The Bills were busy in free agency this week with a handful of signings and more visitors in today. Let’s get to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the defense’s transition back into a full 3-4 scheme will make them better this year?
CB: I’ve got to believe it’s going to help. Trying to merge the Bills’ 2014 scheme with Rex’s scheme last year was done in an effort to appease players who were successful in the old scheme. As Ryan himself admitted halfway through last season it didn’t work.
It convinced Rex to go back to what he knows works and that’s his scheme, which is a more traditional 3-4. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to see multiple fronts from one week to the next and from one series to the next. The system is rooted in a traditional 3-4, but what makes Ryan’s scheme so confounding is the variety of fronts that he throws at offenses through the course of a game.
Buy in by the players is critical because his scheme demands complete understanding and mastery of it to execute it properly. Some players didn’t want to commit to that kind of study. One such player is no longer on the roster. Fortunately I think we saw the results of that player buy in over the last two games last season and what it can mean for the defense. Provided that buy in from the players continues and some key adds are made in the draft (couple of starters please?) I think the defense will be better.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills what are the chances bills trade up or down in the first round and why?
CB: I think there is a greater likelihood that the Bills move back in round one than move up. First and foremost the Bills need capable and talented bodies for their roster. They not only need to land a starter or two in this draft (LB, DL), they need reinforcements for depth at a few positions too (CB, S, OL, WR, TE).
The two additional compensatory picks in rounds four and six were huge. It’s my belief that Doug Whaley would like to keep all eight of those picks in a perfect world. He’d have to part with some of those if he wants to move up.
The way that moving back in round one becomes a reality is if the Bills have a limited number of first round grades for this year’s class.
Let’s hypothetically say they have legitimate first round grades on just 16 players in this draft class. Perhaps they only have 16 prospects they deem as truly worthy of a first round draft choice. If the Bills are on the clock at 19 and all 16 of those prospects are already off the board, I think moving back becomes more likely.
Whaley and his staff likely have a few players they like that they believe will be there at 19, but if none of them are available why sit there and reach for a player that doesn’t match the value of your pick? Slide back a few slots add another draft choice somewhere on day two and match a prospect with the appropriate value.
3 – Dear Chris:
My question is on who the Bills will be looking for in this year’s draft. I know the Bills will be looking to re-tool the defense, and I assume they will be transitioning to a 3-4 with Rex. My question will they be looking for an inside linebacker like Reggie Ragland to put next to Preston Brown or a player with a body type like Nigel Bradham say Jaylon Smith?
Also at D-line will they draft a defensive end like DeForest Buckner/Shaq Lawson, or will they draft a defensive tackle like Jarran Reed or Austin Johnson, plus what do you think our top needs are overall?
Sincerely: John from PA.
CB: I think the key ingredient that needs to be added at linebacker in a prospect is speed. With the league in subpackage defense just about two-thirds of the time you need linebackers who can cover ground and handle coverage assignments with backs and athletic tight ends.
I wouldn’t mind Ragland as a prospect, but I’m not convinced he can cover the type of athletic tight ends and backs we see at the pro level every week. With that in mind I’d prefer a more athletic type linebacker like a Darron Lee.
Bradham was Buffalo’s fastest linebacker and he’s in Philadelphia now, so that speed at linebacker has to be replaced as I see it.
As far as defensive line goes I think both end and DT are both on the table. I don’t expect Buckner to be there at 19 and it’s unlikely that Lawson is either. Both are versatile guys you can position up and down a 3-4 front.
Jarran Reed has a chance to be there. His value isn’t as high because he doesn’t offer as much in terms of pass rush. But I wouldn’t have a problem lining him up at nose tackle and flanking him with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams and let them win on the edge.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will go about training camp differently this year? Due to the top players getting injured last yr..
CB: I’m not sure there’s much they can do differently. There are strict guidelines set out in the CBA as to how often players can practice during training camp, days off, etc.
What we witnessed last summer with all five running backs going down I believe was an anomaly. The receivers who went down with injuries late in camp was a domino effect. When you lose two receivers in one day it immediately puts more strain and demand on the bodies of the receivers who are left. It’s more reps for them.
Now to the coaches’ and athletic trainers’ credit they backed things off on the healthy players still practicing, and signed more players to help fill the void.
Training camp is a grind, and the Bills do everything in their power to keep players on the field and healthy. There is also a responsibility on the part of the players to do right by their body day in and day out so they can perform at their best. Their body is their livelihood.
Buffalo does make use of GPS technology to track the workload of players each day at camp, so they’re all closely monitored as a means of being proactive and backing players off when the analytics dictate it’s warranted to prevent injuries before they happen. But nothing is perfect.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills You think there’s a player in this year’s draft that could become Buffalo’s next QB in the event that they can’t keep Tyrod?
CB: I think that’s difficult for anyone to predict, even those with the trained eye, like NFL scouts, player personnel executives and general managers. I think what you need to keep in mind is Buffalo has every intention of keeping Tyrod Taylor for the long term provided he continues on his current trajectory of performance.
And there’s no reason to think that he won’t. People are wondering why a contract extension hasn’t happened yet for Tyrod. I personally think it benefits both parties to wait for a few reasons.
First, Buffalo’s cap situation for 2016 is not conducive to working out a long term extension for Taylor. The market value at his position alone makes such an undertaking difficult for year one of an extension, which would be in 2016.
Second, the Bills, understandably so, want to see more from Taylor before they make a sizable commitment to Taylor. There’s recent Buffalo history where they jumped the gun in handing out a long term deal to a QB (see: Ryan Fitzpatrick).
I think the Bills want to believe in Taylor as their starting quarterback, but one year of solid production isn’t enough to go on when you’re talking about the multi-million dollar commitment a quarterback contract demands.
Third, Taylor stands to get a much more lucrative contract from Buffalo if he can back up last year’s production with even more production and wins in 2016.
So while it’s true that Taylor’s agent can stand on the table and argue that his client is underpaid this year at $3-plus million for 2016, even he knows that waiting and letting his client perform and build more of a starting QB resume this fall will only benefit his negotiating duties in getting Taylor a lucrative long term contract.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Bills defense, Bills training camp, DeForest Buckner, Fan Friday, Rex Ryan, Shaq Lawson, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills