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6 players under the radar going into minicamp

Woodstock was three days of fun and music. The Bills mandatory minicamp next week is three days also, and while it could be fun, music is not likely to be part of the plan.

Bills fans already know the major players in this offseason of change—Head Coach Rex Ryan, RB LeSean McCoy, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay, FB Jerome Felton and others. But what about the under-the-radar names? What about the players on the fringes of the roster who've demonstrated some flashes of brilliance in the last ten weeks of voluntary workouts? Which of these relatively unknown players have done enough so far to warrant another look in the upcoming minicamp?

Here's a list of six players who bear watching in the three days ahead, and into training camp:


When you ask Rex Ryan which players have impressed him most during the OTAs, players who he didn't know a lot about going into the last few weeks, you don't have to wait long for an answer.

"I think Powell is the one that jumps out to me on defense," Ryan answered immediately. "He had four interceptions through these camps and you can ignore it you want, but he makes plays. He's smart."

Ty Powell was a seventh round pick of the Seattle Seahawks to years ago, out of tiny Harding College in Arkansas. He played defensive end at Harding and was a high school quarterback. And he spent time on the Seahawks and New York Giants practice squads before he signed with the Bills in October 2013.

"I know the history," Ryan says. "I guess he was a former quarterback and then bounced around—outside linebacker, defensive end, all that type of stuff. But he seems to have found a home at inside linebacker. I've been really happy with him."

Powell was an important special teamer for the Bills last year, but his play so far this offseason may force the coaches to find a spot for him on defense.


He only caught one pass last season, and 17 the year before that, his rookie year. But it's clear the Bills coaching staff loves what they've seen from 3rd year wide out Marquise Goodwin.

Goodwin has flashed his spectacular speed on a consistent basis during the OTA workouts this spring. But the Bills believe he's got a lot more to offer than speed.

"He's got that 4.2 speed, but he's also a route runner and if you get open, that's the guy who gets the ball thrown to them," Ryan says about Goodwin. "I've been impressed with him."

With a receiving corps that has Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Percy Harvin at the top of the depth chart, Goodwin's explosive speed sets him apart from the rest of the recievers vying for roster spots, like Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley.


The field is crowded at wide receiver, but Deonte Thompson has made some plays in the OTAs and he's likely to get a closer look in the weeks ahead. After two seasons with the Ravens, the Bills signed Thompson last December and he played on special teams in the finale in Foxboro.

Thompson has great speed-he ran the forty in 4.31 in his pro day at the University of Florida. He caught 10-passes two years ago when he got a chance to play in 7 games with the Ravens. His experience shows on the practice field. If he continues to make plays with the second and third teamers in the mandatory minicamp next week. Thompson could be in line for more playing time when training camp opens in July.


Is it too soon to refer to him as a safety? Maybe ... maybe not.

Going into his ninth year in the NFL, it's tough to argue that Graham is under-the-radar. But his transition to safety went extremely smooth during the OTAs and there's no reason to think it won't continue next week at minicamp.

Graham's instincts and intelligence give him an edge over some of the younger candidates for the open safety spot in the Buffalo secondary, alongside Aaron Williams. With another three days of work on the back end of the defense on tap for minicamp, don't be surprised if Graham lines up back there for good starting in training camp July 31st.


MarQueis Gray made a splash in his first game with the Bills last November. He caught two big passes in the win over the Browns, one for 30 yards, the other for 42 yards. Both of them produced first downs.

With his speed and athleticism, Gray has something to offer the Bills on the depth chart behind Charles Clay. The question will be—can he provide enough in the run game to merit a spot on the roster? Specifically, can he block?

That assessment may be on hold until training camp.

"The big thing is going to be when we put the pads on—the kind of blocker he is," Ryan says about Gray. "He can do all the route running and catching the football and all that—his kind of speed is impressive. Now it just becomes can he have the same kind of impact as a blocker. That's something we'll be looking for."


Buffalo's fifth round draft pick has had some good moments in the OTAs—displaying unusually quick feet for a man his size. As the OTA sessions moved along, the coaching staff seemed to get more and more reps for Williams with the first teamers. The three minicamp practices will probably see even more touches for Williams, as the Bills try to evaluate his value in the passing game as well as the run.

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