With the help of the Bills transcribers over at One Bills Drive, I’m going to do my best in Joe Morganing and analyzing what went on yesterday with the Bills lunch with Buddy Nix and their franchise draft gurus. I did take out a few questions and answers that I didn’t feel were too important, but this is pretty much the dialog they had going on.
General Manager Buddy Nix Opening Remarks:
I know you know most of these guys but Tommy Gibbons is our Director of Pro Scouting. He’s all the free agents. His group takes care of all of those. He also sees some of the college guys. Chuck Cook’s our Director of College Scouting and sees the top players in the country. Of course, Doug Whaley is over both departments, Director of Player Personnel. You know, I lean on Doug pretty hard. Doug Majeski is a Coordinator of College Scouting. He takes care of in house stuff plus does the Big Ten, some of the Northeast and even into the Midwest. The big thing is he cross checks all of the offensive line. What we’re trying to do is have everybody covered. If you’ve got a question about a player, these guys, more than one of them mostly has seen them. Now we’re kind of walking a little bit of a tightrope here. We want to give you enough information to do your job. You guys cover us every day. We want to help you as much as we can to get your stuff done. At the same time we don’t want to give these other 31 teams enough information to do their job. So it’s a tightrope thing, kind of bear with us on that. After having said that, we’ll open it to questions, whatever you’ve got.
Joe’s Notes: Who the hell is Chuck Cook? I miss the days of Dwight Adams. That guy was Buddy Nix before there was a Buddy Nix. We all know Terrence Howard..Err…Doug Whaley. Maybe I should know this, but was there an exact timeframe on when he started overseeing the college department?
Q: Is there a quarterback good enough to be picked at the eighth spot?
Buddy Nix: You know I think there is. Also, I’ve said from Day One, this quarterback class is better than everybody thinks it is. It’s better than the publicity that they get. And by that I mean there’s about five or six of those guys, maybe seven, that do a lot of things good and do them good enough to win. This is not a standard answer. I’ve said this from the start that two or three of these guys will be franchise quarterbacks, I believe that. You look back at last year and the year before, I mean Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, right now if you were drafting you’d take them first. You’d take them first in the top five. So the jury’s out on this group but they do enough good things that if you do what they do best you can win with them.
Joe’s Notes: I’m happy Buddy thinks this QB class is awesome, but maybe he should stop using Kaepernick and Wilson as examples. 1) To have guys like that burst onto the scene and dominate isn’t normal. In fact, you can say it is an anomaly. 2) YOU PASSED ON THEM FOR AARON WILLIAMS AND TJ GRAHAM!!? It is as if Buddy is dissing himself when talking about that. It also sets up the Bills picking a QB in the 2nd round and trying to sell that pick as being the next Wilson or Kaepernick. Of course, it could be that they see someone at 8.
Q: Do you still think it’s a good idea to try to address one of some positions through a veteran free agent signing? And at this stage do these happen after the draft?
Buddy Nix: I think it’s very likely. I think we will be, and I brought this up the other day, we brought in Nick Barnett after camp started and he played two good years for us. We will be in business up until we start the preseason. There are still guys out there. Tommy (Gibbons) can speak to that probably better than I can. There are still guys out there. It’s just like Alan Branch. We were looking at defensive linemen, we were talking to defensive linemen, but we felt like that Alan was probably going to be at our high price range which he was anyways. We got us a good player, a 27-year old guy that’s going to be a good player for us. We’ll still keep looking if they fit. We’ll be in the market.
Joe’s notes: I was actually going to mention this on Twitter yesterday, but I’ve heard Buddy keep using Nick Barnett as someone they brought in during camp as an example for them looking for players constantly. There’s just one small thing he forgot to mention and that’s how during that offseason, we had the lockout which pretty much eliminated the 5 months of prep work heading into training camp, meaning you had only 10 days worth of shopping for your free agents and signing your picks before camp begin. That’s totally different than any other offseason. If you factor in the 2 other offseasons Buddy Nix resided over the franchise, the only guy they brought in new during training camp was Tarvaris Jackson, who they didn’t even activate and was brought in due to Vince Young sucking in the preseason. We will see how Branch does.
Q: Is it a waiting game for a lot of teams with it being so close to the draft?
