The Buffalo Bills have some added scouting "brainpower" at the National Scouting Combine this year.
He is Buddy Nix, who spent seven years as the chief personnel man with San Diego and eight years before that as one of the Bills' top scouts.
Nix, 69, spent 32 years as a college coach before entering the pro ranks with Buffalo.
Nix parted ways with San Diego after the 2008 draft. Tom Modrak, Bills vice president of college scouting, spent a couple months wooing Nix to make a return to the Bills' organization. Nix agreed in late January.
"It's kind of like coming home for me," Nix said Thursday. "Mr. [Ralph] Wilson is in the Hall of Fame now, but I'd love to see him get back in the playoffs and win. Tom's been a good friend for a long time. And a lot of the other guys I know. Hasn't much changed around there. There's still a lot of familiar faces."
Nix's title is national college scout. He said he's busy familiarizing himself with college prospects and the exact details of his role will be determined.
"I've got a lot of catching up to do for this draft, so now it's kind of hectic trying to catch up," Nix said. "Any way they decide I can help, I'll do it. I know that's kind of vague, but that's the way it is. Whatever they want me to do that I can do to help, I will."
Nix lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., and was the Bills' Southeast regional scout in the 1990s. He left for San Diego with John Butler in 2001 and became the Chargers' college scouting director. In 2003, he added the title of assistant general manager under A.J. Smith.
After last year's draft, he decided it was time to try out retirement.
"The first 6 1/2 [in San Diego] was great and then the last six months was a little strained, kind of to a point where I know I'm too old to change much. I was tired, too. You stay on the road for seven years, flying around like I was, and I think I needed a rest, so that's what we did."
Nix decided to unretire late last season and said he picked Buffalo over several other teams that pursued him.
"For about two to three months it was great," he said of retirement. "Then it started getting old, not having a real purpose when you got up. I looked at some other opportunities. I wasn't really looking. It's amazing it seems when you're not looking, there's more opportunities. But that don't mean they were thinking the NFL was going to fold up if I didn't get back in it."
Nix agreed that there is no substitute for experience in scouting.
"That helps," he said. "You can hire a young scout and it takes you four to five years before he can go back and compare them to guys five years ago. That helps make you a good scout. I don't think you get too old to do it as long as you have your senses about you. The longer really you can go, the more value you can be. I hope that'll be the case."
The top tight end prospect who was set to become a free agent this month is off the NFL market.
The Tennessee Titans placed the franchise tag on tight end Bo Scaife.
Scaife, a four-year veteran, ranked seventh among NFL tight ends in 2008 with 58 catches. He had 561 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The Titans went up to the deadline for putting the franchise tag on him, which effectively takes him off the free agent market. (A team would have to give up two first-round draft picks to sign him.) Scaife now is guaranteed an offer from the Titans to make a one-year salary in 2009 worth the average of the top five paid players at tight end in the NFL. That figure is $4.46 million.
The Titans were considering placing the tag on kicker Rob Bironas, but they reached a contract agreement with Bironas on Thursday. With Scaife off the table, there are no sure-fire difference-makers available at the position scheduled to be available on the market. The best might be L.J. Smith, who is a legitimate downfield threat. But he only has been able to play a full 16 games once in six years.
The man at the combine is Louisiana State's Herman Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 364 pounder. When he was born, he weighed 15 pounds, 14 ounces and he measured 23.5 inches long. He's one of the biggest babies on record in the state of Louisiana. He's nicknamed "The House," like former Buffalo Bill Howard "House" Ballard. However, Ballard weighed a mere 335, which was massive by the standard of 1987, when he was drafted by the Bills. Johnson's size is more similar to that of former Bill Jamie Nails, who weighed 387 at the combine in 1997.
Johnson weighed 411 when he showed up at LSU as a freshman. He was 385 at the end of the college season. He has lost 21 pounds the past two months working out at a sports training complex called Plex in Stafford, Texas.