Bills Today: Cardale gets a grip

Posted Apr 18, 2017

Cardale Jones talked last week about working on his personal game. His offseason QB coach Jeff Christensen explained where Jones made his biggest change.

Here’s the Bills news of note for April 18th.

1 - Cardale gets a grip
Bills second-year quarterback Cardale Jones has been hard at work this offseason on the finer points of his game. Jones is motivated to win the backup quarterback job behind Tyrod Taylor, but he’ll have formidable competition in veteran T.J. Yates and first-year QB Josh Woodrum. One particular part of his throwing mechanics that he’s changed for the better is his grip on the ball.

Working with QB coach Jeff Christensen who runs the ‘Throw It Deep Academy, and is a former NFL QB, Jones adapted the grip on his ball against his own preferences and is seeing a big difference in his passing power and accuracy.

Christensen, who made an appearance on the John Murphy Show, explained how he convinced Jones to change his grip on the ball.

“Cardale the biggest change we made was this year,” said Christensen. “I put up with it last year with him because I saw he would fight it. There were times when he would miss and he would miss ugly. The problems was he was gripping the ball wrong, and I showed him how to grip the ball properly and explained why. And he told me, ‘Oh I’ve been gripping the ball like that my whole life. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.’

“I said, ‘Cardale it’d only take you 10 days. It’ll take you 1,000 throws and your spin rate on the ball with go up and your accuracy will go up and you’ll start feeling comfortable.’ But he was acting like he wasn’t going to do it.

“Then he calls me nine days later and he’s all excited, ‘Coach I’ve been working on that grip and it’s been working really well.’ So I told him, ‘There’s a reason why Marino, Favre and Elways gripped the ball like that.’ So when you get a guy like Cardale who is a really good person it’s great to watch them grow.”

Christensen has also been working with Jones on his body mechanics as they relate to throwing the ball as well.

“Just educating him on the causes and effects of what makes the ball come out of your hand perfect on various routes,” he said. “Whether it’s front side shallow routes or front side vertical routes or back side. What you do when you come off of one, to two, to three and how you have to rotate your shoulders, your knees and hips. Just basically an educational thing.”


2 - Brooks breaks down draft’s top WRs
NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, who most recently mocked Clemson WR Mike Williams to the Bills with the 10th overall pick, shared some interesting opinions on the top receiver prospects in this year’s draft class in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. Brooks had Williams coming off the board before Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. In fact he believes there’s another receiver in addition to Williams who is better than Davis.

“I think Mike Williams and (Washington’s) John Ross are both better than Corey Davis,” said Brooks. “Corey Davis is a good player, but here’s why I would caution people who are fired up about Corey Davis. Corey Davis played in the MAC, and no disrespect to those who played in the MAC conference, but when you look at the other two guys, they produced against more guys who are going to play in the NFL, especially Mike Williams. He dominated in the playoffs against Ohio State and Alabama. At no point did we see Corey Davis dominate against elite competition. In my estimation that matter and it should be factored into the evaluation.”

Brooks also provided his reasoning for mocking Williams to the Bills at 10.

“In terms of the player he’s outstanding. He’s a natural number one wide receiver. He’s a big-bodied playmaker. A guy that plays the game in a style that is reminiscent of Dez Bryant. He knows how to work in between the hashes,” Brooks said. “You look at the Bills and Sammy Watkins is clearly established as a number one receiver, but he’s more of a vertical playmaker. At some point they need to find someone who can do the dirty work and that’s how they’ll maximize the production of the quarterback.”

3 - PFF picks their top 3 needs for Bills
Pro Football Focus is going team by team in picking their top three needs for each NFL club in advance of the 2017 NFL draft. Though the positional needs chosen by PFF are no surprise, they had some interesting prospect suggestions for each of those needs.

PFF went with wide receiver, cornerback and free safety as the top three needs for Buffalo. We respectfully would put weakside linebacker ahead of free safety, but that’s just us. In any event, here were some of their prospect suggestions for the three positional needs they chose.

Early-round target: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Mid- or late-round target: Cooper Kupp, WR Eastern Washington

Early-round target: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Mid- to late-round target: Shaquill Griffin, CB, UCF

Early-round target: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Mid- or late-round target: Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado

The most interesting name among the group was Shaquill Griffin. The Central Florida product had great numbers in coverage and could offer great value early on day three. Here was PFF’s assessment.

This year’s class is so deep that Griffin – with his excellent combination of size and speed – could make it all the way to Day 3 and step in and immediately claim Buffalo’s No. 2 CB role. Griffin finished 11th out of 481 qualified cornerbacks this season with an 86.2 overall grade and his playmaking ability ranks towards the top of the class, his 15 combined pass breakups and interceptions in 2016 were the third most by all cornerbacks.