Tag:Buffalo Bills
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:47 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:49 pm
 

Report: Notre Dame ILB Te'o to return for 2012

Many NFL teams needing help at linebacker will wake up Monday morning to discover that one of the few potential first round prospects is passing up his chance at the NFL to return for his senior season.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame junior inside linebacker Manti Te'o announced Sunday at the Lott IMPACT Trophy Awards that he'll be playing for Notre Dame in 2012. Brian Hamilton's article also notes that Notre Dame has confirmed the news.

Te'o was rated behind only another junior -- Boston College's Luke Kuechly -- on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings of inside linebackers potentially available for the 2012 draft. Audie Cole from North Carolina State is the highest rated senior at the position but is currently graded as a 3rd round prospect and NFLDraftScout.com's No. 87 rated player. By comparison, Te'o is rated No. 27, overall. 

The 6-2, 255 pound Te'o signed with Notre Dame as one of the highest decorated prep prospects in the country. He proved an immediate difference-maker for the Irish and had steadily improved his stock throughout his career. Te'o was voted a finalist for the Butkus Award this year after leading the Irish in tackles (113), tackles for loss (13) and sacks (4.5). The junior still has the upcoming Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State December 29 to top the career-high 133 tackles he posted last  year -- the highest total from a Notre Dame player since 1983 (Tony Furjanic).

Te'o certainly has the build scouts are looking for at the mike position and he has ucommon speed for his size, as well. While he's not necessarily the thumper his size would lead you to believe, Te'o locates the ball quickly and is a reliable tackler. He has the athleticism and awareness for coverage and has some natural pass rush skills, as well. As such, scouts from 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike, were intrigued by the Notre Dame linebacker.

One team that could be particularly disappointed to see Te'o return to Notre Dame might be the Buffalo Bills. The Bills' struggles to stop the run this season is one reason I had previously projected Buffalo to select Te'o in my latest first round mock draft.

Instead it appears that Notre Dame's Brian Kelly will be the coach boasting this difference-making linebacker next season.

Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 8:24 pm
 

NFL's Supplemental Draft postponed indefinitely

The NFL informed its 32 teams in an email this evening that the supplemental draft has been postponed, according to a source within the league.

The draft, which had been set to take place Wednesday, has not yet been been rescheduled. The email circulated simply didn't provide a date, according to the source.

The postponement was presumably made to give the league more time to determine whether or not Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor should be found eligible and to allow he and other players time to conduct a Pro Day workout of sorts for scouts. 

Some players have already held workouts, including Georgia running back Caleb King. King worked out Monday in front of representatives from seven teams, including scouts from the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, according to a story today from Roger Clarkson of OnlineAthens.com.

At this point there are five players confirmed as eligible: Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, King, Lindenwood University/Allen Wranglers (IFL) defensive end Keenan Mace, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo and Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson. Pryor may be added to the list. Should he be, he'll almost certainly be the first of the prospects selected. Sources throughout the league have placed the over/under on where he'd be drafted (if allowed in) at anywhere between the 3rd and 5th round. King and McAdoo are also receiving draftable grades from some clubs.

While no new date has yet been made for the supplemental draft, the NFL isn't likely to wait long. Teams are busy evaluating the players already on their roster and won't be thrilled to have to wait even longer to determine if they'll add any one else via this special-case draft.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 10:53 am
 

NBA's Robinson could, likely still can play CB

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson is making alternative plans should the NBA go into an extended lockout as many fear.

Rather than sit and take it easy or sign with an international basketball team, he told Tzvi Twersky of SLAM that he "might go play football."

Now, before you simply laugh off the idea of the 27 year-old attempting to make this career change, know this. Long before Robinson starred as a point guard for the University of Washington, was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and won three Slam Dunk championships, he was a standout cornerback for then-head coach Rick Neuheisel's Husky football team.

Robinson, following the footsteps of his father, Jacque Robinson, signed with the Huskies on a football scholarship. He only played one season for the football team, but saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting the final five contests and recording 34 tackles and two interceptions.

Statistics rarely tell the whole story and that is certainly the case here.

The 5-09, 180 pound Robinson is an extraordinary athlete whose quickness, vertical jump and surprising physicality always made him a better candidate for the NFL than the NBA, at least that was the opinion of one young NFL Draft analyst back in 2003. He certainly has been blessed with athletic genes. Father Jacque is the only player in college football history to have been named the MVP of the Rose Bowl (1982) and the Orange Bowl (1985). A running back, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round in 1985 and later played with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com agrees that Robinson could play in the NFL and emphatically states, "If I were a team that needed a cornerback, I'd sure as hell give Robinson a call."Brandt, of course, prior to working with the NFL as an analyst, spent nearly 30 years as the Dallas Cowboys' Vice President of Player Personnel.

