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Report: Packers want to trade Niagara Falls native James Starks

By Tim Graham

Local boys James Starks and J.C. Tretter might not play together for the Green Bay Packers after all.

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Packers are shopping Starks, a fourth-year running back from Niagara Falls and the University at Buffalo.

Starks, a sixth-round pick in 2010, helped the Packers win the Super Bowl that year. He played only three regular-season games as a rookie but started all four of their postseason games, rushing for 315 yards and a touchdown.

The Packers drafted a pair of running backs this week. They took Alabama star Eddie Lacy in the second round and UCLA's Jonathan Franklin in the fourth round.

The Packers drafted Tretter, an offensive lineman from Akron, in the fourth round today, three slots ahead of Franklin.

UB's Steven Means drafted in fifth round by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

By Jay Skurski

It's been a good day for Western New York football. Buffalo native and UB product Steven Means became the second local player drafted this afternoon when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the fifth round, at No. 147 overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Means, a two-time All-Western New York selection at Grover Cleveland, played in 12 games last season for the Bulls, making 77 tackles, 11 for loss, 6.5 sacks, and three blocked kicks. He started 43 games for the Bulls and finished fourth in school history with 18.5 career sacks.

Here's a scouting report on Means from our "Road to the Draft" series."

Means will join fellow Buffalo native Mike Williams in Tampa. Williams is a receiver for the Buccaneers. 

Bills draft safeties in numbers, take Jonathan Meeks in fifth round

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills took safeties with their first two draft picks today, adding Clemson captain Jonathan Meeks in the fifth round.

The Bills took Nevada safety Duke Williams in the fourth round.

Meeks was not invited to the NFL scouting combine but is considered an underrated safety with enough size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) and speed. Bills scout Darrell Moody said Meeks was forced to play deep coverage on Clemson's defense because of personnel issues.

Continue reading "Bills draft safeties in numbers, take Jonathan Meeks in fifth round" »

Akron's J.C. Tretter drafted by Green Bay Packers in fourth round

By Jay Skurski 

Akron’s J.C. Tretter has found a pretty good landing spot in the NFL.

Tretter was drafted in the fourth round this afternoon, 122nd overall, by the Green Bay Packers. The Cornell product gets to block for Aaron Rodgers and another local product in Niagara Falls native James Starks, a running back.

Tretter, 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds, likely projects as a guard or center at the NFL level after playing his last two college seasons at left tackle. He’s a former high school quarterback who started his college career playing two years at tight end. With his Ivy League background, as you might expect, he’s also a smart player.

Tretter was also an all-state basketball player in high school, and is light on his feet. While he did 29 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press in college, he’s got to improve his functional strength at the NFL level. Here’s a profile on Tretter as part of The News ‘Road to the Draft’ series. Here is his draft profile.

And lastly here's a feature story on Tretter prior to the NFL Scouting Combine.

Bills drawn to Duke Williams' aggressiveness, versatility

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills say fourth-round draft choice Duke Williams can play both safety positions, but probably leans more toward strong safety for them -- and maybe can play some nickel cornerback, too.

"If you're going to label him as one or the other," Bills scout Brad Forsyth said, "you'd probably say he's more of a strong safety, but I think he has enough skills."

Safeties are interchangeable in Nevada's defense, as they were for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with the New York Jets.

Continue reading "Bills drawn to Duke Williams' aggressiveness, versatility" »

Bills draft Duke Williams, another defender with suspensions

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills drafted another defensive problem child this afternoon.

A day after taking linebacker Kiko Alonso, suspended twice at Oregon for alcohol-related arrests, the Bills selected Nevada safety Duke Williams in the fourth round.

Williams has multiple arrests on his record and was suspended three times within his first 12 months at Nevada.

Continue reading "Bills draft Duke Williams, another defender with suspensions" »

Top prospects who could fit Bills on Day Three

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills enter Day Three of the NFL Draft with needs at cornerback, tight end and guard. That doesn't mean those will be their top picks ... but they need bodies there.

It would be nice to get a cornerback with the 105th pick -- the eighth in the fourth round.

There are two we like a lot: B.W. Webb of William and Mary and Jordan Poyer of Oregon State. The Bills are looking for a guy who can play press-man coverage. So smaller guys who are zone coverage players don't figure into the picture, we don't think. Poyer is a tad bigger than Webb, but both can return kicks. Webb had three interceptions in his first game, against Virginia, as a freshman.

Continue reading "Top prospects who could fit Bills on Day Three" »

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'" »

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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 |