Archive for May, 2012

May 28, 2012

Originally posted on In Towards McBride:

With both Detroit and Cleveland extending their undefeated records over the third weekend of Great Lakes Division play, Sunday afternoon’s return match with AFC Cleveland at Robert E. Rich All High Stadium proved a pivotal early season test and opportunity for FC Buffalo to keep pace with their Rust Belt Cup brethren.

Photo courtesy of Nate Benson Photography

However, all three points were not to be as the two respective slices of bread in the Erie sandwich (it tastes awful, if you’re wondering) played a match that featured everything but a decisive winner.  Hard tackles, questionable refereeing, smashed shots off the wood work and last minute goal mouth scrambles entertained a lively holiday weekend crowd in Buffalo as the I-90 rivals shared the spoils when the final whistle blew.

The game kicked off in Cleveland’s favor as the Ohioans bossed possession for a majority of the opening 10 minutes.  FC Buffalo’s attempts…

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Match Report – FC Buffalo: 0 Detroit City FC: 0

May 14, 2012

We’re partnering with our friends at In Towards McBride to bring you full coverage of FC Buffalo’s 3rd season over the course of this summer.  

Sunday night was FCB’s home & season opener

 

 

Sunday’s letter perfect May weather was versatile – setting a beautiful stage for Mothers Day, an EPL finish for the ages and the kickoff of FC Buffalo’s 3rd season in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood against NPSL newcomers Detroit City FC.  Buffalo fans marched to All High, adding to the fanfare and anticipation to what should be a seminal year for the Beautiful Game in Buffalo.

Detroit City looked strong from the start even though they were coming off a 1-1 draw vs. AFC Cleveland the night before along with the accompanying travel.  A bad giveaway in the 8th minute almost led to a DCFC goal but a shot wide killed those chances.  Other than the strong play from Andy Tiedt, FC Buffalo didn’t have much to show in the first few minutes of 2012.

Weathering the first quarter of an hour, the tide started to turn FC Buffalo’s way.  A corner kick led to a great scoring chance, but Josiah Snelgrove’s header hit the woodwork and a few minutes later a Matt Steadman opportunity off a goal kick couldn’t find the back of the net and the score remained 0-0.

FC Buffalo continued to control play the latter part of the 1st half over the road weary Detroit club.  FCB attacking play kept the pressure on and the best scoring chance of the half for the home squad once again rang off of the post.

Detroit City did manage to find a bit of an offensive spark towards the end of the 1st but FC Buffalo goalkeeper Eric Dehond came up with a big save in the 41st minute and kept the score even.

Just before the end of the half, tempers flared and a skirmish led to a yellow card on the visitors and free kick for FC Buffalo.  Despite their best efforts and some nice play by newly signed Kendell McFayden, both teams retired to their dressing rooms knotted at 0-0.

The second half started off a bit sloppy as McFayden received a caution as Detroit started off very strong.  It didn’t take long though before another one of FCB’s newest signings, Alex Rouse, showed the home fans a preview of the attacking verve and acumen he has demonstrated during his prolific college career.  Rouse created 2 excellent chances, but still had nothing to show for and the game marched on scoreless.

Second half activity remained quiet most of the way with both clubs not generating many offensive chances or wanting to venture forward in fear of exposing gaps in their respective back lines.  FC Buffalo midfielder Mike Reidy tried to establish a passing rhythm in the center of the park, but little came of it and we remained even.

The tempo increased in the final 10 minutes of play and both teams appeared very interested in collecting all 3 points in the inaugural match of the Rust Belt Derby.  Play see-sawed back and forth as both sides went for broke to gain an early foothold in the Great Lakes Division.  FC Buffalo had an apparent winner but was waived off due to a controversial offside call in the 89th minute.  The home crowd loudly voiced their displeasure with the call on the field, but the officials remained adamant in their decision.

Gary Boughton had a chance to win it in stoppage time after another yellow card on Detroit City, but once again the Detroit keeper ended this chance and the game ended at a 0-0 draw.

While the match didn’t end with the 3 points, gaining a draw against a very good Detroit squad made for a successful night.  McFayden and Rouse proved tonight why they were signed this offseason.  Their play tonight should only improve as they gel with veterans such as Andy Tiedt and Matt Stedman.

