The Bills started big when it came to signing their draft choices as Buffalo got seventh-round pick Mike Jasper to sign his rookie contract Thursday. The 6'4 1/2" 380-pound defensive lineman was a player the Bills took a flyer on with the last of their nine draft picks this past spring.
"He's an exceptional athlete," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "We would've signed him as a free agent so we just drafted him and we're going to see if he can play."
Jasper, who has a vertical leap of better than 32 inches despite his enormous size, was ecstatic to finally put pen to paper after a long wait during the lockout this offseason.
"It's been very excruciating just waiting and watching to see what happens," Jasper told Buffalobills.com. "I'm just happy to finally be here and get to work."
His past two collegiate seasons, Jasper played guard on the offensive line for Bethel University in Tennessee, but he played nose tackle earlier in his college career and that's where the Bills intend to line him up.
"We're going to play him at nose," said Bills head coach Chan Gailey. "He played offense. He's played some defense, but he played offense in college. He wants to be a nose and we're going to give him a shot to be that."
Though he's two years removed from playing nose tackle, Jasper, who is considered by scouts to be a quick study, doesn't anticipate having any problems getting re-acclimated to the position.
"The game is still the same," he said. "I've been playing football since I was five. So it'll come back with the muscle memory and understanding the terminology and the playbook. As soon as I get out there I feel, God willing, it will come quick."
Having not had the benefit of offseason OTAs or minicamps Jasper knows he's got a lot of work in front of him, but he's confident he'll be able to pick things up on the fly.
"Really I just want to come in and help make the team better the best way I can," said Jasper. "Coach (Giff) Smith and Coach (George) Edwards they've got a good game plan and I'm sure I'll catch on quick. I'm a fast learner, so as soon as I can get out there and make the team better, that's what I want to do."