Last week Carolina LB Luke Kuechly made his 13th interception since he entered the league in 2012. No other NFL linebacker has more interceptions over that time. The linebacker tied for second in that category over the last five season is his teammate, Thomas Davis. Couple that production with Panthers S Kurt Coleman, who since 2013 leads all safeties with 14 INTs and you see the risk passing over the middle poses for opposing QBs.
So how do you balance being aggressive in the passing game against the Panthers while also mitigating the risk?
“They’re a tough group to prepare for because they’re so athletic,” said McDermott. “Luke is so aware of things, and they do a great job of communicating on their end as well. You just have to be aware of where he is, and they do a great job of taking the ball away on defense. That was a big part of their formula last week, and I’m sure one of their big goals this week against us will be to take the ball away. We have to be very aware of that and do our part in terms of respecting the football. They thrive off of taking the ball away and setting their offense up with short fields.”
The hook zones in particular are where Kuechly and Davis make most of their interceptions. Both of them can drop effectively into coverage and break on the ball.
“All those guys on that defense can run,” said Tyrod Taylor. “Of course, Luke Kuechly, he’s probably the best linebacker in the league, very smart, instinctive guy. Just going to have to go out there and play sound football. Our first challenge on the road against a very good defense, and we’re going to have to execute every play and continue to keep focus throughout the whole game.”
Tags: Luke Kuechly, Sean McDermott, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has put out his one and only mock draft and he doesn’t have an offensive tackle, defensive back or wide receiver going to Buffalo.
Mayock picked Boston College LB Luke Kuechly for Buffalo. Some of his more interesting picks were the ones right after Buffalo, with S Mark Barron to Kansas City, despite the presence of Eric Berry (a top five choice just a couple of years ago) and DE Quinton Coples to Seattle at 12.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Luke Kuechly, Mike Mayock
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills Coordinator of college scouting Doug Majeski weighed in on Boston College LB Luke Kuechly Monday.
Here was his take on the player widely considered to be the best linebacker prospect in the draft class.
“He’s played weak and inside middle linebacker at BC and he’s also played all three spots in games over his career at BC,” said Majeski. “Mentally, obviously, he’s very sharp and would be able to handle it. Athletically he can handle a lot of the attributes of each position and he’s probably best as a ‘mike’ LB, but he gives you flexibility to play the middle or outside.
“He’s really a good coverage guy. He’s got a good feel for it, got good awareness. He can run with tight ends in man and can carry receivers down the field. He does a good job of getting his hands in throwing lanes and getting interceptions. He’s good in coverage.”
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Luke Kuechly
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well fans next week at this time we’ll be tuning up for day of the 2012 NFL draft. Should be interesting as always. Don’t forget my seventh annual mock draft will be up on Buffalobills.com on Wednesday morning this coming week, not that I know any more than the next prognosticator. In any event on to your questions.
1 – Chris,
I assume that with Demetrius Bell gone, the Bills will use pick #10 for an offensive left tackle. Despite the best efforts of Chris Kelsay, I thought that our outside linebacking last season was very poor. Do you see the Bills selecting a linebacker in the second round and, if so, who might that be?
CB: I’m having trouble convincing myself that any of the top offensive tackles beyond Matt Kalil will be considered worthy (value-wise) of the 10th pick. I don’t debate the Bills need to add a starting-caliber left tackle to the roster, but Buddy Nix doesn’t stray from his board. If they don’t believe the value is right for a Cordy Glenn or Jonathan Martin at 10 they’re not going to take him.
That being said I think a real option for them at 10 is Boston College LB Luke Kuechly. There is a noticeable drop off after him. Now the history of linebackers drafted in the top 15 has not been kind in recent years, with Jerod Mayo the only true success story. But this guy looks like a pretty safe pick and is capable of playing all three linebacker positions in Buffalo’s defense according to Nix.
