Buffalo Bills 5th round draft pick LB Matt Milano has all of the traits that McDermott looks for in a linebacker. He played a lot of the roles held by Shaq Thompson in Carolina. But it will take some time for him to see considerable snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Check out what he has to offer.
According to multiple sources, free agent linebacker Gerald Hodges is visiting One Bills Drive today. He has made several visits this offseason, and still has visits lined up after today. His services are a commodity, and when you turn on the eye in the sky, you can certainly understand why.
Hodges is a balanced linebacker. He isn’t a top end athlete, as he possesses just average speed and below average explosiveness, but he shows some very good lateral agility and good balance. His lateral agility is one of my favorite traits, specifically versus the run. He has the ability to shuffle, cover enough ground to keep extremely good leverage on the running back, keep square shoulders, and plant and make the tackle.
Completely zoned in on the runner/ball
Keep in mind that in San Francisco, he played Will linebacker in a 3-4 defense. In Buffalo, he would more than likely be playing Will in a 4-3. Of course, with different schemes comes different assignments, but the outside linebacker assignments in the Bills’ defense should play to his strengths. He has awareness versus the run. He quickly reads gap and zone runs equally and inserts himself into those gaps. A technique that McDermott and Frazier teach at the linebacker position is the spill technique. As the run develops, the play side linebackers are asked to insert into their gaps and spill/force the running back wide. Hodges executes perfectly versus New England.
Notice the helmet placement is always in his gap. On the first play, the run is attacking the defense to the weak side. He inserts and allows the Mike to flow over the top for the tackle. On the second play, he is aligned to the strength and immediately inserts and is able to fight through the block and assist on the tackle.
As far as his position, based on the skill he possesses and the LB unit, I think he plays Will. However, the Sam and Will do move and are interchangeable, to an extent. For example, in a defense like Buffalo is going to run, you will see a lot of 4-3 under looks. The 4-3 under looks like this, and you can expect Hodges to run as the Will. That is, off the ball, where he excels. He would struggle at Sam here because he doesn’t have the length or stacking ability at the point of attack.
During certain game plans he can play Sam, but he will have to be stacked or covered. That is possible in a 4-3 over front, something that McDermott loves to run. Here, you see Davis, who was primarily a Will LB stacked behind two defensive lineman, as it allows him to stay clean and make plays on the ball if the ball were to come downhill at him.
Here is a similar look by the Niners last season, but from an odd front. Watch how Brooks spills the play to Hodges. He gets downhill and knows the gap he must occupy, but manages to use his short area quickness to cut inside the block to make the tackle.
I watched four games of Hodges 2016, and I came away surprised at how well he played versus the run. I always believed that he was purely a coverage guy, but if put in the proper scheme and position, then he is well above serviceable against the run. Keep him clean and he can make plays. He had the 13th highest run stop percentage for inside linebackers last season, including 29 run stops, and only missed 5 tackles against the run.
3-4 under, Hodges aligned as the WILL.
Hodges has only averaged 54% of the snaps in his career, so you know that he does have some limitations. Last season, he was subbed out on third downs. Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini liked to run a lot of three safety looks, so Hodges was usually brought out of the game. However, it was also because Mangini liked to play a lot of man coverage on those downs. He had three good safeties to do so. Typically, safety Eric Reid would be inserted and asked to play versus running backs and tight ends in man coverage. Man coverage is not one of Hodges’ strengths.
Play action gets the best of him here
As a three down LB, usually the Will LB is aligned to either the field or the passing strength. On the first play below, he is aligned away from the passing strength AND into the boundary, and you can see he struggles to cover the receiver and actually trips the player. On the second play versus the Cardinals, he is aligned to the passing strength AND to the field. He is in man coverage and struggles to open up his hips, and it allows the tight end, Jermaine Gresham to separate. On the final play against New England, he is matched up with RB Dion Lewis on the backside of a 3×1 formation, a role that Will LBs often play. I actually love how he meets the running back and utilizes the hover technique of firing his feet, but when Lewis commits inside, Hodges disrupts the back but can’t explode with him. He doesn’t have the type of feet, change of direction, or explosion to match up with those kinds of players.
The following three plays occurred on 1st or 2nd and 10
His struggles in man coverage can be minimized by scheme, and luckily for him, the Bills are apparently going to play a scheme that Hodges could flourish in. We can expect more zone coverage in 2017, which is a long way from Rex Ryan’s defense. In 2016, he was only targeted 24 times, allowing 18 receptions for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
As a zone defender, he is very good at restricting early pass options and at recognizing threats that may enter his zone. On the first play, the Niners drop into what appears to be cover 3 match and Brady wants to hit the crosser, but the quick downhill reaction by Hodges changes Brady’s mind. A similar thing happens on the second play. Watch how as the ball is snapped, Hodges finds Bennett.
