Inside The Bills

Modrak always took ownership

Posted by Chris Brown on May 4, 2011 – 11:10 am

With the Bills announcing that Tom Modrak has been relieved of his duties with the club it seemed appropriate to note that the now former Vice President of College Scouting always took ownership of the draft classes that were assembled during his time in Buffalo.

Though he never did have final say in his time with the Bills, during the Draft Luncheon held nine days before the 2011 NFL draft, Modrak and Bills GM Buddy Nix were answering questions together and when one question asked about the past decade of drafting and how it’s affected the team’s success rate, Modrak was the first to answer.

“That would be for me because I’ve been here for that time, and Buddy hasn’t,” said Modrak. “How much? I don’t know if I can quantify that and say that number because without trying to escape that, I think there are a lot of things that go into putting a team together. Certainly we’ve had our misses up at the top. We’ve done pretty well in the middle and at the end, the non-glamour kind of picks. We’ve missed some that are regrettable, but we’ve tried to make up for it in some of our other areas.

“But there are a bunch of things that go into making a team what it is. In this draft, you’re going to try to solve some of those problems. I don’t think that you can solve them all, but you’re going to try to solve some of them. If you can do that and keep making progress, that’s a good thing.”

Nix then followed up a short time later knowing that the success of college prospects at the NFL level goes beyond just how they’re evaluated by a scouting department.

“I’ve been doing this stuff all my life,” said Nix. “I believe very strongly that there’s three phases to a draft and to a guy being successful. One of them falls on personnel. You’ve got to pick the right guy. He’s got to have enough athletic ability and enough intelligence, production, to do the job which is what you spend the year doing. We’re scouts and personnel guys.

“The second phase now, and don’t make light of it, because it’s just as important is coaching, strength coaches, and trainers. That’s the second phase, and both of those things have to be in place. If not, the development of the guy is retarded. I’m not going to name teams, but the media name teams every year that get top guys, and they don’t get any better. They actually may go the other way, and it’s the developmental part.

“The third thing, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got both of them: you picked exactly the right guy, you took him at the right time, everybody busted it to try to get it better, but if that guy is not willing to be a professional and do everything it takes … you can go back and look at the so-called “busts” and it’s one of these three phases. You’ve got to have it all for them to be really good. So, even though we put it all on one thing: “that was a terrible draft… that was a bust… those (guys) don’t know…” … that’s just the way you look at it. But that’s (only) about a third of it.”

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Modrak on top prospects

Posted by Chris Brown on April 27, 2011 – 9:23 am

Bills VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak, in an interview on 97 Rock Wednesday morning, was asked to provide two to three word descriptions on some of the top prospects that have been most associated with the Bills in mock drafts. Here were his responses on each of the prospects that were named.

Marcell Dareus
“Beast, strong, athletic, versatile.”

Blaine Gabbert
“Strong arm, football smart, winner in a difficult setting.”

“He wins in a very tough setting because he’s all empty (backfield) all the time and is throwing without any protection.”

Von Miller
“Tremendous athlete, flexible, sack or cover guy, top talent.”

Cam Newton
“Big, strong, fast, unlimited potential.”

Modrak was asked a follow up question about Newton and whether he thinks the Heisman trophy winner will be the number one pick. Here was his answer.

“He qualifies to be in that bracket certainly to be one of the top three to five guys,” said Modrak.

You can find Modrak’s complete interview from this morning right here.

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Draft luncheon tomorrow

Posted by Chris Brown on April 18, 2011 – 3:40 pm

Make sure you make you lunch plans with us tomorrow here on At 12 noon we will be broadcasting the draft luncheon live where GM Buddy Nix and V.P. of College Scouting Tom Modrak will be taking questions from the media on the 2011 draft. Radio network sideline reporter Rich Gaenzler will also be hosting a live chat from the press conference.

Tuesday’s luncheon will be the last time Nix and Modrak address the media before the draft begins next Thursday.

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Combine interview list set

Posted by Chris Brown on February 11, 2011 – 9:26 am

Buffalo’s college scouting department has a lot of duties this time of year. Putting together the initial draft board, collecting background info on all the juniors that have declared and setting up the interview list for the NFL Combine.

Bills VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak and his staff were finalizing their player interview list for the NFL Combine which gets started on Feb. 23rd. NFL clubs have to submit an interview list to the league so they can coordinate the timing of all the interviews among the 32 clubs. Naturally we were not made privvy to the players names on that list, but Modrak did offer the following on the interview process.

“Right now we’re setting up interviews for the Combine and we’re doing a lot of juniors in those interviews,” said Modrak. “We’ll go back into the schools and visit with them there too. We make sure there will be ways that we get what we need from all of them in the allotted amount of time prior to the draft.”