FC Buffalo continues their season in Cleveland on 5/18 at 7pm.  The team returns home on 5/27 to take on AFC Cleveland once again at 3pm at All-High Stadium.

FC Buffalo lineup: DeHond; Zelko, Snelgrove, McFayden, Hall; Reidy, Stedman (Grabowski 75’), Faga, Boughton; Rouse, Tiedt (Cwiklinski 68’).

Report compiled by Jeff Fabin - @jfabin15

Young Signing Further Proof Bills Ready to Contend

May 14, 2012

Set the clock back six years ago to the 2006 offseason. The Bills were coming off a disappointing 5-11 2005 campaign and the supposed franchise quarterback of the future J.P. Losman went 1-7 before losing his starting duties to journeyman Kelly Holcomb. A team that showed such promise in 2004 fell flat on their collective face, struggling mightily on offense and underperforming on D. Heading into the 2006 draft the hierarchy of team needs went defensive tackle, wide receiver, rush end and in the back of some people’s minds quarterback. The draft featured two of the most exciting players in college football history in Texas Longhorns QB Vince Young and USC running back Reggie Bush. Heading up to about a week before the draft Bush almost seemed like a lock to hear his name being called first overall by Paul Tagliabue to earn the right to call himself a Houston Texan. About three days before the draft then Texans GM Charley Casserly shocked the world by announcing that the team had agreed to terms with NC State defensive end Mario Williams, effectively making him the first overall selection of the draft. Bush followed at the second pick to the Saints and Young followed suit as the third selection to the Tennessee Titans.

Fast forward to present day and the Bills current roster now features those first and third overall picks. Williams and Young have taken completely divergent paths to land in Western New York but their presence on the 2012 roster represents something much more than having two former top five picks dawning the red, white and blue. I’m probably beating a dead horse here but Williams is the biggest free agent the Bills have landed in franchise history and is arguably the most significant defensive acquisition since Reggie White left Philly for the Packers. Signing Young will likely be the last big name roster move the front office makes this offseason but don’t downplay its significance. Sure it’s nowhere near the level of Williams and Young likely won’t even battle for a starting job but his signing represents the front office’s commitment to winning now.

The writing was on the wall going into the offseason. After a fever pitch start the team did what we’ve become so accustomed to them doing for the past decade: disappointed. After Ryan Fitzpatrick took a shot to his ribs from London Fletcher, he and the entire offense just weren’t the same. Adding Young doesn’t take away Buddy Nix’s or Chan Gailey’s confidence in Fitz. It merely serves as an insurance policy for the worst-case scenario. The front office clearly doesn’t trust Tyler Thigpen’s abilities to take control of the O in the event that Fitzpatrick were to go down (God forbid). This is the type of move that winning teams make, adding depth at a non-need position to create more competition and having a more talented option in the event that something goes awry.

This move represents the culmination of an offseason where the front office addressed the most pressing needs (pass rusher, offensive line) while adding talented depth in the process. Sure you can make the case that the offense could use another playmaking receiver (sorry T.J. Graham) but for all intents and purposes this has already been the most successful offseason in recent memory. The additions of Williams, Mark Anderson and Young via free agency and a draft class loaded with talent and value put the Bills in prime position to make a serious playoff push in 2012.

Big And Tall Podcast: Post-Draft Show

May 6, 2012

This is the one you’ve been waiting for. We do a nice rap up of the greatest three day period of the year, focusing heavily on the Bills draft. Check it out, let us know what you think.

http://soundcloud.com/buffaloparker/big-and-tall-podcast-5-post

 

The Beautiful Interview: Bleed Buffalo Sits Down with FC Buffalo Founders Nick Mendola & Scott Frauenhofer

May 4, 2012

For those who don’t know me personally, I love soccer.  A lot.

Like…Sabres/USMNT/Bills are 1A/1B/1C (and not necessarily in that order) a lot.  So shut your face, Kowalski; it’s summer, the front page is drowning in draft analysis and I really can’t be bothered with talking Sabres hockey for at least another month.