Stopping crossers will be a TREMENDOUS asset to the Bills’ defense. Shutting down the middle of the field, I’m sure, is a priority, especially if they want to beat the Patriots.
He is very good as a hook to curl linebacker. He knows when to expand horizontally to restrict passing lanes, or bring the receiver down to limit YAC.
His spatial and zone awareness overall is really good, and that is why he was drafted by Frazier in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Look at how he flows in the direction of the play, finds Cooks who is trying to sneak underneath, and takes away a possible TD.
Potential Bills Fit:
Linebacker Gerald Hodges is no doubt a fit in the new Buffalo Bills’ defense. He is a linebacker that is much better versus the run than most people realize. He uses his mental processing skills and leverage to get his body into a position at the point of attack to spill plays to his teammates or to make a play himself. He uses very good lateral agility to shuffle down the line of scrimmage, track the ball, and fill versus runs away from him. If kept clean, which will probably be the case behind Buffalo’s defensive line, he can be a tackle machine.
Versus the pass, he does have limitations. He isn’t the athlete that Zach Brown was, so he can’t be asked to carry out the same responsibilities. What he lacks in athleticism, which is exposed in man coverage, he makes up for with zone eyes and awareness. He displays the ability to read the QB, find zone threats, and take away options from the QB. For a defense that is attempting to switch to a more zone based scheme, I think that he is the perfect fit.
People want to compare him to Preston Brown because he played both the Sam and Will for Jim Schwartz in 2014. That scheme uses a lot of similar techniques and concepts to what McDermott runs, so the comparison makes sense. What most aren’t factoring in, is that Brown is in the last year of his deal. He may have to play Mike until Ragland is healthy. When both of these players were in a 4-3 defense, Hodges was the more consistent player AND has more skills that fit the current scheme.
Each graded around the same versus the pass, but after watching film on the both of them, I think Hodges is a much better zone defender. He has the ability to find threats, click, and close. Both linebackers struggle in man coverage, and that’s why the Bills used Nigel Bradham in those matchups or game situations in 2014, relegating Brown to play the ‘rat in the hole’ role quite often.
Hodges produced comparable numbers to Brown in 2014 with half of the snaps.
With all of that factored in, in my opinion, Hodges is a much better fit, and the Bills should make a push to sign him.
The Bills went into day two of the 2017 NFL Draft with three picks: one in the second round and two in the third. They moved up to pick 37 by trading away their 44th and 91st choices to the Los Angeles Rams to select WR Zay Jones. But the wheeling and dealing didn’t end there. At the end of the second round, Buffalo sent their 75th, 149th, and 156th picks to the Atlanta Falcons in order to acquire tackle Dion Dawkins from Temple University.
At the time, the trade itself got the best of my emotions. By the end of this trade and pick, the Bills would only have three picks left. This was quite the change from the start of the night, when they had seven choices. But the selection itself, Dion Dawkins, was never an issue.
That is because he is a solid player, a player that one would hope could start at right tackle immediately. Many don’t believe he can play tackle, but most think he could be an all pro guard.
Regardless of where he ends up along the offensive line, you can understand why the Bills moved up to get him. He is a big, strong lineman whose arrow is still pointing up. He started 44 games in his career. In fact, he is one of four tackles to start as a true freshman in 2013, a list that also includes 2016 first round draft pick Laremy Tunsil of the Dolphins.
Dawkins comes from a diverse run scheme, and he excelled regardless of what concept was called. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the 7th most successful run blocker, at 94.1%.
He is a unique blend of power and speed, which allows him to help his teammate gain leverage on interior defenders, but he possesses the speed to carry out his assignment along the second level.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) May 1, 2017
He has incredible strength, and it comes in handy when the offense wants to run gap runs like this counter trey. Dawkins blocks down on the front side of the play to open up a running lane for the touchdown.
His 35 inch arms, strong hands, and leg drive allow him to move defensive ends with ease in the run game. On the following two plays, the offense runs what appears to be an isolation play (man scheme) to the weak side of the formation. If Dawkins is one on one with defensive ends and the play is to his side, he is able to move defenders easily.
