The Buffalo Bills contend the persistent rumors about Buddy Nix’s imminent departure have been inaccurate.
Many insiders expect this draft to be Nix’s last as Buffalo’s general manager, that he will step aside for heir apparent Doug Whaley.
After the Bills made their eighth and final draft choice Saturday night, there was no indication a transfer of power would happen any time soon.
“There’s a lot of speculation for whatever reason related to that,” Bills President Russ Brandon said. “Buddy Nix is our general manager and will be for a long time.
“Doug is a vital cog to the process, but when it comes to football decisions in this organization, one person and one person only makes those decisions, and that’s Buddy Nix.”
Brandon added that Whaley “continues to mature within his role,” and “Buddy keeps providing him opportunity within the department.”
Nix, 73, was named Buffalo’s general manager in December 2009 after a long career as a college coach and pro scout, most notably with the Bills and San Diego Chargers.
Whaley, 40, had his contract as assistant GM extended in February. In the news release, Nix said he looked forward to “a smooth transition of the position when the time comes.”
Asked on Saturday night about his role as GM, Nix laughed wearily.
“That hasn’t changed,” Nix said. “When it does, one of these days I’m going to shock you; I’ll tell you it has [changed]. But it hasn’t.”
The Bills have a matching set of kicking specialists after drafting Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round.
Bills punter Shawn Powell was Hopkins’ holder at Florida State. Long snapper Garrison Sanborn is a former Seminole.
Although Bills head coach Doug Marrone said he would consider keeping two kickers, the Hopkins addition doesn’t bode well for incumbent kicker Rian Lindell. Former head coach Chan Gailey didn’t feel comfortable with Lindell on field goals over 50 yards.
Hopkins made 22 of his 33 field goal attempts from 40 to 49 yards and nine of his 15 attempts from 50 yards or longer. Of his 348 kickoffs, 137 of them were touchbacks.
The Bills drafted kickoff specialist John Potter in the seventh round last year but cut him during the season.
The Bills rounded out their draft by selecting Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg in the seventh round.
Gragg projects as an H-back in the NFL. He entered college as a receiver but was switched as a sophomore. He left as a 6-foot-3, 244-pound go-to target for quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Gragg caught 72 passes for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns in 43 games. He sat out the 2009 season as a medical redshirt because of a knee injury and was hampered by a leg injury last year.
The Bills weren’t satisfied with their quarterback depth after drafting EJ Manuel 16th overall Thursday night.
Nix said the Bills “very seriously” considered drafting another one and later signed undrafted Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel as well as Eastern Washington receiver Brandon Kaufman. Those signings were confirmed by their agent, Cameron Foster.
USA Today reported the Bills also signed former Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers.
Nix suggested the addition of Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso in the second round would lessen the likelihood of signing free agent Karlos Dansby.
“We’re still going to keep the dialogue open with him,” Nix said, “but we do think it’s changed some because Alonso can play both places.”
The Miami Dolphins made Dansby the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history three years ago but released him last month.