The Wild Card LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This post contains legal jargon, legal analysis and less profanity than usual because, well, my professor will be reading it and that’s kind of weird. But I think you’ll enjoy it if you’re a bored sociopath.
On March 12, 2013 an article appeared on Deadspin
containing a recorded phone call between NFL General Managers (GMs) Buddy Nix of our very own Buffalo Bills and Mark Dominik of the not-our-own Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Neither GM knew that their conversation was being recorded by two eager opportunistics on a third line. The content of the conversation was, at least to football obsessives like my self and yours: racy. Both GMs disclosed otherwise proprietary information, such as who was on the trade block, and how they felt about certain of their players under contract. The article garnered a degree of publicity, and a short survey of comments on the Deadspin website shows that many fans thought the same thing: that’s got to be illegal. Right?
We’ll see. But first, let’s spin a tale of intrigue, suspense and “dadgum” embarrassment.
Here’s how it happened. According to Deadspin, the “pranksters”
dialed the publicly listed phone number for the Bills’ front office and asked for Buddy Nix, claiming to be Dominik. Surprisingly enough, they were patched through and Nix answered the phone. They panicked and hung up.
Next, they concocted a little plan: they would call Dominik next and see if they couldn’t get Dominik and Nix to play an annoying game of phone tag. The devils. But while they were on the horn with Dominik’s secretary, Nix called them back! So, they used three-way calling to answer Nix’s call while they were being patched through to Dominik.
i miss steroids.
The Barrister, feat. Scizz, Outlander and the Apologist
Shawne Merriman. No longer a Buffalo Bill.
Coming off a long and tiring weekend of prep for the birth of my child, I was considering penning a piece on fatherhood and sports and my anxiety level and my fear of becoming a shell of my former self once the sleep deprivation hits. I may still get into that at some point before or soon after Baby Barrister makes his way into the world, but not today.
Ripping on a has-been/maybe-never-would-have-been-without-the-juice and the similarly has-been/maybe-never-would-have-been-without-the-Juice-or-Jimbo team that employed him is way more fun. See what I did there? It’s only Monday and I’m already bringing the awesome.
Science made Merriman a great player. And science probably should have told One Bills Drive that Merriman couldn’t be a great player after being robbed of his special sauce and the behemoth abilities it brought him. Steroids help with recovery time, avoiding injuries, getting unreasonably huge. Without them, Merriman showed himself to be incapable of keeping up with the game. His “Lights Out” dances seem delightfully quaint now, like a high school player celebrating his dominance against a ten year old kid half his size. You didn’t earn it, Shawne, and you couldn’t hack it when the playing field was leveled. The Bills, for their part, look not just a little bit like they're wiping a $3 million egg off their face. Ugh.
Did I say “delightfully quaint?” ... I meant “utterly pathetic.”
Hey there animals, Scizz here. Since none of us at the Deeg A.) know that much about college football, and B.) have the time or patience to do enough research to write a draft preview, we outsourced the task to a much more knowledgeable friend of the Deeg. He is simply known as "The Wire". If you were reading this blog last year, you may remember the Wire's two part in depth wrap-up on the Buffalo Bills draft. (Part one here) (Part two here). The Wire is a dear fiend of mine and, honestly, knows more about college football and the draft than any other person I know. He is basically just a more bad-ass Mel Kiper who shows up once a year for us to handle the draft. So without further ado, check out the Wire's DGWU Sports Buffalo Bills draft preview. The Wire
Considering value, need and availability, the following players are presented as the top 10 most likely selections for the Bills at #10 overall:1. WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (6' 3", 220 Lbs.)
Floyd has prototypical size and strength for the WR position. Statistically, he was one of the top WRs in college football. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Floyd demonstrated good hands, flexibility and sharp routes in open field drills. Most importantly, he clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash which was better than most scouts anticipated for his size. His combine performance addressed concerns about a perceived lack of explosion, agility and straight line speed and vaulted him into the upper echelon of draft prospects. His Notre Dame Pro Day
provided the exclamation point. Mike Mayock (NFL Network), who attended the workout, commented that Floyd had tremendous breaks in and out of his cuts and explosion off the line of scrimmage comparable to top WR prospect Justin Blackmon. At this point, concerns about his several arrests in college on alcohol-related charges seem like an afterthought. The Bills showed their hand in free agency by aggressively pursuing Robert Meachem who ultimately signed in San Diego. GM Buddy Nix, who scouted a similar player - Vincent Jackson - during his time in San Diego, would clearly like to add a complement to newly re-signed WR Stevie Johnson and a big weapon for newly extended QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. 2. LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (6' 3", 242 Lbs.)