Most of you are probably thinking: “But wait, aren’t the Bills and new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison going to be a zone run team?” Of course they are, but that transition isn’t going to be as quick as you think. The offensive linemen in place are predominantly gap/man blockers. They’re big, powerful, and effective guys in tight spaces. Zone offensive linemen are usually the opposite: lighter, quicker lineman who use angles to get the job done. Dawkins is a really nice blend of both styles. He is equally effective as a zone blocker. Take a look.
Dawkins gets his hands inside, drives and turns 2nd round pick Tyus Bowser to seal the edge.
Dawkins clearing the edge vs. 2nd round draft pick Tyus Bowser. Bowser went 16 picks ahead of Dawkins. pic.twitter.com/QQ6HDu5wJb
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) May 1, 2017
On this inside zone run Dawkins uses his length, grip and natural strength to lock out the defensive lineman, which springs the back into the open.
On most zone runs, offensive linemen start off by combo blocking with the adjacent offensive lineman, then moving on to the second level. Dawkins is very effective in both areas. He’s able to help widen the hole, help his teammate, but still have the speed to get to his assignment
He is an athletic kid for his size, and his ability to quickly scoop to the second level will make life easier for the Bills’ running backs. In zone run schemes, offensive linemen on the backside of wide zone runs must climb and pick up linebackers in order for the backs to find cutback lanes. That is the goal of a wide zone run. It is meant to be cut back. Look at the ground Dawkins can cover and just imagine Shady cutting back against the grain into an alley sealed by the former Temple Owl.
There’s a reason why many scouts believe he will be an All Pro if moved to guard, and that is because he is an athletic guy. He has good run blocking footwork and is quick off the ball. This allows him to seal outside zone runs. On this play, the tight end kicks out the end man on the line of scrimmage while Dawkins swings his hips play side to create a big hole for the running back.
In the passing game, his quick footwork and length are also assets. An upgrade is needed at right tackle, as the Bills’ current right tackle Jordan Mills gave up eight sacks, three QB hits, and 46 QB hurries in 2016. I mean, it shouldn’t be difficult to find an upgrade over that. It should be even easier when you have the talent that Dawkins possesses.
Schematically, Dawkins at right tackle should help the offensive coordinator to devise ways to make Tyrod Taylor’s life easier. Specifically, he can do this by calling plays that help Taylor see the field better. We are all aware that Tyrod was trigger shy when it came to throwing to the middle of the field. Part of the problem was that Taylor is a shorter QB and has limitations with his field vision. Well, one way in which we covered to help him see the field better was by giving him deep drops and maintaining the depth of the pocket.
The pocket for TT over the last couple weeks have been really nice. Look at the depth of it. Helps shorter QBs. This is the TD to Sammy. pic.twitter.com/JF1OiohkdK
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) December 25, 2016
Having a healthy Cordy Glenn and Dion Dawkins as tackles should allow the staff to scheme to have those players block solo more often. This will allow the three interior players to account for the two down lineman. Interior defenders are responsible for the depth of the pocket. If they are getting pushed back into the face of Taylor, the passing game is in trouble. The tackles are responsible for the width of the pocket, which Dawkins is good at. Notice the 5 step drop from gun. Dawkins is one on one with the defensive end, and the deep pocket allows the 6’1″ QB Walker to see the field and deliver.
The depth of the pocket should definitely help Taylor see the whole field better. More specifically, he should see the middle of the field clearly. Deep drops plus putting your tackles on islands is a tactic that the Seahawks and Saints have used in years past to help their QBs see the field better.
Dawkins is also very good at 45 degree angle sets, especially on play action, of which the Bills will be running many. On this play, he kick slides on an angle to meet the defensive end.
There is certainly a ton of upside to Dawkins’s game, but there are a few things he needs to work on. At times, rather than using his long arms, he leads with his head.
Yes, his head. That minimizes his length advantage and causes him to be on his toes and leaning.
Being on your toes and leaning allows a defender to easily push or pull you off balance, much like this play versus Penn St.
It doesn’t happen often, but from time to time he becomes impatient. Dawkins will give in and make the first move. Here, his weight is on his toes as he brings up his hands to engage. The defensive end easily swats them down, en route to the strip sack.
A bigger issue that is totally correctable is his tendency to have bad hand placement. When offensive linemen bring their hands up to punch, you want them striking inside the frame. Dawkins has a tendency to place his hands outside of the frame, which makes controlling the defender ten times more difficult. The lack of control or leverage on the defensive end allows the him to get under Dawkins’s pads, making it impossible for him to anchor vs. the bull rush.
