2015 NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Leonard Williams, DL, Southern California

August 20th, 2014
USC junior defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be a top prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft. (Photo: Kirby Lee — USA Today Sports)

USC junior defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be a top prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft. (Photo: Kirby Lee — USA Today Sports)

BBD Contributor: Brian Krosky

Versatility is the name of the game in the NFL. Most players are now asked to do more than one job, and the ability to contribute in multiple capacities sets great players away from good players. This is especially true for defensive linemen, where the best players need to be able to rush the passer and stuff the run, play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes and adjust their talents to multiple roles. Leonard Williams, a 2013 third-team AP All-American from USC, has no shortage of versatility.

As a freshman in 2012, Williams played 3-technique defensive tackle on a defense coached by Monte Kiffin, who is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. The Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year, he totaled 64 tackles, including 13.5 for loss (8 sacks), while he also had four deflections, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

Last season, Williams occupied the 5-technique defensive end position under new USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He started 13 games and had 74 tackles, including 13.5 for loss (6 sacks), with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He suffered a shoulder injury against Oregon State on Nov. 1, and struggled with the recovery the rest of the year.

USC’s defensive scheme is changing yet again this year and Williams is set to play defensive end in the Trojans’ 3-4 alignment. He has two years of remaining eligiblity for USC, but should be a top prospect for the 2015 draft if he declares.

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Another Trip to Canton? Bill Polian’s Wait for the Pro Football Hall of Fame May Not Be Long

August 19th, 2014
(Bill Wippert/AP)

Bill Polian’s HOF chances have increased significantly thanks to a new contributor category. (Bill Wippert/AP)

BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot

Buffalo Bills fans may not have to wait long to return to Canton. Former Bills general manager Bill Polian’s chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame improved greatly for 2015 when it was announced Aug. 6 that the Hall of Fame was adding a contributor category for nomination starting next year.

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Updated Buffalo Bills Depth Chart and 53-Man Roster Projection With Two Preseason Games to Go

August 18th, 2014
Mike Williams has seemingly established himself as a starting wide receiver this preseason. (Photo: Andrew Weber — USA Today Sports)

Mike Williams has seemingly established himself as a starting wide receiver this preseason. (Photo: Andrew Weber — USA Today Sports)

BBD Editor: Dan Hope

It’s time for the Buffalo Bills to start thinking about cutting their roster down to size.

Their preseason is more than halfway over, as they have played three exhibition games and only two more to go before the regular season begins. On Aug. 26, the Bills will have to trim their roster from 90 players to 75. Just four days later, the Bills will only be able to have 53 players—the regular-season limit—on their active roster.

In two weeks, the Bills will only have 53 players on their active roster. Over the course of their contests against the New York Giants (Hall of Fame Game), Carolina Panthers (Aug. 8) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Saturday), it has become more clear who those 53 players should be, and which of those players should be leading the depth charts at their respective positions.

After the team’s release of its first unofficial depth chart prior to the Hall of Fame Game, I took my first stab at projecting who the team’s 53 players would be after its final cuts. Going into Week 3—arguably the most important and telling week of the preseason—some depth charts have been reconfigured and four players who were previously left outside now look like they will be sticking around.

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Takeaways: Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2

August 17th, 2014
EJ Manuel and the Bills offense controlled the ball Saturday night but had trouble finding the end zone. (Photo: Jason Bridge — USA Today Sports)

EJ Manuel and the Bills offense controlled the ball Saturday night but had trouble finding the end zone. (Photo: Jason Bridge — USA Today Sports)

BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino

The Buffalo Bills fell to 1-2 in the preseason after dropping Saturday night’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 19-16. A lack of sound situational football, particularly on offense, kept the Bills from winning despite some positive play from their defense. The Bills only punted twice in 13 offensive series, while they controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes and ran 35 more plays on offense, but they only scored one touchdown.

The biggest positive of the game for the Bills came in escaping with no major injuries, including No. 4 overall pick Sammy Watkins, who left the game in the first quarter with a rib injury but was reported to be “fine” by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

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2014 NFL Preseason Week 2: Live Analysis of Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

August 16th, 2014
(Keith Srakocic, AP)

The Bills and Steelers will face off in preseason action after holding joint practices this week. (Keith Srakocic, AP)

BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills 19-16 after Shaun Suisham’s gimme field goal to end the game.

The game itself started poorly for the Bills. Ben Roethlisberger threw for two touchdown passes while EJ Manuel was efficient, but unwilling to throw the ball down the field. The starting offense was able to move the ball very well against the Steelers, but the starting offense couldn’t punch the ball in for a touchdown. Manuel and company settled for six points and were stopped twice on 4th down in the first half.

Manuel’s backups, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel, didn’t exactly look great either. The two combined to go 6-of-15 for 66 yards and an interception. Both quarterbacks were able to scramble successfully at times, but overall neither impressed.

Defensively, the Bills once again looked dominant against the run. Pittsburgh was held to 35 yards on 18 carries. The biggest weakness of the 2013 Buffalo Bills, has been one of the team’s biggest strengths thus far in the preseason.

Landon Cohen continued his dominant play in the preseason by blowing up a running play for a loss and also recovering a fumble recovery and rumbling down field for 59 yards. He’s been extremely quick off the snap and will be very difficult for this coaching staff to cut. It should be noted that Alan Branch didn’t enter the game until the midway point of the 4th quarter, so the veteran may be at risk of being cut.

Late in the game, Cyrus Kouandjio, Buffalo’s second round pick, entered. At the end of the game he missed two consecutive blocks that led to Jeff Tuel sacks. The second led to a strip sack which gave the Steelers the ball at Buffalo’s one yard line. Kouandjio will make the roster as he was Buffalo’s second round pick, but his play has been disastrous thus far.

The best news of the evening is that Sammy Watkins’ injury is not serious. Early in the game, Watkins was hit in the ribs. He left the game and did not return. Various media outlets reported that the injury was not serious.

With two preseason games remaining, Buffalo’s starting offense needs to score touchdowns and build confidence to enter the regular season. EJ Manuel played better at home in 2013, so hopefully that trend will continue with the final two preseason games.

 

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