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Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 4-4

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:24 pm

The 2014 draft is just over a month away and the pro days are winding down. Among the big ones left are Penn State (April 8), LSU (April 9) and Georgia (April 16).

For now here are some of your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,

If a scenario happens where say the big 3, Clowney, Mack and Watkins were gone and either/or Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel fell to the Bills at #9. Do you see any chance the Bills would have interest? I’m of the mind that we need to give EJ Manuel a healthy and fully educated season to see if he’s the man. That being said if a team sees a potential franchise QB drop into their lap I guess you do have to consider it.

Enjoy your work Chris,
Thanks Wally James
Fredericksburg ,VA

CB: That’s an interesting scenario you’ve painted. I think the Bills have been clear that they are all in on EJ Manuel as their franchise quarterback. As tempting as it may be to draft Johnny Manziel if he is there at nine, you have to look at this the way the Bills or any other NFL franchise would.

They invested more than a year of research, scouting, testing and projecting to make their determination that EJ Manuel is fully capable of being their franchise quarterback and excelling for them on the field. That kind of commitment mandates that you do everything you can as an organization to help him succeed. Drafting a quarterback ninth overall this year, no matter who it is, does not achieve that mandate.

If the value at nine is right for a player who can more effectively help EJ Manuel on the field this year on offense then another player will be the pick. Not Johnny Manziel. If the value is not right then I see the Bills moving back to allow another club to trade in to take Johnny Manziel and gain valuable picks in the process, not unlike they did last year (See: Kiko Alonso).

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all you do. With all of the cuts of high priced veterans (Revis, Peppers, etc) do you anticipate Mario Williams to survive the length of his contract in Buffalo?   Or do you anticipate the Bills parting ways to free up $16+ million in cap space.

-Jim

CB: High-priced players sometimes do not see the end of lucrative contracts, and you’ve provided more than one example above. When contracts aren’t guaranteed, as is the case in the NFL, there are no guarantees a player will see the end of it with the club that signed him.

That being said the Bills are among the most fiscally responsible teams in the league and rarely put themselves in a position of having to fire sale the roster. The last time it happened was in 2000 when late GM John Butler, being so tied to Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed compromised the team’s salary cap health until he unfortunately had to cut all three on the same day.

It served as a lesson to this organization to not fall into such a situation again.

So while I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a day coming when the Bills do decide to part ways with Mario Williams prematurely, I think they also try to maintain a measure of responsible spending to allow for a couple of lavish contracts on the roster.

 

3 – Chris,
As always thank you and everyone who help to inform Bills nation. My question is on the defensive side,  now that Byrd is gone for sure who do you see stepping up next to Williams? I know Searcy saw a good deal of time last season in spot duty for Byrd early on(along with Leonhard), but do you see him as a full time starter? I really like him as a third safety you can put in the box and play on special teams personally.

Do you think Duke Williams could be the next guy or Meeks maybe? Or maybe a replacement could be found in the draft. Also what do you make of the defensive end position as a sleeper positional need? Do you see any of the “tweeners” (Hughes or Lawson among others) possible switching to or back to the d-end position? Or do they stay at linebacker? Look forward to hearing what you think thanks again!
Will

CB: Doug Marrone has given indication that Corey Graham will be given an opportunity to play safety alongside Aaron Williams, so he’ll be part of the competition and I like the open-minded thinking there. He’ll be in direct competition with Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. I really liked what I saw from Williams in both the practice setting and the preseason last year. I think his athleticism caters well to the versatility you need nowadays at the safety position. He played corner at Nevada so coverage assignments down on the line aren’t an issue for him.

We just didn’t see enough of Meeks last year with the injury to know what he can offer. Searcy while capable of playing safety really carved out a niche for himself as a nickel LB. He had a very productive season there so I’m not sure the coaches will want to mess with that.

As for defensive end, I think the priority is getting Jerry Hughes signed to a long term deal as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Provided they can get a deal done they should be okay there.

With coach Marrone saying at the league meetings last week that they’ll primarily be a 4-3 front defensively I do see Hughes and Lawson joining Mario Williams as the primary defensive ends in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Whether they decide to add through the draft remains to be seen, but that’s a pretty darn good trio.

