Inside The Bills

‘Cuse DE Jones visiting

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2012 – 11:49 am has learned that Syracuse defensive end and Rochester native Chandler Jones is one of four players visiting One Bills Drive on a pre-draft visit today.

Jones is a favorite of ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. Though he doesn’t have great timed speed (4.87 40-time at Combine) he does have good burst and strength. That along with a strong work ethic makes Jones an attractive prospect with McShay calling him “the most underrated prospect in the entire draft.”


“Everyone says the production is not there and all of that, but I think at 6’5″ with the potential to get to 270 pounds…  he’s proven can he play the left side, the right side.  He even can drop in coverage.  He’s shown that on tape at times,” said McShay. “I just think he’s strong.  He’s physical.  He also has enough athleticism to get after the quarterback.”

McShay went on to say that he thought Jones would be a solid value as a late first-round pick in the mid to upper 20’s overall. 



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Fan Friday 3-9

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2012 – 11:36 am

Here we go with another week of your most pressing questions from Let’s get to it.

1 – Chris,

I wanted to offer another take for the Bills draft this year. Perhaps in the first round the Bills could draft a wide receiver since they need a deep threat. In the second round what are the chances of waiting for a top defensive end prospect like Chandler Jones out of Syracuse.
Thanks for all of your ongoing coverage and time. 

CB: I think the only receiver worthy of going in the top 10 is Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon. Some might argue Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, but with rare exceptions like A.J. Green last year wideouts have been coming off the board later and later.

In the 2008 draft there wasn’t a single receiver taken in round one. Knowing there’s good receiver depth in rounds two through four I think teams will be even less inclined to fill a need early at receiver. I suppose if the Bills don’t land a wideout in free agency it’s possible, but I say if they do address wideout in the draft it’ll be between rounds two and four.

As for Chandler Jones I think he’s a pretty good prospect. Not a pure speed pass rusher by any means, but comes from good stock with a brother in the league and another brother being a UFC fighter. Due to the fact that he’s not a ‘bend the corner’ defensive end I think he will be there in the second round. I think he could be a consideration for Buffalo among some of the other DE prospects that are in that second to third-round range.


2 – Hello Chris,

I’m a longtime fan of your work with the Bills, thank you so much for keeping us informed on all of the comings and goings with the team.  My question for you is simple, do you expect to see Alex Carrington trimming down to around 280-285lbs. (His college weight) to become more of pashing rushing DE, rather a 5-technigue 3-4 DE likes he has been the last two seasons?  I like he could excel in that position at the right weight. 

Warm Regards,


CB: Ryan, this is going to be one of the more interesting questions as spring OTAs unfold in May. I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer as to just what is the best fit for Alex Carrington in Wannstedt’s new 4-3 front. His body frame screams 3-4 defensive end, but if he can trim down he could play defensive end in a 4-3 like he did at Arkansas State. His size however, might project him to a left defensive end role. He’s never been a pass rusher that has relied on speed (4.92 40-time). His game is power.

But I’m just as curious as you as to whether or not he comes in slimmed down for the new scheme.


3 – Hello Chris,
Thanks for all the coverage of the team, you do a terrific job of covering the team and I enjoy reading what you have to say. I understand that a big part of the offseason plan is to continue building the defense because it is needed, but my question is the QB situation. I strongly believe that if this team has a chance to win in the future the team needs a QB because although I believe in Fitzpatrick, he’ll be 30 years old and I’m not sure he can win the team a Super Bowl.

I understand the team won’t be in position to draft Luck or Griffin this year. I was wondering if the team might chase after a guy like Kirk Cousins out of Michigan St.? He is young, played 4 seasons in school, is a very intelligent and accurate QB. Cousins could be had later in the draft and isn’t looked at among the top QB’s in this draft even though he has the size and ability to play. He didnt’ put up the biggest numbers because of the ability to run the ball at Michigan St. I think he could be a value pick in the 3rd or 4th round and could learn the offense quickly and be the future QB.

Are Nix and Gailey set in their ways that they will only take a QB if they can get one of the top guys? Or could the team look at Cousins or another QB that can be had later in the draft? Thanks again for your coverage
Sean Riley

CB: I wouldn’t rule anything out when it comes to the draft and Buddy Nix. I think the C.J. Spiller pick caught a lot of people off guard, but it’s proof positive that Nix and the Bills stay true to their board. That being said I’ll point to a comment made by Buddy back in January concerning the potential of drafting a quarterback.

“Maybe so, yeah,” said Nix. “If there’s one there at the right time, I don’t mean that to be that vague an answer but yeah, we’d take one.”

Basically Buddy is saying if the board falls a certain way and they have a quarterback rated as the best prospect at the time they would take one. Could that be Cousins? Certainly possible.