Hearing that juniors will represent a big portion of their 60 15-minute interviews at the Combine is anything but surprising. Buffalo had an extended period of time to talk to over 100 senior prospects at the Senior Bowl in late January with Chan Gailey and his staff coaching the South team all week in Mobile.

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Bills scouts are in

Posted by Chris Brown on February 9, 2011 – 3:53 pm

The Bills college scouting department has descended on One Bills Drive this week as their draft board preparations are now underway.

Under the direction of GM Buddy Nix and Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak, Buffalo’s scouting department is putting together their initial draft board.

“It typically takes about two weeks,” Modrak told

That will take them right up until the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where they will obviously be able to gather a lot more info on the junior eligibles and tie up any other loose ends that may be out there. Then the final tweaks and changes will be made to the board later on in March and April.

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Final board tweaks begin

Posted by Chris Brown on April 12, 2010 – 12:17 pm

The Bills draft board will be getting its final adjustments beginning this week.

Buffalo’s GM Buddy Nix and Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak opened the final draft board meetings Monday. Head coach Chan Gailey, his staff and the Bills scouting department will be hard at work with Nix and Modrak the next week and a half tidying up their draft board.

At this point no dramatic adjustments occur, unless some prospect is injured between now and the draft or gets arrested. Scouts are doing their due diligence on prospects to make sure that’s not the case, and final calls are made on board positioning for players.

According to Nix however, there’s not much that’s altered on player grades this late in the game.

“You hear a lot of talk about a guy moving up and down after the season and it’s really comical because unless he gets hurt he shouldn’t move much up or down because he’s not playing,” said Nix. “The only way you should move is by how you play the game. That’s 85-90 percent of what we go on.”

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Clausen to Bills in new mock

Posted by Chris Brown on March 22, 2010 – 12:00 pm’s Pat Kirwan has previously had Tennessee DT Dan Williams going to the Bills at nine, but that’s all changed in his mock 4.0 version.

Kirwan has Jimmy Clausen slipping to ninth overall and the Bills taking him. Here is his comment on why he has the Notre Dame QB going to Buffalo.

The Bills have lots of needs and QB is one of them. Clausen threw 28 touchdowns to just four picks last year and has escape skills that he will need in Buffalo. Chan Gailey is an excellent QB guy and will get him ready fairly quickly. Lots of fans don’t want to see another California QB in Buffalo, where the weather is a factor. (Previous pick: Dan Williams)

Though Kirwan makes a point about weather and the fact that Clausen is a California native, he proved he can play in poor weather by playing for three years in South Bend, Indiana, where a handful of his games saw snow.

There are California quarterbacks that have proven they can do play in poor weather in college before. One that comes to mind rather quickly is Tom Brady, who showed he could play in poor weather at Michigan in college before being drafted by New England.

Whether Buffalo would pull the trigger there is tough to gauge, but it’s clear the Bills believe it’s Bradford and Clausen and then everybody else. Here was Bills VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak’s assessment of the QB class this year in his interview with at the NFL combine late last month.

“There are a couple of people at the top that will get under the magnifying glass as much as they always do or more,” said Modrak. “Unfortunately there’s been some injuries that have slowed the process down for these players and for us, but that still has to play out. But there’s a couple at the top, but after that it’s not quite as deep as it had been.”

Modrak is obviously talking about Bradford and Clausen, who have both been set back by the pre-draft process due to injury (Bradford-shoulder, Clausen-toe).

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Modrak on 2010 class

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2010 – 12:30 pm

Bills VP of college scouting Tom Modrak spoke with about this year’s draft class. Here were his thoughts on the 2010 class overall.

“I think it’s a good class, but as probably as many times as we’ve done this I feel that way and it’s certainly our job to make it that way,” Modrak told “Without fabricating there are a lot of good big people in it and that’s what gets people’s attention.”

Modrak sees a lot of depth at DT and at OT. To hear much more from Modrak including his take on the quarterback class, check back at about 1:30 pm where we’ll have our one-on-one interview with the college scouting chief in its entirety.

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Report: 3 teams talk to Eagles

Posted by Chris Brown on February 8, 2010 – 10:50 am

According to the Philadelphia Daily News and multiple ESPN reports, there have been three NFL teams that have already made it known to the Philadelphia Eagles that if they’re looking to move a QB, they would be interested.

According to ESPN’s Sal Palaontonio is reporting that the Browns, Broncos and Bills have all had multiple conversations with the Eagles about Donovan McNabb.

