Buffalo Bills: 5 New Bills Who Will Emerge in Camp
Change has occurred all over Buffalo since the 2012 season came to a close. From a new coaching staff to a new quarterback, this team will be a vastly different one from the 2012 squad when they take the field in 2013.
The Buffalo Bills spent their first-round draft pick on E.J. Manuel, the first quarterback chose in the draft, of Florida State. With Manuel comes the hope that the team finally has a strong signal-caller, something that has been missing since Jim Kelly retired.
Robert Woods and Kiko Alonso were also chosen with high draft picks and both will make the roster and be relied on early in their careers.
But who are some of the lesser-known players that will wear a Bills uniform for the first time? Here, we will examine a few guys who will quickly become a big part of their new team.
Marquise Goodwin, Wide Receiver
Marquise Goodwin was chosen in the third round of the draft. He flew up boards mainly because of his blazing speed.
At the NFL scouting combine in February, Goodwin ran a 4.27 40-yard dash, just three-hundredths of a second off the all-time record posted by Chris Johnson in 2008. He has a background in track and field and was part of the United States Olympic team in 2012.
Goodwin posted good numbers in his four years at Texas, finishing with 120 receptions and just over 1,300 yards. He brings a set of skills that will mesh perfectly with what the Bills have in place.
Lining Goodwin up on the inside of three and four-receiver sets could present big problems for opposing defenses. If he gets matched up one-on-one with a linebacker, Goodwin will come out on top more times than not.
Dustin Hopkins, Kicker
The Bills have had the same placekicker since the 2003 season, but that could very well be changing.
Rian Lindell has made 81 percent of his field goal attempts over the course of his career, but he will face some very stiff competition in training camp in the form of Dustin Hopkins.
Hopkins holds the NCAA record for points scored by a kicker (466) and the Bills used their sixth-round draft pick to bring him in.
Hopkins will have to prove that he can go from kicking in sunny Tallahassee, Florida, to the cold weather and swirling winds in Buffalo.
But if he does, Lindell may be sent packing.
Manny Lawson, Linebacker
The Bills will have to get a better effort from their linebackers this year. Lawson will be one of the longest-tenured players at linebacker on the team, and that could put him into a leadership role.
New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine should be able to help make Lawson successful the way he did with David Harris in New York.
Lawson should be one of the team's starting linebackers come Week 1, and in the right defensive scheme he could be a very disruptive player.
Chris Gragg, Tight End
Landing Chris Gragg in the seventh round of the draft had to be considered a steal. He could be the perfect complement to what the team already has in Scott Chandler.
Gragg will be able to open up the passing game even more for the Bills and he is a very solid receiving threat who is able to catch the ball as well as most wide receivers.
Gragg ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the combine, good for the second-best time among tight ends. He also possesses above-average blocking skills and will be a big asset to the team for years to come.
Da'Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver
Buffalo fans have to be raving over the fact that the team was able to get Da'Rick Rogers as an undrafted rookie free agent.
However, it's not hard to see that this kid has NFL talent.
Rogers was the leading receiver in the SEC in 2011. He shows a very good ability to make plays on the ball and come down with difficult grabs. He has a great combination of size (6'3", 208 lbs.) and speed.
Rogers will complete an impressive wide receiving corps for the Bills, especially once you throw in his ability to make plays after the catch.
With Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham and Rogers, the Bills have just about every type of receiver on their roster.
If they can figure out how to use them together, look out.
What was one of the worst receiving units in the league a year ago may become one of the best very soon.