Sorry, no t-shirt cannons or B-O-X chants permitted.

Soccer and Buffalo are things you don’t naturally correlate aside from old Stallions pennants in a few diners around town and people laughing at the memory of the Pikuzinski mullets or Tony Meola’s brief stop here in the wake of  USA ’94.

However, if you’ve been paying any kind of attention since the summer of 2010, you’d have noticed a burgeoning culture of soccer establishing itself in the region.

In less than 2 years we’ve seen Buffalo’s first soccer dedicated pub (Mes Que) open, an American Outlaws chapter (@AOBuffalo) form and, most importantly, the rise of FC Buffalo.  Having a club to call your own is essential if you fashion yourself a respectable footballing city.  Ever since the contraction of the Blizzard nearly a decade ago, Buffalo has gone wanting for a professional men’s team of any stripe.  That has been remedied by Kenmore natives Nick Mendola (@NicholasMendola) and Scott Frauenhofer (@sfrauenhofer) with the establishment of FC Buffalo in the NPSL.

The NPSL represents the 4th tier of soccer in the US (with MLS/NASL/USL rounding out the top tiers) yet supporters, staff & players surrounding the club have brought a top flight attitude and lofty goals and dreams to All High Stadium.  Nick & Scott were kind enough to take time out for an interview about the team, the city and how they plan on making this club something all Buffalonians can be proud of.

Note – this is the first of what I hope is a full summer of FC Buffalo coverage and features for Bleed Buffalo in conjunction with my other fledgling blog and fake writing job: In Towards McBride.  

Look for match reports, more interviews and other goodies as the summer rolls on.  Soccer truly is the world’s game and FC Buffalo and the people involved have a story that should be told.  So without further Adu (pun most assuredly intended)…

 

Bleed Buffalo: Let’s get the obvious questions out of the way- why soccer?  Why Buffalo?  Why now?

Nick - Soccer’s a great game. Buffalo’s a great city. Now is a great time. Quite literally, I believe that FC Buffalo can play a pivotal role in revitalizing a neighborhood or even an image if we operate this club as well as possible


Scott - 
I started playing soccer at a young age and the sport has always been more than an activity to me. The culture and lifestyle that come along with being a fan of the game has always been a lot of fun. We wanted to bring some of that culture to Buffalo. When we bought the rights for the team and started thinking about our business philosophy one of the first things we all agreed on was we need to do something positive for Buffalo, we wanted to operate inside the city and work with local businesses. We wanted to put together a roster that showcased our local talent, and work with the best local coaches. That’s how Nick came up with our motto: “For Our City.”

 

Bleed Buffalo: We’re coming into the third season of FC Buffalo.  As a Buffalo sports club the training wheels are off in a sense.  Do you feel like the team and the name has made the kind of progress you anticipated/hoped for in Spring 2010 both on and off the field?

Nick- That’s a tremendously-difficult question to answer, but I’ll try. Our supporters, sponsors and players have given us everything they’ve got, and that’s beyond our wildest dreams. However, as an organization, we still have a ton to accomplish on and off the field. We’re alive after two-plus years and no one’s had to sell their houses or souls. These are good things to own.

Scott - I remember going to the National Premier Soccer League’s annual general meeting before our first season and being astonished by the presentation given by the owners of FC Chattanooga. They had a major sponsor (Volkswagen) and were drawing 4,000 people on average to their home games. I quickly realized FC Buffalo could succeed in the league and the city, we just needed to be creative and tenacious with our approach.. The team is continuing to grow positively on and off the field. The fan support seems to be growing at a much more rapid clip than I can say I’ve noticed in the previous years. The Rust Belt rivalry is already turning into a nice experience and given our fans a way to be activated and participate in the team’s culture.

 

Bleed Buffalo: There’s a definite sense of bigger things coming in the NPSL this season.  AFC Cleveland & Detroit City FC bring a more “major league” sensibility to what was before simply a way for local NCAA players to keep in shape over the summer.  Both have seemed to embrace the Portland Timbers style ground up/community & supporter oriented culture that’s been such a success across MLS and the upper divisions of the US Soccer pyramid.  What are your thoughts on these new clubs and what effect do you think they’ll have on our regional soccer landscape?

