Tyrod Taylor will start under center for the Buffalo Bills in 2016. Behind him? Nothing is guaranteed.
All signs point to the Bills drafting someone, at some point, next month in the NFL Draft. On Monday, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones told Sirius XM Radio that he had a private workout scheduled with the Bills. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott previously said he was also visiting Buffalo.
Sometimes, a visit is used as a smokescreen. Other times, the team is genuinely interested and wants to learn more. This case figures to fit the latter.
All teams will want to learn more about Jones, one of this draft’s great mysteries. At 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, he’s a load to bring down on the road and is blessed with a cannon of an arm. Of course, these are two qualities that have to intrigue offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the coaches here. Last season, Taylor ran the ball 104 times in 14 games and threw deep often in a run-first scheme. This could be an ideal spot for Jones to develop.
The third man in during the 2014 season for the Buckeyes, Jones completed 60 percent of his passes for 860 yards and seven touchdowns with another 296 rushing yards and a score in leading Ohio State to a national championship.
The next season, however, he couldn’t hang onto to his starting job.
Head coach Urban Meyer benched Jones for J.T. Barrett after Jones completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,460 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions and 193 rushing yards with two more scores in eight starts.
In sum, opposing defensive coordinators seemed to figure out Jones with a full off-season. Operating consistently from the pocket was a challenge. When forced to throw on the run, per NFL.com, Jones’ completion numbers fell by nearly 30 percent. Zone coverages gave him fits underneath. So now the Bills can see how football smart Jones is on the white board and put him through tests on the field.
Jones didn’t do any running or jumping at Ohio State’s pro day after suffering a hamstring injury at the NFL Scouting Combine, though longtime NFL exec, Gil Brandt, did say Jones threw the ball “extremely well.” Jones also has a pre-draft workout scheduled with the Arizona Cardinals.
As of now, EJ Manuel is still Buffalo’s No. 2 quarterback, set to enter a contract year. Veteran Josh Johnson, picked up midway through last season, remains a free agent.
The looming No. 2 quarterback battle in training camp should be heated – whoever’s competing. Buffalo will want Taylor, 6 foot 1, 215 pounds, to make plays with his feet again. That’s what differentiates him from all others at the position, but that’s what also could send him to the sideline. When Taylor suffered a knee injury last season, the Manuel-led Bills lost to Cincinnati and Jacksonville.
After deciding not to pay up for a proven back-up in free agency – there aren’t many options left – the Bills will likely need to find competition for Manuel in the draft.
Other prospects with planned visits to One Bills Drive include Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins (per DraftInsider.net), Louisiana Tech DT Vernon Butler (Syracuse.com), Southern California LB Su’a Cravens (Houston Chronicle), Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland (NFL.com) and Alabama CB Cyrus Jones (Houston Chronicle).