Back in January, when reviewing the kickers, punters and long snappers of the Buffalo Bills, I wrote the following line: "The Bills haven't drafted a kicker since 1990 (John Nies, Arizona)... we seriously doubt that [GM Buddy] Nix is considering spending a draft pick on a specialist."
Lo and behold, Nix and the Bills did draft one - a kicker, to be specific. Western Michigan's John Potter was the third-to-last pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, added by the team to compete for a roster spot as a skilled kickoff specialist. Much like Michael Jasper the year prior (though without even a fraction of the same amount of pomp and circumstance), Potter's addition has sparked a lot of fan interest and discussion, and could be one of the key players to shape the back end of the Bills' roster this fall.
Contract: UFA in 2016. Signed a four-year, $11 million contract in February.
Prior to suffering a shoulder injury that landed him on IR last year, Lindell was having a very strong season, making 13-of-15 field goals in the team's first eight games. As reliable as he's ever been, Lindell signed a lucrative four-year contract in February, preventing him from hitting unrestricted free agency. He'll be back kicking field goals, at minimum, for the Bills this coming season.
Contract: UFA in 2016. Signed a financially undisclosed four-year rookie contract in May 2012.
Make no mistake about it: Potter will make for a very effective kickoff specialist. He's got a huge leg - so huge, in fact, that Bills coaches had to ask him to reel himself in a bit at rookie mini-camp so that coverage guys and returners could actually practice their jobs. The question isn't whether or not Potter can do what he was brought in to do - it's if he has any more upside as a traditional kicker, or if the oft-injured Bills can afford to sacrifice a roster spot for a guy that'll be on the field for, on great days, a half-dozen plays per game.
Contract: UFA in 2013. Scheduled to make $1.425 million in base salary in 2012.
There were whispers last season that Moorman might lose the punting job he's held in Buffalo for a decade. That obviously didn't come to fruition, and Moorman responded by posting the highest gross punting average of his career (48.2 yards). While not as deadly as in years past in terms of pinning opponents deep in enemy territory, he's still got a big leg, and he's still an above-average NFL punter. It'll take a remarkable effort from a young upstart to unseat Moorman now.
Age: 23 (24 in November 2012)
Contract: Undisclosed. Signed as an undrafted free agent in April 2012.
The Bills wanted to give Moorman a push for the punting job, and they could've done much worse than the player that led college football in gross punting average (47.0 yards) last season. A big athlete (he's listed at 6'4" and 235 pounds) with a strong leg, it'll be interesting to see how Powell's punts stack up against Moorman's this summer.
Age: 26 (27 in July 2012)
Contract: UFA in 2015. Signed a three-year, $3.14 million contract in January 2012.
Sanborn, who has been as close to perfect as a long snapper can be in his three-year career, was scheduled for free agency before the Bills handed him a three-year contract that'll pay him more than $1 million per season on average. That's not bad coin for a long snapper, and Sanborn is certainly worth every penny.
POSITIONAL OUTLOOK: The Bills appear to be trying out Danny Batten as a long snapping alternative to Sanborn, which is fine and dandy, but as the old adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Sanborn is excellent. Moorman is expected to hold off a strong challenge from Powell for the punting job, but it's far too early to call that race. Lindell will be the kicker, and Potter's presence - if he's kept for a very limited role - will have a ripple effect on the rest of the team's roster. We're not betting on that happening, however, given the Bills' depth and injury woes of the past few seasons.