Nick - Moving to the Great Lakes Division is nearly everything we want and Detroit City and Cleveland are major parts of our excitement. There’s a natural Rust Belt kinship between our areas and they are located so close to our home. It would’ve taken a lot of work to build up a fierce rivalry with Eastern Pennsylvanian or Maryland-based teams. With Detroit and Cleveland – thanks in no small part to the supporters groups in Michigan and Ohio – we’re almost at rivalry status immediately.

Scott - It’s going to be amazing. I like the regionality a lot, the rivalries are organic, the fans have somebody to villainize, it’s going to be a lot like the Sabres classic rivalries I think.

 

Bleed Buffalo: All High Stadium is a fantastic place to catch a game and, with the roof and brick facade, is the wet dream of many a soccer nerd considering it evokes images of grounds like Highbury & Villa Park.  However, being owned by Buffalo Public Schools throws up a lot of roadblocks in terms of scheduling, vendor restrictions and liquor laws.  Do you think the positives ultimately outweigh the negatives and what do you see in the future for the FC Buffalo/All High relationship?

Nick - Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium is a good home for us at this very moment in the club’s progression. We believe the stadium is an absolute jewel and respect the privilege of spending time playing there. The future is largely in the hands of the people behind the scenes and far up the ladder with Buffalo Public Schools, but we’re prepared for anything.

Scott  - It’s been a pleasure to work with Buffalo Public Schools and have them as a partner in the team’s development. All High is a fantastic facility and I consider us very fortunate to be able to use it. The ability to refresh the supporters during the summer with cold, adult beverages would be welcome, but those are the rules and if the tradeoff is the historic, beautiful stadium I’m afraid I can’t complain.

 

Bleed Buffalo: Besides soccer camps with local youth clubs, are there any other facets of community engagement you’d like to be involved in or are currently working on?

Nick - Yes. There will be a slow build-up because we don’t want to step on any current clubs’ toes, but we will be bringing national soccer figures into the area for some Q&As and linking up with some city programs to provide top-notch instruction to Buffalo youth players from our players and staff. There are other things I need to remain tight-lipped about, but rest-assured we have gigantic things in the pipeline. It’s just difficult to know the exact length of that pipeline

Scott - Right now we’re happy to assist our local youth clubs however we can. Whether it’s additional training, camps and clinics, or giving free tickets away, we know that we can’t survive longterm without young people embracing the team and becoming fans. I see FC Buffalo becoming more involved with local charities in the future, we’ve got some ideas lined up for this season including honoring “Buffalo’s Toughest Kids,” so we’ll be looking for more ways to engage the community like that in the future.

 

Bleed Buffalo: It’s a sad fact that Metropolitan Buffalo is an extremely segregated city, one of the worst in the nation.  

This is uncomfortably evident at our sporting events…there’s minimal presence in the stands of the Ralph or the FNC of Buffalo’s sizable minority community.  Of all our local sports teams, FC Buffalo has been the most outspoken  in terms of embracing civic pride and the sometimes hidden diversity of the area.  Do you see any opportunity in the minority and immigrant communities that have been passed over by the Bills & Sabres as a potential bedrock of support moving into the future?

Nick - Absolutely. First off, let me say I don’t believe the Bills & Sabres have purposely done anything to ignore these groups. What I will say is that we’re actively pursuing all Western New Yorkers as fans. There are certainly some cultural gaps we will have to bridge, but I’m comfortable with our efforts to build that infrastructure. Whether it be a “hidden” Burmese population or a new family of immigrants from Sweden, we’re going to do what we can to show them they have a football club to get behind.

Scott - Of course. Some of my favorite experiences playing soccer in Buffalo is getting into pickup games at Delaware Park or Lasalle Park and counting the languages being spoken off the field, but speaking the same language on the field. The great thing about soccer is you only need a ball to get a game going, so I want to find the pickup games and introduce myself and put some tickets in their hands. I have this idea that the future of FC Buffalo, even the future of American soccer is out there kicking around and maybe there’s a language or financial barrier keeping them from participating. I want all of Buffalo behind us, at our games, being a part of Buffalo’s new soccer culture.