 

4 – HI CHRIS,
I am absolutely delighted that the Bills have re-signed K Dan Carpenter,but I am perplexed as to why the Dolphins released him. Was he a problem in Miami or was it a money situation??
Regards from
Richard
Los Angeles

CB:
The Dolphins found him expendable because they drafted a kicker in the middle of the fifth round last year in Caleb Sturgis. Miami was apparently disappointed in Carpenter, who had struggled a bit early in the 2012 season and was hurt for the last two games that year. The investment in Sturgis practically predetermined how the “competition” was going to turn out in Miami last summer.

What I enjoyed was watching Carpenter succeed on almost 92 percent of his attempts, almost half of which came from 40-yards plus. He finished tied for 10th in the NFL in field goal accuracy and only two kickers ahead of him (Gostkowski, Tucker) had more attempts from 40-yard plus than him.

Meanwhile Sturgis finished 29th in field goal accuracy at 74.6%.

From 40-yards plus last season Carpenter was an impressive 14-for-17 (82.3%) including 4-for-6 from 50-yards plus. Sturgis was 11-for-17 (64.7%) and he played half his games in Miami. Carpenter had seven games in Buffalo.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

I have a hypothetical question for you. If Sammy Watkins was still available when the Bills are picking do you think they may pass on him because he is reportedly to be represented by Eugene Parker? I think it would be a fair observation to say that Eugene Parker is developing a reputation for causing the Bills front office grief when it comes to contract negotiations with Jairus Byrd and Jason Peters being prime examples.

From an outsiders prospective if the Bills were to select Watkins and he performs as expected, then we would only have him for the length of his rookie contract before he ventures off to “greener pastures”. Do you think teams are impacted by who the players selects as their agent when deciding who to draft particularly in the first round?

Regards
Matt
CB: I don’t believe that NFL clubs factor in the agent for the player when assessing their grade for the player on their draft board. Knowing that I tend to believe the Bills and every other NFL team chooses a player based on his ability on the field, potential, character makeup, passion for the game and fit for their team. So if Sammy Watkins is on the board at nine, which I don’t think will happen, then I see the Bills running the card up to the podium with his name on it.

Your point is a valid one, but the opportunity to get one of the best prospects in the entire class at a position of need trumps any concern you might have about him staying with the team for his second contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-14

Posted by Chris Brown on March 14, 2014 – 3:54 pm

Free agency is in full swing with the Bills nailing down three new players in the early going. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for updates throughout free agency. For now let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Hi Chris,

Jim Schwartz is obviously a good good coach and the Bills Defense did some really good things last year under Mike Pettine. My question is how likely will Coach Schwartz try to “not fix what ain’t broke” and keep some/most of the good stuff from last year (even though they may not be his concepts) while adding his own flavor to improve thing that do need to be improved, like run defense for example?

Thanks in advance.
Grant Folkard

CB: In talking with coach Marrone about this during the offseason the way he’s explained it is Coach Schwartz is going to keep most of the terminology the same. The reason this isn’t a big burden for him is because he spent a couple of seasons as a defensive assistant under then Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. Mike Pettine also coached in Baltimore where the defensive system and terminology remained the same even after Marvin Lewis left to coach in Cincinnati. So a lot of the calls and checks will not only be the same, but sound the same.

As for the run defense Marrone is wholly confident that Schwartz, whose defenses have enjoyed tremendous success against the run, will dramatically improve the unit’s performance in this area as well as third down defense.

 

2 - Hey Chris, long time Bills fan.
Wondering if you could shed some light on a few things.

First with hiring a former head coach for D coordinator, what are the chances he stays longer than one season? Do you think this was something that was discussed in private between coach Marrone and Jim Schwartz? And if not how big of a problem would this be for Dough Marrone heading into his 3rd season.

Also with Todd Downing being a QBs coach, with out ever playing the position. Is this fair with all the pressure being put on EJ? I read that EJ really likes him but don’t we need experience there? Playing? To mentor EJ and the struggles that come along with being a QB..

Thanks Jacob

CB: I don’t know that anyone can predict how long a coordinator is going to remain in his current post in the NFL. There are too many variables at work like the number of head coaching vacancies at the end of the year, how effective Schwartz is in his first year here, how successful the team is and coach Schwartz’s own personal aspirations.

Coach Marrone can’t have that kind of talk with Schwartz because no coach in the NFL is going to hold an assistant back from an opportunity at a head coaching job. That’s just not the way it works.

