Inside The Bills

Kiper: Lewan is #2 offensive tackle

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2014 – 1:59 pm

A bit earlier in the pre-draft process the top three tackles were widely projected as Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, in that order. After talking to several NFL clubs Kiper says it’s Lewan second and Matthews third and he believes Lewan could be off the board by pick six.

Kiper even thinks Lewan could go as high as pick two to St. Louis.

“In terms of going two, it’s not out of the question,” said Kiper. “If they (St. Louis) do take a tackle he’s right there with Robinson. You could make an argument that he’s better than Robinson, which right now he is. Robinson might have bigger upside, but Taylor Lewan really benefited by going back for his senior year. If he doesn’t go there he could go to Oakland at five, definitely to Atlanta at six. I don’t think he gets past six.”

Kiper believes Lewan’s improvement in pass protection in his senior season is a big factor in his superior ranking to Matthews on a good number of team boards. That’s not to discount Matthews, who is a very accomplished tackle in his own right. It’s just that Kiper sees Lewan as superior and believes his nasty on field demeanor makes him more attractive as well, especially to the Falcons with the sixth pick.

“His pass protection skills have improved where you weren’t beating him last year,” said Kiper. “He’s got great feet, balance and hand punch. He battles and fights. He can get after you as a run blocker. To me Lewan is a nasty, tough street fighter. He’s a battler.

“For Atlanta they could use some of that physicality. They didn’t have that. They were too finesse, too passive. That Falcons line was one of the worst in the NFL last year and Matt Ryan and Steven Jackson paid the price for that. Lewan with his attitude and approach would make a lot of sense for the Falcons at six. Lewan for the Bills at nine I can’t see him dropping that far.”

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Auburn RB Mason loved his OT Robinson

Posted by Chris Brown on April 25, 2014 – 9:10 am

While there are no doubt a lot of NFL personnel people who have fallen in love with the skill set and upside of Auburn OT Greg Robinson, who we feature today in our Countdown to Draft Day series presented by Time Warner Cable, the offensive tackle had a lot of teammates that admired his abilities on the field as well.

Among them Auburn RB Tre Mason, who rolled up more than 1,800 rushing yards to break Bo Jackson’s single-season rushing record at the school. For Mason having Robinson to run behind was a blessing.

“It was a lot of fun. Since freshman year, I knew Greg was going to be something special. He was around that size freshman year coming in,” said Mason. “He just tightened it up a little bit. I knew he was going to something special. He demolished people. He just straight manhandled people. As soon as the ball was hiked, he was five yards down the field with a guy in his hands.”

Robinson could be one of the first five picks off the board May 8th.


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Could ’14 draft be repeat of ’13 at OT?

Posted by Chris Brown on March 19, 2014 – 11:42 am

As we profiled in first installment of our On The Clock series driven by Michelin and Dunn Tire this morning – The Rise of the Right Tackle – the 2013 NFL draft saw four tackles go off the board in the first 12 picks and all three started their careers at right tackle. This spring three offensive tackles could all come off the board before the draft is out of the top 10. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Auburn’s Greg Robinson are the three prized prospects to anchor down important edge roles for NFL offenses.

Many consider Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews to be the most polished of the top three tackles, something Matthews doesn’t mind hearing.

“Being considered a polished player, someone who’s done a lot and played well in my life, I’ll take that as a (compliment),” he said. “At the same time, I still feel like there’s a lot I can get better at. Definitely wouldn’t say I’m at my peak – a lot more I can learn, a lot more I can get better at. So all those things (are) stuff that’s motivating me, and I’m just trying to prove I am capable of being the best lineman.”

Though Auburn’s Greg Robinson is considered raw by comparison, some believe his ceiling as an NFL tackle is higher than Matthews.

“I’m not at full potential right now. I still have a lot to go,” he said. “I started last year was my first season starting. Like the guys they have ahead of me like Jake Matthews, he started since he was a freshman. That’s just something I feel I need to prove.’’

And Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is more athletic than given credit for, though more are coming around to his agility and power combination following a strong combine workout. Many also like his on field demeanor as he brings a nasty demeanor to his game.

“I like to think I’m very consistent and I play through the whistle,” said Lewan. “That’s one of my weaknesses, too, as everybody likes to comment on. But no doubt about it, I like to play through the whistle and do whatever I can to put people in the dirt as much as possible.”

It was thought that a fourth tackle could go in the top 15 as Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio was considered a dark horse for the top half of round one, but concerns surrounding a knee surgery may change that.

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Mayock felt top 3 OTs held their own

Posted by Chris Brown on February 24, 2014 – 4:00 pm

They’re probably all back home by now as the agenda for the offensive line at the NFL Combine is complete, but the top three offensive tackles in this year’s draft all fared well as NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock sees it.

“When linemen have big days like that, I get excited and I love it but it doesn’t change my rankings really,” he said of Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson and Jake Mattews. “It shows me he’s is athletic which I already thought he was. I think all three of those tackles are probably better than the tackles as a group that we had last year and they went one, [two] and four. So it’s a different draft class but in my opinion those three tackles are top-10 talents.”