The point the Philadelphia Daily News makes very clear is that nothing is close to happening. All of these discussions are preliminary in nature, with the NFL teams reportedly in contact with the Eagles simply informing Philadelphia that if they’re going to in fact move a QB off their roster via trade, to make sure and call them (Buf, Clev, Den).

The Bills and Browns have ties to the Eagles organization. Cleveland obviously has Mike Holmgren, who had Andy Reid as an assistant on his Green Bay staff, and Tom Heckert, now GM of the Browns, just left the Eagles where he was VP of Personnel.

Buffalo’s tie to the Eagles is VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak. Modrak was the team’s Director of Football Operations and was the person who drafted McNabb in 1999 when the entire city of Philadelphia wanted Ricky Williams.

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Fan Friday 6-19

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2009 – 7:25 pm

We’re in the doldrums before training camp, but there are still some issues to discuss concerning the team. You can always submit questions to
1. Hi Chris-
Any truth to the reports that the K-Gun is returning to the Buffalo offense?
If so…what are your thoughts.
-Jeremy Reiner
CB: I think it’s safe to assume that some elements of the K-Gun offense are being incorporated into Buffalo’s offensive scheme with their no huddle package. But the K-Gun in its entirety I think is unrealistic.

I like that the Bills are turning to the no huddle more to make it more difficult for defenses to substitute and get set pre-snap. Of course the Bills offense has to prove it can sustain drives with consistency as well because if they can’t it puts a lot more pressure on the defense to stop people.

Knowing coach Jauron comes from a defensive background, I’m not sure you should expect to see an overwhelming amount of no huddle. I believe it will be used more, but if you’re looking for more than half a game of no huddle week in and week out I think you’re getting your hopes up.


2. Would it be a bad idea if Mr. Nelson got reps as fullback, not only to improve his blocking skills, but to add a fullback weapon ala ‘that guy from Lewiston.’

CB: I’m assuming you’re talking about Shawn Nelson. At 6’5” putting Nelson at fullback even on the move is a bad idea as I see it. First, blocking as a fullback is different than as a tight end. Linebackers are often coming at you with a head of steam as opposed to a defensive end butting heads with you at the line.

Second, the coaching staff has already made a point of keeping the information flow to Nelson at a manageable level as they have him focused primarily on route running within the offensive scheme, knowing that’s where he can help them the most as a rookie. The blocking will come later since they have two other tight ends to handle it.

And that guy from Lewiston, Moose Johnston and Nelson are two completely different players.

3. Has there been any thought given to asking Bruce Smith in to some of the camps to work with Maybin???  Given his skill set, Bruce has a lot to tech a guy with Maybin’s raw physical talents

Steve Ward
Miamisburg, OH

CB: That’s not a bad idea, but I just don’t see Bruce interested in coaching. I know Steve Tasker has volunteered his time to help Bobby April on occasion with special teams skills, but Bruce was such a great player. As Phil Hansen once explained to me, Bruce could contort his body in a way that no one else could in terms of bending the corner. He’d run upfield straight, while his upper torso was turned 90 degrees and hand fighting the offensive tackle.

Marcellus Wiley once told me he tried to do what Bruce did and just kept falling down. So what Bruce knows how to do I’m not sure can be effectively applied to most players on Buffalo’s roster today.

4. Chris,
Why isn’t Tom Modrak given more credit for the outstanding job he does on day two of the draft (ex. McGee, Ellison, Williams and Butler)?  By the way, this year’s 4th (TE-Nelson) is a home-run.
Guy Devitt

CB: I think the reason is pretty simple. The team hasn’t been successful in terms of winning records and playoff appearances. So as a result those associated with the team aren’t recognized outside of the walls of One Bills Drive for the good work that they do.

I think Modrak’s record as a talent evaluator speaks for itself, well beyond just what he’s done with the Bills. Everyone forgets how much heat he took as GM in Philadelphia when he took Donovan McNabb instead of Ricky Williams with the fifth overall pick. I think that has to be one of his best calls and for it to come with a top five pick was big.

5. Chris,

Who from last year’s draft class will have an impact this season?  I know everyone is counting on McKelvin and Hardy but I’m very interested in how Alvin Bowen and Chris Ellis will do coming off of injuries.

CB: I think that Derek Fine has a chance to make an impact with the starting tight end job up for grabs after the release of Robert Royal. I anticipate he and Derek Schouman to battle it out for the top job. But Fine has looked good in the passing game and has a good chemistry with Trent Edwards. Not that Schouman doesn’t, but I think Fine’s got a shot.