When you hire quality people that’s the risk you run, but I’d rather have the quality coach that’s in demand.

As for Todd Downing he has played the quarterback position. I cannot find his college background, but he did play semi-pro ball in the Mid-America League for the Minnesota Maulers and won a league title there in 2002 as their quarterback. So the position is not foreign to him at all.

I’d like to think coach Marrone’s track record of hiring assistants in the short time he’s been the Bills head coach should tell you he’s not going to hire someone who is not qualified to help the player at the most important position on the field.

 

3 - Chris,

I’ve seen several posts in which you referenced the “12th Man”.  Does the team officially call its fans the 12th Man or is that just a personal reference?  I’m having a huge argument with some Seahawk fan coworkers about whether anyone besides the Seahawks is officially allowed to use that term.

Thanks.
Cliff Hogg

CB: The 12th Man was adopted by Bills fans long before the Seattle fans started using it. The first football outfit to coin the phrase however, was Texas A&M University. They’re credited with the first recorded use of the term in 1922 when coach Dana Bible was running out of players in the Dixie Classic against defending national champion Centre College. In the stands he noticed a student who tried out for the team, but did not make the varsity squad and promptly told him to suit up and be ready in case he was needed. The volunteer player, E. King Gill, ran to the locker room and suited up and got back out to the field. He never entered the game, but became known as the 12th man.

So the Aggies have got dibs on everybody, but concerning your argument the 12th Man was popularized in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In 1988 Bills fans set an all-time single-season NFL attendance record of 622,793. Fans were then honored as the ‘12th Man’ and inducted onto the Bills Wall of Fame in 1992.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

I ask you if Sammy Watkins, Jake Matthews, or Eric Ebron are there at nine which one helps EJ in his evolution more? Or do we go as we have in the past & pick up a O linemen later such as Z. Martin & go with a player like Mack if he is there seeing as the defense thing lingers.

Thanks !!
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I think going by the best on the board approach that the Bills usually take it would be hard for me to think that Ebron or Matthews will be rated higher than Watkins. Most experts see him as a top five talent and I have not heard the same consensus for Matthews and certainly not for Ebron, though he is a special talent.

I think any one of those three would be of great help to Manuel in different ways, but GM Doug Whaley will take the player that helps the team the most. And that likely involves Manuel to some degree, but that’s the all-encompassing view a general manager has to take.

 

5 - Morning Chris, Happy Friday!

I was wondering how the Bills go about setting up their needs in free agency and the draft.  I was wondering how much emphasis they put into the upcoming 2014 schedule? For instance, we will have to face guys like Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, receiving corps from Green Bay and Denver.  Do they look at the defensive fronts, the AFC East is getting better defensively, not to mention teams like Houston and Detroit.  So basically how much does that affect their decision making when it comes to the importance of positions that are needed for the team?  Thanks for your hard work, and I hope you enjoyed Indy at the combine!

Go Bills! Jillian

CB: We did enjoy Indy very much. Glad you watched our coverage of the NFL combine. Your question is a good one. Typically opponents in a given year do not impact their decision making all that much in free agency and the draft. Teams like Chicago and Green Bay, which the Bills see only once every four years is not what you usually base your personnel decisions on.

That being said I do know that some moves are made with a team’s division opponents in mind. You’re facing those teams every season, twice a season and you have to beat them to win your division and get to the postseason. So the personnel make-up and strengths of teams like New England, the Jets and Miami could play a role in some decision making.

Again it’s not an overwhelming factor, but those teams are taken into consideration knowing they stand in the way of a playoff berth.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Thurs. pro days of note

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2014 – 4:43 pm

Here’s a rundown of the college pro days of note for Thursday March 6th.

Clemson and Missouri are the big draws Thursday as Tahj Boyd has been trying to improve his throwing motion with the help from QB passing trainer Ken Mastrole, who tutored EJ Manuel last year at this time. In fact Manuel recommended Mastrole to Boyd. Boyd is going to have Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant to throw at Clemson Thursday according to reports.

