It happened at a breakneck pace, but the Buffalo Bills got their last three pre-draft visits in at One Bills Drive Friday as they played host to a quarterback, fullback/tight end and linebacker. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson, Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk and SMU LB Ja’Gared Davis were all in Orchard Park to meet coaches and tour the club’s training facility.
These last three prospects put the Bills at the allowable limit of 30 draft eligible player visits. What’s most impressive is they did it in the span of 10 days from April 2nd to April 12th.
COMPLETE LIST: Bills pre-draft visits
Wilson (6’2” 215) is one of a handful of quarterbacks that Buffalo has kept a close eye on through the pre-draft process. The Bills scouting department has met with the Razorbacks signal caller at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and now here at the team facility.
“We had a meeting,” said Wilson of his interview with the Bills at the Combine. “It went very, very good. The entire staff was in there, and I thought it went really well. They put me on the video, we had some touchdown passes in there, I thought it was a good meeting.”
Early on the in scouting process Bills GM Buddy Nix admitted he had some concerns about Wilson’s arm strength, but the quarterback changed Nix’s mind at the Senior Bowl.
“My thinking from watching him at the school was that his arm wasn’t that strong,” said Nix back in late January. “But the two days I’ve watched him here, he’s got a live arm. He’s got plenty of arm.”
Wilson did not have quite the season in 2012 that he did in his junior year at Arkansas. Most of the problems he ran into were out of his control. His head coach was dismissed by the school and he lost his top three receiving targets to the NFL heading into this past season. Add in a suspect offensive line and it put Wilson in a tough position to succeed.
“It was tough at points. A lot of distractions at the time,” said Wilson. “You have to hone yourself in and continue to come in and work every single day and try to turn that into a positive. I think I can use that as an advantage moving forward, going through a little adversity, and handling myself through it.”
In 2012 Wilson didn’t reach the statistical heights of his junior season when he threw for over 3,600 yards with 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions, but his numbers were certainly respectable (3,387 yards, 62.1% comp., 21 TDs, 13 INTs).
“With Tyler, 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.”
Wilson believes all that pressure he experienced in the pocket helped his game.
“I think that’s naturally one of my skills, throwing from a number of different positions under some pressure,” he said. “I think my technique could use some fine tuning in an optimal setting, and that’s really what I’m working on right now. Tightening up that release, quickening it up a little bit, as well as fine tuning it and making sure I’m very accurate when I do so.”
FB, LB also visit
He didn’t get an NFL Combine invite, but he’s considered the best fullback, H-back prospect in this year’s draft class. Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk had a solid week at the Senior Bowl where he fared well against competition that was a step up from the Ivy League.
Juszczyk led the Crimson in receiving in 2012 with 52 catches for 706 yards and eight touchdowns as he served in a tight end role. In the NFL he projects more to an H-back/fullback type role and has shown himself to be an effective lead blocker, while also offering pass catching ability.
At his pro day Juszczyk ran a 4.71 40-time, had a 33-inch vertical, broad jumped 9’9” and put up a solid 24 reps on the bench.
Buffalo likely sees him as a capable H-back/fullback option in an offense expected to make use of such a role in a system with West Coast principles.
Juszczyk is forecast as a fourth or fifth round pick.
SMU’s Ja’Gared Davis is a prospect whose playmaking ability is a direct result of sound football instincts. Always in the right place at the right time, Davis was a turnover machine at his outside linebacker position in SMU’s 3-4 defense.
He had eight forced fumbles in his career and a pair of fumbles recoveries for the Mustangs. He also logged four interceptions over his last two seasons. Perhaps most impressive is he finished his college career with five touchdown returns off those takeaways.
Davis (6’0” 238) ran a 4.78 and 4.82 in the 40 at the SMU pro day. He also had a 32 ½” vertical and a 9’9” broad jump. He had 14 reps on the bench press.
The linebacker prospect has been projected as a late round pick or priority free agent.