Offensive tackles you might be able to get in the second round include Ole Miss’ Bobby Massie and Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele. Linebackers in the second round Nebraska’s Lavonte David, Utah State’s Bobby Wagner and maybe Boise State’s Shea McClellin though he might sneak into the first.
2 – Hi Chris,
Obviously, as a Bills fan I am ecstatic about the acquisition of Mario Williams. He is a huge piece to the puzzle that is our defense. Also, with Williams coming to the defense, that allows Buffalo to go a lot of different directions with their first pick in this year’s draft. And I know that everyone will have their opinion about what they should do. My question is: I know the philosophy is a “best player available” approach, but what do you think the possibility is that they would maybe trade back and maybe pick up an extra pick or 2 and to not “reach” for a player they are interested in?
Thanks for all of your coverage of the Bills. It’s a lifesaver for those not in the WNY area.
Chris from Orlando
CB: I asked Buddy whether they would pursue the option of trading down or let teams come to them. He told me there has been dialogue with other teams, but did not divulge whether the Bills were the ones doing the calling. If Miami passes on Ryan Tannehill at 8, then Buffalo’s pick becomes a lot more attractive to teams with a quarterback need that are further down in the round. At this point I’d be surprised if they didn’t take Tannehill, knowing his former head coach at A&M is the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins now (Mike Sherman) and will be running the same offense.
But the way Buddy put it to me is they’ll consider it. Just keep in mind, Buddy by nature doesn’t like to move up and down the board. He likes to sit where he’s at and make his picks. Talking to him this week he feels pretty confident they’re going to get a very good player at 10.
3 – Hi Chris,
I congratulate the Bills for their aggressiveness in obtaining two very good football players on defense. My concern is the fact that they have ignored their need for a good number 2 receiver opposite Stevie Johnson. Buddy Nix said after they had acquired Mario Williams, that they had good receivers. Is it possible that they are waiting for the draft? Looking at the upcoming draft, and the WR draft candidates, it appears that maybe Brian Quick from Appalachian St, and Rueben Randle from LSU would fit the Bills needs ( I do not see the Bills getting Justin Blackmon). In addition, even though Ryan Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned starter, would it be fair to say that the Bills should draft a quarterback? G.J. Kinne from Tulsa looks like he could be a Ryan Fitzpatrick clone. What are your thoughts?
Tony, Daytona Beach, Fl
CB: I think a WR will be drafted somewhere in the first three rounds. Randle and Quick are both players I believe the Bills see as fits in their offense along with a host of other prospects. Buddy said at the draft luncheon that he’d like to draft a QB every year if there weren’t other more pressing needs. I think there’s a realistic chance they take one, but if it’s before round 3 I’d be very surprised. Believe round 4 is where it’ll happen. Just a guess.
4 – Hey Chris – Are the Bills really going after an Offensive Line player in the 2012 draft?
It seems like a wasted pick, especially in a top 10 situation. What teams go to the superbowl drafting Offensive Lineman in the first round.?
Take for instance Miami who drafted Jake Long #1 overall. Sure Jake is a great player, but in 2012 Miami was 3rd in the league in sacks allowed in Jakes 3rd year. Miami could have drafted Matt Ryan in at least been a playoff contender. I think lineman on the offensive side can be picked up late in 1st round or 2nd and 3rd… not a top 10 pick. Come on man.
With so much talent out there at WR , DE, CB .. I just dont think that’s a smart choice for Buffalo at #10, when they need more Big time play makers.
What do you think Buffalo should do at #10 . are they really serious about OL ?
CB: The need at left tackle would appear to indicate the urgency to take one at 10. I’m okay with them taking a tackle like Jonathan Martin or Cordy Glenn there, but I’m not convinced they have them graded that high. So I don’t think it’s a lock by any means that they take a tackle at 10.
I think the other positions in play at 10 for Buffalo will be CB, LB and possibly WR, though I’m not convinced they have Floyd graded as top 10 worthy either.
