Inside The Bills

Ponder admits Bills ‘D’ confusing

Posted by Chris Brown on August 17, 2013 – 1:54 am

Vikings QB Christian Ponder was just 5-12 passing for 53 yards and was sacked twice by Buffalo’s defense. After the game Ponder talked about how difficult Buffalo’s defense is to get a read on.

“Just their whole defense was pretty exotic,” he said. “They had some exotic personnel and different schemes, it was a little different and sometimes it was a little hard for us to identify. It was good for us to see a defense like that. They’re a very exotic defense, a very good defense. They had a lot of different looks.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Seminole Friday at the Ralph

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2013 – 10:46 am

It’s reunion weekend for Florida State, and it’s being held at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

When the Bills and the Vikings kick off Friday, there will be 11 players who can are former Seminoles.

For the Bills: EJ Manuel, Dustin Hopkins, Shawn Powell, Nigel Bradham and Zebrie Sanders and for the Vikings: Christian Ponder, Everett Dawkins, Letroy Guion, Anthony McCloud, Xavier Rhodes and Rodney Smith.

Manuel said he spoke to Ponder a few months ago, casually. He was Ponder’s backup for a couple of seasons at FSU. He’s looking forward to reuniting with some former teammates again.

“It’ll be nice to go out there and play a couple of the guys who also went to Florida State,” Manuel said. “It’s quite a few guys.”

However, seeing old friends again isn’t distracting from Manuel’s and the team’s goal, he said.

“We still gonna go out there and win, that doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

blog post compiled by Contributing Correspondent Nate West

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Manuel thrived in the backup role at FSU

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 27, 2013 – 6:00 pm

Bills first round draft pick EJ Manuel will get a chance to compete for the starting quarterback spot. Head Coach Doug Marrone made that clear Thursday night, shortly after the team chose the FSU QB as their first pick.

“He is now thrown into the mix of competition,” Marrone said about Manuel.

But if the 23-year old passer has to back up Kevin Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson, it won’t be his first experience as a backup.

Manuel spent his first two years at FSU backing up QB Christian Ponder, who went on to become the Vikings first round pick two years ago. And Manuel got plenty of playing time during those backup years. He started four games in 2009 when Ponder got injured, and led his team to the Gator Bowl title. And Manuel started two more the following year, and led the Seminoles to victory in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Manuel’s coach at FSU, Jimbo Fisher, says the young quarterback was extremely well prepared both seasons, when he was called upon to fill in for Ponder.

“I love the way he went about it,” Seminoles Coach Jimbo Fisher says. “I told him going in, backup quarterback is the hardest positon. Because you have to prepare like you’re going to go in, but you might never get a snap. It’s not like another position where you rotate.”

“But he took that role very seriously,” Fisher said, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show Friday night.
“And when we had Christian (Ponder) go down he jumped right in and led us to bowl games. When he had those opportunities he capitalized on them. He did a great job with his preparation.”

The entire interview with FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher is available here

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Posted in Inside the Bills

My 2nd rd mock pick for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2011 – 11:34 am

I released my 2011 mock draft on this morning. Can’t believe it’s the sixth annual already. I thought with the Bills picking so high in round two (34th – second) I would also submit a second-round mock pick for Buffalo.

In round two I’ve got the Bills taking Florida St. QB Christian Ponder. Here’s what Bills scout Darrell Moody had to say about Ponder.

“We had him at the Senior Bowl,” said Moody. “He’s an intelligent kid with good arm strength. Not great, but good and there are a lot of quarterbacks in this league that have good arm strength instead of great and usually those guys have to anticipate more and not try to throw them into small cracks. I’ll be surprised if he’s not a productive quarterback in this league.

“He’s proven that he can play with some injuries and quarterbacks have to play banged up in this league. He’s a very intelligent kid and athletic enough where he can avoid if he needs to and he’ll help somebody. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes whether he goes in the first round or the second round and a lot of that will depend on how quick those top two go.”

Bills GM Buddy Nix also mentioned Ponder as a consideration beyond their first pick as a player they liked in an interview with 103.3 the Edge Wednesday.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

LB to Bills in McShay mock

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2011 – 11:12 am

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has released the fourth version of his mock draft and he goes three rounds deep. He’s got an outside linebacker going to Buffalo third overall followed by a QB in round 2 and a TE in round 3.

After he predicts Cam Newton going to Carolina first, and Marcell Dareus to Denver second, McShay, like several mock prognosticators has Von Miller going to Buffalo at third overall. Here’s his reasoning for the pick.

