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Audio: Marcell Dareus talks to Buffalo media

Marcell Dareus had his first news conference as a Buffalo Bill with the local media by phone tonight. Listen to the conversation:

Buzz on Christian Ponder

By now everybody knows the connection between Bills coach Chan Gailey and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, who was recruited by the Bills coach out of high school. Earlier this morning, Florida State's offensive coordinator, James Coley, posted the cryptic message on his twitter feed: "One word ... Buffalo."

Last week, many will remember, Bills great Andre Reed, who is scheduled to announce the 34th overall pick, speculated on twitter he will be calling Ponder's name. The post was subsequently removed. The problem is whether Ponder will last to No. 34. (The Buffalo News is among many that don't have him in the top 32. However, a bunch of mock drafts do. The Dallas Morning News pegs him all the way up at No. 10 to Washington.) Even if he isn't taken among the top 32, it's hard to imagine New England not getting a big offer during the day on Friday to deal the 33rd pick to some team needing a QB.

How much would it cost to move up from 34 into the mid-20s? Of course, it depends on how many teams are bidding. According to the "Draft Value Chart" made up by Jimmy Johnson a couple decades ago, the 34th pick is worth 560 "points." The Bills' third pick, No. 68, is worth 250 points.

So theoretically, the Bills could move up to No. 21 by giving up No. 68. No. 21 is worth 800 points. No. 20 is worth 850. The value of 34-plus-68 is 810. That's presuming, of course, all teams follow the exact value of the JJ chart and there are not too many bidders to move up. The guess here is it might cost more than just No. 68 to move up all the way to 21. However, any team moving down to 34 would be in an attractive spot. Even if New England trades out at 33, there's a fair chance some other teams might want to move up to 34. So a team could parlay No. 34 into a bonus pick.

Bottom line: The bottom half of Round One could be wild.

---Mark Gaughan

Mocked Up: Dareus

Good news, football fans: You have survived the mock draft season. Due to the lack of free agency, this seems like to the longest run-up to the draft in NFL history. That has meant more attention to mock drafts than ever.

The final mocks were released Wednesday night and this morning. The Buffalo News' mock has Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus going to Buffalo at pick No. 3.

Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin, who has graded out among the best in the country for his mock drafts, also has Dareus lasting until the third pick and going to Buffalo. On the NFL Network Wednesday evening, draft analyst Mike Mayock had Dareus going to Buffalo. Mayock said Dareus "upgrades all three positions" on the Bills' defensive line. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has the same top three: Newton, Miller, Dareus to Buffalo.

Sports Illustrated's Don Banks has Cam Newton and Dareus going 1-2. He has the Bills taking Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. On the mock draft done by ESPN's blogger team, Tim Graham also has the Bills taking Gabbert at No. 3. Rob Rang of forecasts Newton-Dareus-Gabbert, with the Bills taking the Mizzou QB. (Aside: News columnist Jerry Sullivan sports his alma mater's cap - Mizzou - in our draft preview video.)

---Mark Gaughan


News' NFL reporters to host live chat before and during draft

The News' NFL beat writers will be hosting a live chat on the draft beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday from One Bills Drive. The chat will last through the draft, which begins at 8 p.m.

McKelvin showed at OBD

Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin took the time to show up at One Bills Drive this morning to report for work in the wake of the court ruling Monday that at least temporarily lifted the NFL lockout.

McKelvin was informed at the security entrance inside the Bills' training facility that the players still were not allowed to work out in the building, according to the Bills' trade union representative George Wilson. Wilson said Bills Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon came down to greet McKelvin and cordially told him the policy the league office has handed down to teams. The NFL is appealing the court ruling and trying to get a stay in the decision that would put the lockout back in place until the appeal is decided.

"Just because we have a decision rendered in our favor, my mindset hasn’t changed," Wilson said. "I’m still set on working out on my own. We knew that whoever didn’t get the ruling in their favor was going to file an appeal. At the end of the day this is what I expected, and what we told all our guys." 

---Mark Gaughan

Players in lockout limbo

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said today that any player who shows up at a team facility would be let in. Bills safety and player representative George Wilson added that players around the league received an email from the union, er, trade association to show up for work.

So we'll have to see how many Bills players walk through the doors at One Bills Drive.

What is strange about the end of the lockout is the doors will be open to players, but they won't have access to the weight room or the coaches. And no contract signings can be done while the NFL seeks to get an appeal of Judge Nelson's ruling.

So there is no lockout, but the key is still in the door.