One wild card I’d like to offer as well is S Mark Barron. I think if he’s on the board he’s a realistic consideration for Buffalo at 10. He’s not at a need position, but he’s considered one of the best safeties to come along in a while. If the Bills hold true to their best on the board philosophy I think he’s in play at 10.
5 – Hi Chris,
Big Bills Fan here from NJ,,,,I’m thinking Bills are looking to take a LT at #10,,I like Mike Adams out of Ohio St,,,He’s a big kid at 6’7 325 could a new addition to our o-line,,,I’m also thinking of the Bills moving Andy over at LT ..and maybe draft David Decastro OG from Stanford,,,,Myself . I’m thinking Upshaw from Bama ,we also need LB esp, OLB,,,,what do you think ,,,Thanks
CB: I don’t see Adams, DeCastro or Upshaw as options at 10 for Buffalo. Adams and Upshaw are not fitting of the value at 10. In fact at best both will be last first round picks. Adams could even slip into round 2 despite prototype measurables. There are no plans to put Levitre at LT full time.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Andy Levitre, Bobby Massie, Bobby Wagner, Brian Quick, Buddy Nix, Chris Kelsay, Cordy Glenn, Courtney Upshaw, Demetress Bell, Fan Friday, Jonathan Martin, Justin Blackmon, Kelechi Osemele, Lavonte David, Luke Kuechly, Mario Williams, Mark Barron, Michael Floyd, Mike Adams, Rueben Randle, Shawne Merriman, Shea McClellin
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills GM Buddy Nix, commented on Boston College LB Luke Kuechly, who is visiting 1 Bills Drive on a pre-draft visit today.
Nix was asked if Kuechly is more than just a middle linebacker.
“He could play all three (LB spots) for us,” said Nix.
The Bills GM also said that the strong side and weak side linebacker positions in Buffalo’s 4-3 defense are relatively similar in terms of skill set.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Buddy Nix, Luke Kuechly
Posted in Inside the Bills
Happy Friday the 13th everyone. More of your draft questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to them.
1 – Hey Chris,
First off, I’d like to say hello from England and thanks for keeping me up to date on the Bills! It’s wonderful having such great coverage!
Anyway, my question is this: I was browsing the nfl website as I do when I came across a video of Sporting News writer Matt Hayes saying the Bills should really look into trading up to take QB Ryan Tannehill, a view apparently shared by the guys on the panel, due partly to Tannehill’s incredible talent and athleticism, but also partly due to Fitz’ 23 interceptions last year.
I was just wondering whether the Bills would consider something like this, or are they set on Fitz as their starter for the duration of the contract, also: can we expect Fitzpatrick’ interception total to drop in 2012?
Cheers from across the pond, Matt.
CB: Appreciate the kind sentiments. I think the Bills consider anything and everything, but Tannehill only had 20 starts in his college career at quarterback. To me that means he’ll need time to develop at the NFL level because he simply hasn’t had the time on the job in college to progress to the point to be ready for the NFL game.
The Bills made a long-term commitment to Ryan Fitzpatrick for a reason. They believe he can get them to the playoffs. That doesn’t remove them from drafting a quarterback. I’d just be surprised if they took one with their first pick at 10 in round one, which is the only place they’d have a chance at Tannehill.
2 – Hi Chris,
Great Job with all of the Mario Williams coverage, those were a nerve racking couple days. My question is about the receiver spot opposite Stevie, I am holding out hope Easley plays as well as I saw him in the one home preseason game he played in last year. That being said it doesn’t seem like something that is for certain and we really could still use that speed guy opposite Stevie. I haven’t heard anything of it but Lee Evans was released by Baltimore, his one really good quality was getting deep and catching the bomb. Is there any chance this would be something that could be explored to open the underneath stuff open more?
Thanks, Go Bills!
CB: I think the receiver position will certainly be addressed, but it won’t be in the form of Lee Evans. Buffalo parted with him because although they appreciated his professionalism, they also felt his game was on the decline. The Bills ideally want to have a roster with a majority of players whose games are still on the ascent or peaking.