 

Bleed Buffalo: Ever since the summer of 2010 and the incredible watch parties at Papa Jakes for the World Cup, there seems to have been a flourishing of soccer culture across Buffalo.  We’ve seen the growth of FC Buffalo, formation of an American Outlaws chapter and the first dedicated soccer bar ever in the city in the form of Mes Que.  

How do you think FC Buffalo can capitalize on that growth and where do you see Buffalo soccer going in the coming years?

Nick - I like to think we’ve become a part of the fabric, at least with fervent soccer supporters. We’ll continue to put ourselves in places where we can meet fans who don’t know they have a local club, but the mere fact that we continue to exist should aid our growth.

I believe it’s not entirely about growth; Parents and kids have been playing the game for a long time, but they can now “come out of the soccer closet” – so-to-speak — thanks to mass media and market appeal. The term “the beautiful game” isn’t a misnomer. The folks who want to latch onto complaints about diving and urine bombs overseas have had to come face-to-face with the facts that there are plenty of problems in American sports… like diving, flopping, reckless intent to injure, et cetera. All sports have issues, and if one of our biggest obstacles is people stereotyping us as orange-eaters and Capri Sun drinkers… sweet.

Scott - We just need to continue to be accessible to everybody, FC Buffalo isn’t just about soccer, it’s for our city. New fans, old fans, casual onlookers, we want to make a product that anyone can get on board with.

 

Bleed Buffalo: It’s been said before that America loves soccer.  Just not American soccer.  How do you feel you can bridge the gap between those in the area (and there are many) who look down on American soccer…especially NPSL level soccer?

Nick- Well, we have to put on an entertaining, winning product. We’ve prided ourselves on hiring coaches who were scrappy as players and looked down upon the theatrics we’ve witnessed from some of our rivals.Short of winning an Earth lottery that gives us trillions upon trillions of dollars, we’re not going to be able to pay the best players in the world to come play for FC Buffalo, even at the Major League Soccer level. So, supporters are going to have to decide: do they want to support only European teams and hang out in their houses or do they want to do that AND come outside for their city and embrace folks who love the game just as much as they do?

Why wouldn’t you want to play an integral role in the growth of a club? What if Seymour Knox or Ralph Wilson weren’t loaded and just trying to grow a game they loved? Wouldn’t you feel aces right about now? And old?

Look, I’m looking to have a favorite team in every country in the world. I support Newcastle United in England, Fiorentina in Italy, Barcelona in Spain… and there will certainly be more (leaning toward Buffalo’s sister city in France, Lille).

Scott - I love American soccer. I love the never say die attitude, the Spain beating bravado, all that us against the world mentality. That said, I honestly believe the next generation of soccer players is going to be the breakthrough generation. My reasoning is that as the US gets over the relative newness of the sport, and more former players become coaches, the quality of the player will improve. When I was kid, not to knock my former coaches, but they were dads who grew up playing baseball or hockey, they didn’t know the ins and outs of the game. We’re going to see a generation of soccer players raised by soccer players, and I think you’ll see a real shift in the American game.

 


Bleed Buffalo: Dempsey or Donovan?

Nick - I like Lando just fine, but to me Dempsey is a dirty jersey, grass-stained Buffalo boy who happens to be from Texas. Lando’s big city, Dempsey’s us.

Scott - John O’Brien. Kidding. I love them both. I don’t really support any club team, so I always tell people my favorite team is the US Men’s National Team. Clint and Landon have stepped up for the US and chipped in some amazing, clutch goals so regularly I can’t help rooting for both of them.

 

Bleed Buffalo: Last one.  It’s 2022.  FC Buffalo is still a functioning club.  Where do you see it?

Nick - Major League Soccer or the closest thing to it.

Scott - Being a host city for the 2022 World Cup after Qatar loses its bid and the tournament comes stateside. A guy can dream right?


