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Video: College coach speaks highly of Bills top pick

South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward spoke to Tim Graham and Jay Skurski during The News' live draft coverage Friday about Bills first round draft pick Stephon Gilmore whom he coached in college:

Mel Kiper on Glenn, Graham

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper did a conference call with reporters this afternoon. Kiper gave the Buffalo Bills a generally positive review for their draft. He put a B-minus grade on both the Bills and the Patriots. (The other two AFC East teams, the Jets and Dolphins, got a C grade). Kiper wrote "It was a pretty good weekend for Buddy Nix and the Bills."

However, Kiper does not see second-round pick Cordy Glenn of Georgia as an NFL left tackle. The Bills are adamant that it's his best position as a pro. I asked Kiper to expand on his views on Glenn and third-round pick T.J. Graham, the speed receiver from North Carolina State.

Kiper on Glenn: "I’m a big Cordy Glenn supporter. I have been. I’ve had him in my top 20, 25 all year. To get him at 41 is a great pick. I just said this on draft day. When you look at them and say he’s a guard, well, they’re OK at guard. They got (Erik) Pears at right tackle. Left tackle is (Chris) Hairston. That’s where they want him to challenge. I don’t think he can hold up at left tackle. We’ll see. That’s something you’ll have to see about. He did this year at Georgia. But I think the best scenario would be right tackle or guard. The great thing about this is even if he doesn’t get it done at left tackle, you can move him to right tackle or guard. … Either way, he’s going to find the field. So it’s a great pick for that reason. I just would have a different opinion on his ability to be a left tackle at the pro level on a game-to-game basis."

Kiper on Graham: "When you put his speed on the board he’d be one of the top guys, and that’s what what they were looking at. Right before the draft, I thought (the Bills would pick) Michael Floyd. But they wanted a speed guy. They wanted a complement to Stevie Johnson, a fast guy. Then you looked at the fastest guys, and T.J. Graham is right there. He ran a 4.35 at the combine. He could get a little stronger. He’s a good athlete, no question about that. Legitimate speed merchant. He’s got the ability in the return game, he showed that. But will he be consistent enough catching the ball? We’ll have to wait and see on that. I thought he could be a fourth, fifth receiver, be your primary return man. The key is going t be can he help a team as a receiving entity. He has a big average per-catch. … The guy has put up decent numbers overall. … When you have somebody that fast – and he’s got good size, he’s almost 190 pounds, almost 6 feet tall – I think T.J. Graham, for what they wanted, has shown flashes at the wide receiver position. He’s a return man. He’s got speed. I’m not going to argue with that. Was it a little earlier than I thought? Probably a round or two, but at the end of the day, they wanted a speed guy and they got one of the guys who could really stretch it."

---Mark Gaughan

SS Howell among Bills free-agent rookies

Stanford strong safety Delano Howell was among the more highly regarded undrafted rookies who have agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills announced a list of 10 rookie free-agent acquisitions. They include Richmond quarterback Aaron Corp, who played the past two years at the Virginia school after transferring from the University of Southern California.

Howell was a first-team All-Pac 12 Conference pick at strong safety in 2011 despite missing three games with a hand injury. He made seven interceptions and was a three-year starter for the Cardinal, starting 33 games overall. Howell, 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, ran a 4.65-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but improved the time to about 4.55 seconds at Stanford's pro day in March. He won the team’s the Jack Huston Award, given to the player who best exemplifies aggressiveness, exceptional performance and unheralded efforts. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper had Howell rated 11th among all safeties in the draft. "He plays faster than he times, and he has very good instincts," Kiper said.

Corp, 6-4 and 213, was beaten out at Southern Cal by Matt Barkley and then transferred to the Football Championship Series level. He started all 11 games last fall, completing 63.7 percent of his passes. He passed for 244 yards a game and had 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Richmond won its first three games, then finished the season with eight straight losses. Corp set an FCS single game completion percentage record by hitting 31 of 34 passes (91.2 percent) in a 31-28 loss to Towson.

Here's a roundup of the others who agreed to terms. (They are expected to sign contracts before the Bills' rookie minicamp on May 11):

P Shawn Powell, Florida State. 6-3 1-2, 245. A three-year starter and Florida State’s all-time punting leader. He led the NCAA with a 47.0-yard gross average in 2011. Of his 57 punts last season, 24 went for 50 or more yards. He had 23 punts inside the 20 and 14 inside the 10.