Ellis is flying under the radar with all the hype surrounding top pick Aaron Maybin. I’m really interested to see what Ellis can bring to the table in camp when the pads go on. I think Bowen is also capable of pushing veteran Keith Ellison for the starting outside linebacker job. So you’re on the mark with some guys to keep an eye on.

Reggie Corner could land the nickel job as well and Demetrius Bell could be the swing tackle behind Butler and Walker. Not a bad draft class huh? (See Modrak question 4).

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Fan Friday 5-29

Posted by Chris Brown on May 29, 2009 – 7:04 pm

Two weeks of OTAs are down, with only one full week to go before the mandatory minicamp. The offseason is moving along quickly. On to your questions.

1. chris
How concerned are you about our back up QB situation…
Geo… Fort Myers..FL

CB: I would still like to see more of Ryan Fitzpatrick in this offensive system before passing judgment, but Fitzpatrick was a backup candidate that I liked going into the free agency period. So I’m not worried at all. His arm looked like it needed a week to warm up in the OTA setting, but he’s been much more accurate and decisive here in week two.

I think he’s getting a better handle on the system and he throws a nice fade ball in the end zone. He’s not as physically gifted as Trent, but I think he’s more than capable. Gibran could challenge him, but I think ultimately Fitzpatrick will be the backup.

2. Chris,
How much input do you think Buddy Nix had in this year’s draft of the Bills?  I’m curious to know, because of the success that the San Diego franchise had when he was working for them.  Hopefully, his success there follows him here to Buffalo.

Also the axiom that receivers aren’t successful until they’ve been in the league for three years appears to be true more often than not.  Is Shawn Nelson following in James Hardy’s footsteps regarding having a difficult time picking up the complexities of an NFL offense.  Do you agree and do you think his impact will be as minimal as Hardy’s was last year? 
Ed White

CB: I believe that Nix had some input, but he joined Buffalo late in the draft preparation process, so I think his depth of scope will be greater in future years. There’s no question however, that Nix is a scouting mind that Tom Modrak respects and Nix has a firm grasp of the talent down south, where in most cases it’s richest.

As for your receiver axiom, that’s usually the case. Anybody remember Eric Moulds’ breakout year? It was 1998, his third season in the league. Shawn Nelson is working hard here in OTAs, but his head is swimming.

Tight ends coach Charlie Coiner is constantly on him for his route execution and assignment errors. As more college players come to the NFL from the spread offense, more and more of them will struggle to adjust to a pro style offense in year one.

The route concepts and reading coverages are all foreign to rookies that come from that system. It’s going to take some time with Nelson I believe, so I don’t know that anyone should expect too much from him as a rookie.



3. How well are T.O. and Edwards getting along in OTAs? Does Edwards look comfortable with me and do you think T.O. thinks Edwards is “good enough to throw to him.”
Wes Dickson

CB: Judging by the last two days, they’re doing very well. Owens has five touchdowns. Granted the cornerback contingent for the Bills is beat up with McGee, Youboty and McKelvin on the shelf right now, but the 70-yard touchdown play on Friday was impressive. I think both Edwards and Owens have adjusted to one another quite well considering the short time frame. I believe that can partly be attributed to Owens’ experience. He’s had to adjust to different QBs in the past, so it’s old hat for him. And judging by Edwards’ 50-yard bomb he has the arm to get it to T.O..



4. Chris,
Wonder if you can give me any progress report on Rookie FA OT Joel Bell. Only thing I’ve been able to find about him is the Bills signing him after the draft.  I’m sure he will not be a factor this year but I beleive that this kid has some serious upside.

Also, no mention of X Omon??? Is he getting any reps in the OTA’s?? Is he the off man out this year with the Bills signing D Rhodes??
Last, any idea what’s happening with JP Losman?? Just wondering.
Sorry, hard to stay on top of the Bills here in PackerLand, WI.

Thanks for your time,
Tom Blanchard

CB: Joel Bell has been running with the third team offense at right tackle. He’s been working hard in the practice setting, but he’s still a bit raw with respect to technique. He’s still young in football as he only played two years of high school ball and then played at the 1-AA level. The NFL is a big step up, but he’s doing his best to adjust.

Xavier Omon has done well. He’s running fourth on the depth chart behind Lynch, Jackson and Rhodes, so he hasn’t seen a ton of action, but got more carries Friday with Rhodes not in attendance.

He looks stronger as he’s added muscle in the offseason, if that’s possible since he was pretty bulky to begin with. It’s hard to assess the effectiveness of backs in the OTA setting because it’s not full speed with no pads. So hitting the hole isn’t the same.

J.P. Losman is a free agent as of right now. Haven’t heard of any teams expressing interest of late. Be interesting to see if he has to wait for an injury at QB in an NFL training camp to get a shot.



