The Most Intriguing Rookie Storylines at Buffalo Bills OTAs
The Buffalo Bills opened up their first round of OTAs this week. This was the first chance Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills coaching staff got to see all their new additions this offseason on one field.
The group that usually draws the most interest at OTAs is the rookie class. This is their first chance to participate in an NFL practice with the veterans.
This holds true for the Bills rookie class, which has generated a great deal of buzz. These are the four most intriguing storylines for the Buffalo rookies this week.
How Quickly Will Cyrus Kouandjio Win the Right Tackle Battle?
What was once thought of as a heated training camp battle between Cyrus Kouandjio and Erik Pears may be over before it started. ESPN.com's Mike Rodak reported that the two split first-team reps opposite Cordy Glenn, which raises the question of when Kouandjio will be named the starter, rather than if he will be the starter.
There was a lot working in the rookie's favor to claim the role even before he stepped on the practice field, from his size to his superior run-blocking compared to the veteran. However, players aren't anointed starters just because of measurables.
That is something that he must earn on the practice field with his performance. While it was a pretty sure bet that Kouandjio was going to be named the starter before the 2014 season, the fact the coaching staff felt comfortable to give him first-team reps is very telling.
Will Seantrel Henderson Make a Good Impression?
Most rookies face an uphill battle when they enter the NFL, but no player may have a tougher road to a roster spot than Seantrel Henderson. Not only will he have to prove he can compete physically, but he also has to show he has the desire to be an NFL player.
The off-the-field issues are well-documented and were major contributing factors to him hanging around in the NFL draft until the seventh round. The Bills have already told him he has one chance.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 tweeted that Henderson was lined up as the third-team left tackle on the first day of OTAs. It will be important for the seventh-round pick to set a positive tone early on to show the organization he is committed. If the Bills get a motivated Henderson, he could wind up being a tremendous draft-day steal.
How Quickly Will Sammy Watkins and EJ Manuel Develop Chemistry?
Two of the bigger talking points this season will be rookie Sammy Watkins (Is he worth what the Bills traded away?) and second-year pro EJ Manuel (Can he develop into a franchise quarterback?). It is very likely that if one is going to succeed in quieting the questions, he will need the other.
The Bills coaching staff is hoping that Watkins and Manuel get off to a fast start, and OTAs are a great place to begin the process. Unfortunately for these two, Watkins was only able to attend practice on Wednesday because he is attending the NFLPA rookie premiere, according to WGR 500's Joe Buscaglia.
Buscaglia does note that Watkins is likely to be back on Monday for the last practice of OTAs. This is great news for Manuel and the offense, as the quarterback and receiver try to build chemistry on the field that will hopefully carry over to training camp and into the regular season.
Can Kenny Ladler Earn a Roster Spot?
Last year the Bills struck gold with undrafted free agents when they brought in cornerback Nickell Robey. When he was given the opportunity, he played very well as the nickelback. The question now is whether the Bills have found another gem among the undrafted free agents.
One player who has generated the most buzz is Kenny Ladler out of Vanderbilt. According to Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News, Ladler was viewed as a fifth- or sixth-round prospect. He saw his stock drop though, probably because of an unimpressive time in the 40-yard dash.
The safety position bears watching this offseason, as the team still has to replace Jairus Byrd. If Ladler can perform at the OTAs and training camp, he could provide great depth at the safety position.