When former Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL Draft, one of the first things they asked him was “Can you play in the cold?”
Located in New York state, Ralph Wilson Stadium is an outdoor facility and can be host to some of the coldest games later in the season.
“That was one of the main transitions I had to make,” Gragg said. “… We have to be ready for those cold games late in the year.”
Gragg said adapting to the colder weather has not been easy.
“Just trying to get used to it the best you can,” Gragg said. “You never get used to it, you just have to deal with it.”
Gragg was the guest speaker at 27th Annual Delta Distinguished Gentlemen Banquet held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Saturday night. In his speech, he encouraged the young men to rise to whatever challenge is presented in front of them. He went on to talk about his days at Arkansas and recovering from his season-ending injury in 2010.
While with the Razorbacks, he tallied 72 receptions for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. But he said the movement from college to the NFL has been a challenge.
“It has been a lot different,” Gragg said. “The NFL is a business. It is a lot different than college.
“You have to come in and be ready to work every day.”
Prior to being selected in the draft, Gragg was named top performer for tight ends in the 2013 NFL Combine in four of the six qualifying areas: 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump and three-cone drill.
In nine games with Buffalo, he has five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. The Bills finished 6-10 overall last year.
“We got a lot of new coaches and some new guys on defense,” Gragg said. “I’m ready to just see what this draft is going to do.
“I think we are going to be a lot better than what we were last year.”
Free-agent linebacker Brandon Spikes agreed to terms with the Bills on Friday night. Spikes had 86 tackles and an interception last season. He’s rejoining former Patriots linebackers coach Pepper Johnson, who was recently named the Bills’ new defensive line coach.
“We have a stronger linebacker core,” Gragg said. “I see we are deeper there and I know that is going to help us a lot.
“Probably in this draft, we are going to work on some receivers. Hopefully we can get that right.”
Buffalo finished in last place in the AFC East in 2013.
“Anytime you have to play the Patriots twice, it is going to be tough,” Gragg said. “It is something you’ve always dreamed about, but once you get there, you try to soak it all in and enjoy the moment.”