Tom Gibbons: It’s individual. Each team will have their own plan going forward. Some players will be released. There’s still some cap work that needs to be done on a lot of teams, so there will be good players popping up and you just have to be ready. And we track them. If a player was to become available I don’t think there would be any question we’d sign them before the draft, after the draft or up until camp. There wouldn’t be any question, if we felt that the player could help us. And there will be some movement like I said.
Joe’s notes: No clue who Tom Gibbons is…but I’m pretty sure this quote is echoed by every other personnel guy in the NFL.
Q: Are you anticipating a lot of phone calls from the teams behind you in the Draft? And how much would you entertain moving down?
Buddy Nix: I don’t know that I’m anticipating a lot. I think there is a better chance because of the rookie wage scale. I think that helps movement, but all I can tell you is we’re open for business and we’re going to answer all the calls.
Joe’s notes: Last year, there were 16 trades involving 1st round picks. The four teams who traded up within the top 10 selected offensive players. The two teams that traded down in the top 10 selected defensive players. In 2011, the two teams who traded up into the top 10 selected offensive players.
Q: How open are you to the idea of moving down?
Buddy Nix: I think a lot of that will be determined by the first five or six picks of the draft. In other words, if there are three, four or five guys that we really value we’d move back.
Joe’s notes: The Bills haven’t moved back in the draft since 2001 when they traded their first-round selection (14th overall, used to select Kenyatta Walker) to Tampa Bay for their first-round selection (21st overall, used to select Nate Clements) and their second-round selection (which was then traded to Denver).
Q: How much do you guys assess on what will go on behind you in reference to some of the trade down possibilities?
Buddy Nix: Obviously we look at that. I think we try to do our homework on all these guys. These guys do a great job of getting the information and who they might want to take because of whom they signed in free agency or who they lost. Yeah, we are because those guys might move ahead of you. You look at everybody talks about who will be there in the second round. We don’t pick eighth in the second round, we pick tenth. You’ve got to look at those kinds of things, too, and look ahead.
Joe’s notes: Well…I hope they know they pick 10th in the 2nd round! Because I didn’t.
Q: Do you pay attention to what’s being said about teams around you?
Buddy Nix: You pay attention to it but you don’t put all your marbles in that basket either. They’ll lie just like we do or they don’t tell stuff.
Joe’s notes: Most truthful thing he said.
Q: Did you go visit (Syracuse QB) Ryan Nassib so you could save one of the 30 pre-draft visits?
Buddy Nix: We went to the other spots, too. We went to see those other guys, too. We bring those guys in to see what they know offensively, mentally about scheme and how much they can retain. We teach them in the morning, let them go to lunch, come back, test them and see how much of it they retain. We already knew that about Ryan (Nassib) obviously. It did (save us on one of the 30). And we used them.
Joe’s notes: A lot has been made about the Bills pre-draft visits. Yes, it is fun to decipher those visits in figuring out who they will pick, but one thing I’d like to include is that these guys meet all these players at the made for TV event known as the Combine. What is it that they can do there that they can’t do here? They can show the player Ralph Wilson’s game room? They could be bringing folks in who they aren’t sure about and are leaving the ones they like behind…maybe? I know, they have picked the guy who has visited the last few years, but 30 players is a pretty large sum.
Q: Can you assess Nassib?
Doug Majeski: Ryan (Nassib), everybody assumes just because we have Coach Marrone that he became in the forefront. He is a good player. As we go through our scouting process from the beginning of his senior year all the way through, he was a guy we were aware of. We wanted to see him a couple times play just because it was so easy for us to get to Syracuse and see him play live.
Joe’s notes: Yeah, I’m sure. Actually, I do wonder if the Bills kept Chan Gailey, would Nassib be someone he’d like to fit into his offense? I think with Chan’s quick pass offense, he probably would have been ideal since that’s Nassib’s bread and butter.
Q: What are Nassib’s best traits, football-wise?
Doug Majeski: Obviously he’s got a strong arm. He can make all the throws. He’s got touch timing, all the things we look for in a quarterback. When you talk about Ryan (Nassib), his intangibles are all positive. He’s kind of an easy guy when you go through the scouting process. When you put it all together it comes out very good.
Q: Is his (Nassib) deep throw a concern?
Doug Majeski: Some are good, maybe some you miss. All these quarterbacks are going to miss some throws. All these quarterbacks are going to throw some picks. You look at the body of work, you look at the pro day stuff and you look at everything they do. Who are they throwing to? There are a lot of reasons or factors that go into it. Like I said, he can make all the throws and he can make them well.
