Thought the Draft was over, huh? Well, Buddy and the Bills weren't done yet, what with only 89 men currently on their roster and needs still remaining for backups (and the future). After the team earned the nickname "Walking Dead" in 2011, fielding major injuries everywhere from defensive back (McGee, of course) to offensive line (center Eric Wood may have been the most vital loss of the year), it's no wonder that the Bills are looking to put as many healthy bodies on the roster as possible going in to training camp. This will not only make for a fun and competitive camp this season, but will also give fans the peace of mind knowing that, should a player go down in 2012, there will be capable second or even third sting options at the position (both Zebrie Sanders and Cordy Glenn can play multiple positions on the line, and Asper can play guard now, but is being projected to back up Wood eventually).
So, with a bevy of undrafted free agents still moping near the phone in the hopes of hearing that voice telling them they're an NFL player, the Bills wasted no time going out and grabbing some more talent (they do have 11 offseason roster spots to fill). Though they haven't all been signed yet, here are a few highlights of who looks to be invited to the Buffalo competition camps this spring.
QB Aaron Corp - Richmond
This guy just hasn't had the most luck in college, regardless of the potential he had going in. Once the backup at USC to Mark Sanchez, Corp was the projected starter for the Trojans in 2009, but then went down in training camp when a lineman fell on his leg, cracking his fibula and giving birth to the Matt Barkley era instead. After healing (and coming in for a couple unimpressive games in relief of Barkley), Corp headed to Division I-AA Richmond in 2010, where he started 5 games before going down to a knee injury (okay, so we know he's not a solid starter). However, you've got to admire the kid's fire, because after suffering no less than three torn ligaments (in addition to cartilage damage), Corp came back in 2011 and played all 11 games. Though he had really no talent to throw to, Aaron still managed to connect on 63.7% of his passes and set the FCS single game completion record with 91.2% against Towson State (in a game Richmond lost...). He finished 2011 with 2682 yards and 17 TDs, which means he can do great things when healthy (I mean, he was a scholarship athlete at USC and they don't just give those free rides out to anyone). His coach at Richmond described him as "a humble, hard working guy" who flat out "loves the game of football", giving great praise to his work ethic and passion to contribute. Corp makes good decisions with the ball, is a true student of football with a real talent for managing games, and impressed with his speed at the Combine this year, running a 4.72 40 yd dash that ranked 5th among ALL quarterbacks (even with his leg/knee past). Ranked in the top 15 for quarterback prospects in 2012 (ahead of Kellen Moore and Case Keenum), Aaron sounds like every other pick for the Bills this year: a solid value that will add depth to the team.
P Shawn Powell-Florida State
Player number three from FSU this offseason, Powell will join Zebrie Sanders and Nigel Bradham on a Bills team that just loves their southern schools (only draftees Asper and Potter played in the north). Let's face it Bills fans, punter Brian Moorman may have been your most consistent player in the last decade, playing 11 seasons and averaging 43.9 yards/punt (241 inside the opponents 20), but he's 36 years old and time will be catching up with him eventually. Powell was an All-American in 2011, topping the NCAA with an average 47 yards/punt. Over his four seasons with the Seminoles, Powell accrued 7424 yards on 168 punts, a career average of 44 per kick. He can routinely boot the ball more than 60 yards (he kicked a career high 69 yarder in 2011) and is just a beast of a guy, measuring out at 6'4", 235 lbs. His only perceived downside is that he's a three step punter, but otherwise he's got great hang time and accuracy, can both pooch and coffin corner with ease (dropped 43% inside the opponent's 20), and has a very fluid, natural ability as a holder for place kickers. A worker who improved every year with the Seminoles, Powell should be ready to replace Moorman should the Ageless Wonder ever slow down. He's so good, I'm starting to wonder why we didn't take him in the 7th round, as he seems a much more explicable decision than Western Michigan's Potter.
Though these are the only two confirmed signings for Buffalo as of the writing of this article, there's also several other players tweeting about contact with the Bills and expressing excitement about signing (yes, players are getting excited about coming to Buffalo again). Among them are three projected safeties: Stanford's Delano Howell (starting strong safety who was the top kick returning tackler on the team with 78 stops in 2011, 4.65 40 at the Combine), Penn State's Nick Sukay (19 consecutive starts halted in 2011 when he tore a pectoral muscle against Illinois... he was leading the Big Ten with 3 INTs at the time and has 8 in three years), and linebacker Ian Wild from Mercyhurst (a Division III starter projected as a strong safety by many, Wild is also a lacrosse star who seems to be everywhere on the football field making plays). Rounding things out are running back from Missouri State Chris Douglas and two offensive linemen, Colorado State tackle Paul Madsen and Texas guard David Snow.
Not content to rest on their laurels waiting for training camp to begin, Buffalo is ensuring that they're stacked with players on their roster come training camp, so that they can find not only the right starters, but find that depth that so eluded them in 2011. It'll be a battle in Western New York for playing time this year, with more options than we've seen in quite some time in the Queen City, and that has to make Bills fans relieved, perhaps even a little hopeful.
It's been a long time coming, but Buffalo just keeps diligently chugging along on the right track for 2012, one that will hopefully lead them back to the playoffs come season's end. Hey, even if they should fail, at least Bills fans won't be able to say that Buddy and the front office didn't try.