Dawkins biggest issue is his susceptibility to giving up inside rushes. This can be an offense killer. It tends to occur when defenders use stutter rushes and plant hard inside. Dawkins gets caught mid kick and has trouble quickly transferring his weight from his set foot (left) back to his post foot (right). His feet stop, and it causes his base to become too wide.
So, as the defensive end plants to attack the inside gap, Dawkins must first regain his balance and plant of his set foot. By then, it’s too late.
It will be interesting to see where Dennison and Castillo place Dawkins. I asked a few scouts where they believe Dawkins fits best, and they said guard. If the Bills planned on putting him at guard, why move up to draft him? I believe the Bills plan on having him compete versus Jordan Mills and or Vlad Ducasse for the starting right tackle position. He then becomes a safe pick, because if he doesn’t work out at tackle, he then can be shifted to guard to replace Richie when he decides to hang up his cleats. Dawkins has the mean streak, length, and athleticism that will allow him to excel at guard. However, if the Bills want to improve their passing offense, then they need better play from the right tackle position, especially on third down. Dawkins was the 3rd-best pass blocking tackle (pass blocking efficiency-98.7%) on third down in this draft class. Taylor tends to hold onto the ball for extended amounts of time, and Dawkins should also help in that department. He had the 4th-best pass blocking efficiency when his QB held onto the ball for more than 2.6 seconds. Philip Walker, the Temple QB, is also a mobile QB. As a result, Dawkins has experience playing with guys that can extend plays in and out of the pocket.
It’s pretty clear: the Bills are giving QB Tyrod Taylor a fair shot by adding all sorts of receiving options. But by trading up for Dawkins, the Bills are making it clear that they want Tyrod to win from the pocket.
The Buffalo Bills traded back and took cornerback Tre’Davious White at the end of the first round believing that his skills would immediately boost their production at the corner position. White was one of the most polished corners in the draft, but he just didn’t have the measureables or flash that people expect out of first round corners.
When you turn on the film, you begin to understand why he was so reliable at LSU. It was due to technique. His technique is refined, and that can be attributed to hard work and great coaching. The current LSU defensive backs coach is Corey Raymond. Raymond has been on the staff as a DB coach since 2012. Before him was a coach by the name of Ron Cooper (2009-2011), who is now the defensive backs coach at Texas A&M, but who served on the FIU staff as the defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator from 2015-2016.
Although Raymond will get most of the credit for tutoring White, a lot of the techniques taught were also taught when Cooper was there. What is even more interesting is that new Bills assistant defensive backs coach Bobby Babich crossed paths with Cooper while at FIU last season. Babich was the defensive backs coach for FIU, so he is well aware of the techniques Cooper taught in the following videos. Watch Cooper demonstrate his man coverage techniques, then watch White execute them in the following videos.
White executing the Motor-Mirror technique
Outside release-Lean and press
WR’s Hips Drop
White executing the lean and press then breaks when the WR’s hips drop
Outside release-cutting off the route
White cutting off the outside/fade release
White executing the shuffle technique
As you can see, White really absorbed his coaching and executed the techniques consistently. These techniques are some that I am sure the Bills will utilize in 2017 to maximize his and the other defensive backs’ skills. Most Bills fans expect Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott to predominantly play zone coverage, but based on the current roster, I believe that we will see more man/pattern matching coverage. White, Seymour, Darby, and the rest of the defensive backs should continue to improve their techniques under coach Gil Byrd and Bobby Babich this season.
Full Ron Cooper Video:
Sean McDermott is putting his stamp on the Buffalo Bills. Look no further than the 2017 NFL Draft. McDermott and the Bills traded away the 10th overall pick, moved back to 27, to draft CB Tre’Davious White from LSU. Get to know the 1st round pick
1. Patrick Mahomes (Jr.) – Texas Tech
Height: 6-2 Weight: 225
40-Yard Dash: 4.8
11,252 passing yards, 93 TDs, 29 INTs, 63.5 comp. %
Player Comparison: Matt Stafford
Projected Draft Round: 1
Mahomes is one of my favorite prospects I’ve scouted in depth, and he’s one of the more unique passers I’ve had the chance to see. His arm strength rivals that of JaMarcus Russell (I know what you’re thinking), the former number one overall pick. The biggest difference in my mind is Mahomes’s ability to extend plays and deliver some absolute dimes. You’ll see a few plays that, to me, set Mahomes apart from the rest of this class. There are certainly a number of reasons Mahomes likely won’t be the first quarterback taken in tonight’s draft, but what he’ll bring the team that eventually selects him is the potential for greatness.
