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'Sports Talk Sunday' rewind: Bills' draft review

"Sports Talk Sunday" rolled on without Bucky Gleason, with The News' Bills beat reporter Vic Carucci stepping into his host seat, alongside Jerry Sullivan and Adam Benigni. Heather Prusak and Jonah Javad, both of WGRZ, popped in for a segment apiece.

Here are the major topics from Sunday's show, which aired originally at 11:30 p.m. May 1 on WGRZ-TV. The season is expected to run through June 26.

1) Breaking down the Bills' top three picks: The show's draft gurus, Javad and Carucci, both gush about the Bills' selections of Shaq Lawson (Clemson) and Reggie Ragland (Alabama). Javad calls the draft "logical" and argues that it also filled needs, while Carucci praises the war room for not "overthinking" the draft.

Javad talks about how strong both players are against the run -- Lawson lives in opponents' backfields; he can set the edge as a defensive end in a 3-4 or also be effective as an outside linebacker who can get after the passer. The Bills cleared Lawson medically, Carucci adds, as all parties have downplayed the possibility of shoulder surgery at any point.

[Read about the friendship between Shaquille O'Neal and Shaq Lawson]

Carucci calls Lawson the "best edge rusher in the draft," who boasts both size and quickness. Ragland is a "punishing run stopper," says Javad; Carucci mentions how great Ragland was in his visit with the Bills, and how his Alabama teammates loved having him on the team.

[See a photo gallery of the Bills' 2016 draft class]

Shaq Lawson poses with the Bills' brass after being chosen as Buffalo's first-round pick. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

Shaq Lawson poses with the Bills' brass after being chosen as Buffalo's first-round pick. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)


2) Where the top trio fits: Carucci sees Ragland starting from Day One, with real potential to take the role of defensive signal-caller away from incumbent middle linebacker Preston Brown.

While Sully compares Ragland to former Bill Brandon Spikes, Javad claims the Alabama product is far more versatile, calling him a three-down linebacker. Carucci is less confident in Ragland's ability to cover running backs out of the backfield.

[Everything you need to know about the Bills' 2016 draft class]

Although Carucci thought the Bills might address the offensive line in the third round, he notes how new defensive line coach John Blake loved Adolphus Washington, whom the Bills beat reporter describes as big and physical, yet raw. Sully wonders if the Washington choice is insurance in case Kyle Williams, who returns on a restructured contract, breaks down again.


3) Evaluating Cardale Jones: Prusak joins the party to talk about the Bills' fourth rounder -- Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones -- whom Bills GM Doug Whaley said possesses the talent to be a franchise QB.

Because of Tyrod Taylor's vulnerability to injury as a dual-threat QB -- like his injury from a horse-collar tackle against Tennessee last year -- Prusak thinks it's possible that Jones could be called on as the starter sooner rather than later, especially considering how EJ Manuel has played in the No. 2 role.

Carucci pumps the brakes a little, arguing that even though Whaley admitted to using a fourth-round pick on a fifth-round talent, Jones developing into a backup quarterback would be a big accomplishment. Sully charted out QBs taken in the second round and later fared in the NFL, and it's not a pretty sight.

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is a low-risk, high-reward pick for the Bills. (Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is a low-risk, high-reward pick for the Bills. (Andrew Weber/Getty Images)


4) What this means for Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel: Carucci is a little unnerved at how Doug Whaley refers to Manuel as one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL, comparing him to former Bill Frank Reich.

Still, Vic understands that the QB position isn't as integral to the Bills' plan compared to other teams, as Rex Ryan wants his identity to be a strong running game and a dominant defense. A Bills QB -- a "caddie," as Carucci puts it -- would just have to protect the football and not self-destruct.

After Benigni reminds viewers that Tyrod Taylor still is safe for 2016, and Prusak notes how the Bills need more from Taylor late in games. Sully looks at the Bills' quarterback situation and sees two projects and another guy who's on his way out of the league.


5) Extra points:

Sully: Roger Goodell called Laremy Tunsil's fall in the draft "exciting" after the Ole Miss offensive tackle had his Instagram account hacked to show a video of a man smoking pot from a gas mask. Eric Winston, the head of NFL Players Association, commented that Goodell's reaction showed how little the commissioner cares about his players.

Sully suggests that Goodell drop pot as a banned substance, as Marcell Dareus once asked him what's wrong with using it to relax after getting beaten up on Sunday afternoons.

Vic: Doug Whaley deserves credit for admitting that the draft was a referendum on last year's problems on defense, much like why the offensive side of the ball was addressed in 2015's draft.

Rex Ryan, though, was defensive to the media, and Vic says the Bills head coach -- due to the first two draft picks especially -- won't have the excuses of dumbing down the scheme or communication issues with his defensive leaders.

Benigni: Rob Gronkowski's youngest brother, Glenn Gronkowski, signed with the Bills, and Buffalo will give UB product Joe Licata a tryout. Benigni also references Eric Striker's moving message that went viral -- Tyler Dunne passes it along here -- and see Striker as a guy to pull for.

[Read about the Bills' undrafted free-agent signings]

Watch the next "Sports Talk Sunday" at 11:30 p.m. May 8 on WGRZ-TV Channel 2.

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