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Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler a good 'get' for Bills; UB products and WNYers land NFL gigs

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The Buffalo Bills have signed a safety from Vanderbilt who was expected to be drafted and a Canisius High School product who started at middle linebacker for the University of Miami.

Meanwhile, six University at Buffalo products who went undrafted reached contract agreements with NFL teams. And Lockport native David Fluellen, who starred at the University of Toledo, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vanderbilt’s Kenny Ladler is a noteworthy undrafted signing for the Bills. He was a four-year starter and was rated by numerous outlets as having a fifth- to seventh-round grade before the draft.

The Canisius product signing with the Bills is Getzville native Jimmy Gaines.

The UB products reaching agreements on either contracts or rookie-camp tryouts were: receiver Alex Neutz (Cincinnati), running back Bo Oliver (Indianapolis), defensive back Derek Brim (Buffalo), defensive end Colby Way (Buffalo), cornerback Najja Johnson (Pittsburgh) and guard Jasen Carlson (Chicago). Neutz is a Grand Island native, Brim a Canisius High product, and Carlson is a Jamestown native.

Fluellen rushed for 3,336 yards in his Toledo career. He had 1,121 yards as a senior and 1,498 yards as a junior. Fluellen will aim for a backup job with the Eagles, who have LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles as their top two in the backfield.

Ladler’s deal was confirmed by a league source. He's a 6-foot, 207-pounder.

He went undrafted, probably because of an unimpressive 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ladler improved that to 4.62 seconds at Vanderbilt's pro-day workout. Ladler made some big plays as a senior and brings athleticism. He had five interceptions and five forced fumbles in 2013. He had a vertical jump of 36.5 inches, tied for second best among safeties at the combine. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times, second best among defensive backs. Ladler started nine games as a true freshman at strong safety in 2010. He made six starts at free safety in 2011 and 12 at free safety in both 2012 and 2013. He's viewed as a high-character player.

Gaines made 13 starts last season and 27 for his career at middle linebacker for the Hurricanes. He was second on the Miami team in tackles.

Also among those reporting free-agent deals with Buffalo were Clemson defensive back Darius Robinson, Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and Florida linebacker Darrin Kitchens. Robinson ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds at Clemson's pro day. Robinson fractured his ankle in a game Oct. 23 and missed the rest of the Tigers' season.

The Bills have a rookie minicamp scheduled for this weekend and will bring in numerous players for tryouts in addition to those signed to contracts.

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About the reporters

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.