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Jay Skurski's Bills Mailbag: Which QB prospect best fits Brian Daboll's offense?

Maybe it's just the endless winter, but it feels like the NFL Draft is taking even longer to get here this year than usual.

Or it could be the endless hype/speculation over what the Buffalo Bills will do when it arrives. The possibility of adding a franchise quarterback has been analyzed in every conceivable way, but that won't stop us from debating it over another month.

Not surprisingly, plenty of questions in this week's mailbag deal with that possibilty. Let's get to it ...

Rui Christofoletti asks: Who is a better fit for the Bills and Daboll offense: Josh Rosen or Josh Allen?

Jay: Let me refer you to what my colleague, Mark Gaughan, wrote about Daboll back in January: “When the Bills get the kind of QB they want, look for Daboll to emulate a lot of staples from the Patriots’ passing attack. … Those include a lot of shallow crosses and passes to the flats. Spread-empty looks taking advantage of pass-catching running backs and tight ends. Pre-snap motion to give the QB the read on man or zone coverage. Two to three route combinations on each side of the field on which the quarterback decides pre-snap where the best matchup exists.”

Given that list, I believe Rosen is a better fit. His best strengths are his accuracy and intelligence. He seems like a perfect fit for the above criteria.

Joshua Smith asks: Getting sick of QB talk, so I'm interested in who the best MLB prospects are in the upcoming draft. If Beane/McDermott have something other than a QB in mind, which LB could you see them spending the #12 pick on?

Jay: The consensus top linebacker is Georgia’s Roquan Smith. He’s a former high school wide receiver who perfectly fits the NFL’s need for athletic linebackers, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. There is no guarantee Smith will be available for the Bills at No. 12. He’s presently the only linebacker projected to go that early.

“Sgt. Oblivious” asks: Best bet for the Bills on opening day? McCarron or the field?

Jay: The best bet is McCarron, since we don’t know what “the field” will produce. Even if the Bills trade up for one of the “big four” quarterbacks, there is no guarantee any of them will start right away. If the Bills’ coaching staff feels its prized young quarterback would benefit from sitting and learning at the start of his career, then McCarron is the expected starter, at least in Week 1. That’s where I would be putting my money.

Mike Lemiesz asks: Bills have hosted two linebackers at least. Any news on if we're looking to sign any of them? Any vet WR being looked at?

Jay: It’s three linebackers that have visited (that we know of) – Washington’s Will Compton, Cincinnati’s Kevin Minter and Arizona’s Karlos Dansby. As of Friday morning, the team had $15.8 million in space under the salary cap, according to the NFL Players Association, with one contract (that of linebacker Ramon Humber) left to process. Considering it will cost about $9 million to sign the team’s draft picks, that doesn’t leave the Bills with much space. If any of the three players above come at a low price, they would be logical additions.

As for wide receiver, ex-Jaguar Allen Hurns mentioned that the Bills were interested after his release from Jacksonville, but he signed with Dallas on Friday. Other than that, it’s been very quiet at receiver, which brings us too …

Dan Miller asks: Will 2018 WR group be better than 2017 and why?

Jay: Yes, because … it has to be? Seriously, it would be tough to get less production from the wideouts. The No. 1 reason to think it will be better is a different offensive situation, which includes a new starting quarterback. That’s not to suggest that AJ McCarron will be an automatic upgrade over Tyrod Taylor, it’s just that the team might generally throw it more and McCarron might take more chances with the ball. The No. 2 reason to be optimistic is health. Kelvin Benjamin should be fully recovered from his knee injury, while Zay Jones’ shoulder injury should also be fixed.

The glass-half-empty view is that the Bills lost their leading receiver from a year ago, Deonte Thompson, and suggests its presumptuous to count on Jones for anything right now given the bizarre circumstances surrounding his Monday arrest in Los Angeles. Jones’ well being takes priority over any conversations about what he might do on the field in 2018.

It’s clear the team still needs to add to the position through the draft, ideally with an early pick.

Mike Canfield asks: Now that free agency is basically done, how would you prioritize the Bills' positional needs in the draft?

Jay: Let me direct you to this week’s Inside the Bills. The biggest remaining need, in my mind, is a middle linebacker. The Bills have no obvious replacement for the departed Preston Brown on their current roster. The No. 2 need is a slot cornerback. Leonard Johnson handled that job last season, but has not been re-signed. A team’s third cornerback is basically a starter, so that’s an important roster hole that the Bills need to fill.