4 – Hi Chris,

To me, draft season is the best time of year to be a bills fan, and this year I’m snoop dogg high on South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery. Many of the mock drafts I’ve seen have him dropping into the 2nd or even 3rd round, but to my eye he’s by far the best receiver in this class. Respect to Blackmon and the kid from ND, but if he’s sitting there at pick 10 do you think the bills would pull the trigger? Although a pass rusher may be more of a need, that position seems to be one of relative depth in this class; and while they are all impressive prospects, I don’t see a huge difference on tape between Upshaw, Ingram, Perry, Mercilus, Coples,  or Branch. It stands to reason that one of those guys would be there in the 2nd, and Jeffery will open eyes at the combine. He has what Buddy Nix has referred to as the ability to be open even when hes covered. You can see the competitiveness in his game bursting through the low resolution on youtube. Do you get the sense around one bill’s that another option for Fitz may be at least as coveted as a pass rusher? Do you think Jeffery is worth a top 10 pick?

Warm regards from LA,

Owen Beck


CB: I think Alshon Jeffery made some amazing plays at South Carolina and used his body well in shielding defenders to make plays on the ball. The problem with Jeffery is it’s hard to think his game as it is currently constituted is going to immediately translate to the NFL level. The reason why is he is a giant target, but he had trouble getting off press coverage in the SEC. And he doesn’t get consistent separation.

That’s going to be even harder in the NFL. Could he develop that part of his game? Sure, but he’s going to struggle coming out of the gate knowing how much more physical corners are at the NFL level. I think he’s a second-round pick. Another big receiver that I prefer over Jeffery is LSU’s Rueben Randle. He didn’t run well at the Combine, but I’m hoping for better things at his pro day.

Randle got better every year at LSU, most notably improving as a route runner, has extremely strong hands and welcomed blocking in LSU’s run first scheme during the 2010 campaign. He’s got rock solid intangibles as well with a strong work ethic. So he’s my guy if the Bills want to get a receiver early. Only thing is they may have to trade back into the bottom of round one to get him.


5 – Hey Chris,

After seeing Brad Smith pick up more than a handful of 3rd and short conversions early in the season last year, it seems as though the offense scrapped that formation because of the lack of depth at the WR position and need for smith to line up there (and reducing  wins dramatically).  Are the Bills planning on using the “wild bill” formation again for short yardage for the upcoming season.  Also after showing lots of potential at the outside receiver last preseason, is Marcus Easley healed and ready for this season? 


CB:  Your point is well taken. I too noted those 3rd and short conversions by Smith early in the year. It certainly helped to keep the offense on the field. I asked Chan Gailey your very question at the NFL Combine a couple of weeks ago. Here was his response.

“I think the best thing that Brad does for us right now is create indecision on the defense’s part,” said Gailey. “Is he coming in as a wideout? Is he coming in as a Wildcat quarterback? We lost that a little bit with the kickoff return because of the new rule and we lost some because he was playing so much wide receiver late in the season that he couldn’t play special teams as much. We hope to let him to be a three-headed monster as some receiver, some Wildcat quarterback, some special teams threat. Yes to all of the above.”

That’s kind of an open-ended answer, but I think it’s safe to say with a full offseason to better incorporate Smith into the offensive playbook that Gailey will find more use for him in the offense in 2012.

As for Easley he told me himself his medical condition has been rectified and he can resume his career. Let’s hope for the best because I think this kid can really help the passing game.

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Fan Friday 3-2

Posted by Chris Brown on March 2, 2012 – 12:10 pm

First, a thank you to Bills fans for making the Inside the Bills blog the number one blog in the NFL! Your passion for the Bills is what has made it the top blog in the league for the past two months. Thanks for your readership! Now to your questions from

1 – Dear Chris,

What do you think of Syracuse DE Chandler Jones?  I know that he did great while he was at ‘Cuse, but do you think that he is NFL material? And if so what round do you think he will go in?  And what team if any will take him in the draft?  Or do you think that he will be like Mark Herzlich last year and get signed by a team after the draft?


Thanks for all that you do and keep it up

Chris L, Worcester MA
CB: I’m a fan of Chandler Jones. He’s not a speed rusher that’s going to bend the corner and flat out beat offensive tackles for sacks. He projects as a left defensive end because although he has good initial explosion as evidenced by his 10-foot broad jump and 35-inch vertical at the NFL Combine, he doesn’t have the foot speed to be a true 4-3 RDE. He clocked a 4.87 in the 40, an indication of his lacking long chase speed. He made his plays at Syracuse with anticipation and hustle not pure speed. With prototype size (6’5” 266) and good bloodlines (his brother Arthur plays for the Ravens) he’s likely to be a second or third round pick.


