Less than a month until the NFL draft. Trying like heck to keep up with your questions. Bear with me. I’ll try to get them all answered before draft weekend.
For those that don’t know questions can be sent to AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Here we go.
1. Hi Chris,
the Bills coaching/personnel staff seem to be saying that they are looking for an every down DE, but would not be averse to taking a situation rusher. If this is the case do they see no future in Chris Ellis? They said they took him last year to be a situational pass rusher, and being a rookie DE is hard in this league and he was injured, but didn’t they take him for this exact reason last year?
Rafi in Toronto
CB: You raise a good point. Some forget that Ellis is on the roster. Yes, Ellis is viewed as a situational pass rusher. His biggest issue as a rookie was not being strong enough to hold up against the run. I intend to catch up with him this spring and see what he’s done to re-shape his body and get stronger. He is taking part in the offseason conditioning program. Most NFL players make their biggest jump from year one to year two because they get to spend an offseason in an NFL training program rather than prepping for the combine and pro days.
Hopefully it makes a difference for Ellis because with the strong likelihood that the Bills take a pass rusher early, Ellis needs to show improvement or his playing time could be limited again. With respect to you thinking that the staff viewed Ellis as THE answer. He is a possible answer, but because the jury is still out on Ellis and the pass rush production has been subpar (team-wise) the Bills have to get a top flight talent at the position early in the draft as I see it.
One thing I was interested in was the TEs in the draft. Shawn Nelson to me looked like a stud. His physical prowess was obvious, but during some of his workouts, clips of him blocking at the Senior bowl practices were shown and he looked adept against top flight competition. Where do you think he will end up being taken now that the combine has seemed to helped his value? And, do you see him as a potential Bills target? – ie. Would he be an upgrade over Fine and Schouman in pass catching, while still providing adequate blocking skills?
CB: I share your affinity for Shawn Nelson. He’s a potential game breaker in the passing game. He’s a willing blocker as evidenced by his performance at the Senior Bowl, but he needs a lot of work in that area as most of the tight ends in this class do.
I think his measurables in terms of 40 time, height and length make him a more explosive pass catching option than Fine or Schouman. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be a more reliable player as a rookie. Still he’s likely to come off the board early in the second round. He may or may not be there for the Bills at 42.
I am excited to be celebrating the 50th season of Buffalo Bills and I love the website where fans can vote on the all-time team. My question regards the selection process for the all-timers. Did you have any input when coming up with the parameters and nominees for the all-time team? I am wondering why the guidelines allow for 3 WR’s but only 1 RB to be chosen. This seems a little inequitable to me. 2 WR’s and 1 RB or 3 WR’s and 2 RB’s seems like a better ratio. What do you think?
CB: I don’t disagree with your thinking there. Deciding between Thurman and O.J. was really tough for me. From what I understand they wanted to honor the Bills most prolific offensive era, which was the early 90’s and the K-Gun offense, in which the base formation was a three by one (3 WRs, 1 RB) set. The decision makers also decided to go with the 3-4 defensive front that was popular during the Bruce Smith years, which made choosing between Fred Smerlas and Ted Washington anything but easy. I understand what you’re saying, but those are the parameters.
I was noticing the combine numbers and I could not help but notice the apparent dominance of USC OLB Brian Cushing. With Angelo Crowell gone from the Bills there is a need for a OLB. I know the Bills need to address the pass-rush but I see Aaron Maybin as too high of a risk at #11 much like Brandon Pettigrew. I have read that Orakpo has inconsistent effort and that Brown is not exactly a 4-3 guy.
Cushing came into the combine with a lot to prove, and he answered any questions those had about him. The Bills are known for their speedy defense and he fits the role perfectly. This guy could be the most dedicated determined guy coming out of the draft. He, Poz and Mitchell would make up a fast LB corps.
Pettigrew is too risky at #11 but he would be perfect at #20 just before both the Falcons and Eagles selections; two teams looking for some help at TE. What do you think? Is Cushing the right fit for the Bills?
CB: I think Cushing is a reasonable option at 11. I don’t think that’s a reach for him at all. There’s no question that Maybin carries some risk, and in light of the first year failures of Vernon Gholston last year with the Jets, NFL teams might be a bit gun shy about a one-year wonder. I’m not a fan of Orakpo as I’ve blogged here before, but I do believe in Brown despite his lack of measurables.
But I admit I would not be disappointed at all with Cushing, provided someone like Connor Barwin was snapped up in the second round for the pass rush.
As for Pettigrew I couldn’t agree with you more. Picking him at 11 doesn’t appear like good value, but down around 20 is far more acceptable.
What is your opinion on Connor Barwin as a DE selection? He appears to be more explosive, a little bigger, and a little stronger than Everette Brown.
CB: I don’t know if Barwin is more explosive than Brown. He is a little bigger, but not really stronger if you look at Brown’s squat and dead lift numbers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Barwin has a lot of potential especially after just one season at DE at Cincinnati. But Brown has proven it over time and I know college production doesn’t always translate to the NFL, but having spoken to him at the Combine, there’s just this gleam in Brown’s eye that convinces me he’ll be a player at the pro level. Plus he’s got a fantastic last name.
But if they can’t get Brown or some other top flight pass rusher in the first round, I’d be targeting Barwin with their second pick, and if they got him I’d be satisfied with him with respect to improving the pass rush.
Tags: 50th All Time Team, Aaron Maybin, Angelo Crowell, Brandon Pettigrew, Brian Cushing, Chris Ellis, Connor Barwin, Everette Brown, Fan Friday, Shawn Nelson
Posted in Inside the Bills