It has been nearly ten years since Robinson played competitive football with helmets and pads. That said, there were many who doubted whether he could make the leap from the Pac-10 to the NBA strictly because of his lack of prototype height. His height wouldn't be quite the detriment as a nickel or dime cornerback, however, precisely why Robinson could surprise if given an opportunity.


Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:09 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Inside Linebackers

Over the last week and a half I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

The inside linebacker class was one of the weakest units of the 2011 draft. The player many graded as the top inside linebacker in the draft -- former Illinois junior Martez Wilson -- slipped all the way to the third round to the New Orleans Saints. To put that into perspective, in each of the past 20 NFL drafts, there has been at least one collegiate inside linebacker selected in the first two rounds. While the class, itself, is weak, there are a few middle and late round fits, however, that I anticipate surprising in the NFL.

Here are the links for the other positions:
Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Greg Jones, New York Giants: Jones is a classic example of an undersized football player who attempted to add weight for his senior season to appear better suited to the NFL -- and struggled mightily because of it. Instinctive, tough and stunningly productive throughout his career, Jones played at 230 pounds at inside and outside linebacker while with the Spartans, but bulked up to nearly 245 pounds as a senior. The added weight slowed him down and scared off teams on draft day. Jones, who entered the year as a rock-solid 2nd round talent, instead fell to the sixth round (No. 185 overall). The Giants, who need help at linebacker, will one day look brilliant for stopping his slide there. Jones will not only prove to be an NFL starter, he'll prove an NFL standout.

Kelvin Sheppard, Buffalo Bills: "Finding the Fits" is all about finding players who fit in a team's scheme. Sheppard, in my opinion, the top 3-4 inside linebacker in this draft, fits in nicely with the Bills -- a club that desperately needed help considering the fact that they finished dead last in 2010 in rushing yards allowed (169.6 yards per game). Sheppard, 6-2 and 250 pounds, is stout enough to take on blockers at the point of attack and showed enough athleticism to contribute as an interior blitzer, as well.

Quan Sturdivant, Arizona Cardinals: Like Jones, a disappointing senior season contributed to Sturdivant slipping on draft day much further than he should. Instinctive, physical and productive, Sturdivant was actually a more consistent player in college than his more hyped teammate Bruce Carter, who went in the second round to the Cowboys despite the fact that Carter is coming off a torn ACL. Sturdivant isn't the athlete that the Cardinals possess already with Darryl Washington, but he could provide a similar "thumper" presence inside as what the team has in Gerald Hayes. That fact, could lead to Cardinals releasing Hayes this off-season.

Questionable Fit:

Casey Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles: Considering his bloodlines, it might be foolish to question any Matthews' ability to transfer his skill set into the NFL, but after scouting Casey closely over his career, I have questions about where he'll fit in best at the pro level. Under Andy Reid, Philadelphia has often gravitated towards undersized, athletic "chase" linebackers and have boasted some stout mashers in the middle, at times, as well. Matthews, 6-1 and 230 pounds, is neither of these things. He is very instinctive, a reliable open-field tackler and a leader. However, he doesn't discard blocks particularly well and offers very little in terms of coverage skills. He also lacks the athleticism coaches generally want on special teams.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Some talk Gabbert could slide

Speaking with NFL sources over the past few hours and one of the more interesting tidbits floating around is that Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could slip.

Once viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, some suggest Gabbert could fall past Buffalo (No. 3), Cincinnati (No. 4), Arizona (No. 5), San Francisco (No. 7), and Tennessee (No. 8) -- despite the fact that each club could use a quarterback.

Quite frankly, while the rumor is interesting, I don't buy it. I have Gabbert going No. 7 overall to the 49ers . My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter has him going even higher -- 3rd overall.

Even if Gabbert slips a bit, I can't imagine him falling out of the top ten. I've been told that Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle Shanahan -- the Redskins' offensive coordinator, love the Missouri passer's combination of size, arm and athleticism. Should Gabbert slip to the Redskins, he'd jump ahead of other needs, like wide receiver and pass rusher. 

The greater point might be how Gabbert's fall -- should it happen -- would impact the rest of the QB class and how they, too, might slip as a result.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Buffalo Bills Draft Preview

Buffalo Bills 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC East

2011 draft rundown - Nine total picks (round): 3 (1); 34 (2); 68 (3); 100 (4); 122 (4); 133 (5); 169 (6); 206 (7); 245 (7)

Top needs:   

Defensive line: The Bills' 2,714 rushing yards allowed was second most in team history and they allowed eight 200-yard rushing games. Aside from Pro Bowl nose tackle Kyle Williams, blue-chip talent required to stop the run and rush the passer is sorely lacking. Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers are in the discussion.

