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Beane: Bills' draft would be a success even if team doesn't land franchise QB

Brandon Beane had just finished uttering these words: "You've got to have a franchise quarterback. That's one of the main jobs of a GM is to find a franchise quarterback."

Then came the follow-up: If the Buffalo Bills come out of the NFL Draft without a franchise quarterback, would you still deem it a success?

"Yes," he told reporters Monday without hesitation. "There's a lot of good players in this draft and that was the big thing of moving from 21 to 12 (via last month's trade with the Cincinnati Bengals). The natural assumption, I get it, is, 'They're moving up to get a quarterback ... yada yada yada.' We improved our draft position. That was a second-round value jump to go from 21 to 12. We're excited about where that moves us on our draft board, the players that we see would be available there."

Whether one of those players is a quarterback remains to be seen. The same goes for whether the Bills trade their way into the top five, which likely is what will give them the best chance to land one of the draft's so-called Big Four quarterbacks: USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

With Allen's pre-draft visit to One Bills Drive Monday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Bills have met with or privately worked out all four. They've also reportedly had Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph in for a visit.

The hype over this year's quarterback class is arguably as strong as any year in the history of the draft. Some pundits see the distinct possibility of quarterbacks being selected with the top four picks.

Not everyone is quite that excited, however. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, for one, doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

“I don’t see (Andrew) Luck in this draft, and I don’t see Carson Wentz, who I liked a lot coming into the draft,” Payton told Peter King of the MMQB. “I’d feel a little bit uneasy if I were at the top of this draft, and I decided I had to have a quarterback. The pressure to get a quarterback is so great in this league, I get that. But we can’t create ’em.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if only one of these guys is left standing in four or five years, and if so, I’d guess it would be Sam Darnold.”

ESPN draft analyst Louis Riddick offered an equally sobering perspective on the draft's quarterbacks during a conference call with reporters Monday.

“None of these guys are transcendent players,” Riddick said. He added that none can succeed in any offensive system, that each need a specific system to succeed.

GM Beane: Losses of Wood, Incognito don't impact Bills' draft plans

During Monday's nearly half-hour session with the media, neither Beane nor coach Sean McDermott fielded many questions about positions other than quarterback. The conversation pretty much remained on what the Bills will do about a quarterback when Round One commences on April 26. Never mind that they have two players at the position on the roster, AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman, and that there's a better-than-even chance one of them ends up starting ahead of a rookie.

To most of the outside world, those two barely exist.

Wherever Beane, McDermott or pretty much anyone employed by the Bills is spotted in public, someone usually brings up the subject of the team landing a franchise quarterback in the draft.

"And until we can stand up here and say, 'It's somebody that we currently have on our roster or somebody that's not on our roster,' we're going to get that question," Beane said. "And that's fair."

How he or others in the organization will feel about the expected backlash if the team doesn't make the blockbuster trade (or trades) likely necessary to climb high enough in the first round to get a presumptive franchise QB is anyone's guess.

"We're at 12," Beane said. "I don't know what's going to be there at 12. I don't know what quarterback's going to be there. I don't know if we're going up or going down. That's really how it is as I sit here.

"I know everybody assumes we're trading up. First of all, I said before, even if I wanted to trade up right now, even if I said, 'I know the guy I want to get and I need to get to this spot,' it takes a partner to do it and be willing to move out."

None of that changes the fact NFL success is directly tied to the quarterback position. If you have a great one, you win. If you don't, you miss the playoffs in 16 of your last 17 seasons, as the Bills have.

"It's a quarterback league, I'll say it every single time," Beane said. "You have to have one."

The question is, will the Bills be able to say that's the case on April 26?

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