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Doug Marrone hurts for Ryan Nassib

By Jay Skurski   

One of the biggest storylines through the first two nights of the NFL Draft is the fact Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib remains an undrafted player.

Nassib was widely considered to be a first- or second-round talent by several experts coming into the draft, and was a popular mock pick to the Buffalo Bills with the eighth overall selection in the first round, including here at The News.

"I'm extremely surprised," said Nassib's former coach at Syracuse, current Bills coach Doug Marrone. "I think the world of Ryan. He has a strong work ethic. He's a tough kid. He has a very good arm and I think he'll be a great addition to whatever team selects him. He has the skillset to be successful. I wish him the best of luck. I think he'll be successful in this league."

Marrone wore the look of a pained man in discussing Nassib, correctly pointing out that if it weren't for the quarterback's accomplishments at Syracuse, the coach very likely would not have made it to the NFL.

Continue reading "Doug Marrone hurts for Ryan Nassib" »

Video: Breakdown of Buffalo's second- and third-round picks

Buffalo News sports reporters Tim Graham, Jay Skurski and Mark Gaughan discuss rounds two and three of the draft:

Despite checkered past, Bills say LB Kiko Alonso 'a good risk'

By Tim Graham

On a Google search for images of new Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, two of the first three pictures are a mug shot from one of his arrests.

The Bills have made a concerted effort to assemble high-character players under General Manager Buddy Nix. The last Bills regular to get legitimately arrested (not counting fullback Corey McIntyre's mistaken-identity case) was safety Donte Whitner four years ago.

But the Bills are showing faith in Alonso, selecting him with the 46th overall draft choice tonight.

Continue reading "Despite checkered past, Bills say LB Kiko Alonso 'a good risk'" »

Bills grab Olympic talent in third round with WR Marquise Goodwin

By Tim Graham

Whether or not they can score touchdowns on a consistent basis is unknown, but if a track meet ever breaks out at Ralph Wilson Stadium, you can expect the Buffalo Bills to win some medals.

For the second year in a row, the Bills drafted a smallish track-and-field receiver in the third round. They selected Olympic long jumper Marquise Goodwin from Texas tonight. They traded up last year to draft North Carolina State sprinter T.J. Graham.

Goodwin ran the fastest 40-yard dash at this year's NFL scouting combine, clocking in at 4.27 seconds. It was the second-fastest combine time since Chris Johnson set the record at 4.24 seconds in 2000.

Continue reading "Bills grab Olympic talent in third round with WR Marquise Goodwin" »

Roger Goodell honors Larry Felser at Radio City Music Hall

By Tim Graham

FelserDraftBefore the Buffalo Bills made their first draft pick of the second round tonight, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to former Buffalo News reporter and columnist Larry Felser in Radio City Music Hall.

Felser, 80, passed away Wednesday.

"I want to recognize on behalf of the Bills organization and Buffalo fans, Larry Felser, the legendary Buffalo News columnist who passed away this week," Goodell said. "Larry covered the Bills from their beginning, was a great writer and a terrific person. He will be missed."

The accompanying photo of Felser was shown on a large screen while Goodell, a Jamestown native, spoke.

Bills bolster defense with Oregon LB Kiko Alonso at No. 46

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills went defense with their third draft pick, taking Oregon linebacker Kristian "Kiko" Alonso with the 46th overall selection.

Alonso represents the second-round pick the Bills acquired Thursday night from the St. Louis Rams when moving back from eighth to 16th overall.

Alonso played middle linebacker for Oregon last year. He recorded 81 tackles with 14 for losses, one sack, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski wrote in his "Road to the Draft" capsule on Alonso:

Alonso is a versatile, three-down linebacker who can play in the middle or outside. ... Plays with an aggressive, attacking style that would likely appeal to new Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. ... Will run around, through or even jump over blockers to get to the ball carrier. ... Has impressive closing speed when finding the ball, which suggests he'd fit best on the weak side. ... Is athletic enough to match up with running backs or tight ends in the passing game.

On the downside, Alonso missed the 2010 season because he was suspended for two alcohol-related arrests. He declined to address the suspension tonight when asked by Bills reporters. Alonso claimed that's in his past, and he's concentrating on his future.

The Alonso selection could impact the Bills' decision to sign free-agent linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was at One Bills Drive this week for a visit but left without a contract.

Bills draft proven WR Robert Woods at No. 41 overall

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills got a receiver with a fine track record of production in Southern California’s Robert Woods with the 41st overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Woods, 6-foot-1 and 201 pounds, caught 252 passes for 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns in a three year career at USC. As a junior last season, he caught 76 passes for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns last season

Woods was one of the top recruits in the country for USC coming out of high school and enters the NFL as a productive, polished athlete.

He's a versatile receiver who can play outside or in the slot, and he projects as a quality No. 2 wideout in the NFL. His style bears a resemblance to that of ex-Bill Peerless Price, although he was much more productive in college than Price.

Woods was the first true freshman to start a season-opener at wideout for the Trojans in the post-World War II era. He caught 65 passes as a freshman in 2010. As a sophomore, he caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He was fourth in the nation in catches and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. USC was 10-2 that season but slumped to 7-5 in 2012. Woods’ numbers dropped to 76 catches for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. Woods dropped to No. 2 in the passing game behind another top national recruit, Marqise Lee, who caught 118 passes as a sophomore.

Woods gets separation in and out of his breaks and can run after the catch. He has a lean build; he’s not an imposing physical specimen. There’s doubt about whether he can be much of a deep threat in the pros. He had ankle surgery after the 2011 season.

EJ Manuel versus Geno Smith could be juicy AFC East rivalry

By Tim Graham

EJ Manuel not only will need to be great to justify the Buffalo Bills' decision to draft him 16th overall Thursday night.

He also must be better than the other quarterbacks in this year's class.

The Bills weren't backed into a corner when they took Manuel. They had their choice of every quarterback on the board and made Manuel the only one selected in this year's first round.

Continue reading "EJ Manuel versus Geno Smith could be juicy AFC East rivalry" »

Jim Kelly 'tired' of being Bills' standard, rooting for EJ Manuel

By Tim Graham

Two of the strongest traits EJ Manuel brings to the Buffalo Bills are intelligence and a quarterback's charisma that makes his teammates want to play with him and for him.

So did Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Bills legend Jim Kelly is aware of this. But when it comes to finally finding a franchise quarterback to replace him, Kelly sees potential in Manuel's arrival.

The Bills' opening-day quarterback will be the 11th starter since Kelly retired, and the list is ugly.

Continue reading "Jim Kelly 'tired' of being Bills' standard, rooting for EJ Manuel" »

EJ says he's ready to compete

"I expect to come in and compete," EJ Manuel told reporters today. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Jerry Sullivan

EJ Manuel (and his father confirms that it's EJ without the periods) met with the Buffalo media Friday afternoon in the press room at One Bills Drive. As we'd been told, he has a presence. Manuel seemed confident and assured, yet respectful and humble. He referred to his superiors as "mister." His father, Erik, was in the room. So was Jim Kelly, the Bills' Hall of Fame quarterback. Bruce Smith, a lifelong friend of Erik Manuel and EJ's godfather, was expected to speak with the media by conference call later.

Some of the high points of Manuel's 18-minute session with the press:

Continue reading "EJ says he's ready to compete" »

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |