Share this article

print logo

Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: Is the team half-pregnant? Will the NFL ever go to a draft lottery?

You have Buffalo Bills questions that you've submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.

I have answers:

@bpdz8 says: Are the bills half pregnant ... not good enough to contend...not bad enough to draft in the top Five?

Vic Carucci: First, I love the Rex Ryan reference.

Half-pregnant looks to be about right. I see a team that probably won't win enough games to snap the 17-year playoff drought, but probably will win too many to get a top-five draft pick.

The Bills pretty much set themselves up to take a middle-of-the-road approach when they decided that Tyrod Taylor should be their quarterback for at least one more season. Taylor is good enough to do what he pretty much has done the past two seasons, which is keep the team hovering around .500.

That could prove more difficult with what looks to be a difficult schedule and the major questions the Bills have at wide receiver and the big transition the defense faces with a revamped secondary and the heavy roster turnover and the overall adjustment to a new coaching staff and new schemes. Either way, you're still likely looking at a draft choice outside of the top five.

Rex Ryan's 2016 Buffalo Bills defense: 'Fully pregnant'

@SKD14223 says: Good talk this week on the radio about NFL QB development. Do you think virtual reality would/could help in QB development?

VC: It can't hurt.

I love the breakthrough technology -- which former Bills quarterback Trent Edwards has had a hand in developing with others from his alma mater, Stanford -- where a QB can watch video of himself as he scans everything in front of him and around him. It stands to reason that better corrections can be made with such a broad and more detailed perspective than watching sideline or end-zone views of the all-22 video.

However, nothing beats the real thing when it comes to a quarterback, or any player, developing his craft. The best way to learn is to do -- over and over. Unfortunately for young quarterbacks, the only doing after college happens in the NFL, and they're almost never ready to handle the level of skill of the defenders or the complexities of the defenses.

A multi-billion-dollar league should be able to figure out a way to allow players, and especially quarterbacks, to develop before putting them on the field at the game's highest level.

@Suspence146 says: At this point, what is the Bills biggest strength, and weakness?

VC: The biggest strength is running back. LeSean McCoy is easily the most talented player on the team. The depth at the position is a concern, although regardless of who's backing up McCoy, the Bills' fortunes are pretty much attached to his legs only.

The biggest weakness? Wide receiver. The No. 1 player at the position (Sammy Watkins) had foot surgery in January, was mostly limited through offseason practices, and when and how much we'll see him in action during training camp and the preseason remains to be seen. The leading candidate for the No. 2 spot is a rookie from a small school, Zay Jones, and after that is a list of mainly ordinary incumbents and free-agent additions.

Bills at WR: Lack of commitment to Sammy Watkins speaks volumes

@InYourEyes4u says: Will the NFL ever go to a draft lottery? 2018 is a good draft for QB's & some teams are in "rebuild" (tank?) mode to get one. Bad for NFL.

VC: I don't see that happening any time soon, although the results of the tanking the Cleveland Browns did to get this year's top overall pick and the New York Jets appear to be doing to get the No. 1 choice next year could factor into any serious discussion to change the draft format.

Keep in mind, not every draft is going to be a so-called "good" quarterback draft. This year, for instance, the Browns used their "reward" for tanking on a defensive end, Myles Garrett, and got their quarterback, DeShone Kizer, in the second round. Although I thought he was the most talented player in the draft, it's hard to see him (or almost any non-quarterback) making the singular impact a QB can make.

The bottom line is that the Browns still don't have a clear-cut franchise quarterback and could very well still be looking for one after this season. By then, they could also be looking for yet another new coach and perhaps new people overseeing their player-personnel department.

Tanking, in general, doesn't seem as if it works as well for football as it does in other sports -- if, in fact, it truly is a legitimate solution for turning a trash heap into a contender. You need a great quarterback to be elite in the NFL, but there is no assurance that simply putting yourself in position to grab a player at that position first overall will solve all your problems.

You have to also be making the right moves with the majority of your other acquisitions in the draft and free agency and cap management. It also doesn't hurt to have strong coaching and good system fits throughout.

Besides, the NFL has long been built on a foundation of true competitive balance, where the worst team is always picking first and the best team is always picking last. It also loves all of the pre-draft buzz that comes from potential trades, especially out of the top spot.

@SportingGlasses says: Is it more important for small market teams to chase that elite QB in order to attract other players?

VC: It's important for all teams to chase elite quarterbacks, first, because that enhances your chances to be a contender.

When searching for help in the free-agent market, it certainly doesn't hurt to have the attraction of a franchise QB, but nothing trumps money. If you're willing to pay, regardless of market size, you're likely to have the best shot of getting the player.

The salary cap and network-television revenue that largely funds player salaries allow small-market teams, such as the Bills, to stand up financially with any club in the NFL.

Most teams constantly chase the elite QB, because there are so few around. And most of the chasing is done via the draft, because any team that has one isn't going to let him get away. Small-market teams have the same opportunity to hit on a top-notch quarterback as any other club.

@InYourEyes4u says: Despite their denials do you think the Pegulas are being pushed by the league for a new stadium & do you feel WNY can support one?

VC: The NFL absolutely wants the Bills to build a new stadium, but I have reported and believe that the league is deferring to the Pegulas as to the right time for that to happen.

Terry and Kim Pegula have told the NFL they would like to wait for the Bills to start having some winning seasons before they start "asking for things," as in the public and private financial contribution necessary for the construction of a new stadium.

@TheDB123 says: Is there a reason the #bills shouldn't take a flier on Green-Beckham? Low cost, low risk, and if he ever figures it out…

VC: It wouldn't be a terrible idea, given the Bills' need for receiver help, but the expectations would definitely be at or below the "flier" category.

In releasing him Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles are the second team to part ways with Dorial Green-Beckham. The first was the Tennessee Titans, who made him a second-round draft pick in 2015 and then traded him to the Eagles last August.

From what I understand, Green-Beckham hasn't been particularly quick to learn offenses as well as necessary to get the most out of his physical ability. I think he could be a decent addition if you could limit his contribution to running fade routes near the goal line, but such limitations don't make the investment worthwhile.

@williamkevin24 says: Contrary 2 over used GM rhetoric Pats have maintained a dynasty largely thru keen use of the FA system NOT the draft. Draft preach overrated?

VC: I think the draft is still a crucial component to building a winner.

But you're right. No team has been as deft in its use of the free-agency system as the Patriots.

As the Pats have demonstrated, however, dynasties are maintained with a great quarterback (Tom Brady, who, whether you want to chalk it up to luck or not, was found in the draft) and surrounding him with the right parts on both sides of the ball from the draft and free agency.

Dynasties are built that way, too.

@mclennon99 says: I think I know the answer but I'll ask anyway...Karlos Williams: What is up with this guy, Vic? He showed signs of stardom and then BAM!

VC: Sadly, Karlos wasn't the first and won't be the last to go the BAM route.

Sadly, he had priorities, but football wasn't nearly as high on the list as it needed to be.

@plance78 says: Which one you think has a better chance of making the 53? Jason Croom, Brandon Reilly or Daikiel Shorts?

VC: I'll go with Croom, the rookie free-agent tight end from Tennessee. I like his size and athleticism, and there really isn't much in the way of competition at his position on the Bills.

Report: Former Bills RB Karlos Williams facing 1-year suspension

There are no comments - be the first to comment