Lewan and Robinson were first and second in the 40 among offensive linemen while Matthews was ninth. Robinson and Lewan were seventh and ninth on the bench press. Lewan and Matthews tied for third in vertical leap and Robinson was 12th. Lewan and Robinson was first and third and Matthews was 11th in broad jump. And Matthews and Lewan were second and fourth in the three cone drill.

Of the three Lewan had the best rankings overall, holding the best 40 time, top 10 on the bench, third in vertical leap and first in the broad jump.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.

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OT Matthews would “love to play for Fisher”

Posted by Chris Brown on February 20, 2014 – 8:36 pm

His dad played 19 years in the league and went to 14 straight Pro Bowls. Bruce Matthews also played a good portion of his career under head coach Jeff Fisher with the Titans. Now Fisher is running the show in St. Louis, which also happens to hold the second pick in the draft. Having coached his father in Tennessee, the general consensus is seeing the Rams, in need of offensive line help, will likely take Matthews son Jake Matthews, the Texas A&M product with that second overall selection. As far as the junior Matthews is concerned that’d be more than fine.

“I knew (Coach Fisher) a little bit, not too well,” said Matthews of his childhood. “Obviously my dad played for him, so he’s got a great relationship with him. I was just a kid running around when my dad was playing. Knew (Fisher) him but not really too well. There is that connection for sure. I would love to play for him.”

Matthews is clearly the most polished offensive tackle in the draft class when it comes to technique and feet. Whether that will trump the perceived upside of Auburn’s Greg Robinson remains to be seen.

For more Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts, click here.

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Football Outsiders peg OT as top Bills need

Posted by Chris Brown on February 14, 2014 – 10:24 am

The Football Outsiders have put their number crunching to good use when it comes  to draft needs. And when considering what Buffalo could use most to help their team right away in 2014 they peg offensive tackle as the team’s top positional need.

I feel much the same way and knowing that a few of the teams in front of Buffalo in round one have a quarterback need there’s a very good chance that one of the top three offensive tackles in the draft reaches the Bills at ninth overall. Those are considered to be Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.

Below is the analysis of Football Outsiders to justify OT as the team’s top positional need, which astutely points out that although the Bills were second in the league in rushing last season, their runs outside were considerably less productive than up the middle, to the point where Buffalo ran mostly inside. The 48 sacks surrendered were also tied for fourth-most in the league last season.

No one ran the ball more in 2013 than Buffalo with 546 runs, but the offense only ranked 14th in yards per carry (4.2) and 17th in DVOA. Run blocking was not a strength of the offensive line, especially to the outside, and right tackle Erik Pears in particular could be the player replaced in the draft by a top prospect like Greg Robinson (Auburn) or Jake Matthews (Texas A&M). Left tackle Cordy Glenn was a second-round pick in 2012 and his starting job should be safe, but he must play better. Buffalo had such little success when rushing outside last season that a league-high 71 percent of runs came up the middle or guard.

Not only does Manuel need some insulation from a consistent running game, but he could use better protection so he does not have to scramble as much and risk more injuries. Buffalo’s offensive line ranked 28th in adjusted sack rate (8.5 percent). Only 28 of the 48 sacks surrendered came with Manuel taking the snap, but if he’s going to stay on the field and get better, then the blocking must improve.

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Kiper goes OT for Bills at 9

Posted by Chris Brown on February 6, 2014 – 11:34 am

It’s Mel Kiper’s second mock draft and he’s got Buffalo taking one of the top offensive tackles in the class with the ninth overall pick.

With Auburn’s Greg Robinson already off the board to the Rams at two, he has Buffalo taking Jake Matthews, the Texas A&M offensive tackle at nine. Here’s his breakdown on the pick.

9 – Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Jake Matthews
AGE: 22
HT: 6-5
WT: 305

Analysis: The injuries to EJ Manuel last season would make you think pass-blocking has to be a priority, but where the Bills’ offensive line was really bad was in creating any push in the run game. You don’t just protect a young QB by creating a pretty pocket, it’s also nice when he can hand the ball off with any reasonable sense of optimism. Matthews will help. I suspect he’d jump in right away at right tackle and succeed — he can play left or right — and his ability to finish as a run-blocker could pay early dividends.

Having watched four of Matthews games from last season he is one of the most technically sound tackles in the draft. He also is remarkably light on his feet and resets like he’s an NBA point guard.

I agree with Kiper that Robinson probably does have the most upside, but it’s hard not to like Matthews too. And there’s also Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. Bottom line is if the Bills want to go tackle early, they’ll have options.

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Kiper goes OT for Bills in latest mock

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2014 – 1:34 pm

The mock drafts are beginning to come in more rapid succession now with the college all-star games coming up this weekend and the Senior Bowl to follow next week. ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper just put out his latest mock draft.

Kiper has the Bills taking an offensive tackle with pick at ninth overall. He has them taking Auburn OT Greg Robinson. Here’s what he wrote about the offensive tackle and his perceived need for Buffalo. Here’s what he wrote.

No. 9 – T Greg Robinson, Auburn
Analysis: Cordy Glenn has been an adequate and at times above-average NFL left tackle, but the Bills definitely need a right tackle. That could be Robinson as a rookie, or he could come in and Glenn could move to the right side. Robinson has the physical tools and proven level of performance against SEC competition of a potential star at the next level, and the Bills must protect the investment they have in EJ Manuel, who has had issues staying healthy.

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