BBD Editor: Dan Hope
If you’re familiar with the NFL Draft Sites Network, then you know we take undrafted free agents pretty seriously around here. NE Patriots Draft continues to be the place to go year in and year out for the Internet’s most updated undrafted free agents tracker as they happen, while each team’s signings were updated and broken down on each of the network’s sites, including here at BBD.
The Bills signed 16 undrafted free agents in total, but while all have made enough of an impression to get signed and will have a shot to win over the coaching staff in training camp, the majority of those players will be released due to a lack of available roster space and the team’s lack of long-term commitment into each player.
Last year, the only undrafted free agent to make the Bills’ Week 1 roster was safety Delano Howell. Howell only played in one game for the Bills and was released midseason, but another UDFA, punter Shawn Powell, was brought back three games into the season following the release of veteran Brian Moorman.
Typically, each NFL teams retains 1-2 undrafted free agents each year. But with none of them being a given to make the Bills’ roster, and all of them having a shot, let’s take a look at the five undrafted free agents most likely to stick around in Buffalo next season.
5. Zack Chibane, RG, Syracuse
Bills coach Doug Marrone did not draft any of his players that he coached over the past four years at Syracuse, but the Bills did sign one of his Orange products in right guard Zack Chibane.
While Chibane had an obvious reason to sign with Buffalo over other possible suitors, the Bills designating a preseason roster spot for him also means something about Marrone’s confidence in him, as Marrone would know him better than any other NFL coach. With the Bills somewhat thin on depth at guard following Andy Levitre’s free-agent departure, Chibane could have a shot of earning a spot on the roster.
Chibane lacks the explosion or power to drive defenders back off the line, but he is an efficient blocker who moves his feet well, engages defenders with his hands and has a strong motor. He should have a good shot to compete with Keith Williams, Chris Scott and fellow undrafted free agent Ryan Turnley for a backup guard spot.
4. Brandon Kaufman, WR, Eastern Washington
Even in an impressive crop of small-school talent among the Buffalo Bills’ class of undrafted free agents, Eastern Washington wide receiver Brandon Kaufman ought not to be overlooked. Considering he has outstanding size (6’5”, 216 pounds) for the position and broke the FCS record with 1,850 receiving yards in his final season before declaring for the draft, it’s a surprise he was overlooked to the point of being undrafted.
While Kaufman does not have great speed (ran a disappointing 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine), he is a skilled downfield receiver who tracks the ball well and has strong hands. While he may have some trouble separating at the next level due to a lack of straight-line speed and lateral agility, he could at least be an excellent red zone threat.
The odds may still be stacked against Kaufman, however, as the result of joining a team who also drafted two receivers and signed another undrafted free agent who also has great size, but more speed and agility than Kaufman does (more to come on Page 2).