Scouting The Scouts, Part 2

Photo of Colorado WR Laviska Shenault from

In Part 1, which lives here, I identified 15 stops that Bills scouts had made at games and practices, looking for the next diamonds in the rough for the 2020 NFL Draft. I told myself that when I had enough snippets of information for BillsMafia, I would write Part 2.

I didn’t think it would happen so soon, but I guess this proves when you have your QBOTF, it frees up your scouts a lot. Here’s the new list. Numbers following player names are typically from the DraftTek Big Board at the time of writing, but sometimes I use my own big board. I’ve bolded the players I think are in play.

Scouts at Colorado Practice 8/7/2019
WR Laviska Shenault (#8) is the crown jewel for the Buffs. What’s interesting is that, by the time you reach the bottom of this article, the Bills’ scouts will have made 3 more contacts.

Photo of Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy from

GM Visit —> GM Beane At Game 9/14/2019 Alabama 47 – SCAR 23
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
SCAR—DL3T Javon Kinlaw (#86), WR Bryan Edwards (#165), WR Shi Smith (#203), ILB TJ Brunson (#226).
BAMA—QB Tua Tagovailoa (#1), WRs Jerry Jeudy (#5) , WR Henry Ruggs III, and DeVonta Smith (#5, #11, #96), EDGEs Terrell Lewis (#12) and Anfernee Jennings (#40), S Xavier McKinney (#25), CB Trevon Diggs (#29), 3-Tech Raekwon Davis (#31), OT Alex Leatherwood (#37).

I’d add ‘Bama RB Najee Harris (#109) as a Gore-type back, a nice complement long-term to Devin Singletary. GM Brandon Beane and his trusty sidekick Joe Schoen attended this game, per Rodak (who’s now working the ‘Bama beat), and I confirmed it. Any Alabama junior or senior listed would be known by Brian Daboll, the Tide’s former OC in 2017. It was smart for the braintrust to attend a game with 5 great WRs, and to watch Kinlaw and Company vs Leatherwood. Watch Bryan Edwards do the McKenzie jet sweep play. Now watch Ruggs’s ridiculous speed. Some draftable players who’ll be Day 2-3 prospects are Shi Smith on a SCAR TD and DeVonta Smith with flypaper hands on a quick slant.

Photo of Syracuse EDGE Alton Robinson from

2 Scouts at Game —> 9/21/2019 Syracuse 52, Western Michigan 33
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
It’s reassuring that Buffalo’s traveling down the Thomas E. Dewey Thruway to Syracuse’s Dome. While ‘Cuse has bookend DEs to look at, the Bills’ scouts likely couldn’t stop focusing on EDGE Alton Robinson (#95 on my board). On an NFL-quality strip-sack, he engaged his blocker and still was able to chop the ball free. Robinson finished with six tackles, three solos, 1.5 sacks, 3 TFL, and 5 QBH. He’s turned over a new leaf since being charged with second-degree robbery. He was dismissed from the program, thrived in Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, and re-applied to ‘Cuse. Alton finished 2018 with 10.0 sacks and 17.0 TFL, the most of all returning rushers not named Kendall Coleman (#300). Coleman had the FBS’s most sacks of all returning players, and was voted team captain. He’s more compactly-built, and gets power through his legs and low center of gravity. Coleman’s best move is a double-move off the snap, frequently countering inside, and has a nice shoulder dip and lean. Dino Babers attributed Coleman’s fast rise as a starter to his relentless work ethic, which McBeane will just eat up. WMU’s Center, Luke Juriga (UNR), is too small for a power-blocking scheme, but you may remember his Dad, Jim, who started on the offensive line for the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl XXIV win. I doubt the Bills will look at either team’s LBs or DBs for tackling prowess. Watch the recap. Just saying.

Photo of Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos from

Scout At Game —> 9/28/2019 Penn State 59, Maryland 0
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
PENN ST—ED Yetur Gross-Matos (#9), WR K.J. Hamler (#116), CB Lamont Wade (#148), G Steven Gonzalez (#155), P Blake Gillikin (#419).
Yetur Gross-Matos (5 tkl) is likely gone without a huge trade-up, but the positional need at EDGE and talent are both there. Watch him abuse Alaric Jackson of Iowa last year. WR/KR/PR K.J. Hamler (#116) is a redshirt sophomore who’s 5-9, 176 with moves and contact balance. Interestingly, the scouts can’t write him up unless he declares, but they’ll remember his game-leading 6 receptions for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. That put him at 1,107 yards on the season so far. He didn’t follow the coach’s directions weeks earlier vs App State, though, when he brought a kickoff out of the end zone to help pull out a win. Hamler’s opposite is Juwan Johnson. Grad student LB Jan Johnson (UNR) might have some buzz on Day 3; his INT shows he’s in the right place at the right time. Same with junior CB Tariq Castro-Fields with this INT. P Blake Gillikin (#419) runs a great fake punt and has attitude after the play; he just won’t back down. He’s DraftTek’s 6th-ranked, and none of the punters this year are big guys. All of them are likely free agents.

