NFL Nation: Cordy Glenn

W2W4: Buffalo Bills

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills will continue their preseason Saturday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
  • Watching Watkins: The expectation is that Sammy Watkins (ribs) will not play Saturday. He was limited in practice all week. In his place, the Bills will likely start with Mike Williams, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan as their top three receivers. This could be a prime opportunity for Woods to recoup some of his losses this summer, as he's slipped from being the second to the fourth receiver on the depth chart. The Bills also could mix T.J. Graham in with the first-team offense, potentially one final chance for the former third-round pick to make his case for a roster spot.
  • EJ Manuel's strides: Coming off a strong Thursday practice last week, Manuel slid a bit in Saturday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing 17 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one interception. He and the first-team offense were unable to score a touchdown in four trips into Steelers' territory, and Manuel has yet to throw a touchdown pass this preseason. That should be his goal Saturday. The Bills shifted gears in practice this week to more of a regular-season mode, showing scout-team looks against Manuel. He performed well but will need to carry over his gains in practice to game action. With the potential to play into the third quarter Saturday, he will have plenty of opportunities.
  • New looks on both sides: The Bills will have a new look along their offensive line and potentially in their secondary. Left tackle Cordy Glenn figures to play for the first time this preseason, while Erik Pears (guard) and Seantrel Henderson (tackle) will be the new pairing on the right side. Meanwhile, the secondary could also have a new look, with Corey Graham potentially seeing time at safety in Saturday's game. At cornerback, the Bills have used Ron Brooks and Ross Cockrell in place of Leodis McKelvin, who left Wednesday's practice with a groin injury, and either of those players could line up across from Stephon Gilmore on Saturday.

Bills Camp Report: Day 30

August, 18, 2014
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • Day 30? Wow. The NFL's longest training camp rolled on with a night practice Monday. The biggest news was the absence of wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who rode an exercise bike at one point during practice and watched from the sidelines later. Before practice, Bills coach Doug Marrone did not reveal the results of X-rays on Watkins' ribs and declined to give a timetable on his return. While the team officially said Watkins had a "rib contusion" after Saturday's game, they are now simply calling it a "rib injury."
  • There was plenty of shifting on the offensive line as left tackle Cordy Glenn returned to team drills for the first time. That had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the line, with Seantrel Henderson moving to first-team right tackle and Erik Pears moving to right guard. In our view, that puts the Bills' best five offensive linemen on the field. Kraig Urbik, who started at right guard last season, was the second-team center, flanked by Doug Legursky and Cyril Richardson at guard. That could lead to a battle between Urbik and Legursky to crack the 53-man roster.
  • More shifting came in the secondary. Leodis McKelvin participated in team drills, lining up across from Stephon Gilmore in what will be the Bills' opening-day look. Nickell Robey remained the slot cornerback, with Corey Graham moving to safety. The Bills tried different combinations at safety, mixing Aaron Williams with Graham, Duke Williams, and Da'Norris Searcy. The Bills said in the spring that Graham could see time at safety and it may finally be coming to fruition.
  • Marcell Dareus did not take part in team drills Monday. In his place, the Bills used a combination of Landon Cohen, Corbin Bryant, and Stefan Charles. They're likely looking for the best options to back up Dareus and Kyle Williams. It's possible that the Bills keep all three of those reserve options on the roster, although they could choose two of the three and move on from the third. As for Dareus, Marrone briefly came over to the sideline later in practice to talk to Dareus, prodding at his left elbow as if it were injured. Something to monitor.
  • On the heels of his 77 percent completion rate in Thursday's practice, EJ Manuel topped it with an 81 percent night Monday. He went 17-for-21 in team drills, completing four passes to Fred Jackson, four to Robert Woods, three to C.J. Spiller, and one to Mike Williams. Nothing was too deep -- it was a heavy dose of short hooks and flare passes to the running backs -- but his accuracy was on point and he didn't throw any interceptions. It was a good night of practice for Manuel, without Watkins.
  • The Bills will be back on the practice field Tuesday afternoon. They'll practice again Wednesday and Thursday before breaking camp.

Bills Camp Report: Day 2

July, 21, 2014
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • There has been a throng of national media watching Bills camp through two days and they've seen Sammy Watkins put on a show. After catching every pass thrown his way in Sunday night's practice, Watkins continued to impress on Monday. He strode past Leodis McKelvin for a would-be touchdown grab early in practice and made a catch over three defenders look effortless later on. It's not just the deep game, either: he used his long arms to snag a pass on a crossing pattern, through traffic at one point as well. Watkins has that rare size and speed combination that can make him a dangerous weapon against opposing defenses. His height, long arms, and make-it-look-easy strides remind me of Randy Moss.
  • Speaking of height and speed, I've been impressed with Bryce Brown thus far in camp. The 6-foot running back has long legs and shows some burst getting into the second level. The Bills coveted Brown for more than a year before acquiring him in May. It remains to be seen how many carries the Bills can siphon from C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to Brown, but he adds depth to a backfield that didn't have much of it last season.
  • Nigel Bradham continues to see first-team reps at linebacker, a surprise given how his role virtually evaporated under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine last season. Even coach Doug Marrone has noticed a change in Bradham's work ethic. "Honestly, I think last year Nigel struggled at times with us," Marrone said Monday. "I saw a change, more of a commitment from him when we came back, which I give him a lot of credit for." The Bills are giving Bradham the first crack at replacing Kiko Alonso and he seems to have impressed the coaching staff. The issue with Bradham may be his abilities in stopping the run: The Bills turned to Arthur Moats last season against heavier offenses and rookie Preston Brown is knocking on the door for playing time on defense. It's a battle we'll continue to monitor closely.
  • After missing all of organized team activities and minicamp, T.J. Graham is back practicing this week. The results have been up-and-down. He made the play of Sunday's practice when he caught a deep bomb from Jeff Tuel, but in one of his first routes Monday he had a pass fall right through his hands after beating a defender on a similar deep route. Graham is the top "bubble" player for the Bills and can't afford those sort of plays.
  • Cordy Glenn remained out of practice Monday and the Bills are still mum on what landed him on the non-football illness list. "It’s a medical condition. I’m preparing to go on as if he’s not playing, which he’s not," Marrone said. "I’m just waiting for the doctors and I can’t speak about the condition because it’s something that happened outside of football. I’m planning on playing and right now he’s not there, so I have to play with him not being there. When they tell me he’s there then obviously we’ll plug him back in."
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills will begin life without linebacker Kiko Alonso when they start training camp Sunday night.

As players reported to St. John Fisher College on Friday, general manager Doug Whaley put the absence of Alonso, who underwent surgery this week, in perspective.

Alonso
"It's a tremendous loss, but no one's crying for us," Whaley said. "Next man up. We think we've built a roster that can sustain a loss like this. But our expectations aren't going to drop."

As expected, Whaley mentioned rookie Preston Brown and third-year 'backer Nigel Bradham as possible replacements for Whaley. The second-year general manager added that each of those players have already practiced with the first team, as Alonso was out for most of OTAs recovering from hip surgery.

Other tidbits from Whaley:

Philosophy on EJ Manuel: There will be pressure on quarterback EJ Manuel to perform this season, but Whaley said the team has tried to give Manuel as much help on the field as they can. "He doesn't have the weight of the world on his shoulders, that he has to go out and win it," Whaley said. "We've surrounded him with some people where if he does his job, he should be OK." As far as how Manuel will need to improve, Whaley said: "I want to see him have more control of the huddle, of the offense. A command and a presence out there that we saw in college."

No word on Marcell Dareus: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has two pending legal situations from incidents this offseason, something that could make him subject to an NFL suspension. Whaley said Friday that he hasn't heard from the league on that front. Dareus wasn't among the players who moved into the dorm while reporters were present Friday.

Cordy Glenn status bears watching: Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn, considered the Bills' best offensive lineman last season, missed minicamp with what was called an illness. Glenn was placed on the active/non-football illness list this week and can be removed from the list at any time. Whaley was cautious Friday when talking about Glenn's status. "We're still waiting on some reports on him, but it looks like it's going to be one of those day-to-day things and we'll see how it progresses." Asked a follow-up question if Glenn's illness could threaten his season, Whaley said: "We don't think so, at this time. But again, we'll just have to see how it progresses. We hope not." Glenn is present at camp. "He'll be doing some light exercises and stuff like that," Whaley said.

