1 – Hi Chris,
First off I just wanted to thank you for keeping me informed over the years being a displaced, and soon to be reunited, WNY Bills fan. I look for your stuff daily!
This is pertaining to Mike Tolbert. I see a lot of hype on Pat DiMarco, which is understandable. I see nothing on Tolbert. Will he even make the roster? Living in SD for the last 30 years I have followed the Chargers as well and really like Tolbert. I was wondering if you think he will make the cut, and if he does will be utilized at all?
SD Bills fan
CB: I think Tolbert is going to be given every opportunity to make this roster. He’s seen as a valuable locker room presence by Sean McDermott. Building the culture here is job one for McDermott and Tolbert could be one of his best allies in the locker room to cultivate that. Now he also has to be able to contribute on the field.
I believe he’s underrated as a receiver out of the backfield and can serve as a short yardage and goal line back. Add in his abilities on special teams and I do think there’s a way to have both Tolbert and DiMarco on the roster.
2 – Dear Chris:
I’ve looked over our roster and have noticed a lack of depth particularly at DE and safety, and I’m not so sure about Will linebacker either. Are the Bills still looking to add guys? What are your thoughts?
Sincerely, John from Pennsylvania
CB: With respect to defensive end I tend to agree with you. The starters are solid with Lawson and Hughes, and Lorenzo Alexander could line up there on obvious passing downs. But Ryan Davis and Max Valles are the second teamers. Davis has NFL experience, but has been a role player for most of his career. Valles has never appeared in an NFL regular season game.
So it’s understandable to feel uneasy as a fan when there is no proven track record for the guys the team will be counting on behind the starters.
At safety they improved their depth this week with the signing of Bacarri Rambo, whose entering his fifth season in the league. But much like defensive end there is a lot of unproven talent there. I like what I’ve seen from Joe Powell, but again behind starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer there isn’t much NFL experience.
WILL linebacker is improved with the addition of Gerald Hodges in free agency and draft choices Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo will likely be battling for second string roles.
The bottom line is with a new GM and personnel department and a new coaching staff the roster turnover on the back half of the roster will be particularly high as the decision makers try to shape the squad in the image they feel fits the team identity and demands the best.
You can’t fill every position with supreme depth in your first year on the job, but that won’t mean that Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott won’t be trying to do so.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Moving the chains is so important in West Coast offense. Could we see Daikiel Shorts edge out guys like Powell and Lewis? Can Shorts be anything but slot?
CB: Shorts is a sleeper player for sure in this camp. He can play outside in my opinion. He’s 6-1, 202 and knows how to gain separation right before the catch point. The key here will be his ability to execute the route assignments consistently. This is a precision and timing offense, so if Shorts can be dependable for his quarterbacks and make plays in the process, he’ll have a shot. At the very least I see this kid landing on the practice squad.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Any insight to the Stevie hoopla? Is this really a thing?
CB: Everything I’m hearing about Stevie Johnson is he’s happy in retirement. John Murphy Show co-host Donald Jones, a former teammate of Stevie’s still talks to him a lot and there doesn’t appear to be any desire on Johnson’s part to try to resuscitate his NFL career. As much fun as it was to watch Johnson play, his offseason training regimen was basically playing basketball. His herky-jerky route running style was effective, but put an enormous amount of strain on his groin muscles and as he got older he missed time on the field with the 49ers and Chargers the last few seasons. Now 31, and with a lot of off the field interests, I see Stevie enjoying other pursuits rather than football.
5 – Chris:
Cardale Jones is traded for a conditional pick. What does the mean exactly? Conditional on his making the team? Conditional on how many games he plays in? Making the practice squad count?
I read it was for a late round pick. Does that mean it can be 5th – 7th round?
Thanks very much
CB: The team doesn’t confirm trade terms, but I’ve heard from my sources that it’s a conditional 7th round pick
What the terms are to improve the standing of that pick could be anything. It could be if he wins the backup job it improves to a sixth-round pick. It could be if he makes six starts it improves to a fifth-round pick. It could be any number of conditions that the Chargers and Bills came up with to make the trade suitable to both parties.
Tags: Cardale Jones, Daikiel Shorts, depth chart, Fan Friday, Mike Tolbert, Pat DiMarco, Stevie Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the signing of Micah Hyde rules out a Safety in the first round of this year’s draft?
CB: While that would seem logical I don’t know that you can make that conclusion knowing the draft approach of the Bills under GM Doug Whaley. They typically go with the best player on the board having seen them operate the last few years in the draft room. So I don’t think it precludes them from taking a safety in round one if the value is right.
That being said, if they have grades on two players who are really close and one is a safety and the other is a corner or receiver then they’d likely go with the greater positional need.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the departure of Lynn and Roman why do the #Bills still continue to throw free agent $$ at the FB position?
CB: I’m going to let coach McDermott handle this one since he answered it directly at his press conference Thursday evening.
“Fullback is a big part of this offense, and let’s say this: it’s not limited to playing the fullback position,” said McDermott. “There’s versatility within that position, and what Mike brings to the table – as you mentioned, Mike Tolbert. I had the chance to be around Mike for a number of years in Carolina and I know what he brings to the table in terms of leadership, intangibles again, and what happens in that locker room on Monday through Saturday.
“So that’s a big part of it, and then Mike’s versatility on the field with the ability to play fullback, line up at fullback and then also transition to the halfback position and carry the football, and he’s done that extremely well. I had a front-row seat to observe what Mike’s skill set is, both on and off the field, and that was key for us. You’re talking about a guy that’s been to a Pro Bowl, and that’s really no different to [Patrick] DiMarco, in this case.”
3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see the #bills signing more big name free agents? If so, at what position?
CB: I don’t necessarily expect big household type names. Their cap situation is getting a bit tight. But I do see them trying to fill a few more positional holes on the roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if receiver or offensive tackle were on the list after incurring some losses at receiver and some uncertainty at tackle (Mills a free agent, Henderson-health).
4 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think the Bills are going to adress the WR position? They lost talent there the past two offseasons and it hasn’t been replaced.
CB: As briefly mentioned above I expect the Bills to address the receiver position in some form in free agency, likely with a player they can sign to a fiscally responsible contract (one that doesn’t cripple their cap situation). And I would anticipate them trying to grab another in the draft.
The numbers situation there demands some attention with two free agent losses already (Woods, Goodwin).
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Groy a realistic option for Right Tackle? #bills
CB: Donald Jones and I discussed this very topic when I was on the John Murphy Show Thursday. I think we first need to see what additions are made if any at the offensive tackle position in free agency or the draft before we can gauge just what kind of option he would be on the edge.
From a skill standpoint I think he certainly has the size (6-5, 320) and ability to play on the edge. He’s lined up there at times in a pinch. Sometimes it was as an overload tackle in run formations. We all know he can play guard or center. Whether Groy can play right tackle full time for 16 games is a question really only OL coach Juan Castillo and the offensive staff can answer knowing this offense is going to change.
I think Groy really came a long way as a player last season and he impressed me in his last seven games at center. But I think we need to let the dust settle in free agency and see what the Bills acquire before we pencil him in for edge duty.
Tags: 2017 NFL draft, Fan Friday, Micah Hyde, Mike Tolbert, NFL free agency, Pat DiMarco, Ryan Groy, wide receiver
Posted in Inside the Bills