1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Given the #Bills have only 6 picks N 2 in the top 150 how aggressive should we expect them to be in Undrafted Free agency?
CB: I don’t expect the Bills to be especially aggressive in undrafted free agency. Here’s why. The roster is probably as deep as it has been in 10 years. There’s a good chance some of their late round draft choices do not even make the 53-man roster, let alone any undrafted rookie free agent signings.
That being said I believe they will sign a handful of college free agents, but unless some unexpected prospect goes undrafted and slips into the undrafted pool I don’t expect the Bills to go crazy once the draft is over.
2 – Chris,
I think Doug Whaley is a very good GM, but sometimes I wonder if he said what he really meant to. A question I had on the press conference he had a little while ago.
He said we would be a run heavy, play great D team until we had a franchise QB. That sounded like he was saying that EJ Manuel was not that guy. If he is saying that they no longer have faith in him. That would be new information.
CB: I think your assumption is a bit misguided. What Whaley said about the offensive approach is accurate. What he also said about a franchise quarterback is also accurate. After 14 NFL starts he, along with everyone else, doesn’t know if EJ Manuel can be the team’s franchise quarterback. It’s not enough of a sample size to know for certain.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe Manuel could become a franchise QB. Here’s a good comment from Whaley to peg where he and the team stands on EJ heading into 2015 when he was asked about Manuel heading into his third year.
“A guy that has had some ups and some downs and a guy that knows that he has to produce,” Whaley said. “He’s excited. We’ve talked to him. He knows that this is a crucial year for him. He knows he has to step his game up to be consistent. We’ve seen flashes of good things. We’ve seen flashes of some things that he needs to improve on. We know he’s going to put in the work to be the best player he can be.”
So by having all this new offensive talent around the quarterbacks and a top five defense, not to mention solid special teams, the quarterback doesn’t have to be franchise caliber right now. If Manuel can win the job and develop into a franchise signal caller in a year or two, then all the better.
3 – Chris,
Do you see Randell Johnson as a player on the rise that might fit Rex’s defensive system? He’s raw and a good athlete from what I remember. With Rivers gone and Spikes up in the air, could Johnson see more of a presence on defense? He seems like a good fit on the outside as a pass rusher in 3-4 system.
CB: I don’t think Brandon Spikes’ future impacts Johnson because they have different roles. Johnson at this point is going to be serving as a depth player at LB behind guys like Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes, depending on how the defensive staff chooses to line him up.
Johnson’s length is an asset in a Rex Ryan scheme at OLB. What also helps him is he has some experience from his college days as an outside rusher at Florida Atlantic. I just think it’ll be hard for him to get on the field on defense with all the veteran talent in front of him.
4 – Chris,
What do you think of Brandon Bridge as raw QB? Has the arm, body, and speed but its truly developmental. I know all the throws aren’t there yet but he has giant arm? With Roman’s work with Colin, do you seen him as maybe the best fit for the Bills in the draft?
CB: You’re right he is a developmental prospect all the way. He has a lot of the physical tools that NFL talent evaluators look for in a QB. The question is how long will it take? He’s only got 373 career pass attempts in college. He’s played in all of 20 collegiate games. And for his career he’s completed just over 50 percent of his passes. To say he’s green would be an understatement. I’d be wary of a quarterback who needs to step it up as much as he does when it comes to ball location, completion percentage and reading defenses. You just don’t know what he is and is not capable of, so he’s a difficult projection. I’d be surprised if he goes before the sixth round.
5 – Hey Chris,
I enjoy all the coverage you and the team provide throughout the year for bills fans everywhere.
With the best player available draft process that seems to be what all the perennial contenders use, does need play into the equation at all?
Thanks again for all your great coverage.
Justin from Eden
Transplanted to Lynchburg Virginia
CB: Yes, need does play into the equation. As Doug Whaley and many other GMs have said before you go with best player on the board, but if there are a couple of prospects on your board closely ranked and one is at a position of need, in that instance you would lean toward your positional need.
Tags: Brandon Bridge, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, NFL Draft, Randell Johnson, undrafted free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills
Free agency is still up and running, but the focus will steadily move toward the NFL draft. In the meantime we answer some of your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hi Chris,
In putting on your Draft Hat, who do you think the Bills will draft over the first three rounds? By position I would to see a LB, OL, TE. It would not surprise me if they trade down in the first round again in order to gain additional picks.
Thanks very much, as always I appreciate your input.
CB: I think based on what they’ve acquired in free agency to this point (2 LB, 1 G, 1 CB, 1 RB) it has not changed much. Here’s why. I see the three positions you mentioned along with WR as their top four needs. Though they have added a pair of linebackers who each figure to have starting roles and play a lot, the depth at linebacker is not where it needs to be. So I do expect them to take a linebacker. I’m just not sure it’s going to be early.
On the offensive line with Erik Pears entering the final year of his contract and Chris Hairston’s status still up in the air pending a medical re-check this spring, offensive tackle is a position I expect to be addressed in the first two rounds. The same goes for wide receiver preferably one that is 6’3” or taller.
Tight end could be a consideration if the right kind of game breaking talent is there, but absent that opportunity I don’t think we see one added to the roster.
2 – Chris,
With so many underclassmen declaring for the draft. Do you anticipate a richer pool of undrafted free agent?
CB: I think that is a very safe assumption. In fact talking to some NFL GMs at the NFL combine most of them seem to be more excited about the quality of talent they’ll be able to sign after the draft is over. With 100 underclassmen declaring for the draft this spring, it’s essentially three extra rounds of prospects that won’t get drafted. So the undrafted pool might be the deepest ever.