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick's career-high 23 touchdown passes provides a level of comfort. The question is whether Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are "franchise" talents too good to pass up with the No. 3 overall pick. Or is there a prospect to take in Round 2 (No. 34) and develop? Florida State's Christian Ponder is a candidate for that scenario.

Linebacker: The Bills are in need of run stoppers and pass rushers at this vital position. Even with free agent Shawne Merriman in the fold, there is a general lack of star power on both the outside and inside and Paul Posluszny could be declared a free agent. The team is paying dearly for drafting Aaron Maybin 11th overall in 2009; he has yet to record a sack.

Offensive tackle: The Bills like four of their five starters, but right tackle was a revolving door in 2010. Mansfield Wrotto, Cordaro Howard and Erik Pears are expected to compete for the starting right tackle job but the team will add to the mix.


First-round focus   3rd overall -- The direction the Buffalo Bills go with the No. 3 overall pick all depends on their true feelings for veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The journeyman enjoyed a career year in 2010, passing for 3,000 yards and a respectable 23 touchdowns (against 15 interceptions) despite starting only 13 games. Considering the significant struggles the team had on the defensive side of the ball (including allowing eight 200 yard rushers last year), it might seem obvious that the Bills would look to address their defense. However, GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey eschewed their defensive needs last year to draft playmaker C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick and might be similarly tempted to draft a premier young signal-caller like Blaine Gabbert should he still be on the board. Having a year to learn the NFL ropes behind Fitzpatrick and IGabbert could prove an NFL star. The upside of the athletic Gabbert (or even more athletic Cam Newton, should he be available) would also be a wise move for a franchise looking to rebuild their fan base. If, on the other hand, the Bills like what they have in Fitzpatrick or decide to push off their concern for a young quarterback into the second or later rounds, there is plenty of defensive talent likely to be available at No. 3 that could fill areas of need. A stout run defender like Alabama's Marcell Dareus would seemingly be a perfect fit for the Bills and almost surely would be the pick if he were available. Experienced inside and out in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense while with the Crimson Tide, Dareus would make an immediate impact. So too would outside linebacker Von Miller, whose ability to rush the quarterback would help ease the suffering of the huge disappointment that has been former No. 11 overall pick Aaron Maybin. Cornerback is one of the team's relative strengths so LSU's Patrick Peterson would be a surprise, but the Bills have already shown their willingness think outside of the box with the selection of Spiller last year.

Five names on Bills' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Seahawks would like to trade down; won't go far

The Seattle Seahawks held a pre-draft press conference yesterday with general manager John Schneider fielding questions from the local media.

Among the topics he addressed was the report from Peter King of Sports Illustrated that "Seattle wants to trade down so bad from 25 that John Schneider can taste it."

Rather than dismiss it - as many general managers would do at this point in the cloak and dagger pre-draft season, Schneider expanded upon it, explaing that, "Personally, I’d like to move back. I have confidence in our ability in those middle rounds to do some good stuff.”

Presumably, the Seahawks would like to move down to recoup the third round pick they gave up last year for the rights to quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

And therein lies the irony of the situation.

It is the fact that Whitehurst is the only quarterback currently on the Seattle roster that makes it unlikely that Seattle will look to trade down too far on draft day, if they are able to land a deal in the first place. As I pointed out in a previous blog post, teams are expecting the contract rules to remain the same for this draft as they have been in the past. Now, this could change when a new CBA is signed, but teams generally go by the rules that have been in place, rather than projecting the new rules that could occur.

That means that the maximum number of years in a contract for a first round pick drafted between No. 16 and No. 32 is a five year deal. Players drafted No. 33 or later, however, can only receive a four-year contract.

Should Seattle be attempting to trade down with the hopes of landing a quarterback -- as some believe to be the case -- they won't want to trade out of the first round. The value of the extra year of the rookie deal is simply too valuable -- especially when dealing with a quarterback likely to spend at least the first year of the deal on the sideline.

It is the same reason why some of the teams in the top of the second round who may want to take a quarterback -- the Bills, Bengals, Cardinals, Titans, 49ers, Jaguars, etc. -- may ultimately have to trade up into the late first round to take the player who might have been available to them if they'd stayed put. In this wacky year, teams aren't just competing against each other for the rights to players, they want the longer, potentially cheaper contract for grooming their quarterbacks of the future.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com