The Bills decided to use their ninth and final pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on a kicker. John Potter from Western Michigan was selected to come into training camp and compete with veteran Rian Lindell. Potter was the first kicker selected in the draft by the Bills since 1990 when they selected John Nies in the sixth round out of Arizona.
General Manager Buddy Nix thinks that Potter can certainly help boost the team's touchback total.
"This guy is a kickoff guy he kicked through the uprights kicking off and if you can make, or kick the ball in the end zone and make them start on the 20 it gives you a much better chance defensively. Then it will be up to Chan to figure out a spot to get him in the 46, so he is active, but if he can consistently kick it in the end zone than he is worth that seventh pick."
Potter completed the 2011 season as the team's leader with 107 points and holds the school record for kickers with 333 points. He also broke a school record by making 54 straight PATs with 54 consecutive. He is also unafraid to make a big hit. He holds the program record for most tackles made by a kicker with 36. He won't be doing much tackling for the Bills; they hope to utilize his strong leg to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone.
"Yes, I can definitely kick the ball out of the end zone, especially moving up five yards from college," said Potter. "I think it is good any team that can consistently kick it out saves you from good returners. I think I can really provide something to the Buffalo Bills."
He was optimistic that there was a chance his name would get called on draft day, but Potter was uncertain.
"I'm stunned, I am excited," he said. "I never thought that I would've gotten drafted and be able to play for a team like the Buffalo Bills."
Buffalo did have some contact with him however, during the pre-draft process.
"Yes, I have been talking to Coach (Bruce) DeHaven over the phone," Potter said. "He has been telling me that they are interested in how strong my leg was and they wanted me to come in."
Potter's journey to the NFL began like many other kickers in this league and that is by playing soccer. While he enjoyed playing soccer growing up he always envisioned himself doing something else.
"I started off playing soccer, but I always wanted to play football, so once seventh grade hit and I could start playing middle school football I started doing that. Eventually, getting into freshman year of high school we had kicker tryouts and I had the strongest leg, so I have been working on it ever since."
The Bills do see value in their late seventh round pick. A kicker who can consistently kick the ball out of the back of the end zone can bring in some real value to an NFL roster.
"I think so," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "If you can start every time on the 20 the wear and tear your cover guys is a lot less."