I have no doubt the Bills will draft a receiver, the question is when? In round one at 10, their best option will likely be Michael Floyd, assuming Justin Blackmon is gone. In round two there should be a host of options. I was hoping LSU’s Rueben Randle would be there for them at that point, but indications now are that some team might scoop him up late in the first. Fortunately the receiver depth is pretty deep this year in the draft and I think a capable player could still be had in round three (e.g. – A.J. Jenkins, Brian Quick).
3 – Hi Chris,
After reading the scouting reports on Stephen Hill it seems that he has everything the Bills are looking for in their number 2 receiver position. If available after the first round do you think the Bills may target a receiver like Hill, or pass on him because he is more of a potential rather than production prospect and lacks the of body of work which Buddy prefers?
Love your Work
CB: I think Hill could be a possibility, but I believe Buffalo’s scouting department typically likes to see a bit more body of work. There’s no questioning Hill’s athletic ability and speed, but playing in that triple option offense at Georgia Tech hurt him.
He didn’t get a chance to really develop his game and that forces scouts to project more, something they don’t love doing.
Hill could be an option in round two for Buffalo at pick 41, but all it takes is one team to fall in love with Hill’s speed. Either way I’d prefer a player with a bit more of a resume like a Rueben Randle or Mohamed Sanu.
4 – Chris,
Now that the Bills have their pass rushing DE Mario Williams – do you think that they might be interested in the top linebacker in the draft, Luke Kuechly, for the no. 10 pick in round# 1?
I understand that Kuechly is considered more of an inside linebacker, but I also read that he played outside linebacker originally in college.
I hear rumors that the Bills are going to take an offensive tackle in round# 1 -or a wideout, but it seems to me that they still need more help on defense. They re-signed Derek Hagan @ WR, who played well for Buffalo at the end of last season. Not to mention Marcus Easley, who is supposed to be healthy now. There is more need on defense.
CB: I don’t disagree with you. In fact I like Kuechly a lot at 10 because I believe he’s very fitting of the value at that pick. In my estimation he’s a plug and play type player for your defense. I think he would be in direct competition with Kirk Morrison at strong side LB, a position he is more than capable of playing. I think his skill set is perfect for Dave Wannstedt’s defense, and there are no question marks on him, which seems to be the case with a lot of the offensive tackles projected in that range.
I’d like to see them grab an offensive tackle in round 2. Of course the danger with that is on average five offensive tackles are taken in the first round because it’s such an important position. What you expect to be available in the second round often isn’t. So it’s a tough spot for Buffalo, but I can’t see how Kuechly isn’t in that 10-15th overall pick range on every team’s board. That’s why he makes sense to me.
5 – Hi Chris:
With the Mario Williams signing, and with Fred Jackson’s potential extension later this summer, will there be money to lock down next year’s free agents in advance? I’m thinking about Byrd, Levitre, Urbik, and Rinehart in particular. I’m wondering if the Bills are holding off on spending more now (for available free agent wide receivers, etc) in order to leave money for re-signing some or all of next year’s free agent crop prior to the end of next season.
Paul in Beijing
CB: Good to hear from Bills fans in China! Wow. Anyway, the Bills are always fiscally responsible when it comes to handing out contracts. Williams cap figure next year granted is almost $12M, but for players like Byrd and the three linemen you listed they don’t play at high-priced positions so their cap figures on long term deals should be manageable.
Fred Jackson’s extension I’m not expecting to be cost prohibitive concerning future contracts either.
Tags: Andy Levitre, Chad Rinehart, Fan Friday, Jairus Byrd, Kraig Urbik, Lee Evans, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Tannehill, Stephen Hill
Posted in Inside the Bills
Yet another mock draft with another offensive tackle pick, but what is most interesting is what they listed as an alternative selection.