Joe’s notes: Yeah, all QBs makes bad throws. Wait, I said that when I used to stick up for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Must make perfect throws, asshole?!
Q: How does the spread game make it more difficult to evaluate guys or how it effects the evaluation?
Doug Whaley: Obviously it’s going to present a different challenge just because you’re not going to see a lot of NFL-type throws. But what you have to do is see how they do make those throws. What’s their balance? What’s their footwork? What’s their release point? What’s the timing? Or are they throwing it to the right person? Those are the types of things that you really look at. Again, it’s going to be a little tougher because they’re not attacking downfield as much as you’d like to see them but we try to basically break down how they do what they do instead of what they’re doing.
Joe’s notes: I thought a guy coming from the spread would help out because most NFL teams run it?
Q: Have there been any contract talks with Jairus Byrd lately?
Buddy Nix: There’s been some contact and we’re making an effort obviously to try to get a long-term deal done with Jairus (Byrd). But you know, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, I haven’t given it much thought. I don’t mean that we’re not interested because we certainly need him and eventually he’ll probably be here. It’s nothing we can do except try to get a contract done. If it doesn’t work then the ball’s in his court. He comes when basically he gets ready. What we’re trying to do is get our guys ready we’ve got here and we’ve got them all here but one.
Joe’s notes: I don’t want to get all #becauseitsbuffalo with Byrd and start panicking. I mean, we are like 5 months away from the start of the season, but what the hell is the problem here? You spent a shitload of money last offseason, why can’t you just open the bank for Byrd? Can’t we just treat him like we treated Chris Kelsay during his career when we just extended him for no fricken reason? I seriously hope that the Bills don’t pull any of that letting Byrd sign his franchise tender with the prerequisite that they can’t franchise him again.
Q: Is there any concern for this process to prolong to training camp and further?
Buddy Nix: I think a tag is an option we have and then when they come in it’s an option they have. That’s really what it’s come down to. Again, we’d love to have had him here yesterday but we don’t. So we’re going to work hard to try and get these guys ready that we’ve got.
Joe’s notes: I normally don’t care about players coming to camp on time. They are professionals and practices always seem to be just a going through the motions kind of thing. However, with the Bills instituting a new defense, I’d like for Byrd to get in ASAP. However, I’d rather him sign a long term deal and walk in on September 1st than coming in on August 1st with just a 1-year deal. The Bills are gonna suck anyways.
Q: Giving that you’re limited in the number of picks (six) is there a possibility of trading up?
Buddy Nix: I think you’d consider it but it’d have to be really appealing to you to move up. I hate giving up draft picks. I hope in some way we get that seventh (round) back even though it is a seventh and we can go after college free agents. We just don’t like giving up those picks. They’re valuable.
Joe’s notes: The only time Buddy Nix gave up picks to move up in the draft was when the Bills moved up two spots to select TJ Graham with the 69th pick. They gave up a 7th round pick to Washington to get to that spot. So, trade ups hardly happen here.
Q: How much does losing Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart impact the draft?
Buddy Nix: Not at all. Now having said that, I know a lot of people are saying we’re taking a guard, one of those top two guards. Our roster, in house, is better than I think we give credit for, especially offensive line. We’re pretty deep there. We have six guards. We think a couple of those guys can play. Having said all that before you just write that we’re not going to take a guard at number eight, it’s hard to pass up two players like the boys in Alabama and the one at North Carolina. Both of them are great players. We’d have to give that a lot of thought.
Joe’s notes: LOLOL!! Alright, I admire the confidence, but I don’t think the Bills have any left guards on their roster. They have some guy named John Snow or David Snow or some guy whose last name has the origin of Winterfell in it. Anyways, we will see. I don’t want to select a guard with their first two picks, but to ignore it? Eh. Under Nix, the highest the Bills have drafted a player to play guard was in the 6th round last year (Mark Asper, who was cut). So, they don’t exactly value the position, do they?
Q: Do you have enough confidence with the six guards that you have that if it’s not addressed in the draft then you’re fine?
Buddy Nix: Right. I do.
Joe’s notes: LIES!!!!
Q: How much has your quarterback draft rankings changed from the Senior Bowl until now?
