ORCHARD PARK, NY (WIVB) - He is the most intriguing, and biggest, of the Bills nine draft picks. Michael Jasper comes from the smallest school. But that's the only thing small about the Bills newest player.
Jasper was picked in the seventh round after playing at Bethel (TN) University, a small school near Jackson, TN. Jasper is six-foot-four, 375 pounds. He played offensive guard in college, but will play nose tackle for the Bills.
Jasper is simply a very big man. He played last season at 430 pounds, and weighed in at 440 pounds in January. He dropped nearly 70 pounds since then, and that earned him a chance in the NFL.
But when you look at Jasper, he is not fat. Just big. And athletic. He's a guy the Bills have been watching for months.
"Well, (College Scout) Matt Hand has been stalking this guy for a year or longer and this is an amazing kid," said Buffalo GM Buddy Nix, "He vertical jumps 32" and he long jumps like 9'5" and he dunks a basketball with both hands. His body fat is not real high. He's an exceptional athlete. We would've signed him as a free agent so we just drafted him and didn't have to go after him, and we're going to see if he can play. Coach will tell you what we're going to do with him. Other than feed him."
"He played offense," said Chan Gailey, "He's played some defense but he played offense in college. He wants to be a nose (tackle) and we're going to give him a shot to be that and see where it goes from there."
Jasper called his drafting by the Bills "a blessing." He originally committed to Mississippi out of high school, and also spent time at Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee-Martin before settling at Bethel, an NAIA school.
He was asked what he thinks he can bring to the Bills.
"My size and explosiveness. And I'm quick off the ball. I did what they asked me to do. I was at 448 lbs. at one point, and they asked me to get under 400 pounds and I did what they asked me to do. I got to 378 lbs., and the speed and quickness has come along with it."
Jasper has some experience playing on defense, but was moved to guard when the Bethel team suffered some injuries.
NFL scouts will tell you big, athletic men are hard to find. If Jasper can develop as a football player, he could be a steal for the Bills, who have a history of finding gems late in the draft or in free agency.
Let's just hope the Bills keep him away from the chicken wings.
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