One of the most watched individuals in Buffalo’s upcoming training camp is going to be the Bills’ final draft selection – 370-ish pound mammoth defensive tackle Michael Jasper, who hails from tiny Bethel University of the NAIA. When Jasper’s selection was announced, there was a collective “Who?” from almost everyone watching the draft. However, Jasper almost immediately developed a cult following amongst Bills fans when a training video surfaced on Youtube that showed off his incredible combination of size, power, and agility.
Suffice to say, Jasper’s a pretty intriguing guy. Is he a oversized sideshow, or is he a diamond in the rough with a real chance to make an impact in the NFL? Ordinarily, we would have gotten to track Jasper’s progress through rookie mini-camp, OTAs, and whatnot, but the lockout killed all that. As a result, Jasper’s sort of dropped off the grid since then. (Maybe he was landscaping with Marcell Dareus.) His absence from the media left me hoping that he didn’t relapse into the terrible eating habits that pushed him to nearly 450 pounds at one point. Obviously, he’s always going to be huge, but he loses too much athleticism if he’s that big.
As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried.
According to a report from profootballweekly.com, Jasper seems to have kept himself in pretty good shape.
"Bills seventh-round pick, NT Michael Jasper, who was in the 370-pound range in May, showed off his unique athleticism for a guy his size during a recent workout in Nashville. We hear Jasper played some receiver and ran a full route tree for his former high school teammate, and soon-to-be Bills teammate, QB Levi Brown."
Wow. Guess he can still move some.
I know I shouldn’t be too excited about this guy – he’s still a very long shot to make the roster – but man, I can’t help but pull for him. He’s a man who’s made some mistakes, but now seems to have found himself. There’s certainly talent there – he was an SEC recruit at one pont – and he appears to have the right attitude. Take his quotes from an earlier profootballweekly.com piece:
On the chance to play with Bills star tackle Kyle Williams: “Kyle Williams, being undersized and holding down the point of attack at nose for the Bills, even getting to a Pro Bowl? I can’t wait to receive that knowledge. I’m coming in as an open book.”
On his (much more heralded) fellow rookie, Marcell Dareus: “I’m a Marcell Dareus fan. He’s a freak of nature, an animal. I can’t wait to be on the line with him and see what kind of havoc we can wreak.”
On the prospect of playing 3-4 nose tackle in the NFL: “I’m going to be nasty. I love to hit and can handle the point of attack. I love double- and triple-teams. Bring it on. I’m very mobile for my size and I think that’s going to shock some people — my motor. I’m not a selfish guy. I know playing the nose in the 3-4, it’s not a pretty position to play. It’s dirty and grimy and you won’t get a lot of stats. I’m going to free up some linebackers to make plays, pressure some quarterbacks and punish some running backs.”
That all sounds good to me, Michael. Let’s hope this guy pans out. The Bills are desperate for a true run-stuffing tackle. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, the Bills have snuck a star out of the seventh round of the draft.