Kuechly clocked in at 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. This was significant for a projected ILB prospect who now proved he could hold his own in pass coverage against increasingly athletic TEs and move from a 2-down LB prospect to a potential 3-down LB. Kuechly also registered an impressive 38" vertical jump and 123" broad jump which further demonstrated his surprising athleticism. Kuechly did not run at the Boston College Pro Day, but showed acceleration and burst in positional drills to prove that he is not limited to only zone drops in pass coverage. Kuechly's strengths, however, remain his tackling and instincts. He averaged eight solo tackles per game at Boston College and finished with 532 total tackles in only three seasons. While he will not blitz often in the NFL, he should be a steady, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Zach Thomas. The biggest question regarding the Bills' potential interest in Kuechly is whether they project he has the size, strength, and block-shedding ability to play on the strong side of their 4-3 base. Nix stated that second-year man Kelvin Sheppard is slotted for MLB and Nick Barnett at WSLB, so an upgrade over veteran Kirk Morrison is warranted. Kuechly would provide an upgrade over Sheppard on passing downs in the middle, but that is not enough to justify investment of their top overall selection. A projection to the strong side is key.
3. OT Riley Reiff, Iowa (6' 6", 313 Lbs.)
Reiff has played DE, TE, and OG in his football career. He looks the part of an athletic NFL LT with good footwork, lateral agility, and natural knee-bend. He proved durable at Iowa in starting every game in his college career after replacing Bryan Bulaga. While he uses his hands well and can anchor against bull rushes, he will be susceptible to fast NFL pass rushers such as hybrid 3-4 OLBs. The biggest knock on Reiff is a 33 1/4" arm length measurement which is below average for NFL LTs and a concern for some scouts who now project him as RT or even OG. It should be noted that Joe Thomas measured shorter arms than Reiff, so it is not a deal breaker. This pick depends on whether Nix disqualifies Reiff as a LT based on the arm length issue. If not, he is a very likely replacement for recently departed Demetress Bell. In his post-season press conference, Nix described current LT Chris Hairston as "serviceable" and with potential to develop into an everyday starter, so the desire to solidify the left side of the offensive line is evident. 4. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (6' 0", 193 Lbs.)
As South Carolina's Mr. Football, Gilmore transitioned from high school QB at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC, to three-year starter at CB for the Gamecocks. He is a late rising CB prospect, pegged as a high effort team leader and student of the game with good awareness, natural ball skills, and an aggressive demeanor. At the Scouting Combine, Gilmore posted a 4.40 in the 40 yard dash and a solid 10' 3 in the broad jump which led Sports Illustrated to label him one of their Scouting Combine winners. He may be one of the most underrated prospects in the draft but is quietly moving into the #2 CB spot behind high profile Morris Claiborne. Statistically, he was superior to Alabama prospect Dre Kirkpatrick. Gilmore showed well on film against Julio Jones and A.J. Green and has all the physical attributes of a starting cover corner in the NFL. He may be most effective in zone coverage schemes but has the abilities to develop into a man-to-man cover corner with further experience and coaching. For the Bills, 2011 second round pick Aaron Williams looks to be a lock as one starting CB, but with Terrence McGee fading with age and injuries (and a contract recently restructured to that of a nickel corner), Drayton Florence struggling for long stretches last season, and Leodis McKelvin subject to the "bust" label, Nix will need to add an impact cover man at some point in the draft. While Gilmore may not have tremendous upside, he would be a safe, prudent selection with quality intangibles.5. OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia (6' 5", 345 Lbs.)
Glenn had 50 starts at Georgia, tying a team record, including 32 at OG and 18 at LT. He played LT his senior season and also in Senior Bowl workouts. At the Senior Bowl, he showed quick feet, agility and body control for a prospect his size, and his stock began to rise as a potential LT in the NFL. He has ideal mass for a power rush blocker and a wide body and good base to seal off pass rushers. If he is able to gain leverage, he has the size and strength to flat-out erase defenders. Evidenced by a poor 23.5-inch vertical jump at the Scouting Combine, his overall explosion and athleticism is still in question and some scouts feel he's naturally suited to play on the interior in the NFL. While his versatility should be a strength, it is also a detriment as he is being projected anywhere from the Bills at #10 overall to mid-2nd round depending on where scouts place him along the line. Glenn visited the Bills in late March which should be no surprise as Nix is very fond of and familiar with Southeastern players. The issue is whether Nix feels Glenn's potential as a LT is worth a top 10 pick.6. OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford (6' 5, 312 Lbs.)
