The preseason debut of Rex Ryan’s Bills is tonight against Carolina. Catch up with you on the Bills Radio Network pre-game show at 5:30 pm ET. For now let’s get to your latest questions on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Can Chris Hogan have a breakout season?
CB: I think Hogan had a breakout season in 2014 quite frankly. He had the fourth-most receptions on the team, was third in receiving touchdowns and was still a fixture on special teams. I’d be surprised if he logged 50 catches this season for a few reasons. First, this offense probably won’t throw the ball more than 20-25 times a game. Second, there are arguably three to four options that figure to be targeted before him in the passing game (Watkins, Harvin, Woods, Clay) and that’s not even counting LeSean McCoy as a passing target.
So while I think Hogan’s game can certainly take a step forward this season I don’t anticipate we’ll see it revealed in his personal statistics this season.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Haven’t heard much about the linebackers and depth there. How are they and how are our recent lb draft picks performing?
CB: The starting linebacking group is Manny Lawson, Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham with Jerry Hughes the hybrid DE/LB. The second unit is made up by Randell Johnson, Ty Powell and rookie Tony Steward. The hybrid with them has been undrafted rookie Andrew Hudson.
Powell has grown into the ILB role and is essentially Brown’s backup. Steward gets from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ quickly. Hudson has caught my eye a few times, but the addition of IK Enemkpali could compromise his role on the second unit. Enemkpali is as strong as an ox and has some bull rush ability against the pass. Rex and Dennis Thurman know him well since they drafted him with the Jets last year.
So I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen from the second team linebackers in training camp, but the preseason games will be the true test to see just how good Buffalo’s depth could be.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
From what you’ve seen at practice, which of the three QBs plays with the most consistency?
CB: In this second week of camp I think Matt Cassel has been the most consistent. He hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s been steady just about every day this week. He’s demonstrated an improved on field chemistry with his top receivers and his decision making has been spot on.
Granted he’s had the benefit of getting the most reps in practice with the first team offense, but to his credit he’s done the most with it of the three QBs.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
How many TEs make the team and who are they?
CB: I don’t think the tight end spots are finalized by any means with all four preseason games to be played. I will say that Charles Clay is the clear cut starter. Knowing the skill set of Marqueis Gray is the most comparable to Clay and he’s a smart player (former QB) he has not surprisingly seen a lot of snaps with the first unit. I think he’s likely going to make the final 53 provided he performs well in the preseason.
Matthew Mulligan is clearly the best blocking tight end on the roster and that alone could land him a roster spot knowing how Greg Roman’s running game relies on tight end blocking. Whether they keep four is up in the air and hinges on a lot of other offensive roster decisions. Do they keep four running backs? Do they keep six receivers?
Rex Ryan said he’ll keep the best players, but the numbers game could create a difficult situation at tight end with two players who have the skills necessary to play in this league in Nick O’Leary and Chris Gragg.
5 – Chris,
Cordy (Glenn) from all accounts has returned to form and has bottled up Jerry Hughes in practice. How high of a priority is he behind Dareus? How would you rank him of all left tackles, meaning what would in cost to keep him? Given the state of the offensive line it would seem he is a strong part of helping the quarterback and offensive succeed this season. What is he looking at for a contract, can the team keep him?
CB: Glenn wants to be paid like a left tackle plain and simple. It will be interesting to see where the Bills turn after they hopefully get the Marcell Dareus extension completed. Do they focus on Nigel Bradham or Cordy Glenn? Bradham would presumably be easier to negotiate just because the salary structure for left tackles is so steep. But one could argue that Glenn’s role is far more important on this roster.
How much money Dareus’ contract ties up will directly impact what they can or cannot do for Glenn and Bradham by way of an extension.
Tags: 53 man roster, Chris Hogan, Cordy Glenn, Fan Friday, linebackers, Matt Cassel, QB competition, tight ends
Posted in Inside the Bills
Here’s a look at the tight end landscape available to the Bills, which at this point in the offseason is pretty limited. Nevertheless here are some realistic options, though there are probably a few others that I have not been able to dig up.
Darnell Dinkins (6’4″ 266) – last played for the Saints. At 33-years old he’s a player that would understand his role. Good technique sound blocker, short area receiver.
Casey Fitzsimmons (6’4″ 270) – last played for the Lions. The 29-year old is a sound fundamental blocker, good hands and a short to intermediate route runner. Can handle TE, FB, H-back roles. Classic utility player.
J.P. Foschi (6’3″ 265) – last played for the Bengals. The 28-year old is a better receiver than blocker. Good hands and short to intermediate route runner. Considered a wall off type blocker.
Michael Gaines (6’2″ 267) – most recently with the Texans. The former Bill is now 30, but still has good athleticism for a stocky build. Good power and strength on run blocking. Reliable receiver.
Sean Ryan (6’5″ 260) – was last with the Redskins this offseason. The Orchard Park native is more of a blocker than a pass catcher with a total of 26 receptions in a five-year career.
Jake Ballard – (6’6″ 256) – played college ball at Ohio State and was recently released by the Giants after missing the majority of that club’s training camp with a hamstring injury. No word on his current health at this time.
Colin Peek – (6’6″ 255) – was recently released by the Falcons. Played college ball at Alabama after transferring from Georgia Tech. Played under Chan Gailey for the Yellow Jackets, but transferred when Gailey was replaced by Paul Johnson and triple option offense knowing it would be no place for a TE to flourish.
Andrew George – (6’3″ 247) – was most recently with Carolina. Played his college ball at BYU where he was the second TE behind Baltimore draft choice Dennis Pitta.
T.C. Drake – (6’5″ 248) – was undrafted signing of Kansas City, but released in the spring. Played his college ball at Kentucky.
Tags: tight ends
Posted in Inside the Bills
Although an overwhelming number of mock drafts have the Bills taking Oklahoma St. TE Brandon Pettigrew, draft history indicates that very few tight ends are taken in Buffalo’s first round pick range at 11.
Over the past 15 years (1994-2008) only five tight ends have been taken between picks 8 and 15 in round one. They were Kyle Brady (9th overall – 1995), Rickey Dudley (9th overall – 1996), Tony Gonzalez (13th overall – 1997), Bubba Franks (14th overall – 2000) and Jeremy Shockey (14th overall – 2002).
In that 15-year span more tight ends were taken between picks 21 and 32 (12). And that group of tight ends collectively may have offered more than the above five with names like Heath Miller, Dallas Clark, Ben Watson and Daniel Graham. And the jury is still out on Dustin Keller and Greg Olsen, who fall in that range as well.
Only two were taken in the top 7 picks over that span in Vernon Davis (#6, 2006) and Kellen Winslow (#6, 2004). One has been a disappointment, due in part to the lack of a QB while the other has been up and down due to injuries and QB issues.
All told it looks like a pretty high risk position looking at this group. So as promising as Pettigrew might be, history shows it might not be the best idea to take a TE that high, I guess unless you think he’s the Tony Gonzalez of the next generation.
Tags: NFL Draft, tight ends
Posted in Inside the Bills