The Bills just like every other NFL club are doing their due diligence in the final weeks prior to the NFL draft. Part of that process is pre-draft visits as they tie up any remaining loose ends on prospects. Buffalobills.com has learned that a pair of players widely forecast as first round picks and two other top prospects are making such visits to One Bills Drive today. Alabama RB Trent Richardson and Ohio State OT Mike Adams are the headliners with Syracuse DL Chandler Jones and Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson also visiting.
Richardson is the consensus top running back in the 2012 draft class. The tailback was the difference in Alabama’s convincing 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship game. Rushing for 96 yards on 20 carries (4.8 avg.) against one of the best defenses in the country including a touchdown, Richardson finished the 2011 campaign with 1,679 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns averaging almost six yards per carry (5.9). He added three more receiving touchdowns on his 29 receptions last year.
The Doak Walker award winner finished third in the Heisman voting and was also named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
When asked why he should be a top 10 pick in the draft Richardson made his case.
“Because the quality and the effort I’ll bring to the game,” he said. “When it comes down to it, I’ll be the dude that’s on the field and getting the ball on third-and-three or fourth-and-one and not to be cocky or anything, but I work on my game every day and even if it’s not physical stuff, I work in the classroom learning plays and learning the defensive line and what the linebackers and safeties are doing so I can pick up my blitzes. I love to block.
“Everybody knows I can run the ball. I’ve never been caught from behind, so if anyone wants to questions my speed, just look at the tape. When it comes to playing football, any game you want to just look at it a try to find a negative. A lot of people try to find a negative in your game and there aren’t too many negatives I have. I don’t fumble. That’s one thing that I do not do.”
After clocking a sub-4.5 40 time at his pro day last week, Richardson has been solidly forecast as a top 10 selection.
Buckeye offensive tackle Mike Adams is riding the momentum of a solid Senior Bowl into the draft later this month. With prototype height and size at 6’7” 323 pounds and great mobility for a man his size, Adams served as Ohio State’s starting left tackle each of the past three seasons. He earned First Team All-Big 10 honors in 2010 and second team accolades in 2011 despite playing in just seven games.
Adams had some off the field concerns in his time at Ohio State, but assures that his missteps have made him a better person.
“Basically I’ve had some bumps in the road early in my career, but I think I’ve let those things build my character instead of break it down,” he said. “My character is something my coaches and teammates at Ohio State will vouch for. Anybody who knows me knows I’m not a bad guy. I might’ve made mistakes, but I’ve definitely learned from them.”
Adams has been widely predicted as a first-round pick.
Syracuse’s Jones (6’5” 266) is a local product and an intriguing prospect. The Rochester native is not seen as an elite pass rushing talent, but the defensive end gets to the quarterback with impressive initial explosion and strength.
Jones is also blessed with long arms (35 ½”), which enabled him to keep offensive tackles off his body. The Syracuse end logged 10 sacks in 33 games with the Orange, and earned First Team All-Big East honors in 2011 despite missing five games with a knee injury.
He also had good bloodlines, with older brothers Arthur Jones a former fifth-round pick of the Ravens (2010) and Jonny “Bones” Jones the current UFC lightweight heavyweight champion.
Jones is a particular favorite of ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
“I think the most underrated player maybe in the entire draft and certainly on the defensive line is Chandler Jones of Syracuse,” said McShay. “I fell in love with him watching the East‑West Shrine game watching tape. I think he has so much upside. He's just scratching the surface.”
McShay believes Jones can be a late first or early second-round selection.
Finally, quarterback Russell Wilson made the most of his one year at Wisconsin. Wilson transferred after N.C. State, where he had been the starting quarterback for two seasons, wanted him to make a greater commitment to football. Wilson also played for the Wolfpack’s baseball team and was a 2009 draft choice of the Colorado Rockies. The quarterback chose to transfer and play for Wisconsin as a graduate student with a year of eligibility remaining.
Wilson was the nation’s most efficient college quarterback in 2011 with a 191.78 rating (college rating different from NFL) more than 22 points better than the next highest-rated college quarterback in a pro-style offense in Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
With an NFL arm, an efficient over the top release and very good mobility, Wilson has shown that his stature at 5’11” should not detract from his effectiveness at the next level.
“Honestly, I believe the height’s not a factor at all,” he said. “I have great feet in the pocket. You have to be able to understand the offense, know the whys of football. Play with rhythm and timing and just be athletic. I definitely believe I’m one of the most athletic guys (in the draft), without a doubt in my mind, and so I think that gives me an advantage. I have a high, quick release, which when you play with rhythm and timing, it’s hard to stop.”
Wilson went a long way in proving that at Wisconsin last season where he had 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In fact over his last three collegiate seasons as a college starter, Wilson posted 92 touchdowns against 29 interceptions for a better than 3:1 ratio.
Still, Wilson is knocked by most draft prognosticators for his height, right or wrong, and has been forecast as a third-round draft choice.