5. Hey Chris,

I was wondering what you think the chances are of the Bills actually signing Pisa Tinoisamoa? After he came in for a visit I haven’t heard too much else about him from Buffalo’s end. I know that the Bears are the other known team that has shown as much interest as the Bills. But I feel that he’d most likely get more playing time here than in Chicago and that because of that he’d be more interested in Buffalo. I think that he’d give the Bills some pretty solid depth with amongst linebackers with Ellison being a more than serviceable backup. Thanks.

Kenmore, NY
CB: I think Tinoisamoa will have to make a decision in the next week or so. With offseason camps ending soon, I’d like to think he’d want to get in and get his feet wet even though both teams have defenses that are similar to what he played in St. Louis.

Schematically he’s a fit for either team. He also played under Bears head coach Lovie Smith directly, who was his defensive coordinator his first couple of years in the league. Perry Fewell was also on that staff as a DBs coach.

I think both teams offer a legitimate chance to start, but he’d likely be just a two down player on both teams. I’m wondering if Tinoisamoa is holding out hope that another team expresses interest late in the game like Tampa Bay, which again plays a similar system and could use linebacker help after casting off Cato June and Derrick Brooks.

I do have to say though that I don’t get the feeling that the Bills or Bears see Tinoisamoa as a high priority signing. Otherwise he would have been signed already.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Modrak still sees upside in McCargo

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 9:48 pm

Bills VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak believes there’s still potential for  John McCargo to realize.

Suffering from bad luck with injuries and not exactly meshing with former defensive line coach Bill Kollar, 2009 could be a fresh start for the former first-round pick.

Modrak thinks he still has upside.

“He still has the physical talent,” he said. “It’s not like he became an old man overnight. He’s still quick, he still has the talent. Like all of us he’s got to do it, I’ve got to do it and it’s an important time for him.”

After a trade with the Colts fell through last year, it’s still unclear just exactly what McCargo’s future holds with the Bills, but for now it appears that there’s some support for McCargo getting healthy and getting his career back on track.

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Role for Modrak to remain largely the same

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 8:41 pm

Despite reports this offseason that Tom Modrak’s role within the Bills organization might be increasing, Modrak confirmed on Saturday that his position as VP of College Scouting is not changing in description or duty.

He was asked if he would be weighing in more on the pro side with respect to personnel. Modrak said that won’t be happening.

“I think it’s similar,” said Modrak of his role. “It’s been talked about a bit differently. Certainly Russ (Brandon) and Dick (Jauron) and the powers that be I’m certainly in those meetings and have a chance to voice my opinion, which I’m never reluctant to do. There are certainly people that are specialized in that area with John Guy and his group doing the pro things and they specialize in that with the coaches, but I’ll have an opinion.”

But it’s always been the general contention that Modrak has always provided opinion with respect to the direction of the franchise with respect to personnel. That’s why he said his role will be the same.

Posted in Inside the Bills

Modrak helped Nix way back when

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2009 – 9:00 pm

In speaking with Buddy Nix by phone today, I asked him in all the years he and Bills VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak had been in the scouting business how many times their paths had crossed. And Nix proceeded to relay a story to me from his first days in scouting.

“Tom probably doesn’t even remember this, but my first year in scouting he was with Pittsburgh,” recalled Nix. “I ran into him at the University of South Carolina the first time and he was a lot of help to me when I first started.”

Nix had just finished a 20-plus year coaching career when he took his first scouting job with the Bills in 1993. And Modrak offered some assistance out on the scouting trail.

“I had come out of college coaching and not being really familiar with the NFL and what you were looking for and how to go about it. He was helpful to me then and helpful through the years so we’ve been friends a long time and I’ve got a lot of respect for Tom Modrak.”

From the way Nix sounded he knows his role on this scouting staff. And in light of his track record in San Diego, the Bills made themselves better.

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Nix has keen eye for talent

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2009 – 6:14 pm

With Nix back in the scouting mix with the Bills, it’s certainly a solid addition. Looking at the kind of talent that was successfully mined during his time in San Diego as player personnel director, it’s naturally the hope that he can do some of the same to augment Buffalo’s scouting efforts.

I’m guessing that’s why Buffalo’s front office, and likely Tom Modrak in particular, made Nix a National scout. Modrak likely wants Nix’s eyes on as many players as possible and as a National scout you’re not tied to one particular region of the country.

That’s not to say that a National scout is any more valuable to the staff than a regional scout, but Nix likely has so many contacts in the college game that he could walk onto almost any campus and get good, reliable information.

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