What They’re Saying:
“Mahomes will need a deep drop, vertical passing system that embraces his arm talent and propensity for big plays. The Carolina Panthers passing offense is a good example of how Mahomes could be used in the NFL. Mahomes would benefit greatly from a coaching staff that is willing to accept the many bumps along the way. Mahomes will be a delicate package in the NFL, but if handled correctly, he has more than enough tools to assert himself as a legitimate starter.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“Patrick Mahomes is a winner and will only be 21 years old on draft night. He may be a bit of a gunslinger at times, but his upside his enormous. If a team can coach and develop him effectively, watch out. I really, really like Patrick Mahomes. The gap between his floor and his ceiling is gargantuan, but I would not be opposed to a first-round selection.”
– Fox Sports
“Mahomes is a big, confident quarterback who brings a variety of physical tools to the party, but he’s developed some bad habits and doesn’t have a very repeatable process as a passer. Mahomes’ ability to improvise and extend plays can lead to big plays for his offense, but he will have to prove he can operate with better anticipation and be willing to take what the defense gives him in order to win from the pocket. Mahomes will be a work in progress, but he’s a high ceiling, low floor prospect.”
– Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
“Mahomes is as interesting as a prospect as there is at quarterback that comes with high risk/high reward. His arm is as good as any quarterback in the NFL playing right now. The natural passing instincts as far as sliding and feeling pass-rushers in the pocket, to seeing in front of the throw and adjusting to the type of throw needed, is special. His lack of discipline in the pocket with footwork, bailing on clean pockets, and decision making is a big concern. Some of the bailing on pockets can be attributed to how much “rush three drop eight into coverage” he saw, which can lead to playing outside of structure to find passing lanes more often. Coming from a system with everything so spread out and defined passing lanes, there will be an adjustment period needed for the NFL game and seeing tighter throwing lanes. Mahomes is not likely a Day 1 starter in the NFL but is certainly worth a first-round selection as a potential big hit as a franchise quarterback.”
– Pro Football Focus
Take him. He’s got the potential to be a world-beater, the kind of guy that can turn the fortunes of a franchise. The same can be said about his bust potential if he’s put in the wrong situation, though. For me, the Bills desperately need what Mahomes can bring: a big, strong arm that allows him to throw guys open 60+ yards down the field. He’s the kind of guy that can extend plays and allow receivers to break off of man coverage. Film doesn’t lie, and although you do see a lot of flaws in his game, like arm mechanics and poor footwork, I believe he’s the sort of raw talent that can propel a franchise. Please take him.
I’ll just leave this here… are you kidding me? Say what you will about the level of competition, but my god, was this play impressive. Extending the play, he has a defender draped all over him, and to deliver that accurate of a ball? Impressive. I don’t love how he cradles the ball so far away from his body, but those are things that are instinctual, he’s played that way his whole life, and in my opinion he likely doesn’t change. But that’s okay.
As made famous on Gruden Camp, this play illustrates the ridiculous arm strength Mahomes possesses. Rolling out left and throwing the deep ball used to be my favorite play. It helps you engage your hips and you can maximize your distance. Mahomes decides instead to completely close his hips and essentially throw this ball on the money with just a flick of the wrist. Unreal.
Here’s an example of Mahomes being a little too confident in his arm strength. Gunslingers like Mahomes have the confidence to make any throw on the field, no matter the coverage. I’d like to see Mahomes clean this type of thing up. This sort of mistake is a mindset, rather than a mechanical flaw, and I believe it’s correctable.
THANK YOU FOR READING. Many thanks to all those that followed my series over the past few weeks. They came fast and furious at the end, but thanks for all the support and clicks!
It’s officially draft day and I am ecstatic, just like most of you. Yes, it’s that time where we have hope for our beloved team. We hope that the new regime will bring in a new wave of talent, a group of guys that not only bring talent but bring the type of effort, sense of community, and character that new head coach Sean McDermott has been preaching.
The organization only has six picks at the moment, and from what I am hearing from sources within the organization, they are adamantly looking to trade back to acquire picks. This may prove to be difficult, but it’s not impossible. For the sake of my sanity, this Bills mock draft will be based on if they stay at 10.