On offense, wide receiver is the top need. A deep threat to challenge defenses vertically in particular is lacking from the roster. That leads us to …

“Corbone” asks: Do you think the Bills go wide receiver early in the draft? Maybe 22 if they don’t trade up or possibly a DJ Chark if they keep a 2nd or 3rd.

Jay: The Bills have to answer the quarterback question first. If that means trading a bunch of their early draft picks to move up into a position to take one, they may not have the luxury of using that pick on a receiver. As mentioned above, it’s a clear need.

 

Michael Schifano asks: How serious do you think the Bills are about trading up into the top seven (put a percentage on it) or staying at 12?

Jay: I’d say it’s 75-25 that they trade up. I firmly believe that has been the plan almost from the moment General Manager Brandon Beane took over. The Jets’ trade up might have made things more difficult, but the Bills have the draft capital and obvious need at quarterback to make a trade up the logical course of action. The “25” comes from the possibility that the Giants want a quarterback and the Browns don’t want to trade out of the fourth pick. That could mean the top four quarterbacks all go in the top five, and the Bills don’t have a chance to get their guy.

Dave Allen asks: The Bills are apparently looking at the big four names – Rosen, Allen, Darnold and Mayfield – in advance of next month's draft. Are Jackson and/or Rudolph also in the conversation?

Paul Catalano asks: What are your thoughts on Lamar Jackson. I am very intrigued by him at 12.

Jay: I grouped these two questions together. The Bills have absolutely done their homework on both of these prospects.

On Jackson, I struggle to see the fit in Buffalo. The team just moved on from a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who is a superb athlete but perhaps not the precision passer the team wants. The scouting report on Jackson is that he is an incredible athlete, but needs to work on his accuracy.

Rudolph is much more of a traditional pocket passer. The Bills spent plenty of time scouting Oklahoma State during the season, so if the top four quarterbacks go before the Bills have their turn, both Jackson and Rudolph will be under consideration.

Don Fischer asks: Is drafting a possible "franchise" quarterback worth mortgaging the assemblage of a championship caliber team through the draft?

Jay: Loaded question alert? Are we to know with 100-percent certainty that the players the Bills draft are all going to be meaningful contributors? What if the team ends up with the next Aaron Maybin in the first round? The draft is a crap shoot.

To answer the question, drafting a franchise quarterback is always worth it. The Rams aren’t complaining about the price they paid for Jared Goff, are they? How about the Eagles with Carson Wentz?

Rick McGuire asks: Seems that a lot of the draft "experts" have the Bills trading up and picking Josh Allen. Am I missing something with this guy? He had a bad 2017 going by his stats. Threw for only 1,800 yards, only had 1 game over 300 yards passing. I'm not seeing what others are. Your thoughts?

Jay: If you lined up all the quarterbacks in this year's class, Allen would be the most impressive physically. He's got the height, arm strength and mobility to do everything asked of a quarterback. The concern is accuracy. He completed just 56 percent of his passes in 2017. Was that because his receivers couldn't get open and catch the ball? That's what quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft have to determine. One team will bet big on him in the first round. If that team is wrong, it's likely the general manager who made the pick will be out of a job.

Eric DuVall asks: Can you recommend a good sleep agent that will put me under until 10 minutes after the draft is over?

Jay: What, you mean throw-by-throw coverage of Allen’s Pro Day on NFL Network doesn’t get you pumped? I’m all for moving the draft up on the NFL calendar by a full two weeks, at a minimum. How much more time do these teams need?

Lou Brown asks: If Russ Brandon calls Brandon Beane, does he answer or let it go to voicemail?

“Lippy Lenny” asks: Is Russ just a marketing guy?

Jay: We’ve arrived at the Russ Brandon portion of the mailbag. I see the finish line in sight …

Jeremy asks: Why does Brad Pitt eat food on screen in every role he plays?

R.J. asks: Who’s your favorite actor right now?

Jay: Brad Pitt, because he eats food on screen in every role he plays.

Jim Banko asks: With golf season coming up, did you add anything to your bag this year besides a bigger pencil eraser?

Jay: This is an ugly accusation. Cheaters in golf are the worst kind of people. I think it’s time to wrap up another mailbag. Until next time, thanks for the questions!

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