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Tip for future professionals: Don't post pics of guns and dope

By Tim Graham

When it comes to vetting football players, NFL security executives go deeper than weights, heights, 40-yard dash times and a couple of interviews.

"You'd be shocked," Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider told reporters last week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "Our security guy does a Twitter and Facebook count."

It should be a lesson to any high school or college kid who hopes to get a job with a major corporation someday that getting stupid with social-media is a fine way to short-circuit a career before it begins.

Continue reading "Tip for future professionals: Don't post pics of guns and dope" »

Cordarrelle Patterson to the Bills in The News' first mock draft

By Jay Skurski

In case you missed it today, here's my first mock draft of the season for The News. Things will certainly change as the pre-draft process continues and free agency gets here next month.

I've got Texas A&M receiver Luke Joeckel going No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are all 32 selections in the first-round, including who I like to the Buffalo Bills at No. 8.

1. Kansas City Chiefs. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. New General Manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid made it clear at the combine they won’t reach for their biggest need, a quarterback, if they don’t feel one is worthy of the top overall selection. Instead, they get someone to protect whoever will be taking snaps next season.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. St. Francis grad David Caldwell hopes to grab a franchise quarterback with his first pick. It’s time to move on from Blaine Gabbert and Caldwell has said the team’s got no interest in the Tim Tebow circus coming to town.

3. Oakland Raiders. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah. Durable three-year starter is an excellent run defender and above average as a pass rusher and fills a need for the Raiders, who are expected to part ways with Richard Seymour.

4. Philadelphia Eagles. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Has the size (6-foot-4, 248 pounds) and flexibility to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Has adopted former A&M linebacker and Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller as a mentor.

5. Detroit Lions. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida St. Leaving school a year early after a monster season (13 sacks) for the Seminoles in 2012. Fills a big hole after the release of Kyle Vanden Bosch.

6. Cleveland Browns. Chance Warmack, G, Alabama. Gets to pave the way again for former Crimson Tide teammate. Consider this some gamesmanship after Browns CEO Joe Banner said drafting Warmack “wouldn’t fit philosophically” with how the team was being built.

7. Arizona Cardinals. Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Don’t be swayed by the Matt Leinart comparisons. Quarterbacks always go higher than you think. Biggest need in the draft might be Arizona’s at QB.

Continue reading "Cordarrelle Patterson to the Bills in The News' first mock draft" »

J.C. Tretter fights, embraces Ivy League stereotypes

By Jay Skurski

For a football player coming from an Ivy League school, "there's a positive and negative stigma," says Akron's J.C. Tretter, a Cornell senior. "You have the regular small-school stigma, but then you have the intelligence stigma, which isn't a bad one. The smarter you are in this game, the more you understand, the better you're going to be able to play.

"I don't let it affect me. You do what you can, your film's out there. Your film's your history now. That's what you are and that's what the scouts see. Now you've just got to control what you can control in the present and you just go from there.

Tretter did just that over the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“A lot of people expect you to not be at the same quality strength-wise, speed-wise,” he said. “I was talking to the guys at the bench press, and they were saying no one really knows about the kid from Cornell who got up there. They said everybody was kind of like, ‘is this kid going to be able to bench at all? What exactly is he going to be able to do?’

“You go through those stereotypes, but as long as you're confident in yourself and you just go out and show what you can do, that's really what the scouts and the GMs and the coaches are looking for. I’m extremely confident in my abilities.”

Tretter, who returned to Cornell on Sunday, said he met with “17 or 18” teams at the combine, including the Bills in an informal interview.

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Mock our mock: The News' first fake draft coming Monday

By Jay Skurski

One thing is certain about the 2013 NFL Draft: there is no certainty when it comes to the No. 1 overall pick. The Kansas City Chiefs made it known over the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine that they’re open for business when it comes to trading out of the top spot, but the question then becomes, who’s worth moving up for?

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock calls the 2013 class lacking in elite talent and says there are serious questions about each of this year’s quarterbacks. That is of particular interest to teams like the Chiefs at No. 1 and the Buffalo Bills, who hold the eighth overall pick in the first round and have a need at the game’s most important position.

The draft does have good depth, however, especially at defensive tackle. That’s shown here, with six of the first 32 picks being made at the position. Despite questions about the quarterbacks, two of them go in the first seven picks in this version of how things might go.

