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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills Scouts' Notebook, Ver. 2

The Buffalo Bills made another pair of their scouts available to the media. Essentially every player that could be picked by the Bills at third overall were scouted by these two.

Shawn Heinlen (Florida to New Mexico -East to West; Kansas to Texas -North to South) and Brian Fisher (Midwest –Michigan to Kentucky, Kentucky to Kansas, Kansas to Dakotas) gave us their thoughts on some of the prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Here's some of the players that were discussed:

Alabama DT Marcell Dareus
Athletic big man. Explosive. The ability to shed blockers is something that impresses me the most. His ability to engage an offensive tackle or guard or center if he's playing the nose on occasion and be able to control that blocker to either collapse the pocket, disregard the player and make a play. Or just to change what the offense is trying to do is the things that's most impressive - Shawn Heinlen

Texas A&M OLB Von Miller
One word: Freak. His explosion and ability to change direction is something that is very rare. I haven't seen that in the ten years I've been doing this, I have not seen anybody at that position be able to change directions, and have the explosion that he has. His ability to bend the corner, absorb contact and continue to progress around the corner is something that is absolutely unique. Usually guys will have trouble, you'll see them at least get knocked off their path. To see him be able to absorb the contact and continue to progress without losing a step. - Shawn Heinlen

One thing he shares with Bruce Smith:
He's got that same ability to be able to do that where he's so low to the ground, but yet he's able to maintain his power, his leverage and his speed and take on the contact from the tackle and able to progress. It's a rare trait that I haven't seen in any linebacker.

Is he more than just speed?
Von has gotten away with being able to be more of a finesse guy because he's so quick and athletic that he can get around a block and get back in his gap before most blockers can get their hands on him. But there are times in games, you'll have to hunt for those times, but you go back and watch '09 tape and watch him against [Russell] Okung and Trent Williams, you see him have the ability to stack linemen and get off and make plays. He just doesn't do it that often, because he doesn't have to. - Shawn Heinlen

Auburn QB Cam Newton
Tremendous athlete, tremendous upside. It's all in front of him. As far as being able to make all the throws, create matchup problems for defenses, he can do all those things. Tremendous leader, guys on the team love him. All he does is win everywhere he goes. Four years in college he's got three national championship rings and he's responsible primarily for two of them, but he did play and back up in Florida so he's got plenty of stuff under his belt to show that he can win everywhere he's been. He's going to have to come in, he's going to have to learn. He's going to have a little bit of a learning curve. The offense there at Auburn isn't quite as complex as it is here. He's going to have a little of a learning curve there, but his upside potential is tremendous.

Did you see the Jon Gruden 'QB Camp' on ESPN, and what were your thoughts on him not calling a play?
I did. Again, it's all based on what they did [at Auburn]. So it's not a detriment to what he's done. Gruden throws some terminology at him that he's never heard before and wants him to repeat that kind of thing. That's not what he's had to learn. It's not that he can't learn it, it's just that that's not been what he's had to do, so you can't hold that against him if he's never done it. He's a smart enough guy, he's got football intelligence, he's got football instincts. That part of it won't be an issue going forward. It's just a matter of having time on the job to learn those things.

Does he strike you as a player that wants to work at it?
Yes. His track record with football and working with football is impeccable. The kid is a football guy. You hear all the stories here and there from media outlets about different things, but when it comes to football Cam is there. He's the first one in, he works. That's what he does. He takes pride in it. He'll pick it up. - Shawn Heinlen

Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert is an outstanding talent, his size, arm strength, athletic ability. He's a very intelligent kid, strong work ethic. And he's going to do everything he can to improve and he's going to have to work on footwork. Playing in that offense, very seldom under center. Just consistency, that's going to lead to more consistency with the placement of his throws, particularly down the field. But he has a lot of talent, and he's got really everything. That's how you draw up a quarterback, with his size, physical tools, and the want-to.

Why weren't the stats there?
He was asked to do certain things in college. That's just the system he was in. Some people criticize him saying, 'You know, previous quarterbacks had better statistical production.' Stats don't tell the whole story. This kid, you see this kid getting better from his sophomore to his junior year. With his aptitude, his drive, he's very well regarded as a leader. He's just going to continue to get better and better. - Brian Fisher

Iowa DT Christian Ballard
He's got good size, he's got length. He's got size potential as well. He has excellent speed for his size. He's a versatile guy, he's played inside and out in the 4-3 scheme for Iowa. But yeah, we see him as a five-technique for us and a guy who can create problems with his athletic ability. He can get on the edge, he can set up, he has the burst to close. To run in the 4.7's at his size is very impressive. - Brian Fisher

Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
When you watch Clayborn play, he is explosive. He's powerful. He has one arm power. He can just discard linemen and do it with ease. So, [Clayborn's Erb's Palsy condition] really doesn't show up when you watch his tape. He's quick for a 280-pound guy. He's got the explosiveness and the burst off blocks that is very difficult to find with his size. So I think Clayborn is very highly regarded. He's probably best in a 4-3 front, but with a guy like him -- his ability to rush the passer and play with power and explode in to linemen, drive them back, reset the line of scrimmage. You find a place for that guy. - Brian Fisher

Michigan State ILB Greg Jones
He's a great kid, highly productive. He's instinctive, he's a good athlete. He's probably more of a 4-3 linebacker, that's what he played there. He's not the biggest guy, he's more of a lateral player. But he's got a great feel for recognizing the angles of linemen, slipping blocks and being in the right place at the right time. He needs to be more consistent in his pass drops. But he's a guy with a great work ethic, he's a determined kid and he's been a very productive player for them. - Brian Fisher

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett
Tremendous arm strength, tremendous arm talent in a quarterback. When he's got time and space in the pocket, he can put the ball anywhere down the field with precision. He does need some room to operate because he's such a long-limbed, tall quarterback. Great command of the offense they run there. He is a football junkie, he is in there watching tape every day.

