Six, count 'em, six Ohio State Buckeyes are actually in town.
We knew linebacker Darron Lee was visiting and it was reported that quarterback Cardale Jones and cornerback Eli Apple has visits planned. But apparently they weren't alone. Tackle Taylor Decker, defensive lineman Adolphus Washington and safety Vonn Bell were all in Buffalo Thursday night as well, Fox Sports' Peter Schrager reported. The Bills hosted the six at the Italian restaurant Giancarlo's.
Lee would fit a need in the Bills defense as an athletic, rangy complement to Preston Brown but he might not be available at No. 19 overall. Apple, a second-team All Big Ten selection, projects as a first-rounder after taking on the opposition's No. 1 wideout each week in finishing with 33 tackles (two for loss), one interception and eight pass breakups last season. He had 53 stops (5.5 for loss), three picks and 10 break-ups in 2014.
“Play with a passion and energy, that’s just my game," Lee said at the NFL scouting combine. "I like getting my guys hyped up so they can go and make a play. That’s what I’m all about. I’ve always been about that from when I was yay high and that won’t stop when I get to the league.”
The tackle Decker (6 foot 7, 310 pounds) is also a projected first-rounder. He was named the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Earlier this week, Jones indicated he had a private workout scheduled with the Bills. With his size, big arm and running ability, he's an intriguing developmental option in the middle rounds. Then again, he was also benched last season despite an undefeated record. The Bills likely examined Jones closely on the field and on the board to see why. Last season, the 6-foot-5, 253-pound Jones completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,460 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 193 yards and two scores.
In an offense that features the deep ball and a mobile quarterback, he could be worth the risk. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott also had a visit planned with the Bills.
And Bell? He declared himself the best safety in the draft earlier this off-season. Buffalo did sign Robert Blanton to a one-year deal and restructured Corey Graham's contract, but could consider the playmaking Bell at N0. 19, too. He finished with 65 tackles, nine pass break-ups and two picks last season.
It sure makes sense for Rex Ryan and the Bills to consider Ohio State's finest. This is the group that helped turn around a program once banned from postseason play by the NCAA. And defensively, as Bell explained, the Buckeyes adopted rugby-style tackling popularized by the Seattle Seahawks --- a leverage-based tactic that forces players to take their head out of the equation.
"And it worked for us tremendously," Bell said. "We were the No. 1 team with the least missed tackles for the past three years. So it worked tremendously for us. And they’re still doing it. It just worked."
Like Lee, he was around the ball. In 2014, the safety had six interceptions.
“Preparation," Bell said. "I just wanted to be that guy to make the play for the team — be that spark. Provide that energy. Get my guys going. And when you have that spark, you’re steamrolling downhill and everybody starts making plays. You’re out there celebrating with your teammates, your brothers. You just want to be that guy who provides that energy. And it’s all off preparation. Constant film study. Knowing your opponent. Know what type of routes they run, know what type of ball the quarterback throws."
Which Buckeye would you like to see in Buffalo? Let us know below.