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Whaley sees Rivers as a starter, Lawson as edge player in Schwartz's defense

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Bills general manager Doug Whaley offered his perspective on the team's linebacker corps this morning in an interview on WGR.

Whaley said he sees newly acquired free agent Keith Rivers as a starter on the outside, along with incumbent Kiko Alonso. A move by Alonso from the middle to the weak side has been widely anticipated and acknowledged by the Bills since the scouting combine last month.

"That right now is the plan," Whaley said of Alonso. "We're going to move him outside, have Rivers on the other outside. And then we’re going to have to field an inside backer. We've got some guys on campus now that we’re excited about, and we’re going to keep our eyes open for anybody else that’s out there."

Rivers started at strong-side linebacker for the New York Giants, but the Giants viewed him as only a two-down linebacker, replacing him in passing situations. He played 37 percent of the snaps for New York. Whaley said Rivers is capable of joining the nickel defense.

"He's a four-down linebacker," Whaley said. "He can play first and second downs. He can stay in on third down and cover because he's got athletic ability, and then he can contribute on teams. So this goes back to our mantra of getting value guys, and that’s an incredible value pick for our team."

Lawson has played both the 3-4 and the 4-3 in his career. The 3-4 is viewed as the best fit for him. Schwartz runs the 4-3 front. But Whaley said there's a place for Lawson, particularly as an edge rusher.

"I think he's gonna be a hybrid player," Whaley said. "He’s gonna be able to bring us something as an outside lienbacker but also come off the edge as a defensive end. So his versatility again is going to be utilized in this system, that we think is going to be very valuable for us."

Whaley said Ty Powell was the top in-house candidate at middle linebacker. The Bills have had a couple of inside linebackers visit in free agency.

  • MaoSayTongue

    Max Bullough, MLB, Michigan State . . . need pick in the third round (but he should be there in the fourth) . . . I hear he has connections for Rose Bowl tickets too!

    • Harvsbuddy

      He could put some sails into the Bills wind.

  • Richard W

    Hey Whaley stay upstairs and do what you do and let the coaches figure it out .Bullough works his ass off.

  • Joe D

    If Whaley really wants to create competition, which I believe he does, please bring in another "when the dust settles" free agent who would push a guy like Ty Powell to play better. Brandon Spikes, perhaps?

  • http://batman-news.com Another Joe D

    Thanks Doug for keeping with the Bills decade+ reckless pursuit of "mediocrity". For anybody reading, do a google search and see if you can find Rivers or Williams on a Top 200 list of 2014 NFL Free Agents.

    • Enough

      Who cares about list. If he doesn't work out then feel free to criticize.

      • former fan

        typically I would agree with you, but after 14 years of mediocrity and screw ups the Bills should just stick to internet lists. Newsflash IT WONT WORK OUT. The dorks putting together these top 200 lists are way more qualified than the Bills front office.

        • Enough

          I think they had a great day of signings and addressed many needs in free agency. This group of administrators are not roaming around in a forest. P.S. I've been a fans since 1960 and I will be until I leave this world. Don't dispair, after all it is just a game and must be kept in perspective.

  • Mark Martin

    I like the FA signings. We now have the #9(Rivers), #11(McKelvin) and #14(Williams) overall picks from the 2008 draft. I don't think any of the 3 have lived up to 1st rd expectations but all have made solid contributions to their teams. None are stars but they are very talented and in my mind have the potential to be very successful so long as they're surrounded by solid talent. IMO Mckelvin still has his best year(s) ahead of him and i hope the same for Rivers and Williams. Without breaking the bank the Bills have added 2 former #1 picks who have been making solid contributions to their teams.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.