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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" »

Chris Kelsay to announce Bills' second-round pick tonight

By Jay Skurski

Former Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay, who retired earlier this offseason, will make the team's second-round pick in the NFL Draft tonight at Radio City Music Hall.

The NFL is having 32 notable alumni make the announcement of their former team's second- or third-round picks (for those teams without second rounders), a tradition the league started two seasons ago. Former Bills receiver Andre Reed made the announcement of Texas cornerback Aaron Williams in 2011, while Phil Hansen announced Cordy Glenn's selection in 2012.

A second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2003, Kelsay was a three-time Bills defensive captain during his 10 seasons. He became a starter in his second season, and from 2005 through 2011 started all 105 games in which he played. He recorded 32.5 sacks, ranking ninth in team history.

The complete list of who will be making tonight's picks, courtesy of the NFL. 

Continue reading "Chris Kelsay to announce Bills' second-round pick tonight" »

Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills know something nobody else does?

That idea alone is fascinating.

The chance of it being true is small based on the organization's track record. But maybe -- just maybe -- the Bills were smart to name EJ Manuel their franchise quarterback.

And if that decision is proven to be correct, while gathering two additional draft picks, then the possibilities are endless.

Continue reading "Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?" »

Top targets for Bills in Round Two

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills have the ninth and the 14th picks in the second round today.

Their top need is a wide receiver, and here are the top targets, by our estimation: Southern California's Robert Woods and Tennessee's Justin Hunter. Woods is a smooth receiver with three strong years of production. He's somewhat similar to ex-Bill Peerless Price. Woods is 6 feet, 201 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.51 seconds. Hunter is bigger -- 6-4 and 196 pounds -- and is a true, outside, vertical threat. He has a 39.5-inch vertical jump. He has 4.44 speed in the 40-yard dash. And he produced for more than one year. Hunter had 73 catches for 1,083 yards and 9 TDs last season.

Either of those two would be a great addition for the BIlls. There is only one team picking ahead of the Bills with a gaping need at receiver. That's the Jets at No. 39. Of course, it's hard to predict. San Francisco, at 34, has few needs and can pick any position. If Woods and Hunter are gone, next best probably are: Terrance Williams (Baylor), Cal's Keenan Allen (who has injury issues), and Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton (who I sense may not be as polished as the Bills want). Baylor's Williams is a good option.

What about the other pick? Cornerback, tight end, linebacker and guard are needs.

Top rated on our board at those spots: Boise State's Jamar Taylor, Mississipi State's Johnthan Banks, UConn's Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Kentucky guard Larry Warford, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins, Louisiana State linebacker Kevin Minter. At tight end, the top guys behind Ertz are Rice's Vance McDonald and San Diego State's Gavin Escobar.

Collins is a huge talent who might be tough to pass on at 46. McDonald is fantastic but he might not last to the Bills' pick in the third round.

Ideal day for BIlls: 41: Justin Hunter, WR. 46: Jamar Taylor, CB. 78: Vance McDonald, TE.

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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 |