With the 10th overall pick, I expect the Bills to address the defensive side of the ball. When McDermott was first brought on, he had mentioned that he has been a part of a defensive rebuild. I fully expect that to happen in his first year as a head coach. So I have the Bills selecting LB Haason Reddick from Temple. In their base defense, the starters at this moment are Lorenzo Alexander (Sam), Reggie Ragland (Mike), and Ramon Humber (Will), with Preston Brown on the bench. While they are all respectable players in their own rights, they don’t possess the athleticism that McDermott had in Carolina. Linebacker Shaq Thompson occupied the Sam position, and his versatility goes under-appreciated. Thompson was Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) 13th rated linebacker overall (inside LBs + outside LBs). The former safety does it all for the Panthers. He was 9th in pass rush productivity at 11.8, 10th in run stop percentage at 8.1, and of course excelled in coverage, only allowing 37 receptions for 285 yards, 1 TD and hauling in 1 interception. Luke Kuechly is the best inside linebacker in the game. The perfect blend of leadership, intelligence and athleticism, he’s a stud. At Will LB, Thomas Davis was the kamikaze, a disruptor and playmaker. Another former safety that utilizes his instincts and athleticism to disrupt plays, he was the number one outside linebacker in pass rush productivity at 15.6, and number one in total pressures with 20. Against the run, he posted 19 run stops, which put him at number 10 overall, and was able to pick off opposing QBs three times, which was #1 amongst all outside linebackers.
I think Reddick can excel if put at will LB. He has also has played safety and was shifted to the defensive line. He has experience in two and three-point stances, is able to rush the passer and drop into coverage. The transition to off the ball linebacker isn’t an easy one, but he has the athletic ability to hold his own. I truly believe that behind a good defensive line in Buffalo, he should be kept clean enough to create havoc similar to Davis.
In the second round I believe the Bills will pick wide receiver Zay Jones. If you follow me on social media, this should be no surprise, so I will keep it short. Zay projects very well into Rick Dennison’s offense. He can play inside and out, is the best route runner in the short to intermediate area, has arguably the best hands in the draft, and has a knack for finding zone windows. Taylor will continue to see a lot of zone defense to minimize big plays with his legs, so Zay will be able to work those windows and bring those tough catches in. According to my draft, the Bills will need to maximize their offensive selections, given the fact that there are so few. This selection will do just that, because Jones’s wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan now holds the same position in Buffalo. If there is anyone that knows his ceiling, it’s coach McGeoghan. He coached Jones into several receiving records at East Carolina, and I believe there is a chance in three years that we look back and say that the Jones’s selection provided the most value.
The next pick is an easy one. It is a player that I am sure McDermott saw a lot of film on when he was studying for the 2016 NFL Draft, and that defender is Rasul Douglas from West Virginia. McDermott and the Carolina Panthers drafted Daryl Worley (WVU Alum) last season in the third round. Douglas is a much better corner than Worley. To learn more, check out his scouting report here:
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) April 17, 2017
Honorable mention: I am hearing the Bills are really high on Jordan Willis if he were to fall into the third (I have a 2nd round grade on him). Highly unlikely to be there in the third, but Willis has the power and technique that McDermott and Frasier covet.
With the first of three 5th round picks I have Buffalo selecting defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow from Michigan. According to Pro Football Focus, Glasgow was third in pass rush productivity, right behind Jonathan Allen. Glasgow compiled 6 sacks, 8 QB hits and 23 QB hurries.
When I watch him, I have a hard time not comparing his game to Kyle Williams. He isn’t as well versed with his pass rush moves, but he doesn’t quit fighting until the whistle blows. He can align at nose or as an under tackle in a 4-3 defense and would be a good rotational player in the Bills defense.
The second fifth round pick will be spent on corner Nate Hairston from Temple.
Buffalo has met with Hairston several times, including a private visit. He is a 6’0″, 196 pound corner with 31″ arms. He is a zone corner that knows how to disrupt receiver’s routes during the release and is efficient at re-routing receivers to his safety help. His backpedal is choppy, so the staff put him in a lot of press bail and taught him the ‘Saban Shuffle’ to make him more effective. His sloppy footwork and average straight line speed (4.52) can get him into trouble when in man coverage. The Owls played a lot of cover 2 shell , sometimes rolling into cover 3, but plenty of two high was also played. This allowed Hairston to keep the ball in front of him. He reads two man routes very quickly and keeps good spacing between the two receivers, making it very difficult for the quarterback to choose.
With the final 5th round choice, I believe the Buffalo Bills will bring in Youngstown St. defensive end Avery Moss.
This prospect is another player that the Bills met with, and for good reason. Moss began his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska, until 2014 when he was dismissed for exposing himself to another student. Fortunately, he landed on his feet and played opposite DE Derek Rivers. Moss’s ceiling isn’t that high, but his length is something that McDermott and the staff will love to work with.
