As promised, the second installment of my Bills Mailbag is below. I hope you find it entertaining/enlightening/useful in some way. Thank you to those who submitted questions. Now let's get to them.
@JaySkurski is the new qb coach fit to teach a young qb? was a at coach in kc what has mcd said on the matter to make this fan feel comfortable?
— matthew (@mattymelts) May 20, 2017
The Bills hired David Culley away from Kansas City to serve as quarterbacks coach. As Matthew alludes to, Culley did not coach quarterbacks for the Chiefs. His coaching background has been primarily with wide receivers. In fact, in 23 years as an NFL assistant, he has served as a wide receivers coach every year. Additionally, he was the Philadelphia Eagles' senior offensive assistant in 2011-12 and the Chiefs' assistant head coach from 2013-16.
However, Culley was a quarterback as a player. He was recruited to Vanderbilt as a quarterback by Bill Parcells. He also has six years of working as a quarterbacks coach at the the collegiate level. His time spent in the NFL with Andy Reid – who knows a thing or two about coaching quarterbacks – will also benefit Culley in his role with the Bills.
Here is what Reid told the Bills' official website about Culley at the Pro Bowl: "You’re getting an experienced guy that even though people perceive him not to be experienced at the quarterback position, he’s got that taken care of. He understands it. He knows it. Then he’s got years under his belt as an NFL coach. That’s the most important thing right there."
The bottom line is, Culley has played the position and been around it enough as a coach that McDermott's judgment that he can handle the job should be trusted.
— Circle The Wagons 🍻 (@BillsMafia607) May 20, 2017
"Worried" isn't the word I would use (I save that for the health and welfare of my family and friends – and job), but I agree with your assessment that depth at those positions is lacking.
Starting at tight end, Nick O'Leary figures to be the second option behind Charles Clay. That is definitely a position I thought the Bills could have addressed in the draft, but with only six picks, it didn't work out. The team did kick the tires on free agent Gary Barnidge recently, which shows they are looking at the possibility of adding to the position. Project Logan Thomas, who was acquired late last season, is ingriguing, but it's tough to know how much he's progressed without seeing him in practice and a preseason game, at least.
Safety is another position that figured to be a possibility in the draft. The depth chart looks think behind projected starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. There's no way to sugarcoat it – an injury to either one of them would be supremely difficult to overcome. It's hard to even project who the primary backup at the position will be? Possibly Shamiel Gary, which I'm sure is leaving many of you to ask "who?"
I'll add another position to this list, as well. Defensive end. After Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson, the only player with any NFL experience is Ryan Davis. The reality is the the roster is paper thin at those positions. Don't think for a second that new General Manager Brandon Beane doesn't have his hands full. But let him "worry" about that.
@JaySkurski If you were starting new franchise and could pick one player on the Bills roster to start building the franchise around, who would it be?
— Jim Eimer (@nywvfl) May 20, 2017
Good question! I'm going to assume that current contracts do not factor in and whoever I pick will come with a deal that works for me.
With that being the case, I'm taking Sammy Watkins. Obviously, that pick isn't without some significant risk. There is no guarantee Watkins comes back healthy after a second surgery to repair a broken foot. That's why the Bills declined to pick up his fifth-year option. But here's why my choice is Watkins:
• Age: Can you believe he's still just 23? It feels like he should be older considering he's entering his fourth NFL season, but Watkins still has youth on his side. This is the primary reason I'd choose him over a player like LeSean McCoy.
• Talent: We saw it at the end of 2015. Over the final nine games that year, only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones had more than Watkins' 900 receiving yards. Those are the elite of the elite receivers in the NFL. I know Watkins can be one of them – if he can stay on the field. Having seen it is the reason I'm taking Watkins over other options like defensive end Shaq Lawson or cornerback Tre'Davious White, who have yet to prove themselves on the NFL level.
• Off the field: Watkins has no strikes against him the way defensive tackle Marcell Dareus does.
@JaySkurski How does Andre Holmes look and who are your final depth chart for WRs
— TERRY MCBRIDE (@Woodyisagoodie) May 20, 2017
Keep in mind we've only seen one spring practice, so it's far too soon to draw any sort of conclusions at his point, but Holmes did have a couple drops in the organized team activity that was open to the media. Maybe we made him nervous (probably not).
At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Holmes is a big target for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. That type of size is something the Bills have lacked at wide receiver lately. I expect him to be the No. 3 or 4 receiver behind Watkins, rookie Zay Jones and potentially Philly Brown. I had Holmes third and Brown fourth in the depth chart I filed a few days ago, followed by: 5. Brandon Tate. 6. Walt Powell. 7. Dez Lewis. 8. Jeremy Butler. 9. Kolby Listenbee. 10. Daikiel Shorts. 11. Brandon Reilly.
If six receivers make it, there could be two jobs up for grabs. Tate would figure to have the inside track on one because he's the primary returner. After that, it could come down to Powell, Lewis, Butler and Listenbee for one spot.
Via Facebook: Tyler Otterbein-Do you see any UDFA's with a good chance to make the roster? Like with Johnson the UB back?
The first name to watch in that regard is Austin Rehkow, the punter from Idaho. He can kick field goals and kickoffs, as well, and McDermott values versatility. After that, absolutely Jordan Johnson is a player to watch at training camp. There is not much depth behind LeSean McCoy at running back, and there figures to be at least one job up for grabs. It was troubling to see Johnson on the sidelines Thursday because of an unspecified injury. Now is not a good time of year for undrafted free agents to be missing any practice time.
A couple more players to watch in the summer are Tennessee tight end Jason Croom and West Georgia cornerback Marcus Sayles. As mentioned above, depth at tight end is lacking, and the Bills brought Sayles in on a pre-draft visit, so it says something if they were considering investing a draft pick in him.