Other injury updates: Whaley said the team is still easing cornerback Leodis McKelvin back into action after offseason surgery. He is on the active/physically unable to perform list. Defensive tackle Alan Branch, meanwhile, is on the non-football illness list. Whaley said there were tests that came back during his check-in physical that require further scrutiny before he can practice.

Roster moves: The Bills released two players -- cornerback Darius Robinson and wide receiver Cordell Roberson -- on Friday. Whaley said the team is "upgrading" the roster and is in the process of signing two players to replace them. They are expected to be younger players, not veterans.
The Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester on Wednesday, adding another player to compete at the position following the loss of Kiko Alonso to a season-ending knee injury.

Sylvester
Sylvester, who turns 26 on Friday, was a fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. He played in 50 games in four seasons with the Steelers, making two starts. He should compete with Ty Powell and rookie Randell Johnson for a role on special teams.

To make room for Sylvester on the 90-man roster, the Bills waived tight end Mike Caussin, who missed each of the past two seasons with injuries. Caussin had been with the Bills since 2010.

In a procedural move, the Bills placed Alonso on the active/non-football injury list. Alonso remains on the 90-man roster and can be taken off the list at any time. The Bills may later choose to place Alonso on the reserve/non-football injury list, which would keep him out of at least the first six weeks of the regular season. He isn't expected to play this season.

The Bills also placed Johnson and cornerback Leodis McKelvin on the active/physically unable to perform list. Johnson participated fully in spring practices while McKelvin was recovering from hip surgery. Either player can come off the list at any time.

In addition, the Bills placed offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Alan Branch on the active/non-football illness list. Either player can return at any time during training camp.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus returned to Bills practice Tuesday as they opened a three-day mandatory minicamp.

Dareus
Dareus missed the final two weeks of organized team activities after he was taken into custody following an alleged street race. Coach Doug Marrone did not specify where Dareus was during that time, only saying that the Pro Bowler was dealing with "personal issues."

The Bills will not make Dareus available to reporters during minicamp, saying they want him to "focus on football."

Dareus is scheduled to appear in a Hamburg, New York court on July 1.

Meanwhile, the Bills had two players missing from their first minicamp practice Tuesday. Tight end Scott Chandler was excused for a family matter, and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn sat out with an illness.

Defensive end Manny Lawson and defensive tackle Alan Branch both reported to practice after sitting out all of OTAs, which were voluntary.

"The season is long. When you have some years under your belt, you don't want it to be repetitive. You don't want to seem like you're going through the motions, the same thing over and over again," Lawson said. "It was good to step away, spend time with the family, go visit your family. Relax -- still work out in my time off -- but step away from the game and come back to it and it's all new and fun again."

Rookie offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, a seventh-round draft pick, did not practice Tuesday for what the team called travel-related issues.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin left practice with trainers and did not return. He did not suffer an obvious injury during practice.

Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (hip surgery) and Leodis McKelvin (hip surgery) both participated to full-team drills for the first time this spring.

The Bills had three players trying out during Tuesday's practice: wide receiver Tori Gurley, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, and another unidentified defensive back.
How much does size matter?

To the Buffalo Bills, quite a lot. On Tuesday, we noted how the Bills have the NFL's tallest group of receivers. That's just one position, but it's not the only spot where the Bills top the league's charts -- at least on paper.

The Bills also have the NFL's heaviest offensive line, and it's barely even a contest. The average weight of their 15 offensive linemen is 325.2 pounds, far and away the biggest group in the league. Only the Oakland Raiders, at 320.3 pounds, come close.

Unlike at receiver, where most of the team's height is concentrated in players at the bottom of the depth chart, the Bills have both starting linemen and developmental blockers who break the scales.

Left tackle Cordy Glenn, who has started 29 games since being drafted in the second round two years ago, is listed at 345 pounds, making him the fourth-heaviest offensive lineman currently on an NFL roster. He's tied with rookie Seantrel Henderson, the Bills' seventh-round pick, who also checks in at 345 pounds.

In addition to Henderson, the Bills added 343-pound Cyril Richardson in the fifth round earlier this month. Ideally, Richardson and Henderson will both stick on the 53-man roster and could have eventually have potential to start.

The two draft picks are the latest in a pipeline of massive offensive linemen that general manager Doug Whaley has brought to Buffalo. They're projects for coach Doug Marrone, a former offensive line coach, as well as Pat Morris, the Bills' current offensive line coach.

