As we continue to await word on whether or not the Buffalo Bills are able to sign rookies C.J. Spiller and Torell Troup prior to the start of training camp, I figured I'd stay on the theme of rookies and answer a question that I've received repeatedly since April. Paraphrased in many cases, the question boils down to the same query: "Brian, what are your expectations for Buffalo's rookies this year?"
I'll answer that question only for Buffalo's nine drafted rookies, as I honestly don't have expectations for any of the undrafted free agents, aside from "try to make the team."
C.J. Spiller: I expect at least 200 total touches - at an absolute minimum - as a runner, receiver and return man. GM Buddy Nix also made it very clear that Spiller was brought in to score touchdowns, so less than eight of those would be disappointing to me. Impressive yardage totals would be nice, but Fred Jackson is this team's yardage guy; I'm much more concerned with Spiller getting the ball into that mythical land known as the end zone.
Torell Troup: I like Kyle Williams just fine, but if George Edwards really wants to run the traditional, two-gap 3-4, Troup is going to have to play a lot. I have no idea how Buffalo will generate pressure off the edge in that alignment, given the state of their OLB group, but teams are going to try to run it in Buffalo to start with, anyway. He doesn't play a glamor position, so stats shouldn't be in the discussion here, but if he plays half of the team's snaps at nose guard, he'll have earned his rookie paycheck.
Alex Carrington: Like most of you here, I like Carrington's long-term potential, but the five-technique position isn't an easy one to learn, and Carrington is making a rather large talent leap. If he's worked his way into the end rotation by the mid-point of the season, and shows consistent improvement from Week 1 to Week 17, I'll be satisfied and encouraged.
Marcus Easley: Like Carrington, Easley is raw, incredibly unproven, and is playing a position at which rookie contributors are rare. If Easley is seeing snaps as a receiver by the end of the year, I'll be happy, but the idea that he'll compete for the No. 2 receiver job is a bit of a stretch to me.
Ed Wang: His job is easy - stay healthy, get stronger in the upper body, and work on those hands and feet. If Wang enters 2011 training camp (assuming that exists, of course) a stronger, more balanced athlete with better technique, he'll be on the right career track.
Arthur Moats: Buffalo is in the midst of re-structuring their special teams a bit, and Moats figures to be a key contributor on most kick and punt coverage units. If he proves competent there, I'm good. Defensively, I'd rather see him get reps on the outside than the ILB spot he's being asked to learn, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards.
Danny Batten: He's in the same boat as Moats; if he proves himself a capable specialist in 2010, he'll have been worth his sixth-round pick as an immediate contributor. If Batten feels like elating yours truly, he'll work his way into the conversation at OLB as a pass-rushing specialist capable of covering a tight end. That would be solid gold in the sixth round.
Levi Brown: If Levi Brown buries himself in the playbook, follows Chan Gailey around like a puppy, and does absolutely everything and anything that George Cortez asks of him, I'll consider his rookie season a success. Continuing to bring the funny on Twitter would be icing on the cake.
Kyle Calloway: Calloway needs to make the team for me to be satisfied; he's a low-upside, blue-collar player, so my expectations are minimal once he does make the roster. A good guy to root for, but he's got a lot to prove moving inside to guard.
The point of this is not just to answer the question, but to start a discussion - so if your expectations differ from mine, we'd certainly love to hear about it in the comments section.