The Bills’ most significant need is at left offensive tackle but there is not one on the board worth this pick and, although Gabbert would eventually provide a major upgrade at quarterback, Miller would be an immediate boost for a 3-4 defense that is in dire need of pass rushers. Former first-round pick Aaron Maybin has not realized his enormous potential and Miller is a plug-and-play impact rusher who could help fill the void by quickly becoming a double-digit sack man.

 In round 2 McShay has Buffalo taking Florida State QB Christian Ponder with the 34th overall pick. In round 3 he has Buffalo taking Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Draft prospects meet staff

Posted by Chris Brown on March 31, 2011 – 10:24 am

Bills head coach Chan Gailey and his assistant coaches are meeting with each of the three scheduled pre-draft visitors at One Bills Drive this morning.

Nick Fairley, Justin Houston and Christian Ponder are all having conversations with Gailey and his staff at One Bills Drive on their pre-draft visits.

Bills GM Buddy Nix stated earlier in the week that the team has 25 prospects scheduled to visit during the pre-draft visit period, which runs up until April 20th.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ponder, Dalton working out

Posted by Chris Brown on March 29, 2011 – 11:30 am

Florida St. QB Christian Ponder, who Bills GM Buddy Nix confirmed will have a pre-draft visit with the Bills, is reportedly working out for another NFL team today, and TCU QB Andy Dalton is working out for another.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Ponder is working out for the Minnesota Vikings today (Tuesday). Meanwhile Dalton is reportedly scheduled to work out for the Indianapolis Colts.

Ponder’s workout is taking place on campus in Tallahassee. Dalton and Ryan Mallett are also scheduled to meet with the Vikings per the Star-Tribune report.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Nix confirms QB visits

Posted by Chris Brown on March 28, 2011 – 6:09 pm

Bills GM Buddy Nix confirmed that Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder will all be in for pre-draft visits.

At the State of the Bills event in downtown Buffalo, Nix and head coach Chan Gailey both confirmed that Newton was in town and will visit the facility Tuesday.

Nix also said that there could be more quarterbacks and several other position players like defensive linemen and linebackers.

More on later this evening.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-25

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2011 – 1:42 pm

Time for your Fan Friday questions from Keep them coming and have a good weekend everybody.

1 – Hi Chris  
I have been thinking the Bills should go defensive tackle or linebacker at #3 overall.  What do you think about them taking Robert Quinn, potentially, the next Bruce Smith? If they don’t put him at End then put him at Linebacker. The guy has everything the Bills are looking for as far as pass rush, and explosiveness, with one year less of wear and tear on the body. 
Go Bills !!!!
Thanks,  Dale

CB: The wear and tear argument is a good one with respect to Quinn, but most NFL talent evaluators worry about the one less year of development. Quinn is a great raw talent and will probably go in the top 15 because of his high ceiling, but he’s also a risk and might take longer to adjust after a year away from football. As a result some teams might not feel comfortable investing a top 10 pick in a guy that might not be able to give you instant impact in year one.

2 – Hi Chris,
Everyone seems to be predicting that the Bills will take a QB with their pick at #3, but I’m not buying it.  Can you give me your prediction on how many team “need” a QB and would take one in the first round if he was the right guy?  I’m thinking there are 4-5 potential first round QBs (Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Mallet) and one of them should fall to Bills in the Second or even third round.

Ashburn, VA
CB: The only way the Bills take a QB at 3 is if they’re convinced that one of the top prospects is a franchise type quarterback, otherwise they pass. But there are a number of teams with a quarterback need in the top half of round one. As I see it you’ve got the following.
Carolina at 1
Buffalo at 3
Cincinnati at 4 (Palmer wants out)
Arizona at 5
San Fran at 7
Tennessee at 8
Washington at 10 (McNabb to be moved)
Minnesota at 12

In reality the only quarterbacks most analysts see going in the top 12 are Gabbert or Newton. Mallett and Locker have character and accuracy issues respectively and might not even come off the board in round one, though QB value tends to get inflated on draft day. We’ll see.

3 – Hey Chris,
My question is in regards to Christian Ponder of FSU. As Gailey has clearly stated that Fitz is his starter going forward at this point, would Ponder be a nice addition to this team. I have seen Ponder play the last 3 years and have seen his skills as well as his flaws. It seems to me that he can play at the NFL level with the right coaching staff and teammates. He has good arm strength and decent accuracy. I know his durability would be a main factor in his NFL career. With Gailey and the rest of the coaching staff, as well as guidance from Fitz, I believe he would be a great asset to our Bills team for little money. Your feedback would be great on the thought of Ponder to the Bills in Rnd 3 or 4. Thank you and as always “GO BILLS” and “GO FITZ”!!!!!!!!!

