BBD Contributor: Jeremy Brade
As the 2013 NFL Draft approaches, the Buffalo Bills find themselves in a position that is not unfamiliar with other teams in the League: they need a new quarterback. At the very least, they need to draft a quarterback to come in and fight for the starting job. This is by no means uncharted territory, even for the Bills.
But, what makes the job of Bills General Manager Buddy Nix extremely difficult, is deciding when to use a pick on that quarterback. The first pick for the Bills is the 8th overall pick in the draft. The second pick for the Bills is the 9th pick of the 2nd Round, or 41st overall. It appears likely that one of those two picks will be used to select a quarterback and the dilemma comes down to where the team can maximize their value.
The obvious choice for Bills fans that are “ready for a change” at quarterback, is to use the 1st Round pick and get one of the best players in the draft. Those theories can be supported by looking at the highest rated quarterbacks on multiple sites. Geno Smith is ranked 3rd (buffalobillsdraft.com) and 8th (CBSSports.com) and is considered by almost every site to be the best quarterback available. The other option for the Bills is to focus on another position of need with their first pick and use their second pick on a quarterback. That theory can be supported with the notion that there are actually no quarterbacks worthy of being selected with the 8th overall pick. Geno Smith is currently ranked 19th (NFL.com) and 22nd (ESPN.com via Scouts Inc.) which would imply there is much more value in waiting. These are the dilemmas of general managers across the league.
The other big component to consider is the other teams likely to be drafting a quarterback who will be willing to take one off the board before the Bills have a chance. It seems likely that barring a trade, the only team picking before the Bills in the 1st Round that fits that bill is the Arizona Cardinals, selecting one spot higher than Buffalo. In between the Bills’ 1st & 2nd picks, the possible quarterback hungry teams are the New York Jets (9th overall & 39th overall; 7th pick of 2nd round), Jacksonville Jaguars (33rd overall; 1st pick of 2nd round), Philadelphia Eagles (35th overall; 3rd pick of 2nd round) and the Arizona Cardinals (38th overall; 6th pick of 2nd round) if they opt not to pull the trigger in the 1st round. The Jaguars, Eagles and Cardinals all select before the Bills in round 1 and as mentioned above, only Arizona seems like a legitimate possibility to select a quarterback that early. So, ultimately it comes down to four teams battling for the 2nd quarterback of the draft and the Bills have the short-end of the stick if they do not select one with their first round pick.
However, with the consensus that this crop of quarterbacks is not like most years, especially last year when there were three taken in the first eight picks, a look back at recent drafts shows what the Bills can expect with potentially the second best quarterback available when they are on the clock. In 2011, Cam Newton was expected to be the top pick overall, and was. The next quarterback selected was Jake Locker, coincidentally with the 8th overall pick. In 2010, Sam Bradford filled the role of top pick overall while the next quarterback selected was none other than Tim Tebow at 25th. In 2009, Matthew Stafford heard his name called first, while Mark Sanchez was the second quarterback selected, this time at 5th overall. 2008 provided Matt Ryan the honors of first quarterback, selected 3rd by the Falcons. With the 18th pick that year, the Ravens took Joe Flacco. In the year the Raiders would like to forget, JaMarcus Russell went first in 2007, followed by Brady Quinn to Cleveland with the 22nd overall. 2006 saw Vince Young get selected 3rd overall, followed by Matt Leinart selected 10th by the Cardinals.
There is a lot of history to point towards the Bills being patient and not feeling the obligation to pull the trigger on a quarterback early just to get one. The Locker’s, Tebow’s, Sanchez’s, Quinn’s and Leinart’s of the league are going to be selected by someone. However, one thing that Sanchez showed was that an average quarterback can win in the NFL if the team is talented enough. That would support the Bills using their first pick to build up another area of the team, possibly at linebacker, offensive line or wide receiver.
Of course, there is always the option to trade up. Moving up from the 8th spot is likely to be difficult and would also be too costly for a team like Buffalo who currently has only six picks in this year’s draft. However, moving up from 41st overall could provide the Bills with an opportunity to get the best of both worlds. There are multiple teams late in the 1st round that may be suitable trading partners if Buffalo is looking, specifically New England and possibly Green Bay, Denver or Atlanta. Based off recent trade history, it would likely just involve a swap of the picks and Buffalo’s 3rd or 4th round selection as well. They could even throw in a pick next year and lessen the hurt on this year’s stock of picks. It’s not the ideal move for Buffalo, but it may just be the one that will allow the team to improve their team as a whole. It will also allow first year Head Coach Doug Marrone to get a new quarterback to begin his tenure with, one that won’t bankrupt the team’s picks in this year’s draft.