Finally, with their sixth and final pick of the draft, the Bills will pick tight end Cole Hikutini.
He is 6’4″, 247 pounds and played his ball last season with QB Lamar Jackson at Louisville.
He is a long strider and has 33 1/4 arm length, so he is able to stretch the field AND can give Tyrod Taylor the catch radius he needs. Having played with Jackson, Hikutini ran a lot of bootlegs, seam routes, and is accustomed to getting open during the scramble drill. Hikutini has been used all over the field, including as a slot receiver and as an H-back, often leading run plays. He is an offensive weapon that will take some time to adjust at the next level, but he is definitely worth a late draft pick.
I think we can all agree that the Bills should trade back early and often. The team has too many holes and not enough assets. Hope you enjoyed all of our draft coverage here at Cover 1. I know we did.
Check out all of our draft coverage here!
2. DeShone Kizer (RS-So.) – Notre Dame
Height: 6-4 Weight: 235
40-Yard Dash: 4.83
5,805 passing yards, 47 TDs, 19 INTs, 60.7 comp. %
Player Comparison: Matt Ryan
Projected Draft Round: 1-2
When it comes to Kizer, I do admit I have a bit of a bias, being a Notre Dame fan. However, I re-watched all but two of Kizer’s games from 2016 in an attempt to make an objective assessment of him. I watched every game live during the 2016 season, and all of his 2015 starts, as well. His biggest critics will point to a drop off in play in 2016 compared to 2015 when he took over for an injured Malik Zaire. The issue with comparing the two seasons is that there was a significant drop off in talent around him. He has terrific size and was asked to carry the load offensively for Notre Dame. Defensively, the Fighting Irish were one of the worst units [statistically] in the country and put Kizer, still a relatively young quarterback, in difficult positions, often playing from behind. Even though the stats would suggest a step back from 2015 to 2016, maturity-wise I think the adversity helped Kizer grow as a leader.
What They’re Saying:
“Kizer is proficient in processing coverages and making the correct decision on the fly, and he does a good job of keeping his feet active in order to remain ready to throw with proper mechanics as soon as he makes a decision. In many respects, Kizer is the total packages. The concerns with Kizer are that he clearly fell off during the back half of the 2016 season and that he constantly battled head coach Brian Kelly, though the latter issue is not necessarily reflective of Kizer’s inability to receive coaching. Kizer’s draft stock will end up being more dependent on whiteboard sessions and interviews than anything else, but it’s clear that he is a talented player on film.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“After an impressive Week 1 in which he littered the field with NFL throws, Kizer received No. 1 overall hype though the rest of the season was filled with ups and downs. While he certainly didn’t get much help from a young receiving core and a musical-chairs quarterback controversy, there were many times you expected Kizer to pull his team through to get a win and he failed to do so. Kizer’s traits are as good as any quarterback in the 2017 class, but the inconsistencies with accuracy and decision-making leave a lot of question marks of how he will translate to the next level. The natural instincts for the position and pure arm talent are there, with a coach likely to see those uncoachable traits that and try make him into the player he has the potential to be.”
– Pro Football Focus
“As Notre Dame’s QB, he really challenged defenses in the window between the second and third levels—some of his best throws, consistently, were up the seam into that gap. He can get it deep and outside the numbers, too, with enough touch to drop those passes into a bucket.”
– Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated)
If you follow me, you know how I feel about Kizer. I think he has the size, talent, and intangibles you want in a franchise quarterback. I also think there’s enough debate over just how good Kizer can be that he might be available for the Bills in the second round. I think he’d be a great fit in Rick Dennison’s offense, and in my mind is a proven over the middle and intermediate thrower already. One of the biggest issues Tyrod Taylor has had over his two seasons as a starter is his ability to beat a defense over the middle of the field. I’ve seen player comparisons to Big Ben, and from a size and arm strength perspective, I can see it. I don’t think he should be an option for the Bills at 10, but if they get lucky, they might get an opportunity day two.
Kizer does a great job moving the defender to clear room over the top to hit the wheel route to his running back out of the backfield. He recognizes the blitz, stands tall, and delivers a basket throw over the shoulder where only his receiver can make a play. I think his deep ball accuracy is a strength of Kizer’s, and you see it on this play.
This is a simple option route to his tight end breaking to the sideline. What you want to see is Kizer quickly identify the coverage (which he does), get the ball out as his receiver makes his break (he does), and deliver an accurate ball leading him to the sideline and away from trouble. It’s a simple play he’ll have to continue to make at the next level, but these in-rhythm plays are what you want to see.
