick inside to the nose.
At LB I’d see Mitchell going inside alongside Poz, with Maybin at one OLB and depending on what they think of Nic Harris, maybe draft a 3-4 LB.
The biggest need though as you point out is a true NT, and they’re not easy to find. Fortunately it is a deep class of DTs this year. How many are capable of playing two gap in the NFL remains to be seen. OT and NT are the two biggest positional needs right now. Without an elite QB prospect I think OT and NT must be addressed early in the draft.
Tags: Aaron Schobel, Fan Friday, George Edwards, Keith Ellison, Marcus Stroud, Rolando McClain
Posted in Inside the Bills
Alabama junior LB Rolando McClain has declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
A Butkus award winner that has been calling the defensive signals for the Crimson Tide since he was a freshman is forgoing his senior season after winning a national title under Nick Saban. Saban called McClain one of the smartest players he’s ever coached.
Forecast as a top half of the first round prospect, the Bills should have a shot at him with the ninth overall pick. At 252 pounds, McClain has the size to be an instant impact performer after having great success in college’s most talent-rich conference.
Much like running backs on the offensive side of the ball, linebackers can have similar instant impact at the NFL level. McClain can have Cushing-like impact in 2010 in my opinion and would be worthy of the 9th overall selection. In my eyes he’s that good.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, Rolando McClain
Posted in Inside the Bills