 

Many thanks to Nick & Scott – check out a game at All High sometime this summer: www.fcbuffalo.org 

Young Could Give Bills New Dynamic

May 3, 2012

I guess Buddy Nix wasn’t referring to Aaron Corp as the free agent quarterback he was bringing in to generate some competition for current backup Tyler Thigpen. Former Pro Bowler Vince Young worked out for the Bills at One Bills Drive today and according to ESPN’s John Clayton, the team has a “serious” interest in signing him. Young spent his first five seasons in the league with the Tennessee Titans, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl and 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Young finished his Titans career with a 30-17 record as a starter, leading Tennessee to one playoff birth during his tenure with the team (he was Kerry Collins backup for their other appearance in 2009). Young spent last season with the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles, as he proclaimed them, leading the team to a 1-2 record as a starter when Michael Vick went down with an injury. He finished the season with four touchdowns and nine interceptions on his way to an abysmal 60.8 quarterback rating.

The Bills interest in Young is a bit perplexing considering the team’s policy on normally only pursuing high character players. Young’s professional career has been anything but a fairy tale after being drafted third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. His time in the league has been marred by highly publicized personal issues including multiple verbal disputes with former head coach Jeff Fisher and perhaps most notably his comments about seriously considering retirement after his first season.

Nonetheless, the prospect of adding Young is very intriguing for a team that has made significant strides towards building a contender this offseason. Buddy Nix has made it clear that the team is only interested in adding Young as a backup player to compete with Thigpen and that the organization is still committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Thigpen only spent some time in spot duty last season but there wasn’t much to like from his limited sample size (including the preseason). Thigpen completed 3 of 8 passes for 25 yards while throwing one interception in three appearances.

There are certainly some people out there who are opposed to the idea of adding a player with Young’s baggage but honestly this would be a win-win move for the Bills. Fitzpatrick’s play dropped off considerably after taking a hit to the ribs from London Fletcher in the team’s victory against the Redskins in Toronto. It was later revealed that Fitz suffered broken ribs from said hit and played through the pain. The Bills brass was clearly not impressed with what they had in Thigpen, only subbing him in when games were out of reach late in the season. Young is a much bigger threat as a backup QB and gives the Bills some options in different packages.

The Bills added former Jet Brad Smith as a third quarterback last season and featured him in some wildcat looks. Chan Gailey is a huge proponent of the pistol offense that tends to favor faster quarterbacks who can make plays on the run. Smith didn’t fit the bill however and was forced into receiver duties after a rash of injuries. By adding Young the Bills don’t just have a more proven backup than Thigpen, they have a perfect catalyst for the pistol. During his time in Tennessee Young was most effective when he was in space alongside Chris Johnson. The Titans ran various option looks that the Bills could duplicate with Young and speed-demon CJ Spiller. Young is also much more of a threat to throw the ball than Smith and would allow Smith to focus primarily on receiving and special teams.

The former Heisman Trophy runner up would give the Bills more options on offense, allowing them to run multiple fronts to keep opposing defenses on their toes. He’s not likely to win you many games on his own (although his record as a starter might make you think otherwise) but he would be a great addition for depth purposes and playmaking ability. Keep in mind that the front office was very interested in bringing him in as the team’s primary backup last season before he opted to join Vick and the Eagles. If the Bills decide to bring Young into the fold, it would signify another step in the right direction.

A Quick Thought on the Rest of the Draft Class

May 1, 2012

The two players from Florida State: Offensive Tackle Zebrie Sanders and Linebacker Nigel Bradham
Sanders was an unbelievable value in the fifth round. He was initially pinned as a late second early third round prospect. He’s seen time at left tackle but spent most of his time on the right side. He started all four years for Seminoles. He’ll likely be a backup for a year or two behind Erik Pears but don’t be surprised a few years down the road if Glenn and Sanders are starting opposite of each other on the left and right side respectively. Sanders provides great depth for now but has serious potential to be a starter down the road.

Bradham is a freak. He’s a bit undersize but incredibly athletic and is just a vicious tackler. Bradham projects as a strong side backer in the NFL and don’t be surprised if he pushes Kirk Morrison for playing time early in his career. Bradham is a physically imposing, sure tackler with a mean streak that the Bills have been missing from their defense since Takeo Spikes departed. I’m not comparing Bradham’s talent to Spikes by any means but he brings a similar intensity to the game. Check out his hit on Miami Hurricanes receiver Laron Byrd and you’ll get a hint of the physicality and intensity he brings to the table.