RB Chris Douglas, Missouri State. 5-9, 207. Ran 4.47. Rushed for 1,051 yards as a junior and 559 yards as a senior for a 2-9 team. He averaged 6.9 yards a carry his junior year.

C-G David Snow, Texas. 6-3, 294. Appeared in 52 games and made 32 starts in his Longhorns career. He started all 13 games at left guard as a senior and 12 games at center as a junior. He graduated with a degree in corporate communications. He was a second-team Associated Press All-Big 12 pick.

G Paul Madsen, Colorado State. 6-4, 312. Started 30 games in his career. Second-team All-Mountain West Conference as a senior. He’s 26. He delayed the start of his college career because he went on a two-year Morman mission. One of his older brothers, Mark Madsen, played nine years in the NBA, with the Lakers and Timberwolves.

S Nick Sukay, Penn State. 6-1, 209. He played in the first nine games of the season before suffering a torn pectoral muscle against Illinois. He missed the last four. He had started 19 straight games up until his injury and had three interceptions before the injury. He still made second-team All Big 10 in 2011.

CB Chris Hill, Virginia Tech. 5-11, 177. Played in 52 games over four years and started seven, five his senior year. He was a standout special-teamer for the Hokies.

LB Garrick Williams, Texas A&M, 6-2, 234. Started 33 games in his career. Started out as an outside linebacker but shifted inside as a junior with the team’s shift to a 3-4 scheme. Probably projects as an inside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.

SS Ian Wild, Mercyhurst. 6-0, 220. He’s a linebacker from Division III Mercyhurst who projects as a strong safety in training camp.

---Mark Gaughan


Rivers reunited with Starks in Green Bay


University at Buffalo wide receiver Marcus Rivers is excited about signing as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers after he was overlooked in the NFL Draft. The Lackawanna native will be reunited with former Bulls running back James Starks, who won a Super Bowl his rookie year.

"Being with James is going to make the process much easier," Rivers said this morning. "When I was at UB, James was always building me up and giving me confidence."

Rivers, who had 110 catches over his final two seasons as UB, will get an opportunity to compete for a job on a Green Bay team that did not select a wideout in the draft. The 6-5, 225-pounder has the size and athleticism to become a possession-type receiver in the NFL but might not have the breakaway speed to become a deep threat. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Learning on the job with the Packers should only help Rivers. The Pack had a 15-1 record last season and an MVP quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Veteran receivers Gregg Jennings and Jordy Nelson will be back again this season. Green Bay isn't sure if veteran receiver Donald Driver, their all-time leader, will return at age 37.

"I’m thinking about all the great receivers they have that I can learn from and critique my game," Rivers said. "It’s overwhelming. It’s unbelievable. I’m like, 'I’m going to play with Aaron Rodgers?' But it’s like my mom said, 'You can’t go in there as a fan; it’s about business.' "

--- Bucky Gleason


Post-draft Chat with Mark Gaughan

Johnson to have minor surgery

Bills receiver Stevie Johnson will wake up Monday in Philadelphia, where he's scheduled to have surgery on his groin.

Johnson tweeted that news himself tonight. His agent, C.J. Laboy, said in a text message to The News that it's "not a serious surgery" and has a "very brief" recovery time.

Johnson was nagged nearly all of last season by the injury, but battled through it to become the team's first-ever receiver to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He did not miss a game.

Johnson finished with 76 catches for 1,004 yards and has 17 touchdown catches over the past two years.

The Bills rewarded him this offseason with a five-year, $36.25 million contract extension.

---Jay Skurski

Video: The Bills' best draft picks

News Sports Editor Lisa Wilson asks sports reporter Milt Northrop to name the Bills' best draft picks:

Watch them discuss the Bills' worst draft picks.

Video: The Bills' worst draft picks

News Sports Editor Lisa Wilson asks sports reporter Milt Northrop to name the biggest draft busts in Bills history. Check back later this afternoon for a video on the team's best draft picks:

Video: Sully, Gaughan discuss Bills' Day Three picks

News Sports Reporter Mark Gaughan and Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan break down the Bills' draft following Saturday's fourth through seventh rounds:

Video: Buddy Nix discusses draft

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