Photo of UCF S Richie Grant from

Scout At Game —> 9/28/2019 UCF 56, UConn 21
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
UCF—S Richie Grant (#147), QB McKenzie Milton (#159), 5T Brendan Hayes (#266), C Jordan Johnson (UNR), WR Gabriel Davis (UNR), WR Jacob Harris (UNR).
UCONN—S Tyler Coyle (#251).
Ranked UCF raced out to a 56-0 lead in their 56-21 AAC opener. Junior 6-3 WR Gabriel Davis might have been a subject of purview. Davis made 5 catches for 119 yards. Senior WR Jacob Harris (6-5, 211, unranked) had one catch …but for 74 yards. Tiny RB Adrian Killins is 46-333-7.2 in 2019, and is a dangerous KR (5-121-24.2). 5-tech Brendon Hayes is a good bet given the position and his 6th-7th round projection. He was constantly pressuring in the backfield in this game. Last year, Hayes had 44 tackles with 11.0 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 break-ups, 6 hurries and a fumble recovery. Don’t discount UCF’s Center, Jordan Johnson. At 6-2, 320, he’s the size you want to back up Mitch Morse and the others who served during Morse’s injuries and concussion. He’s vegan, and a fungi…Uh, fun guy.

Photo of Murray St. CB Nigel Walton from

Scout Visit —> Murray St 10/2/2019 Scout at Murray St practice
Murray State is getting more visits by scouts since last year, when the Jaguars selected LB Quincy Williams in RD3, and the NFL didn’t have any game tape to show. Quincy, the older brother of Quinnen Williams, led Murray State in tackles in 2018, and has 31 tackles in 5 games with the Jags despite missing training camp with a meniscus tear. Two as-yet-unranked wideouts and an unranked corner likely caught the scouts’eye at practice: CB Nigel Walton, WR LaMartez Brooks, and WR DaQuon Green. If the scouts stayed for the game against the #3 Georgia Bulldogs, they’d note gritty CB Nigel Walton’s interception (which he returned 35 yards for a TD). It was impressive because Walton never gave up despite the lopsided 42-7 score at the time. When it was still 7-7, Walton also had a fumble recovery, and made 3 solo tackles against the Bulldogs.

Photo of Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs from

GM and Asst GM at game 10/5/2019 Michigan 10, Iowa 3
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
MICHIGAN: G Ben Bredeson (#49), CB Lavert Hill (#72), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (#105), OLB Khaleke Hudson (#113), OLB Josh Uche (#194), WR Tarik Black (#121), S Josh Metellus (#120 – my board), LB Jordan Glasgow (UNR).
IOWA: DL5T A.J. Espenesa (#7), OT Tristan Wirfs (#19), OT Alaric Jackson (#21), QB Nate Stanley (#125).
Beane and Schoen showed up. Michigan runs an old-fashioned, opportunistic, physical defense. They logged eight sacks and six hurries vs the Hawkeyes, which included bookend tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs. With his speed, Josh Uche also looked to give Wirfs some trouble. Who excelled? OLB Khaleke Hudson had 11 tkl (4 solo), 1 TFL, and 1 hurry, and S Josh Metellus is the back 7’s elder statesman who had 6 tkl, 4 solo, and a nice “my ball” INT. Espenesa had 2 tkl, a sack, and a TFL for Iowa. WR Peoples-Jones running across the formation with the right side down-blocking looked familiar, but he just wasn’t a factor (4 for 26 yards and a fumble). Here’s a new name for my board: Michigan Senior LB Jordan Glasgow (UNR), had a spectacular day, second only to Hudson on the box score, with 9 tkl, 5 solo, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and a hurry. He’s played Viper and Will before, and is a special teams standout. He’s got wheels.