The Bills ended last season with a trio of developmental guards who are on the larger side: Antoine McClain (336 pounds), Mark Asper (325 pounds), and J.J. Unga (320 pounds). Whaley plucked Unga off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad, while McClain was claimed off waivers from the Raiders. All three may have an uphill battle to make the cut this season.

No matter who the Bills keep of their current bunch of 15, the size of the group will be striking. It's Whaley's vision to beat his opponents with superior size, and he'll have plenty of it along his offensive line this season.

But will it make the difference? Much like the Bills' ongoing expedition to find a productive, tall wide receiver, the Bills' super-sized offensive line will need to show that their eye-opening height and weight figures printed on the roster are more than just numbers.

The results will need to come on the field before Whaley's strategy can be given the stamp of approval. Take last season for instance. The Bills gave Colin Brown -- a mountain of a man, at 6-foot-7 and 326 pounds -- the nod at left guard to start the regular season. He struggled in five starts and was finding new work by October, replaced by an undersized Doug Legursky.

The Bills should be leery of a similar outcome with Chris Williams, a free agent whom they signed to a four-year deal in March. Williams, who is 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds, has a shaky track record as an NFL starter. He'll slide in at left guard. Could Buffalo be a good fit for him? Of course. But if it isn't, Legursky will be the likely fallback option.

Pass protection will be another consideration. Size and brute strength work well in the running game, especially in power blocking schemes, but technique and athleticism come more into play in the passing game. Glenn handled EJ Manuel's blindside well last season but there were breakdowns elsewhere. With new starters possible at both left guard and right tackle, keeping Manuel upright will be key this season.

In the meantime, the Bills have another distinction to celebrate. With rosters nearly complete after the draft, the Bills have emerged with the NFL's premier size at both receiver and offensive line.

Now they have to show why that matters, on the field -- where it counts.
Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie signed his two-year, $7 million contract Wednesday and attended a voluntary conditioning workout. It's all part of a deal that led to his return to the Super Bowl champions.

McKinnie
McKinnie
McKinnie agreed to play at a lighter weight, even lower than last year's playing weight of 352 pounds.

"The older you get, the more they want you to lose, but the harder it is. But I’m going to just do it," McKinnie told the Ravens' official website. "I have a gameplan this year, and I have people in place that will help me. I’m really dedicated to do it, because I really want to do it for myself and I just really want to play at that weight and play at a high level."

McKinnie added, “That’s been my goal for the last few seasons of my career, just to play at a real high level and dominate. If that’s what I got to do to play at that weight to do it, then that’s what I’m going to do."

At 6-feet-8, McKinnie is the tallest of the 32 projected starting left tackles in the NFL. At 352 pounds, he's also the heaviest. In fact, it's nine pounds more than the listed weight of any other starting left tackle. Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who played for the Ravens from 1996 to 2007, was 6-9 and played at 340 pounds.

McKinnie is the minority these days when it comes to his weight class. There are only six starting left tackles who are 325 pounds or more, including just three who are over 340 pounds. The average current weight for left tackles is 320.4 pounds. And most of these tackles are tall like McKinnie. Only four are shorter than 6-5.

Here are the five heaviest left tackles:

McKinnie, Ravens, 352 pounds

Cordy Glenn, Bills, 343 pounds

Jason Peters, Eagles, 340 pounds

Andrew Whitworth, Bengals, 335 pounds

King Dunlap, Chargers, 330 pounds

Here are the five lightest left tackles:

Charles Brown, Saints, 292 pounds

Jordan Gross, Panthers, 305 pounds

Anthony Castonzo, Colts, 305 pounds

Donald Penn, Buccaneers, 305 pounds

Tyron Smith, Cowboys, 308 pounds

Ryan Kalil, Vikings, 308 pounds

Three things: Bills-Lions

August, 30, 2012
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The Buffalo Bills travel to Detroit to play their preseason finale against the Lions Thursday night. It is Buffalo’s final chance to get a win in the preseason.

Here are three things to watch for in this game:

1. Tarvaris Jackson's Bills debut

Buffalo made headlines this week by cutting former first-round pick Vince Young and trading with the Seattle Seahawks for Jackson. Both quarterbacks have similar playing styles, but the Bills feel Jackson is an upgrade to backup starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jackson must be a quick learner in Buffalo’s offense. He will most likely run some basic plays tonight. But Jackson will need to have full command of the offense early in the regular season if Fitzpatrick gets injured.