Buddy Nix: I think they do move some. I can sit here and tell you they don’t change and all that but I think they do. And the reason that that position’s intangibles are so important and they’re so hard to figure out. A guy’s leadership, a lot of times you get a guy and most of those at that position are smart guys and they figure out what you want to hear and you’ve got to dig, dig and dig to find out how they really are. That kind of thing does make them fluctuate some.
Joe’s notes: Jerry Glanville (Former Oilers/Falcons coach) once said that he hated the NFL combine and that he’d just rather go by what they do on the field and not in their shorts. I happen to agree with him..but I’m praising the advice of someone who was fired twice in 5 years and left tickets for Elvis at games (True story). So, what do I know?
Q: Does the Kevin Kolb signing impact what you do in the draft?
Buddy Nix: It doesn’t, but it makes me sleep a little better at night. At least we’ve got two veterans (at quarterback) that have played. That makes it, because you never know what’s going to happen in the draft. As you know you can do all the planning you want to do but it’s still a crap shoot some. You don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to jump over you and take a guy. We think Kevin (Kolb), and we’ve had him targeted early, we think he’s really a smart, tough guy that’s been successful when he’s had the proper tools around him. We’re excited to have him. But as far as how (our) plans will, they’ll be the same.
Joe’s notes: I still don’t think you need two veteran QBs if you are bringing in a rookie QB. Just spells overkill and not enough training camp reps. However, I have kind of backed down for my hatred of Kolb.
Q: What are the disadvantages if teams don’t jump on a quarterback in the first round? Will that change your plans?
Doug Whaley: I think we are going to plan for any possible scenario. Obviously with the limited number of picks it is going to limit what we can do but we will have a plan for any way this draft falls.
Joe’s notes: Oh, no! They picked a RB ahead of us?! Let’s goto plan Q!! Yes, I’m being a dick.
Q: What is your view of the top three tackles and the quality of the left tackles in the draft?
Doug Majeski: Obviously you keep hearing about the same couple guys at left tackle and it is a very good left tackle draft. It is unique that you get guys with the prototypical size, length and athleticism. Luke Joeckel is a fantastic player and Eric Fisher is a fantastic player, Central Michigan and Texas A&M but Fisher at every level he has done whether it is playing top 1-A competition, Senior Bowl and Combine he has passed all tests with flying colors. I think it is unique to get as many players. And I think as you go through the tackles (in the) draft that have a chance to go through and have a chance to help an NFL team.
Joe’s notes: I just don’t see the Bills going with an OL in back-to-back years within the first two rounds. The last time that happened was in 1985 and 1986 (Will Wolford in the 1st round and Mark Traynowicz in the 2nd). However, they did go center and guard in 2009 with Eric Wood and Andy Levitre.
Q: What has the coaching staff asked for when looking for players?
Doug Whaley: The number one thing they stressed to us is they want players to play like Bills, which are tough, competitive, intelligent players that love football. This helps us out a lot and basically told us all get the best player that one plays like a Bill, but is the best player at the position and we will find a way to make this player successful.
Joe’s notes: “The number one thing they stressed to us is they want players to play like Bills, which are tough, competitive, intelligent players that love football.” Play like Bills players? NO YOU DON’T!! Maybe Doug was talking about other Bills…like Bill Cosby? Bill Clinton? Bill Maher? Bill O’Reily? Billy the kid?
Q: How much easier has that made your job when looking for the next Bill?
Doug Whaley: It broadens up the talent pool and type of player we are looking for so we are not being specific about every position and measurable like that.
Joe’s notes: So, If I say I want to be a Bill..I’ll shoot up the draft board? SCORE!
Q: What can you tell us about the wide receiver position and specifically the kid from Tennessee?
Chuck Cook: Well Cordarrelle (Patterson) is an outstanding freak of an athlete as everybody knows. He is a thoroughbred. He can go down the field. He has great catching range and is a tremendous player with the ball in his hands. He is one of the most unique guys I have seen with the ball in his hands. He is a kickoff returner when they put him in the backfield sometimes. This guy has those rare qualities you talk about.
Q: What are specific plays that stand out when you look at Patterson at tape?
Chuck Cook: Just against Georgia they will run him on these sweeps and then they will get him in the backfield and run fly sweeps and reverses. And anytime he touches the ball he has a unique way to drop his weight for a really tall, angular receiver and change directions. Against Georgia and some of these other teams he just blistered them down the field with his vision and open field speed.