Martin is a true left tackle prospect, but his stock has fallen due to concerns about his strength. The most damning piece of evidence may be film from last season's USC game wherein he was dominated by Nick Perry
. These sentiments are echoed by ESPN's Mel Kiper who has dropped Martin from #13 overall to #21 overall over the course of his four mock drafts. Martin does possess all the requisite measurables for the position, including 34" arm length, as well as high character and intelligence. Having protected Andrew Luck's blind side for the past three years, he may have stationed the most critical position in all of college football. His experience in a pro-style offense should benefit his transition to the NFL, and with professional coaching to develop the technical aspects of his game, he could develop into an impact starter.
7. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (6' 1", 186 Lbs.)
Kirkpatrick is a confident, somewhat arrogant, athletic, tenacious CB prospect from the reigning national champions. He only had three INTs during his three-year college career, but this is attributable to his physicality against the man at the expense of ball hawking prowess. Kirkpatrick is physical off the line of scrimmage and denies WRs a clean release and separation with his strength and aggressiveness. He hustles in run support which may be a detriment in the NFL if he leaves the sidelines open. NFL coaches will have to rein in his tendency to over-pursue. Those same coaches could be tempted to transition him to safety due to his length and slim frame. At the Scouting Combine, scouts observed stiffness in his movements and some questions arose regarding his preparation for the event. He posted a 4.51 40-yard dash, which was above average, and sat on that number for his Pro Day. A possession of marijuana charge filed against Kirkpatrick after he declared for the draft was subsequently dropped. While his stock has dipped slightly, Kirkpatrick remains a big game, tough, reliable, battle-tested CB prospect. 8. OG David DeCastro, Stanford (6' 5", 316 Lbs.)
DeCastro is one of the top OG prospects in recent years with popular comparisons to Steve Hutchinson and more recently, Maurkice Pouncey. He is almost flawless technically and can block in any power or zone scheme. DeCastro gave up only one sack
in college - "The Sack" - to Brian Price of UCLA as a redshirt freshman in 2009. (Ed. Note: I had to look this up because I figured it had to be a typo. Nope.
). He is agile, mean, and powerful, posting 34 reps of 225 lbs. at the Scouting Combine. Son of a South African rugby star, DeCastro is a perfectionist at his craft and, pound for pound, one of the best players in the draft. Offensive guard is not an explicit need for the Bills, but if they go this direction, it provides them the flexibility to kick Andy Levitre out to LT from his guard spot, or to provide an immediate upgrade over Kraig Urbik at right guard. ESPN's Todd McShay has labeled DeCastro "a special talent" and suggested that any team may be hard pressed to pass on him no matter what their immediate needs may be. If it were not for the generally low value of OGs, DeCastro would be a top 10 lock.9. OT Mike Adams, Ohio St. (6' 7", 323 Lbs.)
Adams was one of five players suspended at Ohio St. last season due to NCAA rule violation of receiving improper benefits. He had shoulder and foot injuries in 2008, a knee injury in 2009, and was initially suspended by Ohio St. for two games in 2009 for violating team rules. In a separate incident in 2009, he was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia although the charges were eventually dropped. All this being said, Adams has exceptional height, length, quickness and agility for a LT prospect in the NFL. He had a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices which vaulted him into first round conversation. While he struggled in the weight room at the Scouting Combine, with only 19 reps at 225 lbs., he recovered with a better Pro Day, posting 21 reps on bench press, and reportedly enamoring the Steeler's front office with his entire workout. Looking at 2010 game film, Adams handled Houston's J.J Watt but struggled against Washington's Ryan Kerrigan. Overall, Adams is technically raw, generally inconsistent, but with big potential as an eventual starting LT in the NFL. In fact, Mike Mayock has him rated as the third best OT prospect behind Matt Kalil and Reiff, but one has to assume that is based on long-term upside not immediate reward. 10. OT Matt Kalil, USC (6' 6", 307 Lbs.)