CB: Unfortunately I don’t see Christian Ponder lasting until round 3. I think he goes in the top half of round 2. After an injury-riddled senior season, he’s had a productive pre-draft period. He performed well at the Senior Bowl on Chan Gailey’s South team taking MVP honors. In the games I’ve seen him play the leadership comes naturally to him. He’s not afraid to take chances and he’s really smart. He’s also played in a pro-style offense at Florida State so the transition for him figures to be shorter than other QBs in this class. Personally I like him as a talent. Some so called experts say he’s best suited to play in west coast system, but I think his ability can take him beyond that.

4 – Chris,
Like you, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick did a great job at QB this past year and don’t believe Buddy will draft a QB at 3.  Last year Buddy said the Bills need playmakers and then drafted one.  I believe he will duplicate exactly what he did last year, he will first draft a playmaker with pick #3 ( Peterson think Revis, Von Miller think Mathews or Green think Fitzgerald), then focus on the defensive front seven in rounds 2-4 along with a developmental QB and maybe a TE.
So, could you please name some of the 3-4 DEs and ISLBs that would be available in rounds 2-4, along with the names of QBs better suited to the what the Bills do.  I’m thinking a smart guy who can process information like RF but with a stronger arm.  Also, a few TEs as well.  I truly believe that Buddy and Chan are turning this team around. 
Thank you for your great work and keep it coming!  Go Bills!!

CB: Here you go.
ILBs in round 2 – Martez Wilson – Illinois; round 3 – Kelvin Sheppard – LSU, Quan Sturdivant – UNC, Colin McCarthy – Miami; round 4 – Greg Jones – Michigan St., Nate Irving – N.C. State

DEs in round 2 – Cameron Heyward – Ohio St., Christian Ballard – Iowa, Jabaal Sheard – Pitt; round 3 – Allen Bailey – Miami, Pernell McPhee – Miss. St.; round 4 – Pierre Allen – Nebraska, Rickey Elmore – Arizona, Greg Romeus – Pitt

QBs that could fit in the Bills scheme really doesn’t apply because Chan Gailey always adjusts his scheme to fit the players as evidenced by what he did in going from Neil O’Donnell to Kordell Stewart in Pittsburgh. The good thing about that is it could open the Bills up to more possibilities if they choose to take a QB.

TEs – round 2 – Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame, Luke Stocker – Tennessee; Round 3 – D.J. Williams – Arkansas, Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin; round 4 – Jordan Cameron – USC, Rob Housler – Florida Atlantic, Virgil Green – Nevada
5 – Chris, 
Can you break down what the scouts think about the three best mobile QBs in the draft, that being Newton, Locker, and Kaepernick.  Judging on Chan’s desire for a guy that can move out of the pocket and what round they can be had (NEWTON 1) (LOCKER/Kaepernick 2-3), who makes the most sense for the Bills just on talent and ability to drop back to be a full time passer. I think Kaepernick seems like a great talent and has put up better numbers than most QB’s. Locker could also develop better. He’s got major arm and legs. How interested are the Bills in Locker and Kaepernick compared to the rumors of Cam?


CB: Most scouts in the league that I’ve seen quoted anonymously are concerned with Locker’s inconsistencies in terms of accuracy and decision making. Great athlete, but accuracy in the NFL where the windows are smaller is key. With Newton it’s the offense he comes from and concerns about his character and work ethic. Again a great athlete with loads of potential, but playing QB in the NFL is a lot more than being athletic are the issues for scouts. Finally Kaepernick, again fantastic athlete, but comes from a pistol offense where they spread things out. But he was a four-year starter and has consistent numbers. His mechanics have been knocked (long wind up), but he’s clean as far as the intangibles and as a leader. Pretty sharp too. All these NFL teams have to determine if these QBs are franchise type material. That’s the question that must be answered.

As far as how interested the Bills are, that’s tough to say. Locker, Newton and Kaepernick haven’t been in for pre-draft visits to this point. That obviously could change in the coming weeks. Chan believes mobility is important, but doesn’t rule out QBs that are as mobile necessarily. Here’s what he said at the combine about mobility in a QB.

“I think you have to be able to adjust. Mobilty helps, yes, but if you don’t have a mobile quarterback and he’s your best quarterback then you better find a way to be successful without having mobility involved in it. We did it with Troy (Aikman) in Dallas. Troy wasn’t a bootleg type guy, but we did it a little bit just to keep them honest. You have to adjust. Whoever your best player is you adjust around what they do.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Sharp day for Ponder

Posted by Chris Brown on March 16, 2011 – 3:45 pm

Florida State QB Christian Ponder has been steadily building momentum for his draft stock since his solid performance in the Senior Bowl, and his pro day on Wednesday did nothing to slow it down.