Q: What do you think about the receiver pool in the draft?
Chuck Cook: I think it is deep right into the second round.
Q: When you see a guy like Patterson, how do you deal with his success between limited time and his athleticism?
Buddy Nix: I think that you have to figure those guys may not help you immediately if those are the guys you take. They are raw. You are going to have to groom them and be patient with them.
Joe’s notes: A lot was made about Buddy throwing some doubt on Patterson because he mentioned the negative aspect of picking a player who could be raw. A few things…
Chuck Cook, who I never heard of until today, was blowing smoke up Patterson’s ass. He didn’t have any sort of red flags about him and was just all cupid and arrows. If Buddy was asked the primary question about him, do you think he brings up raw comment? Maybe, but I’m sure he’d be talking him up just like Mr. Cook did.
Keep in mind, the Bills/Nix have selected quite a few players who were pretty raw. CJ Spiller was a disaster or raw during his rookie year and only played during his 2nd year when Fred Jackson went down with an injury. Troup and Carrington were deactivated during parts of their rookie years. TJ Graham didn’t dress for the home opener this past year. So, just keep in mind that they do have a history of drafting guys who they had to mold into NFL players and some haven’t exactly correctly, right?
Q: What will Jairus’ situation impact on what you will do in the draft as well as Coach Pettine’s new system in the secondary?
Buddy Nix: To be honest, I think we are pretty good back there, I really do. That does not mean that we couldn’t use another guy but we have five safeties. To be honest with you we have some guys that we don’t know exactly what we have. (Mana) Silva for example he is a guy that we tried to get two or three times, had him here for a cup of coffee and we lost him and finally got him again from Dallas. We think he has a chance to be a good player. I am anxious to get through this camp and see these guys in OTA’s then we will know more about what we have. I will say this to you: the idea of the draft in the secondary is probably dictated more by the number that is back there. There are more safeties, good safeties in the draft this year that I have seen in 10 years. Sometimes we have three guys up there in the first four rounds. This year we have them through the entire draft.
Joe’s notes: Who in 7 hells is Mana Silva? Isn’t he a UFC Fighter? I don’t know if I agree with the Bills being good back there. Aaron Williams is your new safety, which opens up a major hole, and I’m not exactly enamored with Leodis McKelvin starting. I also don’t know if Da’Norris Searcy can play and wouldn’t exactly pencil him in as being irreplaceable because of where he was drafted. If this is like the best safety class in 10 years as Buddy says, why not take a flyer? Misinformation?
Q: You like to take corners in the draft. Do you still hold that philosophy in this draft?
Buddy Nix: You can’t have enough. They are on every team. Everyone is playing for them, four and five wide so sometimes you have five corners in the game. That is one of things that is a big advantage for Aaron Williams. Aaron has played corner. If he has to walk up and play the slot he can do that. That dictates it a lot plus those guys are on every special team. They are going to be active on game day and hopefully we will draft one or get one or two in free agency.
Do you see Aaron Williams starting out at safety?
Buddy Nix: Yes. I am saying that. That is their decision but that is one decision they have made so far.
Joe’s notes: So, in one breath..Buddy says Aaron can play corner, but in the next..we are moving him to safety. I know what he’s saying, but I don’t think the guy can play corner.
Q: Are colleges producing more safeties that can play linebacker?
Chuck Cook: Buddy (Nix) said a while ago, in the NFL we are facing spread teams and we need more athletic linebackers. And when we look at guys, if a guy is a safety and he has some size we might put him at a nickel backer possibly. We have to match-up to those guys in this league. Every year is different but this is a good safety class this year
Buddy Nix: The old deal of the strong safety that plays down in the box is about gone. They won’t let you do that and the idea of matching up against someone like (Wes) Welker you can’t cover him.
Joe’s notes: Agree. The headhunter safeties like Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith are long gone. Not just because of the spread, but because of the rules being so in favor of the WRs. You need cover safeties to stop the blossoming position of the TE.
Q: What do you see out of Matt Barkley from USC as a top prospect?
Buddy Nix: I will briefly (talk about him) and then I will let Doug talk about him. We went to see all of those guys and had them in here. I have seen them a lot more than I have seen my wife in the last three months (jokingly). He is a brilliant guy; very smart. He picks it up in a hurry. He has played in a good league.