This one put together by draft site Walterfootball.com has Buffalo taking a Big 10 offensive tackle with the 10th pick. Here’s what they wrote. What I find most interesting is the listing of Boston College LB Luke Kuechly as an alternative. Kuechly has not been seen much on the mock radar for Buffalo. That being said the only way I think he’s a consideration for Buffalo at 10 is if the value at OT or WR doesn’t fit for the Bills at that point in round one.
10. Buffalo – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
I’ve slotted a defensive end here for the past billion or so updates, but it doesn’t appear that the Bills will be going that way anymore after signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. General manager Buddy Nix can now look elsewhere.
The left tackle position has to be addressed. They paid tons of money to Ryan Fitzpatrick this past season, so protecting him is their No. 1 priority now that they’ve shored up their pass rush.
*** OTHER 2012 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Michael Floyd, WR – The Bills also have to make sure they give Fitzpatrick as many weapons as possible.
2. Luke Kuechly, OLB – Buffalo needs a third linebacker to pair with Nick Barnett and Kelvin Sheppard.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Luke Kuechly, Riley Reiff
Posted in Inside the Bills
Super Bowl XLVI is just a couple of days away, but Bills fans are focused on other things. Let’s get to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Hey Chris,
Love your work. I was just wondering if you had insights about a player like Luke Kuechly? I have never seen a linebacker diagnose so many plays in such a big time conference. I imagine that when we pick @ 10 this kid might slip to us. I know Buddy mentioned a lot but what do you think?
CB: Thanks for the kind words. Kuechly is a heck of a linebacker no doubt about it and in terms of the overall player rankings he is largely considered a top 10-15 talent. Kelvin Sheppard is marked down as the starting MLB in Buffalo’s new 4-3 defense. I’d expect Nick Barnett to play on the open side (WLB) where his athleticism can be maximized. If the Bills believe Kuechly is capable of playing a strong side linebacker role in a 4-3 he could be a consideration. I’m not sure he is a consensus Top 10 talent in the eyes of NFL scouts however, due to his lack of elite athleticism.
There’s no denying Kuechly’s instincts and impressive productivity, but if his upside in the eyes of scouts is limited by his athleticism he might not be worthy of a top 10 pick for the teams that are picking in that area. We’ll see if we can get a gauge on what the Bills think of Kuechly’s upside in the coming weeks.
2 – Chris,
I read your Fan Friday blog today and with regards to your answer about the Bills seeking a proven play making receiver in FA instead of the draft I am curious if you believe that they will actually attempt to reel one in?
The Bills are not going to get into a bidding war and I completely understand why. The only 3 guys in free agency that fit the description given by Nix are Colston, Bowe, and Jackson. All others are NOT proven play makers and definitely do NOT match the open when covered analogy that Nix used.
I can see the team putting a big offer out to Bowe and Jackson and saying take it or leave it and whichever one signs the team takes or if they both say no thanks then looking to the draft to fill the need.
This brings me to my next point. Given the fact that the drop off between Blackmon and Floyd is not that great could you see the Bills drafting a receiver at 10 if a “big play making” receiver was there? I have no clue what the tape that coaches and scouts shows about the top pass rushers in this class but judging from my opinion from what I have researched there is not a clear pass rusher that belongs in the top 10, in fact I don’t see one that should be a top 15 pick. Thank you for taking the time.
CB: I think your free agent targets are on the money and I do believe if any of them make it to the free agent market March 13th (not sure any of them will) then the Bills will likely make their best offer and see if anyone is interested.
As for the pass rushers in the draft at the top of the board I think there’s a good chance that Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw would be there at 10 and I believe he’s worthy of that pick. There might be a couple of other considerations (Melvin Ingram), but the choices are admittedly limited.
That being said I’m not convinced Buffalo would take a receiver that high. Yes, Floyd is probably the second best WR in the class after Blackmon, but he does have somewhat of a diva label on him and has an injury history as well as a DUI charge from last March. There’s no denying he’s a playmaker, but those are a lot of issues for an NFL club to iron out and feel good about to make him a top 10 investment.
