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Rookie minicamp primer

Posted May 7, 2015

Here’s a preview of some of the more interesting names who will be on the field at One Bills Drive the next three days.

It’ll be the first look at the Bills 2015 draft class on the field for Buffalo’s coaching staff this weekend, along with 32 other players who will be participating in Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s practice sessions.

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Press and power

Buffalo’s top three draft choices will all have the opportunity to participate first hand in some of the key principles of the club’s offensive and defensive principles. Second-round pick CB Ronald Darby will get to put his press corner cover skills to the test early and often in the camp as he shadows receivers.

“I think when you look at (Ronald) Darby, he’s a guy that obviously has the traits that we look for in a man cover corner,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “I love the fact that he was criticized for not being thrown at. I thought that was pretty interesting to me. Generally, this just in, but you usually don’t throw to a guy that is covered. I like that about him.”

Third-round pick G John Miller won’t be able to block and drive defenders off the ball in the traditional sense with the practice restrictions on contact, but he will get a feel for his steps and hand placement in Buffalo’s power run game plans.

“In a case like John Miller, he’s a young man that we really targeted,” said Ryan. “We were really impressed with him, he came in for a visit in particular and he kind of blew us away when we got him on the board and our coaches were talking to him.”

Fifth-round pick RB Karlos Williams will also get carries in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s run scheme.

Pass rushing prospects

Though the Bills did not make their pass rush a focus in the draft, they did sign a few undrafted prospects who have had good success in sacking the quarterback at big college programs. Second-team All-Big 12 DE Cedric Reed, had 18 sacks in his career for Texas. Washington LB Andrew Hudson logged 22.5 sacks in 49 games for the Huskies and Utah State DE BJ Larsen posted 17 sacks for the Aggies.

Staying local

Two players who will get their most extensive look from the coaches in this weekend’s rookie minicamp are a pair of prospects from local programs. TE Chris Manhertz played college basketball at Canisius, but has bulked up to an impressive 256 pounds. He’s hoping to be a part of the continuing trend of college hoopsters who successfully transition to pro football.

The Bills will also have UB fullback Corey Knox on hand for this weekend’s practice sessions. Knox not only played his college ball for the Bulls, but is a Buffalo, NY native.

Orange flavor

They’ll only be participating on a tryout basis this weekend, but Buffalo added 11 players to the rookie minicamp roster so the coaches can run a proper practice on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The group is highlighted by a trio of Syracuse products.

RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, S Darius Kelly and long snapper Sam Rodgers make up more than a quarter of the tryout players on hand. Gulley rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his career for the Orange. Kelly posted a 61-tackle campaign in 2014 for Syracuse that included four pass breakups and an INT. And Rodgers was a team captain and member of 2014 ACC All-Academic team.

While tryout players are the ultimate of long shots it should be noted that Bills first-year player WR Caleb Holley, went from tryout player to Buffalo’s practice squad in 2014.

Who’s throwing?

Much like last year the Bills are without a quarterback who is eligible to participate in this weekend’s rookie camp, so they brought in former West Georgia QB Austin Trainor on a tryout basis. The Division II signal caller was a Florida A&M transfer, who last played in college in 2013.

Trainor threw for almost 1,700 yards in two seasons for West Georgia.

Here’s the breakdown of the 38 players participating this weekend for the Bills.

Bills draft choices

CB Ronald Darby – (5-11, 193) – Florida St.
G John Miller – (6-2, 303) – Louisville
RB Karlos Williams – (6-1, 230) – Florida St.
LB Tony Steward – (6-1, 241) – Clemson
TE Nick O’Leary – (6-3, 252) – Florida St.
WR Dezmin Lewis – (6-4, 212) – Central Arkansas

Eligible Bills 1st-year players

DB Deon Broomfield – (6-0, 199) – 2014 Bills practice squad
LB Jimmy Gaines – (6-1, 232) – 2014 Bills practice squad
WR Caleb Holley – (6-2, 196) – 2014 Bills practice squad
G Darryl Johnson – (6-4, 312) – New Mexico
FB Corey Knox – (6-2, 242) – Buffalo
TE Chris Manhertz – (6-5, 256) – Canisius
G D.J. Morrell – (6-5, 321) – 2014 Bills practice squad
WR Tobais Palmer – (5-10, 187) – 2014 Bills practice squad
DT Jeremy Towns – (6-3, 323) – 2014 Bills practice squad

Bills undrafted rookies

TE Clay Burton – (6-4, 259) – Florida
T Tyson Chandler – (6-6, 331) – N.C. State
WR Andre Davis – (6-1, 211) – South Florida
DT Justin Hamilton – (6-2, 311) – Louisiana-Lafayette
LB Andrew Hudson – (6-2, 248) – Washington
DE BJ Larsen – (6-5, 264) – Utah State
CB Merrill Noel – (5-8, 177) – Wake Forest
DE Cedric Reed – (6-5, 269) - Texas
P Spencer Roth – (6-4, 227) – Baylor
LB AJ Tarpley – (6-0, 232) – Stanford
CB Cam Thomas – (6-0, 200) – Western Kentucky
DE Erik Williams – (6-2, 270) – Bethune Cookman

Bills tryout players

WR Anthony Davis – (5-11, 190) – Widener
RB Prince-Tyson Gulley – (5-8, 191) – Syracuse
S Darius Kelly – (5-9, 204) – Syracuse
RB Roderick McDowell – (5-9, 204) – Clemson
CB Wes Miller – (5-9, 183) – UTEP
CB Reggie Owens – (5-11, 185) – Old Dominion
LB TraVaughn Pascal – (6-2, 255) – Kentucky
LS Sam Rodgers – (6-1, 244) – Syracuse
WR EJ Scott – (5-10, 186) – Wake Forest
QB Austin Trainor – (6-2, 212) – West Georgia

S Julius White – (5-9, 199) – Rice