Arizona
RB Ka’Deem Carey – 5’9 1/2″ 207
CB Shaquille Richardson – 6’0″ 194
OLB Marquis Flowers – 6’3″ 235

Clemson
WR Sammy Watkins – 6’1″ 211
CB Bashaud Breeland – 5’11 1/2″ 197
OT Brandon Thomas – 6’3″ 317
QB Tahj Boyd – 6’0 1/2″ 222
WR Martavis Bryant – 6’3 3/4″ 211
K Chandler Catanzaro – 6’0″ 194

Missouri
DE Kony Ealy – 6’4″ 273
CB E.J. Gaines – 5’9 1/2″ 190
WR L’Damian Washington – 6’4″ 195
DE Michael Sam – 6’2″ 261
OT Justin Britt – 6’6″ 325
RB Henry Josey – 5’8″ 194
QB James Franklin – 6’1 1/2″ 228
OLB Andrew Wilson – 6’2″ 241

Nebraska
CB Stan Jean-Baptiste – 6’2 1/2″ 218
G Spencer Long – 6’4 1/2″ 320
WR Quincy Enunwa – 6’2″ 225

TCU
CB Jason Verrett – 5′ 9 1/2″ 189
QB Casey Pachall – 6’3 1/2″ 225


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-28

Posted by Chris Brown on February 28, 2014 – 11:56 am

Franchise tags and free agency is up next this offseason, but let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris,
Love all the great work you do in keeping those of us who root for the Bills but no longer live in WNY up to date on the pulse of the organization.  I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bills Backers here in Portland OR.

My question is what do you think the chances are of the Bills making a real push to go after Jimmy Graham in FA? The talk is that the coaching staff wants to add a big target and a pass catching TE for EJ.  With Graham you get both (and maybe the best receiver in the NFL outside of Megatron).

I know he won’t come cheap and they have many TE on the roster but wouldn’t adding him be a major coup for the offense just like Mario was for the defense?  It sure looks like the new regime in buffalo is trying to change the culture and this move would be another big step in that direction. He won’t be cheap and we would have to overpay (see Mario again) to get him but WOW.  Do the Bills have the cap space and upcoming FA room to swing such a deal?

Norm

CB: I don’t anticipate Graham being available on the open market. The Saints know their offense takes a crippling hit without him and will do whatever they have to in order to keep him in the fold.
2 – Chris,

Obviously there is not a Bills fan out there that can thank you enough for all the hard work you do. It shows you love what you do.
Question: I am hearing a lot of talk about drafting a WR come May. I am on board with this pick. With Bills brass bringing in tall WR’s this offseason, I can assume they might want to address this in the draft as well. What I do not get is all the talk about S. Watkins. He is a true top WR, but I already see the same skill set he has in Goodwin, Woods, and Graham. What would be the benefit of adding another receiver of his capability when we the Bills need a tall jump ball receiver?

Dan
Cottonwood, AZ

CB: As outlined by Bills GM Doug Whaley their definition of a big receiver is not based solely on height. We covered this in our NFL combine feature story on Sammy Watkins, who is an example of a big receiver, even though he stands just 6’1”. Here was Whaley’s exact quote in explaining a phrase he likes to use, ‘big wins.’

“At the wide receiver position ‘big wins’ means a guy that plays big,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he’ll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that’s 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn’t play big. So it’s not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.”
3 – Hey Chris ,

Here’s a quick one for you . Seeing as most all of the experts last year saw the QB class as not very good & the pick of EJ as a reach for the Bills (all but Marrone, Nix, Whaley, & Brandon) do you see us taking a QB if a good one falls in our lap in the later rounds ? Especially seeing as the supposed experts see this years QB class as being a very good one filled with candidates !

Thanks again for your time

Mr T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I don’t think you can rule that out as a possibility knowing the Bills subscribe to the best player on the board philosophy. Of course we’ll have to see what Buffalo does in free agency beforehand.

I’ll also say we need to be mindful of the fact that three of the four quarterbacks on the roster are all young and inexperienced. I’m not sure adding another, unless he’s one of extraordinary value, is of interest to the Bills.

 

4 – Hi Chris, thank you for all the coverage you provide for the Buffalo Bills fans all across the country.

I have two questions for you:

As per the last question I sent you regarding Eric Decker going to the Bills, you said that he would not be a good fit. Ok, I buy that, but how about Kenny Britt or Darius Heyward-Bey? The Bills do need size at the receiving position, and either of these two would provide that.