Ponder, who threw to Florida State teammates and retired NFL wideout Isaac Bruce, tossed about 60 passes according to the Orlando Sentinel and was sharp on the whole. NFL scouts on hand requested to see some deep balls to better gauge Ponder’s arm strength coming off his injury-plagued senior season. Ponder said they had downfield passes already scripted in anticipation of that request.

“I think they just really wanted to see how the ball was coming out today, and especially on the deep balls,” Ponder told the Orlando Sentinel. “And that’s what they specifically asked to see before I ever threw a ball – they wanted to see if we were going to throw some deep balls. And I thought I threw them pretty well.”

He said he has nine or 10 private workouts scheduled with NFL clubs between now and the draft, but refused to mention any by name.

Ponder is no doubt hoping his experience in a pro-style offense, his natural leadership skills and on field intelligence will convince NFL decision makers to look past the injuries he sustained in 2010. He’s been forecast as high as an early second-round pick.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-11

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2011 – 11:12 am

Let’s get right to your questions from

1 –
The Bills have long neglected to upgrade the TE position. If Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame is available in the second round, what do you think are the chances they would draft him? Rudolph is a rare combination of possessing solid blocking skill and a vertical threat as well. For a second round pick, Rudolph will probably be the most talented rookie available at that stage of the draft. Do you think Chan Gailey will finally address this weakness of the Bills?  I realize that improving the defense is a priority, however picking Rudolph would improve the OL while providing Fitz with another target, he so desperately needs.
Go Bills!
Buffalo Bill

CB: While I agree that Kyle Rudolph is the best tight end talent in the draft, I’d be surprised if the Bills drafted him in round two. The positional holes on this team are much more pressing at defensive line, linebacker and quarterback. In fact I think cornerback is a position that is likely to be addressed prior to tight end.

I think when you look at the talent that emerged for the Bills at wide receiver last season, it reduced the need to add a difference maker at tight end. Rudolph also has injury questions to answer at his pro day in April. 

2 – Hi Chris,
I read what you said about Dareus and Fairley. Is 3 too high for Kerrigan for Purdue? He seems like an Aaron Schobel type. The other 2
guys, although beasts, seem like 4-3 tackles, instead of 3-4 ends? Also, do we stick with Fitz or take like a Kaepernik or Ponder in the 3rd round. Really like both those guys in the Senior Bowl. Ponder go IT done and Kaepernick has a rocket! What are your thoughts?

CB: Three is too high for Kerrigan. There’s still some question as to whether he’s athletic enough to transition to a 3-4 OLB or if he’s strictly a 4-3 end. I tend to think he’s just just a 4-3 end. His game is similar to Schobel’s, but Schobel was a mid-second round pick.
Kerrigan will come off the board somewhere between 15 and 25.

Ponder did do well at the Senior Bowl. Some of the experts believe he’d work best in a west coast offense, which the Bills are not, but there is a relationship there with Gailey. Kapernick is more of a project because he operated out of the Pistol offense and did a lot of running (4,000 yards rushing in college). He’s got an arm, but it’s the decision making where he’s got a lot of work to do in terms of reading progressions and getting timing down delivering the ball when he hits the back of his drop in rhythm. There is talent there however.

3 – Hi Chris,
I highly doubt that Nick Fairley will be available when the Bills pick, so I wanted to get your thoughts on two other prospects that may be feasible options for them.
First is Da’Quan Bowers. Do you think he has the ability and stature to play end in a 3-4 front in the NFL? Might he be better suited to play Outside linebacker if he dropped a few pounds? Or do you only see him as end in a 4-3 front?
Second is Von Miller. I had the opportunity to watch the Senior Bowl, and although linebackers were not allowed to blitz (limiting his full potential), he still played a strong game, exhibiting much of the talent, intelligence and understanding he has for the game. He looks like he could be an excellent outside linebacker, but he seems a bit undersized for the position at the NFL level (238 lbs). Do you think his lack of size may be an issue at all?
Just wanted to get your thoughts on these two individuals and whether you think they would be an ideal fit for Buffalo’s present defensive scheme.
Thanks Chris.

CB: The people in the know that I’ve talked to believe Bowers can handle an end role in a 3-4 as well as a 4-3. At 275 pounds with an upper body that is said to be freakishly strong most think he’s more likely to be a 3-4 end than a 3-4 OLB. Now I’m sure not all NFL teams will feel that way, and I suppose if he lost weight OLB in a 3-4 could be an option. But to me that’s a big ‘if’ with him.

As for Miller he’s impressive on tape. There’s no debating that. He did drop into coverage a bit more as a senior. At the Senior Bowl he showed me he’s more than capable of covering stuff in the flat and on wheel routes. That intermediate range might be a different story. He’s a pass rushing terror though and that’s why he’s going to be a top 5 pick.