---Allen Wilson


The Road to the Draft: WR Edmond Gates


Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian
6-foot, 192 pounds
Draft projection: Third round

Lowdown: This small-school star’s path to the draft is a long story. Bottom line: He ran a time of 4.31 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he’s probably going to be one of the top 10 receivers drafted. He had a tough upbringing. His father served 18 years in prison on a murder sentence. Gates was a big-time basketball star in high school and attended Tyler Junior College in Texas to play hoops. He was dismissed from that school after one year. He wound up going to Division II Abilene Christian and playing football. He was friends with Abilene receiver Johnny Knox, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2009. Despite his lack of football experience, he played as a true freshman and scored five TDs. By his senior season, he put up huge numbers – 66 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 TDs. He’s lanky. He will have a big adjustment to the NFL. But Knox made it. Gates turns 25 in June.

Abilene Christian has seen 19 players drafted to the NFL since 1967. The best was Eagles running back Wilbert Montgomery. Besides drafting Knox, the Bears also took defensive back Danieal Manning from Abilene in 2006.

---Mark Gaughan


SN mock: 1. Newton, 2. Dareus, 3. Miller

Sporting News recently conducted its annual mock draft by the publication's NFL team correspondents. The Carolina Panthers writer chose Auburn QB Cam Newton and the Denver Broncos writer took Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus second. With the third pick, I selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller for the Buffalo Bills.

The top three picks are consistent with most mock drafts out there, though some have flip-flopped Dareus and Miller. Don't totally discount the Bills taking Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, but the feeling here is they don't hold him in as high a regard as Newton. As a result, they'll take the best player on their board and maybe take a quarterback with their second pick, which could end up being a late first-rounder if they trade the Round Two pick (34th overall).

The rest of the top 10 looked like this:

4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia; 5. Arizona: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; 6. Cleveland: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama; 7. San Francisco: Gabbert; 8. Tennessee: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn; 9. Dallas: Tyron Smith, OT, USC; Washington: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina.

The biggest shocker in the correspondent's mock was Miami's pick of much-maligned Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett at No. 15. You would be hard-pressed to find any draft analyst that has Mallett in the first round, and certainly not a top-15 choice. But the Dolphins writer based his decision in part on the team having four different visits with Mallett, who possesses first-round talent but off-the-field issues (both real and perceived) has cause his stock to plummet with most teams.

If Miami made this pick it would bring back memories of 1983 when Dan Marino fell to the bottom of the first round because of drug rumors. Convinced there was nothing to the rumors, Dolphins coach Don Shula grabbed Marino with the 27th selection and ended up looking like a genius as Marino because a Hall of Famer.

In Mallett, who has Marino-like arm strength, perhaps Miami is thinking lightning can strike twice in the same place.

---Allen Wilson 

Lockout over ... for now

Score Round One to the players in their ongoing labor fight with the owners. But the owners aren't down for the count just yet.

As expected, Federal Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in favor of the players' request for a preliminary injuction, which temporarily lifts the NFL-imposed lockout.

The league is expected to file an appeal as early as Tuesday morning. But first, it will ask Nelson to stay the decision. If she refuses, which is likely, the league will turn to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

If that move fails, the NFL will have no choice but to re-open its doors and return to business. In this scenario, the owners would have to figure out how to proceed with free agency. With no collective bargaining agreement, they could go back to last year's rules. That would be bad news for players with less than six accrued seasons like safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Paul Posluszny of the Bills. They become restricted free agents instead of unrestricted.

Whitner would be a big loser under the old rules. That means he probably would be stuck in Buffalo for at least one more year. He wants a top-five salary at his position, between $7 million and $8 million per year, a demand the Bills aren't willing to meet. Whitner might get a huge deal on the open market, but only if a new CBA is in place. 

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. This matter is still in the hands of the courts, and you can bet your last money the owners are going to exhaust every opinion to regain the ground they lost in Minnesota Federal Court on Monday.

But if the very real possibility of another loss to the players isn't enough to push the owners to work harder to get a new CBA nothing will.

---Allen Wilson


Cam, Von, Marcell 1-2-3?

We held a mock draft for NFL beat writers today, and the Bills wound up with Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus at No. 3. Quarterback Cam Newton went No. 1 to Carolina. Outside linebacker Von Miller went No. 2 to Denver, which goes a little against the grain of what most mock drafts are showing for the Broncos. It's easy to see either player fitting into the scheme of new Denver coach John Fox, who will switch the team from the 3-4 to the 4-3 scheme.

From this perspective, the Bills would have no problem taking the 319-pound Dareus at No. 3. He would make everybody on the Buffalo front seven better. The top 10 picks in this mock draft: 1. Carolina (Cam Newton, QB). 2. Denver (Von Miller, DE/OLB). 3. Buffalo (Marcell Dareus, DE). 4. Cincinnati (A.J. Green, WR). 5. Arizona (Patrick Peterson, CB). 6. Cleveland (Julio Jones, WR). 7. San Francisco (Blaine Gabbert, QB). 8. Tennessee (Nick Fairley, DT). 9. Dallas (Tyron Smith, OT). 10. Washington (Robert Quinn, DE/OLB). 

---Mark Gaughan

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