They’ve attended his pro day and conducted a private workout with him a short time later. On Wednesday they hosted USC QB Matt Barkley for a pre-draft visit at One Bills Drive.
The Bills also hosted Oregon LB/DE Dion Jordan, along with Georgia LB Alec Ogletree and Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers - a pair of playmaking prospects that are trying to convince NFL clubs that they’re on the straight and narrow after off the field troubles. Ogletree and Rogers are evaluated by some as first-round prospects, but past drug suspensions have NFL clubs taking extra time to diligently investigate their character backgrounds.
Barkley, who only put his passing arm on display for the first time at USC’s pro day March 27th, also worked out for Buffalo privately on April 1st.
Buffalo also interviewed Barkley at the NFL Combine in late February, but are taking the time to meet with him again on their turf.
Barkley’s separated shoulder, which kept him throwing for much of the pre-draft season has been the dominant headline, but the USC signal caller is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the class.
“I think you look at the experience I have playing this position. If you want to count high school, I played eight years straight of football, starting games,” Barkley said. “You don’t see that too often. And I think what I’ve had to endure at USC has been unique. It’s not a traditional quarterback experience in college with all the ups and downs, with coaches leaving, with the NCAA sanctions, what we had to deal with, keeping that team together. I think I possess leadership that’s pretty unique.”
The frequent knock on Barkley’s game by the so called draft experts is he lack an elite arm for the NFL. Barkley simply points to his resume.
“I would disagree,” said Barkley. “Look at the tape. Watch the tape. I’m not going to go through certain throws, but you can watch the tape where I’ve made throws in tight windows. I can make every NFL throw that you need.”
Bills head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett saw first-hand how effective Barkley can be as he threw a career-best six touchdown passes against Syracuse last September.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper sees Barkley as a late first, early second-round prospect.
“He’s a pure passer, an accurate passer,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. “This is a kid that’s a first one in last one out type of guy. He’s definitely dedicated. He’s definitely a respected team leader. I’d say if a team trades into the late first that’s the way he could come off the board by a trade back into the late first, but more than likely second round.”
DE Jordan also visiting
One of the PAC-12’s best defensive players, who was often in pursuit of Barkley was also a Bills visitor Wednesday in Oregon DE Dion Jordan.
A 1st-Team All-PAC 12 selection the past two seasons, Jordan (6’6” 248) has proven to be a versatile pass rusher lining up on the edge of the Ducks defensive formation. With uncommon athleticism Jordan was lined up all over the field including the slot against receivers at times.
Jordan is proud of his versatile skill set, but also knows where he excels.
“Pass rush,” said Jordan flatly. “I feel like me lining up all over the field on defense just shows my athleticism. It shows that I understand the game and I did a lot for the university. The whole thing is getting after the quarterback so pass rush is number one.”
Part of the reason the Bills are likely hosting Jordan for a visit is to get an update the torn labrum in Jordan’s shoulder that underwent surgery the first week in March.
“I hurt myself in the middle of our season, the Colorado game and that was an unfortunate event,” he said. “I went in there and tackled the wrong way. You shouldn’t arm tackle and I got the worst of it. But I dealt with it. I only missed one game last season and I dealt with it and I feel like it shows my toughness. I finished the season and I stayed through with my team and made sure as a leader and a senior of our team that I’m willing to win and do what it takes to compete.”
Jordan also still went through his NFL Combine workout with the torn labrum prior to his surgery skipping only the bench press. He ran an impressive 4.6 40-time, broad jumped 10’2” and a three cone drill time of 7.02 seconds.
His recovery timetable is three to four months post-surgery, which would put him in position to practice fully at training camp for whatever NFL club drafts him.
WR Rogers, LB Ogletree at One Bills Drive
Rogers (6’3” 217) has been described as a Julio Jones clone in terms of his physical build. The powerful wideout can outmuscle defenders and is very good at getting off press coverage.
He began his college career at Tennessee, and he led the SEC in receiving with 1,040 yards after teammate Justin Hunter succumbed to a knee injury. Unfortunately trouble followed off the field as Rogers failed three drug tests for marijuana and was dismissed from the team.
Rogers finished his college career at Tennessee Tech where he logged 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
“It is simple,” said Rogers when asked why he failed to stay out of trouble off the field. “Immaturity. I had to take full responsibility, look in the mirror at who I was and what I was doing wrong. When I went to Tennessee Tech and it humbled me a lot.
“I play with an edge, and I had to learn how to control that edge off the field also. I had to learn how to fix my flaws, and life got easier. You have to accept what you did and put it behind you and move forward. I am still working on that, and trying to become the kind of person you want to have on your team.”
While at the NFL Combine, Rogers said he was drug tested 10 times in the year he spent at Tennessee Tech and all of them came back clean.
Rogers knows teams want to see if he has changed and matured, but his troubles have never changed his belief that he’s one of the best receiving talents in the draft class.
With a resume of proven production in the SEC and an NFL Combine performance that saw him broad jump 11 feet, vertical leap 39 ½ inches and run a 4.5 40-time, NFL talent evaluators might be thinking the same thing.
“I am right near the top,” he said. “I feel I can compete without anybody in the nation.”
Ogletree is in a similar boat. Blessed with tremendous athletic talent, Ogletree served a four-game team-imposed drug suspension in 2012, and it was followed by a DUI arrest this past January.
“I feel bad about it,” said Ogletree of his most recent transgression. “I’m really sorry about it, but I just have to move forward and take whatever I get.”
A converted safety, Ogletree has only played linebacker for the past two years, but has excelled in the middle of the Georgia defense this past year registering 111 tackles, three sacks, an interception and six pass breakups.
“It was a great transition for me at Georgia. We were in a 3-4 and while playing my freshmen year as a safety, I was basically able to learn the defense,” he said. “With the move in the spring to linebacker basically helped me stay on top of things. The safety works closely with the linebackers.”
When asked how he hopes to convince NFL clubs that he’s worth their investment despite some poor decisions in the past, Ogletree feels his actions have to speak louder than words.
“I have to be accountable and be responsible,” he said. “Be a grown man and be accountable for my actions and just letting them get to know me and see who I really am and not what they just hear about me.”
Although Ogletree played mainly inside linebacker for the Bulldogs many draft prognosticators believe his athleticism would allow him to transition to outside linebacker as well.
I’m very comfortable with my skills. I think I’m very versatile. I can cover and come up against the run and hit. I can come off the edge or play in the middle. It doesn’t really matter.”
Ogletree is forecast as a late first or early second-round pick.