The Bills need to improve their pass rush, there’s no question about that so he’s definitely a consideration for them at 3.

4 – Hey Chris. My question is in regards to the QB class this year. Knowing that Coach Gailey is moving forward with Fitz as the starter next season, what are your thoughts on Ponder? I love Fitz and expect more consistency from him this year and believe he could lead us to the playoffs. Onto Ponder, I see him as a great 2nd stringer to learn the system and grow due to Gailey and the coaching staff. In a year or two he could provide an answer for our offense if things do not go right with Fitz, or a good bargaining chip in the trade market. I have watched him his whole career and know he has a durability issue. His strengths are very good, however, and I can only see him get better in the NFL. Thanks and as always “GO BILLS!!!!”
Ocala, FL

CB: The thing I like most about Ponder is his natural leadership. Players just rally around that guy and he’s a fiery leader, one where you can see it out on the field. I think Bills fans would love that. NFL personnel people like that too because leadership can’t be taught.
I think his arm is good enough and coming from a pro style offense at Florida State is also a plus. He gets criticized for making some bad decisions late in games last year, but to me I saw most of them as a guy trying to make a play for his team. On occasion he may have been trying too hard, but I’d rather have a guy willing to take risk to win a game than no risk at all.

5 – Hey Chris,

I have noticed that the Bills are getting new uniforms for the 2011 season which is awesome. My question though is that I heard Nike has struck a deal with the NFL to revamp all the uniforms, at least I thought it was for the 2012 season. So does that mean these new uniforms will only be worn for one year or will the new nike ones come in a couple more years?


Garrett from Pa

CB: From what I have been told Reebok will be in charge of the new jersey design this year. Then Nike takes over in 2012, but changing the jersey would require formal application to the league, which can take up to 18 months. So as I understand it Nike will inherit the jersey design from Reebok and make no changes.

Bonus – Chris

You mention how the offensive line seems to have gained depth this year with much of it in the middle, and Eric Wood and Geoff Hangartner compete for the starting center role with Kraig Urbik the likely starter at right guard and you believe the odds on favorite to start at  right tackle is Erik Pears. My question has to do with Chad Rinehart, he was a OLT in college projected to the right side in the pros. Does he have a chance at RT? or does Gailey and staff see him strictly in the middle? and why strictly in the middle ?    
Thanks J.C. ( ex-NY upstate resident ) now living Katy, TX

CB: They see him mainly as a guard because of his feet. Rinehart is a grinder that’ll punch you in the mouth in the blink of an eye, but they feel he’s better suited inside as opposed to out on the edge where he has to cover more space. I liked what he gave the Bills at guard last year and he’ll likely be competing with Urbik for that right guard role if Wood in fact competes with Hangartner at center.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-4

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2011 – 3:43 pm

Though there are bigger headlines concerning the NFL right now, we dive into your Bills and draft related questions from here on Fan Friday.

1 – Chris
 Do you think it’s possible that the Bills might go after Carson Palmer? It has been said that he has asked for a trade and will consider retirement if the team does not meet his wishes. Would Buffalo possibly show interest in acquiring him? With Fitz penciled in as starter as of right now I BILLieve he would be a great asset to the Bills organization, especially with the relationship that Fitz and Palmer share. If Buffalo decided not to pursue him are there any other veteran QBs out there that Buffalo might be interested in? With the #3 pick overall I just don’t see a QB at that spot being drafted when our D is the real soft spot, but there is no question we need a long term answer at our QB position and with Palmer being a former #1 pick he could be our guy. Love your blog thanks for keeping us Bills fans constantly informed.
-Jeff P.
Rochester, NY

CB: I’d be surprised if the Bills engaged in trade talks for Carson Palmer. It just doesn’t fit the Buddy Nix model of building a team, which is largely done through the draft. Nix and Chan Gailey are taking a methodical approach to building this team the right way. I don’t see Palmer being a part of that.

The only other free agent QB I thought made sense for them in a backup capacity to Fitz was Tyler Thigpen, who worked with Chan Gailey in Kansas City in 2008 and started games for the Chiefs. The two worked pretty well together despite a lack of talent around Thigpen at the time. Thigpen’s availability will ultimately be determined by what everyone is waiting for at the league level.

As for the pick at 3, I believe quarterback is a genuine consideration. The task for the Bills brass now is determining whether or not they believe one of the top quarterback prospects is truly a franchise QB. If so they’ll take one at 3, be it Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. I don’t believe anyone else falls into the discussion this year.

Otherwise it will be defensive line. Thanks for the kind words.