Photo of Ohio State ED Jonathon Cooper from

Scout At Game —> 10/5/2019 Michigan State 10, Ohio State 34
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
OHIO ST.: ED Chase Young (#2), CB Jeffrey Okudah (#27), ILB-OLB Malik Harrison (#43), RB J.K. Dobbins (#65), WR K.J. Hill (#66), ED Jonathon Cooper (#95), CB Damon Arnette (#142), WR Binjimen Victor (#189).
MICHIGAN ST.: ED Kenny Willekes (#31) G Kevin Jarvis (#76), ILB Joe Bachie (#107).
Chase Young is likely due diligence, as he’s the best defensive player in the draft. Okudah’s zooming up most draft boards, and Ohio State’s backfield of Okudah (#27), Arnette (#109), and Shaun Wade (#158) gives them the “DBU” moniker in my book. RB J.K. Dobbins is an ideal complement to Singletary. Dobbins has one of the highest number of receptions in this draft class, and runs with decisiveness and power like Gore. He had 24 carries for 172 yards in this game, a 7.2 ypc average, with 1 TD. ILB-OLB Malik Harrison is versatile at LB, which will appeal to Beane, and he recovers a fumble here. WR Binjimen Victor (6-4, 199) caught a pass for 60 yards and led the Buckeyes with a 3-79 (26.3 ypc) -1 TD stat line. WR K.J. Hill was busiest, catching 7 passes for 57 yards (8.1 ypc). For Mich State, ED Kenny Willekes makes an interesting draft target for late RD1, early RD2, but Michigan State hasn’t been a scouted target of Beane’s in the past. LB Joe Bachie has sideline-to-sideline speed, and plays with football smarts and gusto. He’s not the same athlete that Devin Bush was, but he’s aggressive and a heckuva linebacker against the run.

Photo of Oregon LB Troy Dye from

Scout At Game —> 10/5/2019 Oregon 17, Cal 7
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
OREGON— QB Justin Herbert (#3), LB Troy Dye (#23), OT Calvin Throckmorton (#37), TE Jake Breeland (#39), CB Deommodore Lenoir (#68 – my board), G Shane Lemieux (#134), C Jake Hanson (#161), NT Jordon Scott (#231), CB Thomas Graham Jr. (#269), LB Bryson Young (UNR).
CAL— S Ashtyn Davis (#187), LB Evan Weaver (#229), S Jaylinn Hawkins (#301).
The scout had lots to look at on both sides of the ball. Oregon TE Jake Breeland led all pass-catchers with 5 catches for 85 yards (17.4 ypc), including this one that bailed out Herbert. I don’t see the Bills going for TE on Day 1 or Day 2, though. This stop on third down was brought to you by 1-tech Jordon Scott. He’s Lotulelei-sized at 6’1″, 329. Oregon LBs Bryson Young (UNR) and Troy Dye benefited from double-teams on Scott and feasted for 4 tackles apiece, and combined for 1.5 TFL and a hurry. CB Deommodore Lenoir had 5 tkl (4 solo) for the Ducks. It’s been a good run for him; this year in September he netted Zero point 26 yards per cover snap, about a quarter of a yard if you’re in New Math. Center Jake Hanson (#161) is too light for Bobby Johnson at 297 pounds soaking wet. He’s perfect for a quick-fire ZBS team.

XSR960 GKY ARLINGTON, TX 10/7/2019
Cowboys facility Laviska Shenault’s house is 19 miles away. 5 minutes from AT&T Stadium. Dropped off someone on Monday that stayed in Arlington for 3 days.
XSR960 LFK TYLER, TX 10/10/2019 Thur
XSR960 GKY ARLINGTON, TX 10/10/2019 Thur
A second trip to Arlington, dropping off and/or picking up someone. The jet took off immediately back to Buffalo.

Photo of Oregon OT Calvin Throckmorton from

2 Scouts At Game —> 10/11/2019 Oregon 45, Colorado 3
[Game Recap] [Box Score]
COLORADO– WR Laviska Shenault (#8)
OREGON– QB Justin Herbert (#3), LB Troy Dye (#23), OT Calvin Throckmorton (#37), TE Jake Breeland (#39), CB Deommodore Lenoir (#68 – my board), G Shane Lemieux (#134), C Jake Hanson (#161), NT Jordon Scott (#231), CB Thomas Graham Jr. (#269), LB Bryson Young (UNR).
This is the scouts’ second visit with Oregon and an extended visit with Colorado. In this game, Shenault was 4 for 75 yds (17.5) for the Buffs. TE Jacob Breeland had another good day; he was 3 for 53 (17.7) and 1 TD for the Ducks.
QB Justin Herbert went 18 of 32 for 261 (a paltry 56%), with 2 TD; and WR junior Jaylon Redd posted a 4-75-18.8-1 TD stat line, his 5th touchdown in 5 games. CB Thomas Graham Jr. had 4 tkl and 1 ast; CB Deommodore Lenoir had 2 tkl 1 ast.; LB Troy Dye only had 1 tkl and 3 ast.; and QB Montez was INT 4 times for the Buffs.

Editor’s babble: Something tells me the Bills are sniffing hard on Laviska Shenault. Thanks to Dean Kindig for always keeping track of what the Bills scouts and Brandon Beane are up to. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.