I haven’t written much about the Buffalo Bills lately, mainly because there hasn’t been much to scribe about. I soon plan on starting a series profiling a number of pending free agents who could be helpful (and realistic) additions to Buffalo should they hit the open market.
In the meantime I’ll also sit down sporadically throughout the next few weeks and pen some random thoughts and observations on all things Bills. Yeah I know—Fun, wow.
Here is what’s in my notebook this morning:
♦ I spoke to a source within the Bills organization who was not pleased that wide receiver coach Ike Hilliard was the lone coaching staff member to be fired since the season ended. By all accounts Hilliard was liked and well respected by all those he coached, in part because he was a former NFL wide receiver himself the players could relate to. According to the source, Hilliard never felt secure about his job and it wasn’t long before he started hinting to others he felt like he would be fired.
“He wasn’t one of Marrone’s guys” the source added.
It’s hard to come to any other conclusion. Hilliard is the only coach to be replaced, pretty unfair when you recall he worked a unit that was damaged goods. Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were banged up for good parts of the year, not to mention Woods and Goodwin were rookies to begin with. T.J. Graham took little if no major steps forward from his rookie season while Chris Hogan isn’t exactly Wes Welker in the slot. The team’s lone receiver “project” Da’Rick Rogers had little interest in playing 100% full-time and was cut. It’s worth noting that before coming on late in the season in Indianapolis, Rogers was also cut from the Colts practice squad before receiving a second (third) chance and thus far making the most of it.
Meanwhile, based on performance Danny Crossman should’ve been the most likely on Marrone’s chopping block, but that didn’t happen. Despite having one of the least productive special teams units in recent Bills history, Crossman is keeping his job. You think the fact Marrone and Crossman were once teammates in the World Football League and coached together at the Cross Guard Academy has anything to do with that?
My real point, I guess is I’ve had a hard time figuring out why Hilliard was taken to the woodshed while Crossman got to retain his job. From what I’ve heard and without getting into more specifics, the players really liked Hilliard and as for Crossman—not so much.
♦ If you like Doug Whaley as a general manager of the Buffalo Bills, be glad that Buddy Nix stepped down when he did. Had he stuck around, it’s hard to fathom Whaley not landing a GM job this offseason with either Tampa Bay or the current Miami vacancy.
♦ So much can change and I’m sure will, but I’ve been conducting some incredibly preliminary mock drafts, going only up to the Bills pick at ninth. When I take into account who I feel will be the first eight off the board coupled with what I think Buffalo will want and perhaps need with the selection, I keep landing on Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Here’s why: I see no way the Bills are going quarterback first, both prime tackle prospects (Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson) I anticipate gone as well as wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Khalil Mack is a great story and worthy selection as is fellow linebacker Anthony Barr, but they’re primarily outside pass rushers and the Bills have no problem getting to the quarterback. That leaves me at either Mosley or tight end Eric Ebron as the pick.
Personally I love Ebron and would be thrilled to see Whaley pull the trigger there. He has the ability to be a game-changer and the tight end position being a key to an offense is the trend these days ( see Graham, Gronk, Thomas, Davis, Gates, etc). Still, in the end Mosley is a versatile linebacker who’s v sound and stout against the run. That probably makes the Bills a better football team overall and therefore, I keep landing on him. As previously stated, so much can change and I’m not going to attempt publishing an initial mock draft for quite some time. The only thing I do know at this point is not even the Bills themselves have a clue of who they want to draft.