1. Jones confident after offseason improvement
With a battle for Buffalo’s backup quarterback position looming,
Jones, drafted by the Bills in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft, joined the John Murphy Show this week to talk about the experience already under his belt, the work he has put in on and off the field this offseason.
The 24-year-old said that he worked with a personal quarterback coach throughout the winter, working on Jones’ ability to throw in less than ideal situations.
“I spent a lot of time keeping my feet and hips in line with my target and being able to deliver when my feet aren’t always set or deliver in awkward positions or on the move with a rusher coming at you,” Jones said.
Jones saw action in the second half of Week 17 against the Jets. He completed six passes for 96 yards and threw an interception. Although his action was limited, Jones said he learned some invaluable lessons going up against an NFL defense.
“I definitely would say I got a huge learning experience out of last year,” Jones said. “The speed of the game, what type of looks the defense gives you and it was great to have that experience of a half a game under my belt. One of the first plays, they got a roughing the passer, it was good to get the jitters out of there and really feel an NFL hit.”
After the Bills signed veteran quarterback
“They are giving us the things we need to know (in this new offense) and getting us ready for (minicamp) next week,” Jones said. “It will be a huge learning curve—not just for offense—but for the whole team.”
In addition to devoting much of his offseason time to his throwing mechanics, Jones also went back to his alma mater to complete his degree. Jones took two classes at Ohio State and is set to complete his last final on Thursday to finish his undergraduate degree in African American studies.
2. Woodrum set to capitalize on opportunity
Bills’ fans may not know much about quarterback
Buffalo will already be Woodrum’s fourth NFL team after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Colts following the 2016 Draft. The 24-year-old had an impressive college career, setting the school record for passing yards at Liberty University.
He signed a reserve/future contract with the Bills in January, and told his hometown newspaper in Virginia this week that he sees a perfect opportunity in Buffalo.
“No one understands the NFL till they’re in it,” Woodrum said. “A lot of times, it’s about being with the right place at the right time with the right system. “I’m sure there’s been plenty of quarterbacks — or players in general — that were really, really good and just never had the opportunity. I feel this is a pretty good opportunity for me.”
Woodrum joined North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz as the only two Football Championship Subdivision quarterbacks to receive an invite to last year’s scouting combine. Now, he is ready to jump on the opportunity to have a full offseason to work with a team and have the chance to showcase what he can do under center when the preseason starts in August.
“The biggest thing, which I think a lot of people don’t understand, is getting to preseason and showing you can play and compete,” Woodrum said. “If you can’t play against a team in a preseason game, what makes you think you can play against a team in the regular-season game? For the players, it’s their audition and their tape and that will hold merit for teams looking around the league.”
3. Talbot identifies potential Bills Draft sleepers
At each year’s NFL Draft, there are inevitably some surprise picks for each team. It may be a player from a small school unfamiliar to fans, or a player that drops a few slots.
NewYorkUpstate.com’s Ryan Talbot put together a list of sleeper picks connected to the Bills that would make sense for the team to take during the draft in two weeks.
Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers has been receiving some attention from scouts, and Talbot says that the Bills could take a look at the edge rusher in the middle rounds.
“Derek Rivers offers plenty of pass rushing upside, but the question is whether he can play in a 4-3 at the NFL level,” Talbot wrote. “At Youngstown State, Rivers, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 248 pounds, was dominant off the edge, collecting 35 sacks over the last three seasons. He produced those numbers using a variety of pass rush moves and should have a smooth transition to the NFL.”
Another player that fans may not have heard about, but fills a roster need for the team, is Temple cornerback Nate Hariston.
“Hairston got a late start as a cornerback after spending the early part of his career as a wide receiver at Temple. As such, his technique as a defensive back still needs some work,” Talbot wrote. “However, he does have plenty of athleticism and physicality, two traits that are tough to teach. He would fit nicely in Sean McDermott's defense, which relies on zone coverage.”