This is a wildcard pick. Adam Shefter recently tweeted that the Vikings are not as high on Matt Kalil as most prognosticators assume. Couple this with recent comments by Minnesota GM Rick Spielman that the Vikings will consider potential trade options, and the trade-down rumors are beginning to float. If the Bills are set on upgrading LT and are not satisfied with flawed prospects Reiff, Glenn, or Martin, it seems they may have the option to move up to #3. It would take their 2013 first round draft pick to do so of course, but acquiring their best offensive line prospect since Will Wolford may be worth it. Kalil has all the physical attributes to go with a nasty temperament and has been considered by some as the most complete OT prospect since Tony Boselli. To add further intrigue, Kalil's father was drafted by the Bills and played in the USFL. His mother was Miss California, so there's that too.And that's it from The Wire. If you're in the New York City area for Draft Day and don't have tickets to Radio City, be sure to check out the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers Draft Party at McFaddens on 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. At least a couple members of the Deeg will be there, so you're guaranteed to see at least one or two guys audibly cursing Ralph Wilson, whether it's necessarily relevant or not.
In stores this September.
The Apologist I say, I say, I gone and done it.
It’s alright. I know your heart is telling you it’s too soon to fall again, but it’s ok. There’s reason to get excited, to believe. You’ve been hurt before, but this time, it really is different. We’ve truly never seen anything like this. So it’s ok to already be excited for the Bills’ season to start.
In the 20 years leading up to last Thursday, since the NFL implemented an unrestricted free-agent system, the most money Ralph & Co. had ever handed out was $7 million-a-year to Derrick Dockery. You know, the Derrick Dockery who has started four games in the last two seasons.
Ok, bad memory. But seriously folks, this time it’s different. The Buffalo Bills, owners of the longest playoff drought in the NFL today, went out and signed the top free agent at his position in the market to the largest contract for a defender in the history of the league.
Aside from the lift this gives the entire defense, Buddy Nix gets a huge boost in stature from this signing. In my eyes, this deal legitimized his leadership. All Foghorn Leghorn jokes aside, it cements his position as a straight shooter who sticks to his guns.
Maybe he won’t be able to keep that up. Life as a coach or GM in the NFL, or any other sport for that matter, seems to preclude the possibility of standing by your word (right, Boeheim? …too soon?). But he said he was going to find someone who had head coaching experience. He said they would always use draft picks to find the best athletes. He said he wanted Stevie Johnson back. He said he would make every effort to sign Mario Williams.
Done, done, done, and done.
Will he be able to keep it up by restructuring Fred Jackson’s contract and finding difference makers in this year’s draft? Only time will tell. But for now, you can’t find much to fault in the Bills’ GM.
But enough about the signing itself. After a while the luster of all those zeroes at the end of Williams’ contract will wear off and the big questions will still need to be answered. How good can this defense be? Will the 4-3 mask the fact that our linebackers & secondary are less than great? Is Dave Wannstedt the answer at defensive coordinator? Are we really going to pay Shawne Merriman $5 million to salvage his reputation?
I’m not sure I’m smart enough to answer any of these questions well. Obviously adding a player as talented as Mario Williams will only make us better, but how much better is impossible to determine with any certainty. No sport exists with more variables than football. Serious speculation is simply a waste of time. (Peter King’s 2011 Super Bowl Prediction: Falcons over Chargers. Oops.)
Simply let the excitement wash over you. Your Buffalo Bills made the biggest splash of the NFL off-season.
Hey. Mind if I take your job? / Ummm...
Ok, maybe not the biggest splash. But still, think back to where you were when the Bills’ season ended. Luckily for me, I don’t have to think too hard, because I vented all my rage here
. I was distraught and depressed. A few days after writing that, I had basically stopped thinking about the Bills. I refused to look at a single draft board or even consider the Bills’ chances of reaching the .500 plateau, let alone the playoffs.
Today? I’m excited for the draft. I’m excited to see what our schedule looks like. I honestly believe the Bills have a shot at a playoff spot.
Foolish? Probably. Fun? Definitely.
As I’ve said time and time again, sports should be about fun. Splitting the hairs on Mario’s head is pointless until games are played. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the feeling that the organization finally cares and maybe, just maybe, has a clue. Yes, that says more about the level of my standards than anything else, but still, improvements were needed and they have been made, with more coming on the horizon. It's hard for me to find bad things to say about a team I shredded to the best of my ability two months ago.
Are things definitely going to be different? I don’t know how much, but they already are. The Bills of the last 12 years never made moves like this. These Bills resigned a true #1 receiver, then went out and got one of the two biggest jewels in the free agent market. And neither of them ever entertained offers elsewhere.
No one saw this coming. But it happened. So go ahead. Let yourself fall in love all over again.
For once, there’s a really good reason.