2. No injuries

Last week’s preseason game was the "dress rehearsal," this week is all about survival. Buffalo, like many teams, just want to get out of this game healthy. The Bills have a huge season opener Sept. 9 against the division rival New York Jets. Buffalo will need all its weapons to win on the road. Bills coach Chan Gailey said his starters will be on the field for about 10 plays, just to get their feet wet. If no starters get injured Thursday night, that is more important than a victory.

3. Which rookies will step up?

Don’t expect to see much of first-round pick Stephon Gilmore and second-round pick Cordy Glenn. But beyond that, Buffalo’s rookie class should get a lot of opportunities against Detroit to show what they can do. Players like rookie wide receiver T.J. Graham and first-year linebacker Tank Carder should see playing time in this fourth preseason game.

The Bills hope size matters

July, 31, 2012
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The NFL has rapidly become a pass-heavy league. But the Buffalo Bills are taking an old-school approach to building a contender.

Last year, Buffalo drafted defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 3 overall pick. The Bills followed by drafting left tackle Cordy Glenn in the second round this year and signing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. That’s a lot of money and high draft picks dedicated to winning in the trenches.

The Bills certainly passed the eye test in our first look at the team during morning walk-throughs. Suddenly, the Bills look like a group you’d feel very safe taking with you in a dark alley.

"We needed to get bigger. We were a small team; our linebackers were small and we got knocked around a lot," Bills general manager Buddy Nix said Tuesday. "My philosophy is it's a big-man's game and you got to get bigger. You win and lose consistently with those guys up front. That's our thinking."

The Bills currently have 24 players listed over 300 pounds, although not all will make the team. Williams, Buffalo's best defensive player, checked in at 292 pounds.

Buffalo's strength in 2012 will be its defensive and offensive lines. The Bills should be great at running the ball, stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback.

Add the three together and you could have the makings of a team ready to take the next step and contend for the playoffs.

"Buddy and I both believe the game, a major part but not the whole part, is won in the trenches," coach Chan Gailey said. "It is won on both sides of the line and who can control that part of the game. It's hard to find those guys. So when you get the opportunity to get them, you take that opportunity."

Bills: One big question

May, 4, 2012
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Did the Buffalo Bills fix holes on offense?

The Buffalo Bills, who finished 6-10 and last in the AFC East, get a solid "A" for their offseason acquisitions in free agency and their selections in the draft. General manager Buddy Nix made very aggressive moves to get the team in position to make a run in 2012.

But did the Bills, my sleeper pick for 2012, do enough to plug their holes on offense? Buffalo invested a majority of its free-agent dollars on defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. The team also used its first-round pick on cornerback Stephon Gilmore. But the Bills didn't start to address the offense until the second round.

Buffalo's biggest offseason holes on offense were at left tackle and wide receiver. The Bills used their second-round pick on offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and their third-round pick on receiver T.J. Graham. Buffalo hopes both rookies can fill these important positions in Week 1.

Glenn is a solid prospect, but there are questions whether he can handle playing left tackle in the NFL. He split time at guard and tackle at Georgia. That helps in terms of versatility, but the Bills hope Glenn can fill the open left tackle spot full time.

Graham has a chance to compete for the No. 2 receiver position opposite Steve Johnson. Graham does not have prototypical NFL size (5-foot-11), but he does have very good speed to blow the top off the defense. A deep threat is something Buffalo's offense lacks. Graham will have a chance to compete with David Nelson and Donald Jones to be the No. 2 receiver. Nelson is more suited to the slot, and Jones has durability questions. Can Graham, a third-round pick, beat out a pair of veterans?

AFC East draft analysis

April, 28, 2012
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


The AFC East struggled mightily last year. Only the New England Patriots finished with a winning record. The New York Jets (8-8), Miami Dolphins (6-10) and Buffalo Bills (6-10) are all playing catch up this season.

The draft is the best way for the Jets, Dolphins and Bills to close the gap with the reigning AFC champs. It's also an opportunity for New England to get better, particularly on defense, in order to make another Super Bowl run.

Here are the highlights of the AFC East draft:

BEST MOVE

The best move was actually a series of moves by the Patriots. It was clear New England needed defensive help. The Patriots' defense was ranked 31st overall, and it was an issue on the final drive of the Super Bowl.

