Bills brass addresses character issues of draft picks Williams, Darby

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Nearly three months after being scrutinized for their decision to sign Richie Incognito, the Buffalo Bills faced further questions Saturday after drafting a pair of Florida State prospects, running back Karlos Williams and cornerback Ronald Darby, whose off-field activities have been a cause for concern.

Williams, who the Bills selected in the fifth round, was investigated last year for an alleged domestic assault against his pregnant ex-girlfriend, who had posted photos of her bruises on Facebook. The woman later asked police not to press charges, and the investigation was dropped.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley said Saturday that the team did not talk to the victim but investigated the incident and felt comfortable with drafting Williams.

"We do that on any issue be it domestic violence, any indiscretion we're going to dig as deep as we can," he said. "And again sitting down and looking at someone in the eye for me is a telltale sign -- is this guy remorseful, did he do it, does he have a reason why he did it or not do it, does he have a plan in place to not put himself in a situation like that again? That's some of the things that we like to try to figure out."

Added Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos: "We had [Williams] in, he explained everything. He's been cleared, he's fine. I think we feel very comfortable. We did our work on him."

Asked about which off-field indiscretions would cause him to not consider drafting a player, Whaley singled out stealing from a teammate.

"To me that is stealing from your family and that to me is just not something I can deal with for what we're doing," he said. "We're trying to build a team and a family, and that locker room is sacred. And for that, I have a hard time with. Obviously there are some other things that if they're guilty for murder and all that stuff, of course, but the indiscretions we're talking about, yes that would be it."

Tallahassee police also named Williams in a police report last year as the "hook up" who arranged a drug deal that ended in Williams' contact being robbed at gunpoint.

Darby, who said on a conference call with Buffalo reporters Friday that he was "real close" with former Florida State quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, was named as a witness in the investigation of a rape allegedly committed by Winston in 2012. Darby wrote in an affidavit that he witnessed Winston and the alleged victim, Erica Kinsman, having sex but considered it consensual and eventually left.

However, a civil lawsuit filed against Winston by Kinsman last month alleges that Darby walked into the room and said, "Dude, she is telling you to stop," but then left after Winston allegedly carried Kinsman into another room. Darby refused to testify against Winston in a Florida State University student conduct code hearing last year and wasn't disciplined by the school.

Darby was also involved in a hit-and-run accident last year when he and teammate P.J. Williams, the driver of the vehicle, fled the scene before returning 20 minutes later. Williams was given a traffic ticket and Darby wasn't cited following an investigation by the Tallahassee, Florida, police department that was later scrutinized by the New York Times.

"I didn't have to do anything at all. I was around a lot of stuff of course, but you can't control what you're around," Darby said Saturday when asked about his off-field concerns. "But I was never the one that was getting in trouble or anything like that, but there was nothing for me to do."

Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula were both in the team's draft room and signed off on the decision to draft both Darby and Williams.

"Absolutely, they were in the process," Whaley said Saturday, "when we got close to our pick and even before the draft started when we stacked out players we went over every aspect of the players so they were fully aware."

The Pegulas met with Incognito, who was suspended by the NFL in 2013 for his role in the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, prior to signing him in February. Among accusations against Incognito was a 2012 incident in which he allegedly molested a female volunteer at a Dolphins golf tournament with a golf club.

Whaley believes that the Bills' locker room is capable of handling Incognito and other players with past off-field concerns.

"The optics of it, we'll let you guys debate that, but for us, the support system we have in place -- not only in the locker room, but the options we have with support around outside we provide as an organization and the lack of any incidents that have occurred here since people have joined the Buffalo Bills," he said. "We're pretty excited and happy that we can foster an environment to make sure things like that are not a topic once they get to Buffalo."