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Rookie, Undrafted Free Agent Watch for Buffalo Bills' Training Camp

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJune 18, 2016

Rookie, Undrafted Free Agent Watch for Buffalo Bills' Training Camp

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    Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley's first draft was all about adding speed, especially on offense. 

    EJ Manuel was picked in Round 1, then he was provided with receiving weapons in Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin in the following two rounds. 

    Sandwiched between the two pass-catchers was the selection of linebacker of Kiko Alonso, someone who will be as important to the defense as Manuel will be to the offense. 

    With an abundance of new pieces in Buffalo, let's break down the club's rookie class. 

EJ Manuel

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    • College: Florida State
    • Draft Status: Round 1
    • Height: 6'4''
    • Weight: 237
    • College Production: Four-year career, two years as full-time starter. Won four bowl games. Completed 66.9 percent of his passes in college.

    Analysis: Manuel was drafted to be the Buffalo Bills' franchise savior. Jim Kelly is a distant memory, and the Bills have been starved for a viable quarterback ever since the Hall of Famer retired. 

    While many Florida State fans would say Manuel's Seminole career was a disappointment, he exuded leadership, had a high career completion rate of 66.9 percent and went 21-5 in his last two years in Tallahassee. 

    At 6'4'' and 237 pounds with deceptive athleticism, a strong arm and a relatively high football IQ, the sky is the limit for Manuel. 

    With sound coaching, he could be the signal-caller Buffalo has needed for nearly two decades.

Robert Woods

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    • College: USC
    • Draft Status: Round 2
    • Height: 6'0''
    • Weight: 201
    • College Production: Three-year starter. Caught 250 passes in three years and 26 touchdowns over final two seasons. 

    Analysis: Woods was arguably the most NFL-ready receiver in the 2013 draft class due to his experience in a pro-style offense at USC, his precise route-running ability and his willingness to fight for the football down the field. 

    While he doesn't possess blazing speed, he certainly isn't slow and projects as one of Buffalo's outside receivers for the 2013 season. 

    It'll be surprising if he isn't the team's No. 2 wideout in Week 1. 

     

     

Kiko Alonso

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    • College: Oregon
    • Draft Status: Round 2
    • Height: 6'3''
    • Weight: 238
    • College Production: Two-year, full-time starter. Intercepted a total of six passes in 2011 and 2012. 

    Analysis: Alonso is a highly active, rather tall (6'3'') linebacker who's capable of playing inside or outside. 

    He had a few off-field incidents that involved alcohol in college and labored through a torn ACL, but when Alonso was on the field for Oregon, he certainly made his presence felt. 

    In 2012, the California native intercepted four passes to go along with 81 tackles, 14 of which went for a loss. 

    He will be the key cog in the middle of Mike Pettine's hybrid scheme, so his development will have a major impact on how Buffalo's defense plays this season.

Marquise Goodwin

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    • College: Texas
    • Draft Status: Round 3
    • Height: 5'9''
    • Weight: 183
    • College Production: Four-year contributor. Compiled 1,132 yards from scrimmage in 2011 and 2012 combined.

    Analysis: Goodwin is instantly one of the top-10 fastest players in the NFL. He ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and has an Olympic track background. 

    Although it appeared like the coaching staff at Texas didn't ever figure out how to use him properly, the short but not small Goodwin was hyper-efficient when he touched the football. 

    He averaged nearly 13 yards per rush in 2012 and is a prime candidate to be utilized as a gadget screen and jet sweep weapon in Nate Hackett's offense.

    Oh, and Goodwin should probably be used to stretch the field vertically, too.

Duke Williams

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    • College: Nevada
    • Draft Status: Round 4
    • Height: 6'0''
    • Weight: 190
    • College Production: Three-year starter. Accumulated 189 total tackles in final two seasons. 

    Analysis: Williams is precisely the type of safety that Mike Pettine is looking to add to his defense. He exhibited above-average range while at Nevada but was known for his ability in supporting the run and his propensity to lay the lumber on running backs and wide receivers. 

    With Jairus Byrd potentially missing camp, there will be some shuffling in Buffalo's safety contingent. As a result, Williams should have a golden opportunity to make a positive first impression. 

Jonathan Meeks

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    • College: Clemson
    • Draft Status: Round 5
    • Height: 6'1''
    • Weight: 209
    • College Production: Two-year starter. Five interceptions in 2011 and 2012 combined.

    Analysis: Somewhat of a surprising selection after the Duke Williams pick, Meeks was nabbed in Round 5 as more safety insurance due to the uncertainty surrounding Jairus Byrd's future in Buffalo. 

    Meeks wasn't a star at Clemson, yet he was strong against the run and showed decent skills in coverage. In all likelihood, he'll begin his NFL career as a special teams player who gets on the field situationally. 

     

Dustin Hopkins

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    • College: Florida State
    • Draft Status: Round 6
    • Height: 6'2''
    • Weight: 193
    • College Production: Four-year starter. Career 78.6 percent field-goal kicker

    Analysis: With Rian Lindell in the twilight of his NFL career, the Bills needed to look toward the future at the kicker position. 

    Hopkins was one of the best kickers in the country in 2012, and he improved his accuracy in each of his four seasons at Florida State. 

    He'll battle Lindell for the starting kicking job in August. 

Chris Gragg

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    • College: Arkansas
    • Draft Status: Round 7
    • Height: 6'3''
    • Weight: 244
    • College Production: Two-year starter. Amassed 1,003 receiving yards in his four-year career.

    Analysis: The Bills rounded out their "speed" draft by taking Gragg, an oft-injured tight end from Arkansas who ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash at this year's combine. 

    At 6'3'' and 244 pounds with that kind of speed, Gragg projects to the increasingly popular H-back position and could fight for one of the last roster spots due to his athleticism and massive upside. 

Undrafted Free Agents

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    Undrafted free-agent list (courtesy of NFL.com):

    Syracuse OG Zach Chibane; Georgia Tech DE Izaan Cross; Towson FS Jordan Dangerfield; Missouri CB Kip Edwards; Richmond RB/FB Kendall Gaskins; Eastern Washington WR Brandon Kaufman; Lane CB Vernon Kearney; Stony Brook WR Kevin Norrell; Howard LB Keith Pough; USC CB Nickell Robey; Tennessee Tech WR Da'Rick Rogers; Catawba CB Jumal Rolle; Albany FB Drew Smith; Cal DL Aaron Tipoti; Washington State QB Jeff Tuel; Pittsburgh C Ryan Turnley

     

    Analysis: Da'Rick Rogers is the obvious headliner of this group, and if he stays out of trouble, he should contribute during the 2013 season for the Bills. Also, keep an eye on linebacker Keith Pough from Howard, as he fits the hybrid outside linebacker mold that would fit well in Mike Pettine's system. 

    Nickell Robey is an undersized cornerback from USC, but without a sure-fire starter at the nickel corner spot, the feisty defensive back could sneak onto the team. 

    Jeff Tuel is basically a lock to make the club as the No. 3 quarterback, and offensive lineman Zach Chibane played for Doug Marrone and Nate Hackett at Syracuse, something that bodes well for his chances. 

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