This period can sometimes be just as important as the draft, as there are always talented players who didn’t get drafted but could still help various clubs.
Over the past couple of years, Bills GM Buddy Nix has been largely successful in bringing in undrafted players who have contributed to the team. Some names worth mentioning include Naaman Roosevelt, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Kamar Aiken and Robert Eddins.
Buffalo hopes to find more hidden talent at a discount in 2012, and here are some early names who have signed, according to the Buffalo News.
Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond
When the Bills traded up two spots in the third round to select North Carolina State wide receiver T.J. Graham, it didn’t seem like a significant move. They gave up No. 71 and No. 217 to acquire No. 69.
But that No. 217 pick was important.
In a post-draft press conference on BuffaloBills.com, GM Buddy Nix indicated that there was a quarterback the Bills were “poised to draft” but that, unfortunately, he wasn’t there.
Had the Bills not traded pick No. 217, they would have been able to draft Coleman, whom Nix seemed to really like prior to the draft, according the team’s draft luncheon presser. However, ultimately it’s unknown which player the Bills were targeting.
Either way, Buffalo didn’t draft a quarterback. Instead, they signed undrafted free-agent signal-caller Aaron Corp out of Richmond shortly after the draft culminated.
Corp is a former 5-star recruit of USC, but he transferred to Richmond after losing the starting job once injuries set him back behind Matt Barkley. He has good size at 6’4” and 215 lbs, and despite multiple leg injuries, he has adequate mobility and straight-line speed. At the combine he recorded a 4.72 40-time, which was fifth-best amongst quarterbacks.
After suffering a broken left fibula at USC and a subsequent season-ending knee injury in his redshirt junior season, though, Corp had to change his style. Prior, he was viewed as a dual-threat quarterback with good athleticism and speed. But the injuries “changed him into a more stoic pocket passer who has had to rely on his accuracy and judgment,” according to NFL.com.
As a passer, Corp’s biggest strength is his accuracy. He’s a quick-read quarterback who makes a decision and puts the ball in the right spot. He can buy a little time on his own, but he lacks ideal agility to bounce out of the pocket with any kind of burst.
Despite his prototype size, Corp doesn’t boast a very strong arm. Watching some of his video, it’s evident he doesn’t put a lot of zip on the ball and lacks top-tier velocity. His throwing motion is a bit awkward, almost resembling Philip Rivers’ at times.
According to his agent, Joe Linta, per the Buffalo News, Corp chose the Bills over four other NFL teams. His deal is for three years.
He’s certainly a project and is no lock to make the 53-man roster. But Buddy Nix had such a successful draft that he deserves the benefit of the doubt to see how Corp develops over the next couple of years.
Shawn Powell, P, Florida State
The Buffalo News points out that the Bills also signed Florida State punter Shawn Powell, who was “an All-American choice who led the nation with a 47.0-yard gross average in 2011.”
The Bills bolstered their special teams coverage unit with quality players in the draft, and they even drafted a kickoff specialist in Round 7. Powell has a strong leg and will offer some competition to veteran Brian Moorman.
Delano Howell, S, Stanford
Howell is 5’11” and 210 pounds and offers versatility in the secondary. At Stanford, he was a three-year all-conference selection as the Cardinal’s starting strong safety. He offers good athleticism, which he showcased at the combine, but is more of a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect.
Nick Sukay, S, Penn State
Another safety prospect, Sukay has a little more size than Howell at 6’1” and 215 pounds. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle in 2010 which caused him to miss the rest of the season. However, he came back strong in 2011, fully recovered, and was selected to the All-Big Ten second team. Whereas Howell is more of a polished safety prospect, Sukay can help as a drop-down safety (much like Bryan Scott) to help in the box.
Ian Wild, LB, Mercyhurst
Coming from a D-III school, Wild reportedly projects as a strong safety in training camp, according to Patrick Moran of Buffalo Sports Daily. Moran writes that Wild “was pretty productive as an undersized linebacker in college [after] posting 90 tackles and five forced fumbles.” It’s clear the Bills wanted to add safeties, but none of these players should challenge for playing time other than on special teams.
Paul Madsen, OT, Colorado State
Madsen is a 6’5”, 312-pound tackle who can also play guard. NFL Draft Scout describes him as the following:
Madsen…was a preseason all-conference selection , and played and started 11 games, despite battling both a sprained medial-collateral ligament in his knee and a high-ankle sprain. He owned 35 knockdown blocks…He also only allowed two sacks all season and graded out at 85 percent or better in every game. Dominant in the run game, he paved the way for an estimated 70 percent of the Rams’ running game, which includes a 1,000-yard rusher, Nwoke.
Buffalo seems to have added a mauler to compete on the offensive line.
Chris Douglas, RB, Missouri State
At 5’9” and 212 pounds, Douglas has good speed and plays more physically than his size would indicate. He shows strong pass-catching abilities, hauling in passes and making defenders miss with purposeful moves.
On tape, he demonstrates impressive patience for a rookie running back, as he makes good judgments hitting holes. Douglas can also reach and turn the corner, using his burst to turn upfield.
In 2010, he finished second in the nation in yards per carry with a 6.9 average. There’s a lot to like here.