Joe’s notes: Keep an eye out on any pool boys going to Buddy Nix’s home to see his wife. Yes, I’ve watched one too many Hotel Erotica’s on Cinemax. Seriously, this is probably the most excited Buddy has been about a player up to this point.
Doug Whaley: To add to the fact that he has been on the big stage for a while, he has produced. And I think the best thing about him is he knows how to get the ball to his playmakers. That is, I think, one of the best qualities he has and a good trait to have in a quarterback.
Joe’s notes: I do like that Barkley has played in high pressure situations like at USC and that he’s learned under a prostyle offense.
Q: Does Barkley have the arm to whip it through a Buffalo wind?
Doug Whaley: In our opinion, a guy that does not have an outright cannon can still get away with it with having timing, being able to anticipate throws, being able to have knowledge of defenses, when to throw to a spot and when to adjust his throwing motion to get the most out of what he has. A perfect example of that is Joe Montana. Joe Montana did not have the strongest of arms. He is still arguably one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
Joe’s notes: Concur. In the west coast offense, you don’t need a strong arm, merely an accurate one. Also, I think the weather crap is so overrated. Global warming is taking over the world and in essence, you only have to play 1-2 bad weather games in Buffalo. The guy isn’t coming to Antarctica. Also, if I get anyone telling me that “The guy can’t handle the cold because he’s from California!!” I’m gonna punch you in the face. Brett Favre was one of the best cold weather QBs ever and he played and lived in Mississippi prior to going to the NFL. Pretty sure most college QBs do eventually play in the elements.
Q: You are saying Matt has all of that?
Doug Whaley: We believe he has a chance to be successful with his skill set.
Buddy Nix: You know a lot of people say that, I do not know who they are. A lot of it…that old boy a year ago was the number one guy. Then he got hurt and I do not know how much that affected him. Neither do a lot of people. They probably do not either.
Joe’s notes: Keep in mind Buddy Nix said that Clausen would be a franchise QB and a winner in the NFL.
Q: Can you explain the perceived meteoric rise of Florida St. QB E.J. Manuel? Is it something induced by the darling of the NFL now, the zone read? Is that something that is kind of driving him up a little bit?
Buddy Nix: I really do not pay much attention to that stuff so I did not know he was making a move with the media. I would say that is probably some of it, yeah. The fact that he can run the football. I think in this league it is kind of a fad deal. Not saying that is a fad, but I am saying the league does things like that. It always comes back to you. You have to be able to throw the football in this league to win and to score. If you have a guy that can run it, he better first of all be able to make NFL throws.
Joe’s notes: A fad? Really? We are talking about a team that refused to believe the wildcat was dead and shelled out 10-million or whatever for Brad Smith. Is the zone read a fad? No one knows yet, but two teams that played pretty well last year, with one making it to the SB, used it pretty well. Why be flippant, Buddy?
BTW, did the Bills institute advanced stats like Russ Brandon talked about when he “Took over” the franchise? I haven’t heard much about it, but you kind of think now would be the perfect time to put them to work. Wish someone would have asked them during the lunch.
Q: Can Manuel make the NFL throws?
Buddy Nix: I have not seen him make NFL throws. I have seen him make them at Florida St. He made throws and he was maybe a little inconsistent with it. He has plenty of arm and great athletic ability. It is just a matter of whether or not you can get him consistent in that part of it.
Joe’s notes: Again, a lot was made about this quote, but I think working on consistent throws is something that can be worked on. If Manuel has an NFL arm, you can work with that. Also, if the Bills are saying they can sleep better with Kolb and Jackson, why does a guy need to start right away when he can ride the pine and learn?
Q: How much do the future plans play in? If there is a position that is really deep next year does that play into the decision making process?
Buddy Nix: Trust me, I am thinking about today and tomorrow. So much changes. Like this time last year everybody said, ‘If we lose 12 or 13 games we can get Barkley.’ Well that changes. So it does and I do not think you can bet on that.
Joe’s notes: But isn’t Buddy retiring soon?
Q: How much do you trust a program or a school? You maybe like NC State, got a couple of guys from there. One of the things said about QB Matt Barkley is USC quarterbacks. How much goes into a guy’s program and where he comes from, in addition to just who he is?
