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Russ Brandon moved by memory of Ralph

Russ Brandon, the Bills'  president and CEO, mentions late owner Ralph Wilson every time he speaks in public these days.  When the team's top brass met with the media near the end of the three-day draft early Saturday evening, Brandon called the team's bold, free-wheeling draft "quite a tribute to Mr. Wilson."

At the end of the session, Brandon was asked if Wilson's memory was constantly on his mind, driving him. Brandon looked down, fumbled with a pen and struggled for words. 

"It'll be on my ... "

Brandon stopped. When he looked up, his eyes were red as he fought back tears.

"It'll be on my mind the rest of my life," he said. "Every day. As you guys know, he loved the draft. I thought about him a lot as we led up to it. About the trades -- he would have loved the last three days. He loved to wheel and deal.

"He really would have enjoyed it," Brandon said. "But yeah, it's tough to get up every day and not
think about him. He is the leader of this organization, and we will honor him every day."




Bills Add Cy's And Size To The O Line

The Bills added another big offensive lineman with their fifth pick of the NFL draft on Saturday afternoon. They took Cyril Richardson, a 6-5, 329-pound guard from Baylor who fell from favor in scouts' eyes after winning the Jim Parker Award as the top offensive lineman in college.

In Friday's second round, the Bills selected Cyrus Kouandjio, a 6-7, 322-pound offensive tackle from Alabama. So they added a Cyril to a Cyrus. Cy's on top of size, you might say.

"We're going to stick with our theme of big offensive linemen," said Jim Monos, the Bills' director of player personnel. "He's a big mauler-type guard who can gain movement. We just love his power and his strength. This guy has played against some of the top competition and played in the Senior Bowl."

Actually, Richardson was projected as a second-round talent before his performance at the Super Bowl, which diminished him in the scouts' eyes. ESPN draft guru said Richardson slipped to the "fourth-round mix" after the Senior Bowl. So the Bills were pleased to get him with the 153rd overall choice.

"Sometimes I was joking about being the best guy on the board," Monos said, "but this was another guy that we really liked the whole year. He fits what we're looking for in terms of size and strength.

"I think what happened a little bit at the Senior Bowl during the week, he may not have had the best practices and stuff like that," Monos said. "When the game was on, he came right back and played like he was capable of. Maybe that turned some people away, but we're not afraid of him."

Richardson started three years at Baylor, where he blocked for Robert Griffin III. He was twice an all-American and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the top interior linemen in college.

"I'm glad to be a part of this," said Richardson of the Bills. "It's a great institution. It's a great fit."

Bills Taking Some Real Winners

The Bills took Ross Cockrell, a cornerback from Duke, with their fourth-round pick this afternoon. Cockrell was a captain at Duke, an all-academic ACC pick who graduated in three and a half years. His father was a wide receiver at Columbia. So he's smart. Even more important to the Bills, he's a winner.

"Every guy we've taken so far has been part of a winning program," said Jim Monos, the Bills' director of player personnel. "That's a big thing we're stressing."

Evidently. Here's a review of the Bills' first four picks and the record of their college teams last season. 1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson (11-2); 2. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (11-2); 3. Preston Brown, Louisville (12-1); 4. Ross Cockrell, Duke (10-4). 

That's a combined record of 44-9 for the first four picks in their last college season. I'm not sure how that will translate, but it helps to have players who are used to winning at a high level and have come to expect it. As we know, the Bills expect to make the playoffs in 2014 and pick low in the first round of next year's draft.

Cockrell, a political science major, got his undergraduate degree from Duke in December, 2012. He studied in the Masters program in political science at Duke last year. He played against Watkins last season. 

"Sammy Watkins is a tremendous player," Cockrell said. "You know, somebody who has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Even some of the guys that play at Florida State and UNC and some of those bigger names, I think it really prepared me to go to this next level."

Cockrell played one season at Duke with quarterback Thad Lewis, the Bills' backup. Cockrell said he worked out with Lewis some the last few months at Duke. Lewis has said knew Cockrell was a talent when he intercepted him once in practice as a freshman.

"Yeah, I got him once or twice," Cockrell said. "Maybe he would only admit to one, but I think I got him a couple more  times."





Bills Go For Linebacker In Third Round

The Bills used their third-round pick, the 73rd overall choice, to take Preston Brown, a middle linebacker from Louisville. Brown, who is 6-1, 251 pounds, was first-team all-AAC last season for a Cardinals defense that led the nation in total defense (251.5 ypg) and rush defense (80.7 ypg).

A Cincinnati native, Brown initially accepted a scholarship from Cincinnati out of high school, but changed his mind and enrolled at Louisville, where he was part of coach Charlie Strong's first recruiting class. He started 11 games at outside linebacker in 2011. He moved to the middle in 2012 and led the Cardinals in tackles for two straight seasons.

With Brown in the middle, Louisville went 23-3 and they were 30-4 overall in games when he started. Brown had 98 tackles, 12.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks this past season. He had three forced fumbles and a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

"I'm excited to get off the board on day two," Strong said Friday night. "I'm just coiming in to
help the team any way I can. I want to help the defense win games. I try to be around the ball, fly to the ball. I'm always going to be the guy trying to rip away the ball."

Jim Monos, the Bills' director of player personnel, said Brown is better against the run, but can also drop into coverage. He described Brown as "a very good athlete. 

"He played at a high program," Monos said. "Lot of production, lot of good character guys there and he played for a great coach at Louisville. He was consistent for three years as a starter and fit a lot of things we're looking for. 

"Physically, he has size right off the bat. He plays hard. You see him all over the field. He plays on the other side of the ball and has good tackles for loss. He can go side-to-side."

Monos said Brown runs well and will be a factor on special teams. He said Brown made the defensive calls for Louisville.

"Buffalo as a city, I thought it was a nice town," Brown said. "It reminds me a little of my hometown of Cincinnati. It's kind of a big city, but still kind of quiet."

Brown said he knows Bills center Eric Wood, who is also a Cincinnati native and Louisville graduate.

"He comes in to lift sometimes at Louisville," Brown said, "so I've talked to him here and there. But I had no idea we'd end up being teammates."

Bills get a tackle in second round

The Bills traded back from the 41st overall pick to the 44th and chose Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, a 6-6, 310-pound native of Cameroon who moved to the U.S. when he was 5 years old.

Kouandjio played left tackle for the Crimson Tide, but he is expected to play on the right side for the Bills. Cordy Glenn appears to be a fixture at left tackle and right tackle was seen as one of the team's major needs. There was plenty of speculation that they would take a right tackle at No. 9 overall.

Watkins comes to town, Stevie exits

Well, that didn't take long. Less than 24 hours after moving up to take wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the first round of the draft, the Bills unloaded diva receiver Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for an undisclosed draft pick in 2015.

The instant the Bills made a huge investment in Watkins and made him their new No. 1 receiver, I wondered how he could possibly fit in the same locker room with Johnson, a polarizing presence and dubious leader. My concerns were magnified today when I heard Watkins address the media in person at One Bills Drive and I got a chance to talk with his parents, James and Nicole McMiller.

Live chat at 1 p.m.: Sully on Sports

Live chat at 1 p.m.: Sully on Sports

Live chat at 1 p.m.: Sully on Sports

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