4 Undrafted Buffalo Bills Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
Like all teams, the Buffalo Bills are trying to rebuild their squad through the draft. Most of the rookies who will have an impact were selected during the draft, but there are always diamonds in the rough that go undrafted.
Don't forget: Kurt Warner, Antonio Gates and Arian Foster all went undrafted at one point, and they've all gone on to have successful careers.
Did the Bills bring in any players of that caliber in 2014? Probably not, but there are still a few players with the potential to be steals for Buffalo.
Just making the final 53-man roster would make any undrafted player a success story. With a strong showing in training camp, some players have a chance to not only make the team, but see the field as well.
Let's take a look at a few undrafted Bills players who could be listed in the Bills' program come opening day.
Darrin Kitchens is one of a few undrafted Florida Gators the Bills brought in after the draft.
Kitchens will have to stand out on special teams to earn a roster spot, but he certainly has the skills to do so.
According to Buffalo's scouting department (h/t Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com), Kitchens played in 45 games in Gainesville and notched 59 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
He also earned Florida's Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award and the Gene Elleson Community Service Award.
Bills area scout C.J. Leak had some good things to say about Kitchens, calling him a "hard working and very cerebral player." Leak added that he is a "good athlete that has straight line speed." That speed and athleticism will aid him on special teams.
At 230 pounds, Kitchens doesn't have elite size for an NFL linebacker. However, Leak said he has the body to add 10 or 15 pounds.
What works most in Kitchens' favor is his attitude. His strong work ethic and the awards he won at Florida show he is a high-character player, which is just the type of player head coach Doug Marrone covets.
If Kitchens bulks up and shows off on special teams, he certainly can land one of the last roster spots.
If you were looking for the likeliest player to go from undrafted rookie to "That guy went undrafted?!", look no further than Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler.
Ladler found himself on Chris Brown's list of unheralded players from OTAs. Brown said Ladler was "frequently around the ball and appears to have a high football IQ." Brown went on to suggest that Ladler could earn a reserve safety spot with an impressive training camp.
According to team scouts, Ladler started 39 of 50 games at Vandy and tallied nine interceptions and 291 tackles during his career.
Brown also noted that Ladler became the first defensive back in school and SEC history to lead his team in tackles in back-to-back years.
Considering SEC schools are known for their defenses, being the first player to do anything as an SEC defender is an impressive accomplishment. The fact that the Bills didn't even have to use a draft pick on Ladler means there is no risk for a potentially high reward.
Since the Bills are looking for help at safety, Ladler has an excellent chance to make the roster and even earn some playing time. If he continues his ball-hawking tendencies, he could be a steal for the Bills.
James Gaines is another undrafted player from a Florida school, but he hails from the University of Miami.
The 6'3", 240-pound linebacker is a Buffalo native and a graduate of Canisius High School. That won't make it any easier for him to land a roster spot, but playing for his hometown team has to give him some motivation to succeed.
According to Buffalo's scouting department, Gaines finished his time at The U with 199 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and two picks. Like Kitchens, Gaines will have to get it done on special teams, where he has experience, as Bills area scout C.J. Leak told Chris Brown.
Leak also said, "Everyone at his school raved about his character and work ethic."
He will need to put in a lot of hard work to earn a spot on the Bills' roster. Considering Leak said Gaines has experience playing middle and outside linebacker, he has the versatility to line up wherever the defensive coaches need him.
Gaines could also benefit from some time in the weight room, but he will have that opportunity this summer.
If nothing else, the Bills could keep Gaines on the practice squad as insurance in case Brandon Spikes bolts after his one-year deal is up.
Now we get to yet another Florida player, and also another defensive player the Bills signed as an undrafted rookie. Interestingly enough, every undrafted player on the Bills plays defense.
Damien Jacobs is a 6'3", 290-pound defensive tackle who transferred to Florida after playing at East Mississippi Community College.
According to team scouts, Jacobs had 34 tackles, six tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and one pass breakup in two seasons in The Swamp. Bills area scout C.J. Leak told Chris Brown that "the coaches down there loved the way he worked and his whole makeup in general."
Leak also said Jacobs started out as a rotational player, but had a starting role this year after Dominique Easley got hurt.
The Bills aren't necessarily thin at defensive tackle, but we still don't know what will come of the Marcell Dareus situation. As ESPN.com's Mike Rodak noted, Dareus allegedly took part in a street race and missed the first two weeks of OTAs.
Bleacher Report's Dan Hope believes Jacobs has the ability to stop the run, which the Bills could definitely use more of.
If something serious happens with Dareus or Stefan Charles, or Corbin Bryant disappoints in camp, Jacobs could earn a reserve role at defensive tackle.
Who knows, the Bills could even give him a chance at defensive end, where they definitely could use more help.
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