Doug Whaley: I would say it would be more on the level of competition and not the program. You are going to take everybody on a case-by-case basis. You cannot just throw a blanket statement out about a program and say, ‘Oh just because he is from this school this is going to be his legacy.’ I would just say again, a case-by-case basis. The program you are probably going to get a better chance to see them against top level competition and help you judge it that way, but that is where, for me, I think it starts and stops.
Joe’s notes: Totally agree. Competition is the name of the game. Not the school.
Q: Is West Virginia WR Tavon Austin on your radar? He is just…
Doug Whaley: He is electric and yes he is.
Q: Do you think Austin can somehow be another playmaker for the Bills?
Doug Whaley: Everybody in this draft has a chance to be a Bill. Absolutely.
Buddy Nix: And I will tell you this, too, he is on everybody’s radar.
Doug Whaley: And high on the radar, too, for everybody. That guy, he is a special talent.
Q: What can Austin do?
Doug Whaley: He is the type of guy that once he touches the ball, he has a chance to make a prolific play every time. He scares a lot of defensive players and coordinators.
Joe’s notes: They seem pretty high on this Austin guy. More high on him than Patterson. If we are reading the tea leaves, you gotta think if Barkley is gone by 8, they could look towards Austin. Although, mockers have him as a reach, but they are dumb.
Q: How do you feel about your linebacker position?
Buddy Nix: Well, the number is good. I was looking at them to today out there and it is amazing how things change. We have some linebackers out there that look like defensive backs. They are getting smaller and faster. I think we have some talent there, a lot more than maybe some people think. We will know more with this group after we get through OTAs and that kind of thing. I think Manny Lawson fits what we are looking for at SAM. We really were worried that we did not have that. And then (Marcus) Dowtin, we picked up is a cover guy. So those will help us. We have got some depth there. We might, you cannot tell, but there may be one in the draft that we want to take. We are better than we were when we started free agency. I will say that.
Joe’s notes: Yawn. I’ve been saying it all offseason, the Bills just don’t value LBs as high picks. They haven’t picked one in the 1st round since 1987 and only three others in the 2nd round (Poz, Cowart and Gabe Northern). Plus, they aren’t about to give up on their former 3rd and 4th round picks. Under Nix, the Bills have showed a lot of patience with their picks. I mean, they gave McKelvin 20-million bucks only a year after he lost his starting job. They have patience with their homegrown guys…up until they have to start paying them elite money.
Q: Do you need a backup to LB Manny Lawson that is not on the roster?
Buddy Nix: Maybe there is one on the roster. Maybe there is. And again, you have guys like Arthur Moats. Arthur is a guy that played with his hand down his entire college career and he learns every day. He is a guy you better not count out. He does enough to get it done and I would not sell him short.
Joe’s notes: Arthur Moats has played more positions than a porn star. Mafia for life!!
Q: If you could size up the tight end class. It seems like there is a lot of these big guys that can run fast and maybe your need for one of those guys on the roster?
Buddy Nix: There possibly is a need. I do think we have got five tight ends. A lot depends on the health of Scott Chandler. We think he will be ready to go for camp. Still, you do not like to go in there not knowing and then something happens. I will let Chuck (Cook) talk about that class.
Chuck Cook: It is a real good class of tight ends. It is one of the best I have seen in a while. The Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert—he is down-the-field agile and he is an acrobatic catcher. There are a lot of guys that are big guys. At Stanford, (Zach) Ertz. Big guys that can detach and do some things down the field. Very athletic and very much of a (Scott) Chandler type guy, but have a little more speed. It is a good class.
Joe’s notes: I really do wish the Bills took the TE position serious. Did you know that Buddy Nix hasn’t drafted a TE yet? You’d have to go back to Shawn Nelson getting drafted in the 4th round in 2009. Haha. I remember everyone thought he was a steal for us. As for Buddy’s SD connections, the highest they drafted a TE was in the 4th round and that was…Scott Chandler. If anything, I’d say they go 4th-5th round for it.
Q: How do you evaluate if some of these quarterbacks can actually play in cold weather?
Doug Whaley: I think you take the full-body of work. Like we said, some of it is looking at the cold weather games. Florida St. did not have too many cold weather games. USC did not have too many cold weather games. You add into the fact what you saw at the Combine, what you do in personal workouts and you try to get a judgment on that as best you can. There is no real specific stamp where you can say, ‘This is going to make sure we feel this guy can definitely get it done.’ I think what you do is take the whole body of work and everything we have done up to this point, combine it into one and try to come up with your best educated opinion.