New England drafted six straight defensive players. Defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower, both first-rounder, have a chance to make an immediate impact. New England moved up twice in the first round to pick Jones and Hightower.

"I felt like we got good value for them," coach Bill Belichick said. "[We] took Dont'a and Chandler, probably could have been in either order. But we felt like we would have a better chance to end up with both players if it went that way, not that we were sure we would get the second one, but we thought we might have a shot at it. Looking forward to working with both guys."

New England also took pass-rushing defensive end Jake Bequette in the third round. He could be a sleeper. The Patriots made one curious pick on defense in the second round that we will get to later.

The Patriots did a good job overall, but an individual move I really like is Miami's pick of former Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. I had the chance to watch Stanford several times, and I was really impressed. He moves well, has a good frame and is intelligent.

"He's used to playing with a very demanding quarterback with Andrew (Luck), and they trusted him to protect Andrew for three years," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said of Martin. "We're very happy with the pick."

Martin has to move from left tackle to right tackle, because Pro Bowler Jake Long is on Miami's roster. But that's an easier transition to make than going from right to left tackle.

The Buffalo Bills also made some solid picks, particularly first-round corner Stephon Gilmore and second-round offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. Buffalo had a safe draft that should help the team immediately next season.

RISKIEST MOVE

The New York Jets entered the offseason with a lot of questions. Can they fix their locker room issues? Can they handle the Tim Tebow phenomenon?

Instead of going safe, the Jets continued to roll the dice by taking risky prospects with their top two picks: defensive end Quinton Coples and receiver Stephen Hill. Both are boom-or-bust prospects the Jets plan to rely on next season.

New York needs help rushing the passer and hope Coples can provide it. He has all the physical tools, but there are big questions about his motivation. The Jets also need a big-play receiver, and Hill could be that player. He has all the measurables but wasn’t productive at Georgia Tech, which ran a triple-option offense. Hill caught just 28 passes last season but averaged an astounding 29.3 yards per reception.

"I feel great. Especially now, I'm in more of an offense where I can catch the ball a little bit more," Hill said. "And you know, catching the ball from [quarterback] Mark Sanchez is great. I'm going to make sure I get with him as soon as possible and we both try to get this roll on."

Both players have the potential to start as soon as next season.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

[+] EnlargeTavon Wilson
Chuck Rydlewski/Icon SMINew England surprised some by selecting Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson in the second round.
Belichick has some explaining to do. The Patriots took a player in the second round who wasn’t invited to the NFL combine or any pre-draft all-star games.

Patriots second-round pick Tavon Wilson caught everyone completely by surprise. The defensive back wasn’t on anyone’s radar, especially in the second round. But New England liked him enough to take Wilson No. 48 overall.

"He played plenty. You can see him plenty at Illinois," Belichick said. "You can see him against whoever you want to see him against: All the Big Ten schools, Arizona State, teams that throw the ball. He’s playing corner, he’s playing safety, he’s playing the inside positions, the nickel position, the dime position."

Belichick is known to go off the radar in the draft at times. He continues to defend the Wilson pick.

"Similar situation with [Sebastian] Vollmer a couple of years ago. We drafted guys -- I think one year, didn't we draft like three of four guys that were non-combine guys?" Belichick said. "Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don't. I don't know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don't know who picks the combine for that matter."

New England needs immediate help in the secondary. Wilson has experience in college at cornerback and safety and will get a chance to show what he can do in New England.

FILE IT AWAY

This is the perfect category for Miami first-round selection and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. You can probably file this pick away until 2013.

Tannehill will begin the season third on Miami's depth chart behind incumbent starter Matt Moore and free-agent signing David Garrard. The odds that the rookie will jump two veteran quarterbacks before Week 1 are long. But Tannehill isn't resigning himself to holding a clipboard.

"I'm a football player and I'm a competitor," Tannehill said Saturday. "I want to be on the field and I want to compete. But I also realize that I'm coming in and there's veteran quarterbacks on this team that I can learn from."

The race for the No. 2 quarterback in the AFC East behind Tom Brady is wide open. Tannehill has the potential to fill that void in two or three years. But the Dolphins have to do the right things to nurture the young quarterback, despite very high expectations.

Tannehill is the first quarterback taken in the first round by Miami since Hall of Famer Dan Marino in 1983.