3 – Hey Chris,
Thanks for all of your combine coverage, its great. My question is about the draft. I think that the Bills need to surround EJ with more weapons before addressing the O-line in the later rounds. What do you think about getting Ebron or Watkins in the first and then someone like Gabe Jackson or Cyrus Kouandjio in the second? Or maybe a Martavus Bryant in the third? He is a big fast receiver that we are looking for. I think Ebron and Watkins would be a great explosive weapon for EJ. What are your thoughts?
CB: I think there is depth at offensive tackle where you could find a starting caliber player in round two.
If Sammy Watkins is there at nine the Bills will sprint up to the podium with the card. However, I’d be stunned if he’s still on the board past Oakland at five. I think ninth is too high for Ebron. I’d consider Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
An offensive tackle I like for round two is Tennessee’s Tiny Richardson. If there’s a run on tackles late in round one however, I’m worried he won’t be there. We’ll see.
4 – Hello Chris,
I am struggling to figure out why the Bills are not on the QB needy teams list? What evidence was provided last year that EJ Manuel is at all capable of winning games yet alone a super bowl championship? His short passes were off target and thrown with way too much velocity. His deep ball was nonexistent. I’ve been a Bills fan for over twenty some odd years since I watched Ronnie Harmon drop the ball in the end zone in Cleveland. I have never felt compelled to ever write before but Myself and many, many others cannot sit by and watch another 3 years of this kid stink it up. Please tell Russ, Doug , Jim O, and Coach to move up and get the A&M kid. Everyone knows EJ is not the goods.
At the very least can someone at least acknowledge this and stop trying to convince themselves by trying to convince us, You don’t move back in the draft if you think the guy is the “guy” you take him at 8 or whatever they picked last year, Seriously I’m begging. I listen to Murphy and I realize how difficult it’s becoming to even be fan of this team any longer. We don’t need a receiver or tight end…We need a Quarterback!
Thank you and enjoy your work.
CB: I’m going to respectfully disagree with you here. Ten NFL starts does not a career make. If that was the case Troy Aikman would’ve been run out of Dallas on a rail when they went 1-15 in his first NFL season as a starter. Buffalo’s personnel execs are all in on EJ Manuel, so giving up on him after 10 games, which truth be told had some encouraging and discouraging performances, would be foolhardy after investing a first-round pick.
You have to trust in your coaches to develop him and his work ethic to lead to appreciable improvement. You’re entitled to your opinion just like everyone else. I just think no matter what side of the fence anyone is on concerning EJ, all of it is premature.
5 – Chris,
The Bills QB’s: EJ, Tuel and Thad Lewis
Do you envision the Bills adding depth at the position in the draft say an Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger who may fall due to knee injuries, and may be perfect for the Bills to groom behind EJ this year.
Or do you think they prefer someone with more experience? Along the lines of: Josh freeman, Chad Henne, Josh McCown
CB: I’m going to let Bills GM Doug Whaley handle this one with a recent comment he made on the radio last week.
This was his response when asked in a radio interview if they planned to add a quarterback in free agency or the draft.
“At this time no, but again we will keep all options open,” Whaley said.
Whaley then went on to indicate that they’d be fine going into camp with the three quarterbacks on their roster (Manuel, Lewis, Tuel) along with their practice squad QB who was on the roster last year.
“Comfortable, very comfortable and then you throw Dennis Dixon in,” he said. “All those guys are going to be another year in the system, so if you bring someone else in they’ll be new in the system. So we’re comfortable with where we are with the quarterback position.”
Tags: 2014 NFL draft, Doug Whaley, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, quarterback depth, underclassmen, undrafted free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills undrafted free agent QB Jeff Tuel has the physical traits that scouts look for in a quarterback. Being injured in three of his four collegiate seasons however, is not. But in addition to his arm strength and deceptive athleticism Tuel has football smarts.
“Talking to his coaches they say he’s extremely smart and very confident once he gets reps in the offense,” said Bills scout Brad Forsyth. “They had no issues as far as his learning and making progressions.”
Tuel despite a trying college career never lost confidence in his abilities. He knows he has to stay healthy for any chance of success in the NFL.
Tags: Brad Forsyth, Jeff Tuel, undrafted free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills
With the undrafted free agent market playing out Saturday night it looks like the Bills landed a quality receiver in Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers, who made a pre-draft visit to Orchard Park on April 10th.
That according to the receiver himself who tweeted that he’s agreed to join Buffalo as an undrafted rookie free agent.
I’m a Buffalo Bill.
— Da’Rick Rogers (@darickrogers) April 28, 2013
Though Rogers does have off the field concerns after getting kicked out of the Tennessee program for failed drug tests, the risk is minimal as an undrafted player. Buffalo thought very highly of his route running ability.
“He’s the most polished of those three Tennessee receivers in my opinion in terms of route running and all that,” said Bills scout Tom Roth in reference to Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, who Rogers played with at Tennessee before finishing up at Tech. “He reminds me physically of Eric Moulds, that body type. That’s what I thought when I saw him. A big, physical, muscular guy. Explosive. He had a 39-inch vertical. He ran a 4.48 at the Combine. He’s got all the physical stuff.”
Tags: 2013 NFL draft, Da'Rick Rogers, undrafted free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills
With nine draft choices added and the offseason roster limit raised to 90 players, here’s where the Bills stand in terms of roster room before reaching that limit.
Prior to the draft Buffalo had 70 players count toward their roster. Under the new roster limit rules unsigned draft choices count toward the total. With nine draft selections that brings the Bills roster count up to 79.
So with respect to undrafted free agents, which also count toward the roster total, Buffalo can only sign 11 before they reach the limit of 90. The Bills are expected to announce their undrafted free agent signings by the middle of next week.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Bills roster, undrafted free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills