Fan Friday 2-13
More free agency and NFL draft queries in this week’s edition. A reminder that I’ll be at the NFL Combine next week as Buffalobills.com provides daily coverage from Feb. 19th to Feb. 22nd. I’ll see if there’s a way to find time to answer a few more questions next week.
I know the Bills need a center and drafting one, even in the first round, will still take time to develop. I was wondering if you know what happened to LeCharles Bentley. He hurt his knee after signing with the Cleveland Browns a couple years ago and I believe he was out of football this past year. He was one of the top centers in football when Cleveland signed him away from New Orleans. Do you think he is on the Bills radar?
CB: I think if there was an interest in Bentley he would have been signed by now. Bentley recently opened an offensive linemen training academy for high school and college players in the Cleveland area. He was a Pro Bowl caliber center, but apparently NFL teams are too scared off by the three surgeries on his knee in two years. When a guy with that kind of talent is still not on a roster, it’s an indication of what NFL clubs think of his knee. It’s a risk-reward thing and apparently NFL teams think the risk is too high.
2. Chris: Do you think the Bills give any thought to where a player has played in college (warm weather vs. cold)? I went to the last regular season game and was very upset with the number of players who had coats on and I was also upset with Stroud saying he couldn’t wait to get back to Florida. What do you think?
CB: First, I don’t recall Stroud saying that. I think where a player plays geographically is given consideration, particularly at QB, but it is not the end all, be all when putting a final grade on a player. If there’s a supremely talented player that falls into your lap, you don’t discard him because he played his college ball in Mississippi, for example. The SEC conference is widely considered to be the most talented in college football, and not many players down there are from the great white north. You can’t dismiss them because of the weather they played in though I respect your frustration.
3. Early in the year when Leodis got an opportunity to return kicks he wasn’t very impressive. He seemed to be stutter stepping quite a bit, trying to feel his way. Then all of the sudden, BAM, he’s electrifying, a threat to take every kick the distance. My question is, did Bobby April or someone else on the staff sit down with him and if they did what kind of conversation was it? Did someone tell McKelvin to trust his instincts? Did they tell him to return the kick as the play is designed? A light seemed to turn on for him and I’m interested in understanding why.
CB: What most people overlook is not only was McKelvin new to the kick return unit, but so were a host of the players blocking for him. The young, inexperienced return team members were also getting accustomed to Bobby April’s scheme, and if you looked at the unit’s progress collectively you saw them getting closer and closer to busting a big return with each passing week. A lot of fans forget McKelvin’s 85-yard return at the end of the game at New England that almost went for a score. Things were already coming together before his big Monday Night return.
On McKelvin’s return against Cleveland he was not touched by one Browns coverage player. That’s impressive work. McKelvin was a big reason why they finished 2nd in the league in kick return, but those young blockers in front of him progressed in the same fashion that he did leading to an explosion of success.
Why have Flacco and Ryan had such early success as rookies verses Edwards in his second year? Are the supporting casts at Baltimore and Atlanta that much better? or are they just better than Trent? I recognize that Baltimore has the defense which takes pressure to score away, while Atlanta has the running game that also is a friend to a quarterback. The game doesn’t seem to be too big for them, but sometimes it seems that it is for Trent. Things that concern me about Trent are his durability, and I’ve read where he has a shoulder problem going back to college?. Do you think he was the same after his concussion? He really seemed to be afraid to make throws after that, especially down field.
Just curious what you think,
CB: I think a lot of it has to do with the level of college experience that both Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco had. Both were fifth-year seniors with close to 35 college starts under their belts. They also each had solid talent around them, which allowed them to make more things happen. Delaware is a perennial power in 1-AA. Ryan had the benefit of playing big time bowl games each year. Now Trent did have 31 starts in his college career so he had time on the field, but I feel his development was hurt by the level of talent around him, particularly his offensive line, which was never good his entire college career. That led to injuries.
It also prevented him from playing in bowl games at the end of each season, which is when the stakes are raised and you’re as close as you’re going to get to an NFL atmosphere.
Now on the NFL level I think talent is somewhat of an issue for Edwards compared to Ryan and Flacco. Ryan had a Pro Bowl caliber receiver in Roddy White and a RB that got the ball so much that defenses had to respect Michael Turner. Flacco had a solid run game behind him too and did not have to do much with a dominant defense that could control field position and keep opponents off the scoreboard.
Edwards has Evans and Lynch, which I believe you can argue are comparable to what Ryan has in Atlanta so I respect your argument.
I think seeing how Trent was injured in each of his first two NFL seasons, it’s not unreasonable for you to question his durability. His throwing shoulder was simple end of season soreness, so there is no concern there long term.
Who is better? I don’t think I’m ready to answer that question yet. I need to see another season of Trent before passing judgment, which based on your stance might already provide you with your opinion.
My question is with McCargo wearing out his welcome in Buffalo, what is your gut feeling on how the Bills will address the 4th tackle spot? Surely the Bills aren’t going to carry only 3 DTs are they? Corey Mace might be a hard worker but lets be honest we need to stop with the small hustle guys who are nice undrafted stories and actually get a run plugger to pair with Stroud.
CB: I believe that the fourth DT spot is one the team will be looking to upgrade, but there are priorities that I feel come ahead of it. Pass rushing DE, C, OLB, pass catching TE are all of greater importance as I see it.
However, I will say that if there is no good value on the draft board at 11 at any of those positions aside from center, and a DT like Boston College’s B.J. Raji is still on the board, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them grab him at 11. Otherwise they’ll likely grab one in the middle rounds.
What are the chances that the Bills would go after Owen Daniels??
CB: I think first we have to see at what tender the Texans choose to use on Daniels, who is a restricted free agent. It’s unlikely they use the low tender. I expect Houston to use the high tender ($2.198M), which would give the Texans a first-round pick if they chose not to match any offer sheet he receives from the team that signs him. If that’s the case I think most teams including the Bills would be scared off.
Even if he’s given a second-round tender ($1.545M) I think the Bills would be reluctant to pursue him. The deadline to tender RFAs is Feb. 26.
The other thing that frustrates NFL front office men with restricted free agents is you can spend so much time on an offer sheet for an RFA, and if the original club chooses to match, you did all that work for nothing.
I personally like unrestricted free agent Bo Scaife (Tenn) for the tight end need.
Tags: Bo Scaife, Fan Friday, John McCargo, LeCharles Bentley, Leodis McKelvin, Owen Daniels, Trent Edwards
Posted in Inside the Bills
Former Cleveland C LeCharles Bentley is open to a return to football provided it’s the right situation for him, though it’s hard to say what that means exactly.
In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he claims some teams are interested, but it wouldn’t be shocking to think that teams would be hesitant to sign him in light of all his injury problems. He’s certainly talented (2 Pro Bowls), but he’s also high risk.
Bentley would have a lot to prove coming off of patellar tendon surgery and a nasty staph infection that almost cost him his leg. Then there’s the issue of not having played a game in three years. For the record he’ll turn 30 this November.
The Bills are certainly a team that needs center help, but pinning your hopes on a guy that has had four surgeries on his knee in the last three years is a risk. Plus if you consider what he told the Akron-Beacon Journal earlier this month, you wonder if he is at peace with where he’s at in his life right now not playing.
“There’s still offers out there, but I’m not entertaining anything right now,” Bentley told the Beacon Journal. “I’ve lived the NFL dream, better than 90 percent of the guys have ever lived it.”
Right now he’s opening an offensive lineman training academy to prepare kids for the college game, the combine and the NFL.
Tags: LeCharles Bentley
Posted in Inside the Bills