2 – Hi Chris,
I’ve seen Cam Newton, Mallett, and others, but I just recently watched video on Colin Kaepernick and I’m REALLY impressed. How is he not getting as much talk as all the others? What do you think about him? If you have a chance, watch his very first start against Boise St., the #3 ranked defense. Also hear that he light it up at the Manning QB camp.

CB: The reason Kaepernick is not getting as much consideration is because he’s considered more of a developmental project in terms of molding him into a pro QB. Kaepernick rushed for over 4,000 yards in Nevada’s Pistol offense. Chan Gailey ran a version of the pistol offense in Kansas City when he had Tyler Thigpen scrambling around.

Kaepernick has an NFL arm and obviously mobility, and he’s insisted to me that he had progressions in his offensive scheme at Nevada, but I don’t know if NFL talent evaluators are buying it. They feel there’s a longer learning curve there with him than some of the others in this class that come from spread offenses (Newton, Gabbert) and I think part of it has to do with his throwing mechanics. He does have a long wind up, but the Bills have said throwing mechanics do not carry a lot of weight with them in comparison to throwing it to the right spot at the right time and getting it there with accuracy.

3 – Chris,

I noticed One Bills Dr. added quite a few O-linemen during the later half of the season, including Kraig Urbik 6’5″ 323lbs, Chad Rinehart 6’5″ 307lbs, Colin Brown, 6’7″ 335lbs, Erik Pears, 6’8″ 305lbs and Mansfield Wrotto, 6’3″ 320lbs.  (Plus we already have Cordaro Howard and Hangartner).

If it comes to pass that Eric Wood gets moved to center during off season OTAs and training camp, who do you think has the best chance of becoming the starter at right Guard for the Bills?  The Bills played so many different combinations to finish out the year I never got a good feel for who seemed to be the best right Guard candidate.

P.S.  As a follow up, which of these players could be in the mix for right Tackle?

Thank you,
Tim N

CB: The right guard in that scenario would be Kraig Urbik, and here’s why. Buddy Nix upon claiming Urbik off waivers stated that on their draft board in 2009, their three best guards were Eric Wood, Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik. With a big smile Nix said, “Now we’ve got all three.”

So if Wood moves to center he’ll be flanked by Levitre and Urbik in my opinion, unless Urbik’s play drops off dramatically this year and I don’t see any reason why it would.

As for right tackle the odds on favorite there is Erik Pears. He outperformed Mansfield Wrotto earning playing time at the end of the season, and is a former two-year starter for the Broncos at tackle. With Wrotto expected to play more on the interior and compete for a guard spot, Pears has less competition barring the addition of a draft choice.

4 – Hey Chris,
I was wondering with coach Gailey being able to work with the South QBs and also him being a offensive guy would the Bills conseder getting a quaterback like Ponder or Dalton. Ponder might have improved his draft stock to a late second round but Dalton might be there in the 3rd. Just wondering if they would take a quaterback.

Thanks for the time,

CB: I think the Bills taking a QB at third overall is a distinct possibility provided they believe one of the top candidates is a franchise QB. If not then your scenario is more likely with a third round prospect a possibility. Ponder performed well at the Senior Bowl (MVP) and did well at the combine both on the field and in interviews from what I’ve been told. So he might not be there in the third. Some even believe Seattle is considering him at 25th overall.

5 – Hi Chris,
I like you believe that the Bills need Fairley and I think he would help this defense out tremendously, do you see the Bills just making a deal if Carolina is willing to move 2 spots that way there is no anticipation whether the team or 2 before us is going to grab him. Because over the last few draft classes I really believe that they should have made some better picks or at least tried to jump up in the draft.
Thanks for your time               

CB: I do like Fairley’s game a lot, but I do believe Marcell Dareus is right there with him and just as good a pick. The Bills seem to believe Da’Quan Bowers is a multiple defense fit, but I don’t think he’s as versatile as those two, despite being a better pass rusher.

All that being said I’d be surprised if Buffalo moves up from pick 3. Sure there is the danger of missing out on somebody, but if a defensive lineman is what they’re after, there’s more than enough to choose from at three because even if two of the aforementioned players go first and second, there’s still one there to take. Also remember that Buddy Nix has said time and again he’s not a guy that likes to jump around the draft board. He likes to sit where he is and make his picks.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Gabbert & Ponder fishing buds

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2011 – 7:07 pm

Two of the better quarterbacks in the 2011 draft pool have bonded the past couple of months.

Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder have both been preparing for the NFL combine and their respective pro days at a sports performance facility in Arizona. As is usually the case, spending several weeks doing nothing but training with the same guys players develop friendships. Gabbert and Ponder appreciate having a fellow quarterback to go through the pre-draft process with on a daily basis.