Joe’s notes: Fuck the cold weather already. My god. Did you know that Jim Kelly was 18-18 in the month of December, had only a +9 in TD/INT ratio, and was his lowest QB rated month? WHAT A BUM!! I thought he could survive the cold weather like The Starks in Game of Thrones? Winter isn’t coming for QBs, assholes!
Q: Would you still like to add the type of receiver who is open when he is not to the roster?
Buddy Nix: Yeah. We think Stevie (Johnson) can play, I am saying we that is what the staff thinks, too, that Stevie can play in-or-out. We have some speed in T.J. (Graham). There are other guys on the roster that we think has the chance to be that type. We are all excited about Marcus Easley. I say, ‘We all,’ I am. Marcus Easley being healthy for a year. This guy, if you want to draw one up, draw him up. He is 227 pounds and can run. So there may be one on the roster, but I know there is some in the draft. We are talking about the wide receiver position being deep. It is always going to be deep the way colleges are going. They are playing with four and five wide, so there is more of them and those guys like that position. There is always going to be good players there. There are three or four that would fit that outside receiver job that could challenge deep and be a vertical guy.
Joe’s notes: Marcus Easley? Did Buddy Nix go into a time machine and come into a world that was taking place after the 2010 draft? Seriously, I’d be shocked if the Bills don’t select two WRs in the draft.
Q: Where does Syracuse OL Justin Pugh fit in the NFL and where on the line? And how does he being a Syracuse guy play into how you evaluate him?
Doug Majeski: We evaluate him the way we would evaluate him if he was at USC, Syracuse or wherever. We cannot vary just because we have coaches that know him as well. That is not part of our process. We write these guys. He was a junior so he came out afterwards. He is really an athletic player. Really good base, balance, body control, can play strong and can get stronger. He is 6’4”-plus, 306 pounds—I think from the Combine. He gives you a lot of flexibility. I know he is a guy you think you could see him playing either tackle or maybe guard. Has he done it? No, but sometimes you have to look at a guy’s skill set and try to convert it. See where he would best fit.
Joe’s notes: Is Syracuse the new SEC for the Bills?
Q: Where do you think the value of the middle rounds of this draft will be position-wise?
Buddy Nix: I think wide receiver, I think safety and I think tight end that in those middle rounds you can get a really good player.
Joe’s notes: Keep in mind Nix has selected two WRs and 3 DBs (1 safety) from round 3 and up.
Q: How do you feel about LB Nigel Bradham and if he could fit as an inside linebacker?
Buddy Nix: I think he is a great fit for what we are doing because he can fly. He can run. He is a guy that the closer he gets to the ball, the faster he gets. So he likes to play. He was an excellent special team’s guy. I would think that he will have a good year.
Joe’s notes: I’ve watched a bunch of Jets’ games and yes, you want your LBs to be fast as hell because they are sent in to blitz constantly.
Q: Does he have a chance to play on third-downs?
Buddy Nix: Absolutely. That is my opinion. Coach’s may be different. Yeah, I think he can.
Joe’s notes: Gotta find someone who can take over for Nick Barnett on 3rd down.
Q: Where does Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o fit in the NFL?
Buddy Nix: We like him. We went to see him. All of us I think have been in there to see him and, of course, the tight end. He had a great season. He is going to be a good player. I think he is one of the top three or four linebackers in the Draft. Inside.
Joe’s notes: Moot point since Buddy said he likes his LBs. Plus, I can’t deal with the discord and insanity of the fan reaction if we select the guy with the fake girlfriend.
Q: Is it important to you to add a pass rusher at some point in the next couple weeks or even after that?
Buddy Nix: I think we would always be receptive to that. I also think we are pretty good there. If Mark (Anderson) can get well…see everybody jumped on Mario (Williams) early in the year and I remember sitting right here when we signed the guy. I said, ‘This guy will never live up to the money he is making.’ You are always going to say, no matter what he does, ‘He probably was not worth that.’ If you look at the tape from Day One, even when he was playing nicked and injured, he played good. He just did not have a lot of sacks, which is a stat deal. He is using up two or three blockers. We think we are pretty good there and we think we would be fine even if we did not add one.
Joe’s notes: The Bills have over 150-million dollars invested in the DL, they are not getting another pass rusher.