2 – Chris,

Assuming we draft Courtney Upshaw.  Do you think we should draft a defensive end in the second round or try to acquire one through free agency?  Our current ends seem average at best.  They have shown brief glimpses of talent but are not getting the job done in the 4-3.  Merriman was ineffective last season (When he played) and I would assume he won’t make the squad next year.  Kelsay had 1 great game in his career.  Edwards did an OK job but is not a big play maker.  Carrington will probably move to tackle.  The rest seem like perpetual backups.  Any thoughts?


CB: My first thought is I’m not so sure the Bills go pass rush in round one. I’m getting the strong sense that they don’t see an elite level talent at the 4-3 end position to invest the 10th overall pick. Buddy Nix told me specifically that he believes the value at the DE position is in the middle rounds, not at the top of the draft. So I do think we could see an end of two acquired between rounds 2 and 4. I think there’s also a chance that they grab one in free agency. Not a Mario Williams per se, but a more affordable option that won’t prompt a bidding war.

I wouldn’t count out Shawne Merriman. He finally had surgery late last season to correct the problem that had plagued him for three years. The hope is that the procedure will finally enable him to stay on the field and play like the Merriman of old.


3 – Hey Chris,

Great job keeping us informed. What do you think is the greatest need other than pass rusher, and I think we need two. A pair like the Colts have in Freeney and Mathis. Is there any up and coming combo to be out there? Offense would be another speedster, but what about or secondary?

Again Thanks for your time


CB: I think there’s a good chance the Bills add a pass rusher in both free agency and the draft. I don’t anticipate either to be a giant name that most football fans are familiar with. Someone like Jacksonville’s Jeremy Mincey for example, though the Jags are working to re-sign him. In the draft someone between the second and fourth round.
As for the secondary I think they’re in good shape at safety, but Buddy Nix talks about drafting a corner every year. This year is a deep year for cornerbacks so I would anticipate one perhaps being taken in the middle rounds knowing some of their starters Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence are over 30.



4 – Hey Chris,

Thanks for all you do. I have a couple quick questions. I see a lot of similarities in the way Fred Jackson and Matt Forte run and how they are featured in their offenses. With that being said I would like to know your opinion on if you agree and who you think is better? Also with Fred’s contract soon to expire next year and the word is the Bills will re-sign him before the next season starts do you think Jackson and Forte will have similar contracts because of how alike their style of play is?  Also what do you think Fred Jackson’s contract length should be and the amount of it? Thanks again.

Mike from Long Island
CB: I think Forte and Jackson are similar in terms of versatility. I believe Jackson is a bit tougher runner and is more adept at making something out of nothing. It’s very rare when the first defender takes down Jackson. The same cannot be said for Forte. Forte probably has a bit more foot speed.

Personally I think Fred is the better all-around player. Unfortunately I don’t think their new contracts will be the same and it’s primarily going to be due to age. Forte is just 25-years old, while Jackson is 31. League statistics are not kind to running backs over 30, and because of that fact, whether they apply to Jackson or not, I don’t anticipate a big money contract extension for Jackson.

The Bears know Forte has a window of production of at least five years. For the Bills it’s harder to predict Jackson’s future production because of his age, though he showed no signs of slowing down until he was injured last season. The cruel fact is that Jackson’s age will likely be deemed a risk and thus the investment in him is unlikely to be as significant as that of Forte. Right or wrong that’s unfortunately the way the business side of the NFL works.


5 – Chris,
Last year sure seemed to be impacted by injuries…and when you think of the number of key guys who were sidelined it makes you wonder….is it a question of poor conditioning, or were they playing at the edge of their physical capabilities, or was it because of  poor technique…or is it just a case of bad luck….and all of the above…

Any insight regarding how the coaches feel about this…were the Bill’s more injury prone than other NFL teams? Is there talk of doing anything differently to minimize injuries…. thanks 

Bernie Dennis
Sudbury MA

CB: When Buddy Nix was hired as GM one of the areas he said he wanted to investigate more were the injury problems that have plagued the Bills for the better part of the last five seasons. At his season wrap up press conference this year I followed up on his plans to try and find an answer to that troubling problem. So I will let Buddy answer your question. Here was his response to me.

“We researched everything we know to research and there’s no answer,” said Nix. “We had four guys with ACLs this past year that didn’t get touched, didn’t get hit. Another guy jumping over a pile tears his patellar tendon, Terrence McGee. Fred rolls up on Donald Jones when he’s blocking and he’s out for the year. Everybody has injuries. We all do. The thing you have to stay away from and I said this in the summer – If we could stay away from injuries I thought we could win 10 games. I didn’t tell anybody else except my wife.

“If we could not lose guys for the year, in other words if you lose them and then get them back. Philadelphia. Cincinnati. Some of those teams… New York Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw, the running back goes down but they got him back. The ones we lost we didn’t get back. Those guys were out for the year. You can take a dip in the middle of the year and get those guys back and come on strong toward the end. But that wasn’t the case with us. That’s not an excuse. That can happen anytime.”

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