“It’s been great for the both of us,” said Ponder. “We’ve become pretty close and it’s hard to find someone that you’re so similar to. We work out together, go fishing together, do a lot of things off the field. I’ve enjoyed it and at the same time we’re competing against each other. But we’ve formed a close bond in a short time and we’re there to support each other.”

“Christian is an awesome guy,” said Gabbert. “We’ve become really good friends and just having another quarterback to relate to really helps the whole process. Just bouncing ideas off him and working out together and then we have some of the same interests off the field. We’ve gone fishing a few times at a few mountain lakes up there. So we’ve got a close bond and we’re good buds.”

When Ponder was asked who the better fisherman was he answered quickly.
“I am,” he said. “When we went I caught twice as many fish as he did. So obviously me.”

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Ponder changes mind

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2011 – 9:11 pm

Florida State QB Christian Ponder told that he did not intend to throw at the NFL combine while at the Senior Bowl in Mobile in late January. Now he’s reportedly had a change of plans.

According to Pro Football Talk Ponder will participate in throwing drills at the NFL combine this week. Ponder had a productive week at the Senior Bowl and was the game’s MVP in the 24-10 South team win.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-28

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2011 – 1:30 pm

It’s been a fun week at the Senior Bowl here in Mobile. The pre-draft process has begun. Time for your questions from

1 – Chris,

Unless the Bills take a QB with the third pick which seems unlikely do to the talent there on defensive  what do you think about the middle round QB’s. Ponder from FSU seems overrated while Pat Devlin and the freakish 6’6′ speedy Colin Kaepernick looks like guys Chan could develop into a throwing quarterback. What do the scouts see of these guys?


CB: At this stage in the game scouts are hesitant to talk much about prospects. They’re still gathering the all important character background information now that they can talk to the players with the college seasons over. They did a lot of that this week at the Senior Bowl. The lobby at the hotel may as well have been a convention hall with all the one-on-one meetings I witnessed by all the NFL clubs.

As for the quarterbacks you mentioned. I love Ponder’s natural leadership and he has the physical skills to play in the league. I just want to be convinced that some of his late game mistakes this past season were a result of him trying to do too much, which could be corrected. Delaware’s Pat Devlin really struggled to complete passes at the East-West Shrine game by all accounts and that won’t fly in Buffalo’s weather, literally. Kaepernick is really intriguing. He’s got prototype size, can run around and make plays on the move and has a solid arm.

I’m really hoping he shows well in Saturday’s game, but even so he’s probably a second rounder at best at this point. I think Ponder has the best intangible/physical skills combination while Kaepernick has the most potential and I like TCU’s Andy Dalton too. He’s a smart quarterback that can make plays and rarely makes mistakes. Those are some of the middle round guys I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Bills uniform.

2 – Can you break down in general terms how the Bills scout college players? Do they travel to games or only break down game tape? Do they have scouts that focus on different regions of the country? And the non Division I schools? Since under Buddy they drafted small school guys like Batten, Moats,  Brown, and free agent Donald Jones. How involved is Buddy in the scouting process or does that fall under Modrak. When does Chan fit into the process in looking at future guys? I’m sure lots of Bills fans are wondering how 1 team can look at 7 rounds of college players.


CB: Yes, scouts are assigned to specific regions of the country like the southeast or the west. They occasionally travel to games, but in large part they go to a school in the fall during the season during the week and go watch game tape at the schools. The school’s pro liaison generally sets up a room for all the scouts to make use of on campus.

Scouts look at seniors only at this time and put together full reports on any and all seniors that are believed to be draft worthy. Some schools have two, some schools have eight to 10. All of them must be done. After watching tape all morning, scouts will take in practice that afternoon on campus, and they might talk to an assistant coach to ask about a player’s work habits or talk to the strength and conditioning coach to get a feel for the player’s dedication.

Then it’s on to the next school that week and the process repeats itself week after week for about four months. In the end they usually come up with 350 draft eligible players on their board and about 150 players that they expect to go undrafted, but still might want to sign as undrafted free agents.

Buddy is involved in the scouting process. There were several weeks this season where he was out on the road from Thursday to Saturday and then re-joined the team for Sunday games. The coaching staff usually begins to focus their attention on the draft process after their review of the previous season through film study has concluded. That usually happens now during Senior Bowl week.

3 – Chris,
My question to you is: who are some of the big name free agents from other teams that you could see Buffalo going after in the offseason? Any holes that we could solve this way like the Merriman pick-up. Thanks for the daily info.

Chris in Atlanta

CB: I’ll be honest. I haven’t poured over the prospective free agents list just yet, primarily because we don’t what the state of free agency is going to be without a new labor agreement. They’ll all be in limbo. That being said I do know that Miami QB Tyler Thigpen is a free agent. Knowing his history with Chan Gailey when he was the offensive coordinator with him in Kansas City, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills make a play for his services as a backup quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.