The Late Round Guys: Mark Asper and John Potter
Asper has a very interesting life story. He went on a two year religious mission trip after high school which explains why he will be a 27 year old rookie. Asper also saved the life of a teammates’ father. Prior to the team’s Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin this year, Asper applied the Heimlich Manuever to a choking man during a team dinner and effectively saved his life. Besides just being an incredible human being, Asper is also a massive human being (6-6, 320 lbs) who the Bills have projected as a center in the NFL. He’s incredibly athletic for his size and he’s a versatile lineman who played both guard and tackle in Oregon. He will likely have to fight off Mike Jasper and Colin Brown to earn a roster spot this year but if he doesn’t make the team out of camp seems like a prime candidate for the team’s practice squad.

The Bills see Potter as a kickoff specialist with a big foot who can put the ball through the end zone to negate returns. It’s tough to justify keeping a roster spot open for a guy who only specializes in kick offs but if the tape is any indicator the kid’s massive foot could completely neutralize opposing return games. Rian Lindell is entrenched as the place kicker for the team but didn’t find much success forcing returners to take a knee on kick offs. Nix and the Bills front office are big on Potter and if he’s able to stick as a kick-off specialist, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t be an option to replace Lindell a few years down the road as the full time kicker.

Analyzing the 2012 Buffalo Bills Draft Class: Part 3

May 1, 2012

My Personal Favorite: Tank Carder (5th Round Pick, 147th Overall)
How can you not pick a guy in the fifth round with a name like Tank? Carder is a two time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and if you’re looking for game film on him, look no further than the most important game in school history. Carder was named the defensive player of the game in last year’s Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin. He recorded two sacks and broke up a pass on the Wisconsin’s two point conversion attempt that would’ve tied the game. Carder was all over the field in that game and ever since that moment I wanted the Bills to draft him. He’s not a great athlete and will likely spend most of his rookie season contributing on special teams and as a backup but he has the potential to be a solid weak side linebacker down the road for the Bills. Carder’s work ethic is second to none and with a year or two of learning the Bills’ system and adjusting to the pro game he could really turn out to be a steal with this pick.

Analyzing the 2012 Buffalo Bills Draft Class: Part 2

May 1, 2012

Biggest Reach: T.J. Graham (3rd Round Pick, 69th Overall)
Again, I’m not trying to go in order on this but it’s just the way it’s falling. This is the pick that had some fans puzzled and admittedly I was one at first. I was a huge fan of Mohamed Sanu coming into this draft and with him still on the board I was confused as to why the Bills not only selected Graham but traded up (for the first time in Nix’s tenure) to select him. Graham didn’t grade out well amongst most draftnicks because of his lack of experience at the college level. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, whose opinion I respect most amongst the rabble of so-called experts, had Graham dropping to the seventh round. He’s undersized, unpolished as a route runner and seems like a gadget player at best. After analyzing the pick for the past few days however, I realized that there wasn’t a lot of talent left on the board that was different from what the team already had on its roster. Graham will likely take some time to develop but if he can catch 20 balls this season including some deep passes he could prove to be worth the gamble.

Could Surprise: Ron Brooks (4th Round Pick, 124th Overall)
Brooks is another pick some people thought the Bills might’ve reached a bit on. After all he never broke the starting lineup as a corner for the Tigers in his four years at LSU. Take into account however, that Brooks was stuck behind three of the best cornerback prospects in the past decade in 2011 5th overall pick Patrick Peterson, 2012 6th overall pick Morris Claiborne and likely 2013 top 5 pick Tyrann Mathieu. Brooks played nickel corner behind Peterson and Claiborne and then Claiborne and Mathieu respectively. He ran the 40 in 4.37 seconds at combine however and is an incredible blitzing threat off the edge. He made plenty of plays coming off the edge in nickel situations and is explosive when he gets his hands on the ball (had three interceptions in college and returned all three for touchdowns). In today’s pass happy NFL you can never have enough corners and Brooks has the athleticism to stick as a nickel corner behind Gilmore and Williams for years to come.


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