"I didn't take him as the eighth pick in the draft to be a backup quarterback," Ireland said. "I picked him to be a starting quarterback in this league at some point, to have an impact on this football team, to help us win football games and championships. That's the expectation that I have going down the line."

AFC East fifth-round notes

April, 28, 2012
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The fifth round of the NFL draft is in the books.

Here are some notes for the AFC East:
  • The Buffalo Bills had two picks again in this round and took former Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders and former TCU linebacker Tank Carder. Sanders is good insurance behind second-round pick Cordy Glenn. Carder is another linebacker who probably will have to work hard on special teams to make the 53-man roster this summer.
  • The Miami Dolphins traded down with the Tennessee Titans and picked up an extra seventh-round pick. The Dolphins selected former Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu. He had 6.5 sacks for the Ducks last season and 10 for his career. I'm still surprised Miami has yet to draft a receiver.
  • The New England Patriots (surprise!) traded out of the fifth round to acquire more picks later in the draft. New England now has a sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders from the Green Bay Packers.

Third-round notes in AFC East

April, 27, 2012
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The AFC East made some interesting additions in the third round of the NFL draft.

Here is a recap:
  • The Bills finally drafted a wide receiver by taking T.J. Graham of North Carolina State. Buffalo passed up better prospects in the second round, but you can't fault the Bills for finding a potential starting offensive tackle (Cordy Glenn). Graham was the 20th-ranked prospect at receiver by Scouts Inc. His not a big receiver (5-foot-11) but does possess top-end speed. Buffalo needs a speedster opposite top target Steve Johnson.
  • The Dolphins made an interesting choice in Miami (Fla.) defensive end Olivier Vernon. He is the first player from the hometown Hurricanes the Dolphins have taken since Vernon Carey in 2004. Vernon had an inconsistent career at Miami. The Dolphins also traded back and drafted Missouri tight end Michael Egnew with their second pick in the third round. Agnew can provide depth behind starter Anthony Fasano.
  • The New York Jets also drafted Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis at No. 77 to help their pass rush.
  • The New England Patriots continue to boost their pass rush with third-round pick Jake Bequette of Arkansas. He recorded 21.5 career sacks at Arkansas and is a versatile player. The Patriots traded down with the Green Bay Packers for this third-round pick.


NEW YORK -- Man, did the New York Giants have some options with the final pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. Wide receivers, offensive linemen and pass rushers still abound. They very well could have traded back into the early part of the second round, picked up an extra pick and still taken someone very useful, such as wide receiver Stephen Hill or tackle Cordy Glenn or even a pass rusher like Courtney Upshaw.

Wilson
Wilson
But the Giants, before they went on their magical run and won the Super Bowl, were the No. 32 ranked rush offense in the NFL in 2011. And that 32nd-ranked rush offense lost to free agency a back -- Brandon Jacobs -- who accounted for about 40 percent of their carries. So, while the Giants aren't a draft-for-need kind of team, it makes a lot of sense that they decided to take a running back.

The Giants selected Virginia Tech's David Wilson to be Jacobs' replacement, but don't expect a running back like Jacobs. Wilson is a little guy -- about 5-foot-9, 206 pounds -- whose scouting report says he has outstanding top-end speed but still needs to work on his inside running and his initial burst. He's every-down capable, having racked up 334 touches last year with the Hokies, and that matters, since Ahmad Bradshaw always seems to be battling those foot injuries. And he's an outstanding athlete who qualified for the NCAA championships in the triple jump in 2010.

My guess is that the Giants were looking at Boise State running back Doug Martin, and the Buccaneers traded up into the back end of the first round and took Martin one pick before the Giants' turn. But it's entirely possible, knowing the Giants, that Wilson was the guy on whom they had their eye all along. The Giants like to bring guys into their system and develop them under their coaching staff and among their veteran players. So if Martin isn't an impact guy right away in 2012 -- if he's merely in the mix of Bradshaw backups with guys like Da'Rel Scott and D.J. Ware -- that doesn't mean he doesn't have big-time potential down the road.

Ultimately, this is more of a "need" pick than the Giants tend to make in the draft, but if they thought someone like Hill or Glenn or Upshaw or Stanford tight end Coby Fleener was well ahead of Wilson in terms of value, I'm sure they would have taken him. The Giants clearly think highly of Wilson.

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