The defense confused Kizer almost immediately off the snap of the ball. He gets happy feet, panics, and throws a poor ball to an open receiver. What you do like, however, is that he makes it to his last read on the play. This means he was able to go through his progressions, diagnose the defense, and check it down to the crossing route. He could have completed this pass had he remained balanced in the pocket, but his footwork failed him.
3. Mitchell Trubisky (Jr.) – North Carolina
Height: 6-2 Weight: 220
40-Yard Dash: 4.67
4,762 passing yards, 41 TDs, 10 INTs, 67.5 comp. %
Player Comparison: Kirk Cousins
Projected Draft Round: 1
Trubisky is such an interesting prospect to me. He only has 14 collegiate starts under his belt, but he wasn’t a transfer who only got one year to start. He sat behind a pair of players who didn’t end up being drafted, much less play in the NFL. So questions about just how good or ready Trubisky is are absolutely fair. I believe that had Trubisky gone back to school for his senior season, he could have put a lot of those experience doubts in a number of pro scouts’ heads in the trash. But here we are, about 24 hours from draft day, and I still don’t know what I see in Trubisky. He’s got great size, adequate arm strength, fairly good pocket mechanics and accuracy over the middle of the field. What I saw a lot on film, though, was inaccurate deep throws to wide open receivers. I also saw a lot of throws off of his back foot when pressured. Trubisky will likely be the first quarterback taken in the draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most polished.
What They’re Saying:
“Trubisky’s struggles most often show up when throwing vertically, which hinders his ability to create big plays for his offense and threaten defenses. As a presence in the pocket, Trubisky is average. He shows some level of awareness and mobility, but he more commonly displays discomfort and questionable post-snap vision. Trubisky has the tools and skills to be a serviceable NFL starter who predicates his game around short game efficiency and extending plays when need be.”
– Derrik Klassen (Optimum Scouting)
“Trubisky is a high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he’s a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. Trubisky will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn’t put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great.”
– Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
“Despite being a one-year starter, Trubisky is very polished as a passer playing with good balance and consistent mechanics, which leads him to throw with great accuracy in the short/intermediate passing game. Although he comes from a version of the spread in his college offense, he was asked to do many full field progressions and showed he can click from receiver to receiver quickly and efficiently. Has very good pocket instincts and ability to keep eye level up to see receivers down the field while moving within the pocket. His three-quarters release may lead to more batted balls at the LOS but is likely not a huge issue at the next level. Will need to work on hitting his deep shots with more consistent accuracy to keep defenses from sitting at the break point. Shows all of the tools to develop into a very solid NFL starting quarterback and appears to be the safest option of the 2017 quarterback draft class.”
– Pro Football Focus
I’m not as sold on Trubisky as others are. Admittedly, he’s the prospect out of this list of ten of whom I’ve watched the least amount of film. Watching four full games, I got a pretty good read on his strengths and weaknesses. Am I willing to spend a first round pick on the guy? Tough call. However, I do believe he has the potential to be a good NFL quarterback. I also see a little Blaine Gabbert in him, which scares me to death. His issue throwing the long ball with accuracy is probably the thing that scares me the most about Trubisky. Ultimately, if he somehow made into the second round (he won’t), then I’d be really interested in taking him if I were the Bills. But since that likely won’t be the case, then I just don’t see a scenario in which Trubisky is playing at New Era Field in the immediate future.
Great ball placement on the move here from Trubisky. He seems to be pretty comfortable on the move, getting downhill and following through. This ball was a bit wobbly and didn’t have the sort of zip I’m used to seeing from Trubisky on many of his intermediate throws, but it’s thrown with great accuracy, just out of the reach of the sprawling defender.
This is a throw I need Trubisky, or any quarterback, for that matter, to make on a regular basis. Hell, I need my quarterback to make this play 10 times out of 10. He looked comfortable in his drop, identified the coverage, and threw to the right place, but the throw wasn’t even close. He displayed good ball trajectory, but had he put just a bit more air on it, we’re likely talking about six points.
Here you see another wide open receiver that he just misses. This time, awful footwork that leads to the inaccurate ball. I’m sure Trubisky was chewed out by his coaches on this play for falling away from his throw. What worried me slightly more was that he sort of got the yips when he felt slight pressure. There’s no reason he should have drifted into trouble. Rather, he should have stepped up and delivered the football for six points.