Also, It has been publicized that the Buffalo Bills will need a veteran backup quarterback to back up E. J. Manuel, in case of another injury. particularly one that can win football games. Two names that come to mind are Chad Henne and Kellen Clemens.

What are your thoughts? As always, I am looking forward to reading your response.

Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: Kenny Britt is a talent no question and has size, but his injury history is undoubtedly a concern. The Bills and other NFL clubs will investigate that thoroughly. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a tall and fast receiver, but I’m not sure he’s the bona fide answer the Bills are looking for at the position. We’ll see.

As for the QB free agent market I wouldn’t mind Chad Henne as a backup option. Kellen Clemens is another story. Matt Cassel wouldn’t be a bad option either.

 

5 –  Hi Chris,

Thanks for the coverage.
Q- After watching the Super Bowl seeing Kam Chancellor blow up Denver’s big wideouts and thinking that we might lose Byrd. Do you think if a big receiver is taken in the draft what would it take to get Marcus Easley a look at safety. He was great on special teams and if he’s not being used at receiver why not?
Thanks, Andy (Rochester)

CB: I really doubt that would ever be an option mainly because Buffalo has some young safeties on the depth chart already. I think Duke Williams is a very talented and underrated prospect and will be a good player in this league. I think Jonathan Meeks also has a lot of potential, so there really isn’t a need to move Easley to the other side of the ball.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Latest mock goes WR for Bills

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

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

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

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


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins adversary Hampton now a friend

Posted by Chris Brown on February 23, 2014 – 12:33 pm

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com today, Clemson WR Sammy Watkins plays big and plays physical and is considered the top receiver talent in the draft. Every year he squared off against a pretty physical and talented cornerback in South Carolina’s Victor Hampton. The two were adversaries, but the pre-draft preparation process has forged a bond between them.

Watkins’ best performance against South Carolina came this past season when he had seven catches for 93 yards in a 31-17 loss.

“He got me on a post route,” said Hampton. “That was his one good catch on me this year.”

When asked how physical Watkins is as a receiver Hampton said the Clemson wideout is capable of doing so when necessary.

“He’s a guy where you have to be physical with him because he’s so fast that he’s not worried about really trying to get into you,” said Hampton. “He’s trying to get by you. But if he catches it he’ll give you a stiff arm or run through you as I’m sure you’ve all seen.”

Watkins has been described as a receiver that plays angry and will try to intimidate cornerbacks. Hampton never saw that personally.

“Yeah with me I think he respected me a little bit more,” Hampton said. “He knew I wasn’t going to back down. So he never really came at me in that type of way or try to bully me. Nobody is just going to bully me out there.”

Proof of that came in the other two matchups with Watkins as Hampton helped hold him to four catches for 37 yards in 2012 and four catches for 39 yards in 2011 as South Carolina has now beaten Clemson each of the past three years.

The former adversaries are now good friends as they wound up preparing for the draft and the Combine at the same athletic facility in Tampa, Florida.

“We had a great respect for each other on the field and we actually went to the same training facility and worked out together and became best friends and it’s been a great experience,” said Hampton.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Watkins top 5 receiving performances

Posted by Chris Brown on February 23, 2014 – 8:27 am

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com today (Sunday) Clemson WR Sammy Watkins is forecast as a top 10 pick due to his ability to play big even though he’s just 6’1″. Here now is a list of Watkins top five receiving performances in college to show just how big a receiver he was for the Tigers.

Watkins top 5
5 –  Sept. 17th, 2011 – Auburn – 10 receptions, 155 yards, 2 TDs (Win)
4 – Oct. 26th, 2013 – at Maryland – 8 receptions, 163 yards – (Win)
3- Nov. 2nd, 2013 – at Virginia – 8 receptions, 169 yards, 2 TDs – (Win)
2 – Oct. 25th, 2012 – at Wake Forest – 8 receptions, 202 yards, 1 TD – (Win)
1 – Jan. 3rd, 2014 – vs. Ohio State – 16 receptions, 227 yards, 2 TDs – (Win)

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Latest mock goes WR for Bills at 9

Posted by Chris Brown on February 12, 2014 – 1:35 pm

A good number of mock drafts of late have Buffalo getting the best receiver on the board. Most NFL personnel executives don’t see Sammy Watkins lasting beyond the top five selections, but this prognosticator sees the dynamic Clemson receiver sliding.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Watkins sliding all the way to Buffalo with the ninth overall pick. Here’s his brief breakdown on the pick.

