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Nix and staff eyeing LBs, QBs and WRs

Posted Jan 23, 2013


It’s part of the routine every year at the Senior Bowl at all positions, but Bills GM Buddy Nix wasn’t shy in discussing Buffalo’s efforts to learn everything they can about all the prospects at the Senior Bowl this week at key positions of need for their team.

Nix validated to Buffalobills.com that linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver are the top priority positions for Buffalo.

“Those are still at the top of the list and I’m spending most of my time there, but I’ll try to see them all,” Nix said.

Nix confirmed that Buffalo interviewed all six of the quarterback prospects in Mobile this week on Monday night in addition to other prospects. That process continues each evening until tonight, with most of the scouting staffs departing Thursday morning.

Obviously athletic ability and production come first for any player evaluation, but there are also some specific assets the Bills are looking for at those three high-priority positions.

“The receivers, obviously we want a guy who can go up and snatch the ball, that he’s open when he’s covered,” Nix said. “See if they’ll go up and high point the ball and get it.

Among the most highly regarded receivers in Mobile this week are Baylor’s Terrance Williams, Marshall’s Aaron Dobson and Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton.

“It’s a good group,” Nix said. “I think the receivers on both teams are a strength, and in the draft there are a lot of good players.”

In a league that has gravitated to the passing game more and more each year, the most coveted assets in linebacker prospects have changed.

 “When you’re looking at linebackers, you want a guy who can run and cover and can match up against a slot or a tight end,” said Nix. “See if that guy’s got enough mobility in space to cover.”

Linebackers at the Senior Bowl that appear to fit that mold include Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins and Texas A&M’s Sean Porter.

“With quarterbacks, I think the big thing with them is can they win the game,” Nix said. “Do they do something to win the game? Can they play good in the fourth quarter, in the last three or four minutes?”

As for the quarterback prospects on hand, Nix weighed in on three of the six prospects in Mobile this week.

Buffalo’s GM sounded as though he understood the extenuating circumstances that compromised the production and success rate of Tyler Wilson’s senior season at Arkansas. He also may have changed his opinion on Wilson’s level of arm strength.

“My thinking was he got kind of beat up during the year,” said Nix. “They didn’t have great protection for him, he took a lot of licks. From watching him at the school his arm wasn’t that strong.  But the two days I’ve watched him here, he’s got a live arm. He’s got plenty of arm.”

N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon’s arm strength has never been questioned, but he’s not a prospect for the read option that so many of the rookie quarterbacks made use of in the NFL in 2012.

“He’s a true drop back passer and he can throw it through a wall,” said Nix. “He’s got a strong arm, and he can see. The only negative on him is mobility. He’s not a running quarterback. But he’s a guy that can slide and can get out of the way, and he’s got a really strong arm.”

Ryan Nassib isn’t a guy that Buffalo’s coaching staff needs to do much homework on, and apparently Nix is well versed on the Syracuse signal caller’s talents as well.

“I’ve seen him quite a bit,” Nix said. “I’ve seen every throw he’s made his senior year, plus I went to watch him practice. Our scouts have watched him. We don’t exchange grades, but we’re impressed with the guy. He got better and better every year. I think that’s the big thing about him.”

With Nix and the scouting staff wrapping up the majority of their Senior Bowl work on the ground in Mobile today, their next big meeting will be in Buffalo with the new coaching staff.

“When we go back, before we have our pre-combine readings, we’ll have a meeting on February 5th, early that morning and bring in the coordinators and Coach Marrone and some of the position coaches, to tell us what their wish list is like as far as their positions—height, weight and speed,  what a guy can do and can’t do for that particular position,” Nix said. “It gives you a good idea when you are looking for, but it always goes back to production and athletic ability.”

In the days that follow the College Scouting Department will put together their primary draft board in advance of the NFL Combine in late February.