4 – Chris
Just a thought and I would like your feed back. I think and hope that Troup continues to get better. I really like the guy that was added late in the season, (Kellen Heard). I was watching him for a few years until he changed schools. He looks like a beast. What would you think of Heard and Troup rotating in the middle and get Fairley in the first round and have him and Kyle Williams at the ends? That could be a great line up. I think Kyle would be an animal at DE.

John N.

CB: Fairley is my personal favorite for the Bills pick, but I’m not sure he’ll be there at three. Heard is a guy that Buffalo wants to see a bit more of so it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes heading into next season. I don’t know if he’s starter worthy.

I’ve asked coach Gailey about playing Kyle at end and he believes that Kyle is so effective inside that he can’t afford to move him to the edge of their defensive front. He thinks he does his best work in there. And yes I do believe Troup will get better as well as Carrington.

5 – Chris
Any chance of the Bills getting compensatory draft picks this year?


Unfortunately Scott I’m not optimistic. The main criteria needed to qualify for compensatory picks is a net loss in free agents. Basically you need to sign fewer than you lose. What also makes it tricky is only certain free agents signed by other clubs or by your club in a predetermined offseason time period qualify. So for example Terrell Owens, who did not sign with Cincinnati until the first day of training camp, would not qualify as a loss because he signed with another club very late.

By my count I don’t have the Bills sustaining a net loss of free agents this past offseason so I’m not expecting them to be awarded any compensatories.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

South QBs repping Texas

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2011 – 8:05 am

The South team roster at the Senior Bowl has three quarterbacks and all of them are from the state of Texas. Two of them even played high school ball in the same district, making for a rare camaraderie here in Mobile.

Florida St. QB Christian Ponder grew up in Colleyville, Texas just outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Alabama’s Greg McElroy played at Carroll high school in Grapevine, Texas and won a Class 5A state title as a first-year starter setting a state record with 56 touchdown passes that season. The team that McElroy and his Carroll team beat was Katy, whose quarterback was TCU’s Andy Dalton out of the Houston area.

“We’ve been around each other for a long time,” said Dalton. “We all knew each other in high school. We went through recruiting and all that kind of stuff. It’s been fun to watch how each of us have grown up and learned how to play and now being back with one another.”

“It’s pretty cool and very unique,” said Ponder. “Greg and I worked out together back in high school and we know Andy as well. We’ve all crossed paths at some point. So we’ve kept up with each other throughout our whole careers in college. For us to be here is pretty unique. We’re having fun with it. We’re friends, but at the same time we’re both very competitive in what we’re doing.”

The three signal callers could be heard from the sideline all ribbing each other’s game during the course of practices this week.

“We kind of knock on each other,” said Ponder. “But we’re close friends.”

And though it may sound unusual to have three college QBs from Texas at one Senior Bowl, Ponder put the odds of that in the proper perspective.

“Our senior year the class of 2006 there were 26 quarterbacks signed to play Division I out of Texas,” he said. “Texas is definitely the best high school football out there.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills well versed on Ponder

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2011 – 11:21 pm

The Bills coaching staff has had the chance all week to get to know the 52 players on the South team roster, but there was one guy they didn’t have to do quite as much homework on. That’s because Florida State’s Christian Ponder is someone Chan Gailey and offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins have known since the quarterback was in high school.

“I recruited Christian out of high school so I’ve known him for a long time,” said Gailey.

Gailey was the head coach at Georgia Tech when Ponder was contemplating his options as to where he would play college football.

“We had a prior relationship,” admitted Ponder. “When he was the coach at Georgia Tech they recruited me pretty hard and they were probably my second choice next to Florida State. I actually had a good relationship with Coach Modkins. He was the guy that recruited me personally. It’s good to work with them finally and it’s a pretty unique situation.”

Ponder obviously chose Florida State, but he did it for a couple of reasons. First, his father was a linebacker for Florida State in the 70’s and second he said it was always a dream  to play for Bobby Bowden, which he did for his first three seasons.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Ponder not planning to throw at Combine

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2011 – 7:11 pm

Christian Ponder is getting some good exposure at the Senior Bowl to show that his arm is back to full strength after a grade-3 separation his junior season, and a forearm problem this past year. But at this point he does not intend to participate fully at the NFL Combine in Indy next month.

“I think the plan right now is I’m not going to throw, which most quarterbacks do,” said Ponder. “Something could change and I could throw, but I will do everything else.”

Provided he has a good showing this Saturday those plans not to throw will likely hold.

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