The off-field concerns?
The stuff off the field, there's a lot of speculation and rumors, but it's just that. There's no substance to a lot of the stuff people are talking about. For some reason it just kind of snowballs when it gets going, and no one really knows where it came from or how it got there but it just keeps on going. From the information that we gather, there isn't much substance to that other than the stuff that he's admitted to and that we've actually seen documentation of.

How he translates:
Tremendous upside with him. He's going to have to do a little physical development. He's not a big weight room guy, he's going to have to do that stuff at our level to help maintain his body because it's going to take some shots. He's not going to have the clean paths to throw that he had at the college level. He'll have to refine his delivery a little bit because he is such a long-limbed individual just to play in the confined spaces of the NFL.

Can he avoid the rush in the NFL?
The thing he's very adept at doing is when the rusher's are coming at him, he's really, really good at side-stepping to create space and shifting lanes to be able to get the ball off. The problem he has is that he's not the greatest of athletes so those guys that are chasing him, he can't get away from. But when he has rushers coming at him, from when he can see them in front of him, he does a really good job to get away from them and get the ball off. - Shawn Heinlen

Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
He's a great kid. A highly productive player for Iowa. Plays in more of a traditional offense, so he's accustomed to the three and five-step drops from under center. Shows good timing and anticipation as a passer. Doesn't have a huge arm, but has enough to compete. What stands out about Ricky is just who he is, his mental makeup. His toughness, his drive, his leadership. They rave about him at Iowa. Those are the qualities that are essential for a quarterback to be successful at our level, and Ricky has them.

Can he be a starter in the NFL?
He's not going to be a high round guy that some of the other quarterbacks we discussed, but, he's a guy that you want to have and that you want to develop. He's going to find a way to contribute. - Brian Fisher

TCU QB Andy Dalton
He can play any system. I have no questions about Andy Dalton. Watching him play reminds me a lot of watching [Ryan Fitzpatrick] play. You see a lot of the same things where he's able to ad-lib and somehow just find his way to make plays. Lead his team down the field and convert drives, you know, make things happen. I don't think he's going to be pigeon-holed in to one kind of system. He's got enough talent, arm talent -- marginal size, but he's got enough where he can come in and play and he should be able to play in any system when he gets out there.

Who has a better arm, Dalton or Fitzpatrick?:
I'd probably say Andy by a little bit. Not by much, but by a little bit. I haven't seen Andy throw the ball in weather like this up here yet so we'll wait and see. - Shawn Heinlen

Florida State QB Christian Ponder
Christian had a rough senior season, battled injuries the whole time. You go back and look at his junior tape though, he's a very accurate quarterback. A very good field general for the team. Very good talent, not top echelon as far as physical ability, but he's a good athlete, he's got good arm skill and arm strength. He's just a shade below what you would consider tops for the position. He can get outside the pocket, he can create with his feet, and does a good job. Accuracy is probably the biggest thing with him. He's a very accurate passer when he has time in the pocket. This year he had trouble with some arm things so you don't know how much the arm played in to some of his passes or how healthy he was for every game. So you kind of discount that a little bit and go back to see when he was healthy. Played well in the All-Star Game. He's a guy you see that he has all the tools to be a starting quarterback in the league, you just hope he can stay healthy going forward just due to not being healthy for his senior year. But he should project well for us going forward, and be a guy that should compete for a starting job fairly soon.

Injuries a big concern?
It was nothing real major. You just kind of get nicked up and the timing of it was always very inopportune. So it's not really a huge concern, it's nothing going forward that should bother him or hinder his development. It's just one of those things where you hope it's more luck than genetics more than anything because there's no real way to tell going forward in what that is. But his track record has shown that he hasn't been a guy that's been injury prone, it just so happens his senior year draws most of the attention in.

Can he make all the throws?
His arm is strong enough, he's not going to be in the Ryan Mallett category, but his arm is strong enough to be a starting quarterback in the league. - Shawn Heinlen

TCU OT Marcus Cannon
Enormous man. He's probably got position versatility as a right tackle or the guard. Intelligence-wise he should be able to learn at both so he can be versatile that way as well. He's a very powerful player. When he gets on guys he kind of swallows them up and they can't get off. Does a good job in the run game, creates space. His feet are good, not great. But for his size, are very good for his size. He should be able to come in and compete for a starting right tackle job right away, and if not, you should be able to ship him down in to guard and be able to play him right away. - Shawn Heinlen

LSU ILB Kelvin Sheppard
He's the middle backer, plays for them. Has the size. His range is a little limited, but he does play sideline-to-sideline. He's just not going to be running sideline-to-sideline with say Patrick Willis would be, those guys are rare. But as far as a middle linebacker goes in our system, he fits the Mike-backer. He'll come down hill, take on linemen, get off, make plays in the run game. Very stout player, real smart player. He studies, he's the leader of the defense there for LSU. Makes the calls and the checks for them. He's got good instincts. Just finds a way to get around the ball and makes plays. He may not be the best athlete, but he finds ways to be a productive football player. - Shawn Heinlen

Twitter: @JoeB_WGR

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