While workouts won’t wrap up at the combine until Tuesday, here is The News’ first shot at what the first round will look like when the picks start being called out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on April 25 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

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With Donald Jones already gone, Bills dismiss David Nelson, too

By Tim Graham

First Donald Jones, now David Nelson.

The Buffalo Bills have declined to re-sign their second-leading receiver from each of the past two years.

Two days after Nelson expressed alarm about learning on Twitter the Bills would not bring him back, the Bills announced Sunday they will not extend a qualifying offer to him.

Nelson was a restricted free agent. Without a tendered offer, he will be free to sign with any team without the Bills receiving compensation.

"We spoke with David Nelson’s agent this morning and informed him that we will not tender David," Bills GM Buddy Nix said in a statement released by the team.

Continue reading "With Donald Jones already gone, Bills dismiss David Nelson, too" »

Bills sign GM heir apparent Doug Whaley to contract extension

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Over the past few days, Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon and General Manager Buddy Nix each made vague comments about assistant GM and player-personnel director Doug Whaley sticking around the organization for a long time.

This evening, the Bills announced they've signed Whaley to a contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Whaley, 40, is considered Nix's heir to the GM office.

"I am happy that we have secured Doug's services into the future," Nix, 73, said in a statement released by the club, "and look forward to a smooth transition of the position when the time comes."

Continue reading "Bills sign GM heir apparent Doug Whaley to contract extension" »

Manti Te'o endures his media penance at NFL combine

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o holds a news conference with reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Photo: Associated Press)

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL teams are grilling Manti Te'o about his fabricated dead girlfriend.

That has been happening here at the NFL scouting combine behind closed doors. The Buffalo Bills will be among the 20 teams Te'o speaks with, and every one of them has asked him tough questions.

"No," Te'o replied with a laugh when I asked him if any of the teams have let him off the hook. "They're all asking me."

The interrogation went public this afternoon.

Te'o began to rehabilitate his reputation in the NFL media community with an effective news conference in Lucas Oil Stadium. The 15-minute session was the first time Te'o met reporters in an uncontrolled setting since the national championship game.

Continue reading "Manti Te'o endures his media penance at NFL combine" »

St. Francis grad Tom Telesco overseeing San Diego overhaul

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Telesco's impressive rise in football operations came full circle this week at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Telesco, a St. Francis High alum, spent the past 15 years in the Indianapolis Colts' front office. He won a Super Bowl ring. He saw this new stadium get built.

But he stepped to the lectern Thursday with a San Diego Chargers logo on his shirt. The Chargers last month made Telesco their youngest general manager in club history.

Telesco learned at the knee of former Buffalo Bills GM Bill Polian, the Colts' former president. With the Chargers, Telesco replaced one of Polian's top Bills aides, A.J. Smith.

Continue reading "St. Francis grad Tom Telesco overseeing San Diego overhaul" »

Chip Kelly's staff in Philly contains some Buffalo sauce

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Whatever Chip Kelly does as Philadelphia Eagles head coach, he said he'll have a little Chan Gailey in him.

Kelly was the Buffalo Bills' guest at a 2012 practice and claimed the experience -- along with every visit he's made to an NFL workout -- has influenced how he conducts himself as a coach.

"I think we're all byproducts of our experiences," Kelly said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium. "Whether you're visiting with [Bill] Belichick, or I went to OTAs with Joe Philbin last year. I went with Chan Gailey down in Buffalo. I've been to see Jim Harbaugh at the 49ers. I've been to see Pete Carroll at Seattle.

"All of those guys have been gracious to let me come watch practice."

Kelly will have some other Buffalo flavor on his Philadelphia coaching staff.

Bob Bicknell, who coached the Bills' receivers or tight ends the past three seasons, is the Eagles' receivers assistant. Kelly's quarterbacks coach is Bill Lazor, the University at Buffalo's offensive coordinator and QBs coach under Jim Hofher.

Although Kelly wasn't believed to be interested in the opening, he was one of five candidates the Bills interviewed for their coaching job that eventually went to Doug Marrone.

Analyzing the Bills at the NFL scouting combine with Google+

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Google+ and the Pro Football Writers Association joined forces at the NFL scouting combine to stage a video series on each NFL team.

I sat down at a Google remote setup in Lucas Oil Stadium and spoke with Andrew Garda from Bleacher Report about what the Buffalo Bills have said this week in Indianapolis and what they might do in free agency and the draft.

Before you click the video, I must apologize for my laryngitis and the awful beard I've been taking for a test drive.

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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 |