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
Not surprisingly, free agency and the draft are dominating the questions I’m getting at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Feel free to submit a question if you have one. Here we go.
I have read before that Bill Parcells in the late 90’s (while with the Jets) brought in Kevin Mawae to stop Ted Washington when we ran the 3-4 defense. I thought that was interesting to build your team to stop or beat particular players in your division and not necessarily always filling holes on your team. What are your thoughts on this?
CB: I think when there are players of Ted Washington’s caliber that can be disruptive up front at a certain position on a division opponent you have to make it a top priority. There’s no question the Bills are facing a similar situation knowing they’re going to see Vince Wilfork and Kris Jenkins twice a year, every year, and to a lesser extent Jason Ferguson. Center might be a higher priority for Buffalo than any other team in football in light of the teams they have to face in their division. So taking a similar approach to what Parcells did with the Jets would be wise, but is the right free agent answer out there?
As I’ve said before I’d be willing to sign Matt Birk (Minn.) to a two-year deal and groom a young replacement behind him (draft pick). That being said I’d probably re-sign Duke Preston as well. Baltimore’s Jason Brown is another option. He holds his ground a bit better than Duke, but he’s not any more athletic as I see it.
2. Dear Chris,
Hardy’s injury was rough on the receiving corps. Any chance of trading up for Crabtree?
CB: James Hardy’s injury will be something that has to be addressed, even though Steve Johnson came on strong at season’s end. I think a one or two-year deal for a veteran free agent like Amani Toomer would be the best move. It takes the pressure off Hardy to come back quickly and make an impact this year, which I think will be difficult. And it provides the receiving corps with a player that has been there and done that along with Evans and Reed. While Crabtree is enticing, I just don’t think another young wideout is the answer, particularly with a host of other positional needs.
3. Hey Chris,
Just taking a look at the draft this year. Do you think either Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin would fit in the 4-3 and do you think (or know) if the Bills would be inclined to take either of these DEs?
CB: I think Everette Brown is capable of playing in a 4-3 at the NFL level. I’m less sure about Maybin. Brown is a guy I like a lot. Most mock drafts right now don’t have him coming off the board in the top half of round one, but I like what I’ve seen.
I’ll try to do a little more homework on Brown to see if there are off the field issues or knocks on his game, but what I see on tape is pretty darn good stuff. I still need to see more of Maybin, but all indications are that he projects more to an OLB in 3-4 at the NFL level.
4. Hey Chris,
I have been reading and a lot of people think that the Bills need to draft a TE to help open up there passing game, but what about free agency? I believe the bills should pick up a DE in the draft with our first round pick, and then get our TE from free agency. What do you think about L.J Smith being a realistic option for us?
CB: I think there is a need to add a dynamic pass catching tight end and L.J. Smith has been that in his career. However, his injuries have become alarmingly frequent and I think he’s a very old 29. I think despite his talent, he’s too high risk to sign and expect him to change the face of your passing game. In free agency it’s pretty thin. The only attractive pass catching options are Tennessee’s Bo Scaife and RFA Owen Daniels (Houston). The draft might be the way to go, though I’m hesitant to add more youth.
5. Hey Chris,
For the upcoming draft I have a few scenarios that the Bills could pursue. Do you see them trading up to guarantee a guy like Orakpo from Texas? I also have them trading their first round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles 2 first round pick selections where they can draft a TE and C?
CB: I think it’s very unlikely that the Bills would move into the top 10 to secure almost any player because it costs an awful lot to move up that high in the draft even from 11, and the top 10 is where the money really gets ridiculous for rookies. I expect the Bills will have a top 3 candidate pool for their first pick and hope one is still there at 11.
Either way they’re virtually guaranteed to get an impact player at that spot. If however, none of their top three choices are there at 11, I believe it’s reasonable to think they would explore moving down as you suggested.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Bo Scaife, Brian Orakpo, Duke Preston, Everette Brown, Fan Friday, Jason Brown, L.J. Smith, Matt Birk, Michael Crabtree, Owen Daniels, Ted Washington
Posted in Inside the Bills