Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills after the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night:
1. It seems safe to say the Bills entered the draft with no intention of pursuing a quarterback of the future. If they did, they would have gotten one within the first three rounds.
And they had their chances to do so.
Coach Sean McDermott simply didn't see anyone at the position that he believed should be on the roster this year, even as a backup. The plan is clearly to allow Tyrod Taylor to function as a bridge for the QB the Bills will likely pursue next year, when they have two first-round picks (including the one they picked up from Kansas City to allow the Chiefs to move up to No. 10 to take Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes).
McDermott is content to get by with whatever Taylor can offer as a thrower and a runner, helped by the guidance of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, quarterbacks coach David Culley, and veteran reserve T.J. Yates, who spent three years with Dennison on the Houston Texans.
In only the first year of his contract and with full authority over the Bills' football operation, McDermott feels confident that he'll be given the time and patience of owners Terry and Kim Pegula to get the quarterback he wants.
That doesn't necessarily mean McDermott has given up on the 2017 season. It means the Bills are going to continue to rely on what has been the NFL's best rushing attack and a defense he is charged with making significantly better.
2. Taking a need-based approach reinforces how McDermott envisions the task of trying to turn the Bills into a winner. He sees it as something that will not happen instantly. If he did, he would have gone for a QB and other splashier picks than the ones that were made the past two nights.
Instead, the coach has been methodical, targeting spots that had to be filled but doing so with players who likely will need some developing before they reach high-impact status.
A team that considers itself as a playoff contender -- or at least close to being one -- goes after finishing pieces such as a receiver or tight end in the 10th overall slot. The Bills haven't done that. They moved near the bottom of the first round to select a cornerback, LSU's Tre'Davious White, who needs some fine-tuning before he can be relied upon to become a dependable/outstanding cornerback -- if he ever reaches that level in the NFL. He provides plenty of raw material with which the Bills can work, but the molding still needs to be done.
That's even more pronounced with the two players the Bills chose in the second round Friday night after trading up in deals with the Los Angeles Rams (to get East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones) and the Atlanta Falcons (to get Temple offensive lineman Dion Dawkins). Jones has a staggering 399 career receptions, but he does come from a small program and it probably isn't realistic to assume he's a lock to fill the No. 2 opening behind Sammy Watkins. He has done most of his work on short and intermediate routes, and will have plenty to learn about defeating press coverage in the NFL.
Dawkins is very much a project requiring excellent coaching to be rounded into the sort of player who can fulfill the hope of making a run for the starting right tackle job. As a rookie, he figures to get by mainly on his scrappy approach.
3. The likelihood that the Bills won't pick up the fifth-year option on Sammy Watkins' contract by the NFL's May 2 deadline has been met with plenty of outrage on social media since I posted the report Friday night. Many fans assume it means the Bills are planning to walk away from the receiver they selected with the fourth overall choice (for which they paid with first- and fourth-round picks) of the 2014 draft.
What it means is McDermott doesn't see the wisdom in committing to an extra contract year, which is worth $13-plus million and is guaranteed against injury, while Watkins is still recovering from foot surgery. If he fully recovers and stays healthy and consistently performs at a dominant level this season, the Bills can proceed to tie him up to a long-term deal. If he doesn't, they can move on.
McDermott is being sincere when he publicly praises Watkins' talent, but the coach does not have any real attachment to him and would, therefore, not be inclined to go out of his way to eliminate even the tiniest doubt about the receiver's future with the team.
General Manager Doug Whaley is the one firmly attached to Watkins, and he no longer has the authority to make this call. If he did, the option already would have been exercised.