Buffalo Bills: Takeaways from the Senior Bowl


Buffalo Bills: Takeaways from the Senior Bowl

Forget about the 21-point beat down the North Team laid on the South Team in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday in the 2015 Senior Bowl. Many could care less about the final score since the Senior Bowl is more about evaluating individual talent in a game scenario and workouts throughout the week than it is about winning or losing.

From a talent standpoint, it didn’t take long to notice the lack of quality quarterback play in Mobile.

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Reads were missed, snaps were fumbled, coaches teaching new concepts and much more was on full display this past week. It made one thing clear though, the learning curve for many of the quarterbacks on hand would be steep if they want to succeed at the NFL level.

While Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are clearly in a class of their own at quarterback, the remaining crop of players will be chosen on system fit and coaching preference. You could truly make a case for Bryce Petty, Garrett Grayson or Sean Mannion as the No. 3 quarterback following Winston and Mariota.

So despite the Bills not having a first round draft pick this year, the team should have a shot at drafting a quarterback on day two or three. With that in mind, here are a few takeaways from the Senior Bowl pertaining to the Buffalo Bills:

Clive Walford is somebody to keep an eye on

Nov 15, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford (46) runs in a touchdown against Florida State Seminoles during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Although the tight end position as a whole was underwhelming at the Senior Bowl, Miami’s Clive Walford certainly stood out. At 6-4, 258 pounds, Walford showed great explosiveness all week-long and ran routes very well.

Scott Chandler is a dependable tight end for the Bills, but Walford could add a whole new dimension to the offence with his projected 4.65 speed. His blocking does need to improve, but out of 11 or 21 personnel, Walford could be a weapon down the field for the Bills.

Laken Tomlinson could help the Bills interior offensive line

At 6-3, 330 pounds, Laken Tomlinson is a beefy guard that is a “really solid, very square guard” according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. All week-long Tomlinson impressed, as his strength and excellent footwork allowed to him showcase his skill set against talented players like Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

With guard being a position of need for the Bills, Tomlinson, Shaq Mason from Georgia Tech and Tre’ Jackson from Florida State — if available — are three players to keep an eye on come draft day.

Garrett Grayson or Sean Mannion look like real possibilities for the Bills

As mentioned above, the quarterback play in Mobile was mediocre at best. However, the Bills need for a quarterback is glaring. If not as a starter, at least somebody who can challenge EJ Manuel in practice on a day-to-day basis.

Jan 20, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad quarterback Sean Mannion of Oregon State (4) throws a pass during North squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Two players who stood out to me were Garrett Grayson from Colorado State, and Sean Mannion from Oregon State. While both players struggled with consistency this past week, each of them do possess the physical tools that could intrigue the Bills regime.

At 6-2, 220 pounds, Grayson has good size and moves well in and around the pocket, clocking in at projected 4.7 40-yard dash. However, many scouts feel that his throwing mechanics do need work if he is going to succeed at the next level. But his athleticism, decision-making and quick release make him an intriguing prospect.

Meanwhile, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion has all the physical tools, checking in at 6-5, 220 pounds, but needs to clean up his decision-making. If he can find better consistency going through his progressions and be able to grasp a playbook quickly, Mannion’s prototypical frame and big arm will certainly intrigue teams.

As much as Bills’ fans hate to hear this, either quarterback would make a nice project for the Bills to groom behind starter EJ Manuel.

There are a bevy of linebackers for the Bills to choose from on day two or three

With the Bills switching to a 3-4 defence this year, the need for linebacker depth has come up on the Bills radar. Luckily for the Bills, this draft class is loaded with linebacker depth.

Hayes Pullard from USC, Jordan Hicks from Texas and Stephone Anthony from Clemson all performed well this past week. Hayes was the signal caller for the North Team on Saturday and looks to be a potential every down linebacker in the NFL.

Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad outside linebacker Lynden Trail of Norfolk State (97) runs through defense drills during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

A couple late round “sleepers” to keep an eye on are Zach Hodges from Harvard and Lynden Trail from Norfolk State.

Checking in at 6-6, 262 pounds, Trail — a Florida Gator transfer — was very impressive in Mobile and should fly up draft boards following the NFL combine in February when his freakish athleticism will be on full display.

Hodges is a great athlete as well, weighing in 6-2, 235 pounds, and is projected to run a mid-4.7’s 40-yard dash. Although his physical metrics won’t match Trail’s, his relentless motor on the field is second to none.

Both players could become “Senior Bowl gems” if they land on the right roster.

Same with the cornerback position

Cornerback had a wide array of talent this week too. A quick laundry list of names to keep an eye on include Ladarius Gunter from Miami (FL), Quentin Rollins from Miami (OH), Kevin White from TCU, Steven Nelson from Oregon State, and Josh Shaw from USC.

With size becoming a premium factor at the cornerback position, Gunter checks in nicely at 6-2, 198 pounds.

With the Senior Bowl coming to a completion, the Buffalo Bills and their fans will now shift their attention to the upcoming NFL combine that takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, from February 20-23.

Next: Five Areas the Buffalo Bills Must Address this Offseason