PICK NO. 9
SAMMY WATKINS WR - CLEMSON
In this scenario, the Bills couldn’t pass up the most dynamic offensive player in the draft.

I’m still not so sure Watkins stays on the board this long. If he slips past the fifth spot I could foresee another team trading into the top 10 to land the Clemson wideout. If he does somehow fall into Buffalo’s lap at nine however, I think the Bills would be hard pressed to pass on him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kiper on depth at WR in 2014 draft

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2014 – 4:26 pm

Certainly a bounty of underclassmen has helped to improve the depth in this year’s draft class at a bunch of positions, but none more so than wide receiver.

There are 20 extra receivers in the draft pool who are underclassmen led by Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, who is expected to be the first wideout off the board, most likely in the top five picks. But ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks if a team has a couple of pressing positional needs, they might be able to wait on receiver.

“I think if you look at the wide receiver position because of the tremendous depth in that first round, you could see six to nine wide receivers go in the first round,” Kiper said. “A lot of them are underclassmen so you have to be conservative because they need to test well to be a legitimate first round pick.”

Testing will obviously come in a couple of weeks at the NFL Combine, but Kiper thinks some teams will address other positional needs first if they are not as deep as receiver, provided the value is right when they’re on the clock.

“There’s going to be an opportunity at wide receiver with guys in the third, fourth and fifth round who could get it done,” he said. “Wide receiver is a position you can maybe wait on.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

McShay has top WR going to Bills at 9

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2014 – 12:36 pm

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay has the Bills taking the top wide receiver on the board at ninth overall in his latest 2014 NFL draft.

McShay has Clemson WR Sammy Watkins slipping all the way to nine where he has the Bills taking him. Here are his thoughts on the pick.

No. 9 – Buffalo Bills – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Analysis: The Bills have more pressing needs than wide receiver, including offensive line (specifically guard and right tackle), tight end (if Scott Chandler is not re-signed) and safety (if Jairus Byrd is not re-signed), but pairing young and developing QB EJ Manuel with the top receiver in this year’s class might be too tempting to pass up. Watkins is a physical receiver with a big-time second gear who is very competitive when the ball is in the air. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans would also make a lot of sense, as his size would provide a good complement to the smaller, faster receivers on Buffalo’s roster.

Personally, I’d be stunned if Watkins is on the board after the first five picks. If he is on the board I don’t think the Bills could afford to pass him up. He is a dynamic game breaking talent, which is why I don’t anticipate him being on the board by pick six.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-24

Posted by Chris Brown on January 24, 2014 – 12:48 pm

Well the Bills have begun their search to find the best successor to Mike Pettine now that he’ll be running the Browns. Here’s the latest edition of your questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – With Mike Pettine going to the Browns do you think the next coordinator Buffalo hires will employ the same scheme and same terminology as Pettine, or will it be totally different, or will it be a similar scheme with different terminology and maybe some different details. It’s a shame that we’re losing Pettine. I was looking forward to having the same d-coordinator and scheme going into the next season; that hasn’t happened in a long time. It would be nice to be able to get deeper into the current scheme in the off season rather than starting from scratch like we’re usually doing.  I think this is a big step back for the defense, you can’t build a consistently dominate defense if you’re constantly changing schemes and coaches.  The good teams in this league seem to have consistency.

CB: I think the future of the defensive scheme will depend largely on whether the replacement at defensive coordinator comes from outside the organization or is an internal hire. If it’s an internal hire then the chances are far greater that the scheme remains the same. If it’s a hire outside the organization there’s a chance that the scheme changes, which we all know will lead to a new learning curve. It’s my understanding that coach Marrone will not limit himself to promoting only from within.

I think hiring an open-minded defensive coordinator is the best way to go, one who isn’t married to a specific system. One who, much like Pettine, fits the scheme to the players, not the players to the scheme.

Continuity is a factor granted, but Marrone knows he has to get the best defensive play caller to help maintain the level of productivity and play on that side of the ball. Restricting his search to only the men already on his staff would be just that, restrictive.

 

2 – Hello Chris,

Goodbye Stevie Johnson and hello Sammy Watkins.  We need a real game breaker now!!!  After watching everyone pick Geno Smith #1 last year (lol), it won’t be Bridgewater either.  Any team in their right mind is going for Clowney.  QB is too risky at #1.  What are your early thoughts on the Bills pick?