Chan Gailey always talks about adding players of high character to his team, and he’s a man of his word so I’m not sure Floyd is a fit.
3 – Chris,
Looking more into the injury situation and that the Bills led the league in I-R designations, has Buddy Nix looked into the A-Turf Titan playing surface that currently only the Bills have installed? It would seem that possibly a FieldTurf or Sportexe surface would be a better alternative as a lot of the teams that have been successful with less injuries such as New England, the Jets, or Baltimore have these surfaces installed. Up until last year Rogers Centre also had FieldTurf. Thanks for all the updates you provide Bills fans around the country.
Larry in Tucson AZ
CB: I don’t believe the turf is the culprit here. Terrence McGee, Donald Jones and Fred Jackson all went down in the span of a quarter and a half in Miami on grass. All three were lost for the season. Eric Wood tore an ACL on Field Turf in Dallas without any contact. So I don’t think you can make that connection. It’s the brutality of the game that led to most of Buffalo’s injuries in my opinion.
4 – Chris,
Since Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey arrived in Buffalo, they have been steering toward a 3-4 defense. Yes they play quite a bit of a 4-3 defense, but their draft picks have been geared toward the 3-4 defense. After two years of drafting players like: Torrell Troup, Kelvin Sheppard, Alex Carrington, Marcell Dareus and acquiring players like Shawne Merriman and Nick Barnett all for playing the 3-4 defense. If Dave Wannstedt goes back to the 4-3 defense, is that NOT going to set us back a few more years, until we start drafting and acquiring more 4-3 personnel??? And where does that put these players that I have mentioned???
Devoted Bills FAN
CB: Don, your question is very valid, but Buddy Nix already addressed this issue so I’ll let his comment handle your question.
“The guys we drafted this past year, Marcell Dareus can play in any defense,” said Nix. “Aaron Williams, he’s going to play no matter what you do. Kelvin Sheppard can play in either defense. Da’Norris Searcy he’s going to play in either. All of our defensive draft picks this past year would fit either defense. As an outside backer you want a guy 6’4” or 6’5” 255 or 260. In a 4-3 those guys are defensive ends. If he’s that size and he can rush the passer he can play in either one.”
Those are the exact measurables for Shawne Merriman so I would anticipate that he too would fit as a defensive end, and let me remind you that Merriman is very, very underrated as a run defender. Torell Troup played in a 4-3 at Central Florida and knows the scheme well. Carrington played in a 4-3 at Arkansas State at end. Nix and his personnel department knowing how much hybrid defense is played week to week in this league made a point of getting scheme versatile players. And because of that the defensive front should not suffer a setback.
5 – Hi Chris,
I enjoy your coverage of the team very much. My question for you is do the Bills still have a draft pick left this year from the Lynch trade and what did they get for Lee Evans? Also it seems like they should be in line for a compensatory pick of some kind this year for Poz. Ok, thanks again for all the info!!
CB: Thanks for the compliment. The Bills got a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft for Lee Evans from Baltimore. As for the Lynch trade it was a conditional sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round pick. From what I understand the chances are good that it will be a fifth-round pick, but because it is a conditional agreement, those conditions agreed upon by the two clubs must be confirmed by the league as being satisfied. That has yet to happen.
With respect to a compensatory pick for the loss of Paul Posluszny that should happen. I would anticipate a fifth or sixth-round pick knowing the size of Poz’s contract has a lot to do with the unknown compensatory formula that the league employs. Buffalo did not have a free agent signee that came remotely close to Poz’s $45M deal with Jacksonville so I’d expect Buffalo to get one for losing him.
So breaking it all down the Bills will have nine picks and should get a 10th as a compensatory (round to be determined). Here are the rounds of the picks we know they have assuming the pick from the Lynch trade is a fifth, though the league has not confirmed it. (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7).
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, A-Turf, Buddy Nix, compensatory picks, Courtney Upshaw, Fan Friday, Luke Kuechly
Posted in Inside the Bills