Jim (Skaneateles)


CB:
First, I don’t get the sense that Stevie Johnson is going anywhere. I admit things appeared sketchy for his future here at the end of the season. Even I was wondering what the future might hold. But I think we need to remember that to help EJ Manuel progress you need to surround him with as much talent as possible. Johnson is the most accomplished receiver on the roster.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think the Bills need to make an addition to the team at receiver. I think they need to add a size wideout. In the words of Doug Whaley, “Big wins.” But I expect the Bills to at least explore veteran options in free agency because there already is so much youth in the receivers room.

Second, I don’t expect Sammy Watkins to be on the board at nine. He’ll be gone in the first three to five picks. If he slips I’ll be stunned.

I think at nine, and Bills fans might not like me for this, but based on the talent that should be there an offensive tackle would make a lot of sense. There’s a long time between now and the draft, which is in May this year, but I think knowing how QB needy some of the teams ahead of Buffalo are I believe that some of the top O-line talent could be sitting there for the Bills. We can’t forget that the Bills gave up the third-most sacks in the league last year (48), and with an emphasis on surrounding EJ Manuel with talent, and more important keeping him healthy, protection will be at a premium.

 

3 – Chris,
Any word from EJ as to his training regimen during the off-season? Will he be going back to Ken Mastrole or is he mostly just for getting ready for pro days and combine prep? Do you think there will be a QB coach added this year?

CB: In a recent interview EJ said he was actively rehabbing to get his knee back to 100 percent. He did say he planned to do more offseason work with his personal QBs coach. And hopefully you’ve seen our reporting on Doug Marrone’s plan to hire a quarterbacks coach to lighten the burden that was on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last year.

In fact by this time next week there might already be a QBs coach on staff.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

I was wondering, with reading about the Toronto series & seeing R. Brandon at the year end press conf. exactly how far does Brandon’s power reach into the actual football side of the team ? Meaning setting up the draft board, choosing players, who to keep /who to let go (as in the Fitz decision) & so on . I know the guy is supposed to be a great mind when it comes to the advertisement & selling of the team but there have been more than a one decision that has been made this & previous years when it comes to the team that I personally wonder who made these decisions .

I know Russ wasn’t promoted until this past year & I would hope that he would leave the player & direct football decisions to those that were hired to make those calls, but i do know like in the case of some teams the owner & or president of operations power is used sometimes far too much to influence the direction or decisions of those hired to do those jobs of which some recent decisions to me any way seem as though that may have been the case . I am in agreement with the way that the team is going & some of the players that have been brought in but as all fans I have my own ideas & opinions (which don’t amount to much) but try not to draw conclusions with out knowing more than I do & that is why once again i turn to you for some possible answers. Which again as always I thank you for the time & efforts that you put forth to keep us all in the know!!

Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville

CB: I think Russ Brandon said it best himself at the end of the season press conference. He was asked for his assessment of EJ Manuel and he gave the following response, which I believe explains a lot with respect to his role on the football side of the organization.

“My assessment really is empowered through Doug Whaley and coach Marrone. That’s what I empowered these guys to do last year and certainly we’re going to put every resource behind all 53 of our guys to improve. Obviously the bell cow is usually the quarterback and gets all the publicity and all the media attention as we mentioned earlier. But we’re going to put everything behind him and try to see some marked improvement moving forward.”

 

5 – Chris,

I’m not finding anywhere that has where the Bills overall on offence and and defence were among the rest of the league. (Just stuff like #2 in rushing…) maybe you could post something about it?

thanks,
jeff zinger

CB: Here are some of the more noteworthy statistical rankings that I believe you’re interested in.

Offense
Total yards per game – 19th
Rushing – 2nd
Passing – 28th
Sacks per play – 28th
Third down – 29th
Points per game – 22nd

Defense
Total yards per game – 10th
Run defense – 28th
Pass defense – 4th
Sacks per play – 3rd
Third down – 14th
Points allowed per game – 20th

Special teams
Punt return avg. – 29th
Kick return avg. – 29th
Net punting – 30th
FG % – 10th

Punt coverage – 25th
Kick coverage – 17th
Net punting against – 27th
FG % against – 17th


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