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Checking out the college options for quarterback

Remember that Fleetwood Mac song, "Don't Stop?" The Bills will be near that juncture after their last game of the season next Sunday in Foxborough. Despite Saturday's pulse-quickening win over Denver, the immediate end-of-season question for this often disappointing team will be, "What do we do with Fitz?"

For the last eight games of the 2010 season and the first seven of 2011, Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed to be the surprise solution to Buffalo's quality quarterback deficit, which has spanned most of the first decade of the 21st century.

Fitz had established himself as a decent NFL quarterback after six seasons, then seemed to push that description to "You can win with the guy!" when he led the team to a 5-2 record as October slipped into November.

That is when satisfaction turned into disaster, with Fitzpatrick failing to turn even one third-down situation into a slim opportunity. Teams aren't transformed from frogs to princes with that sort of performance. I would be surprised if the old tune, "We need a winning quarterback," wasn't sung from fan seats to the executive suites by the end of New Year's Day.

Obviously, the college draft could be the solution, but the Bills were too good early in the season to qualify for top prize Andrew Luck of Stanford, who may end up replacing injured superstar Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The Bills are likely to pick somewhere around sixth to ninth. An important factor in their favor is that in the last draft five quarterbacks were picked in the first round.

If you're wishing, why not wish big for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor? Just like Saturday's guest quarterback, the already legendary Tim Tebow of Denver, Griffin can do it all, with a skill-set that is growing in appreciation by NFL coaches.

Griffin and Luck are not alone in being championed by the scouts. Casey Keenum of the University of Houston, who tore his ACL on his way to the NCAA career passing record in 2010, was granted a sixth year of eligibility and played well.

Landry Jones, who had better targets at Oklahoma than Fitz does in Buffalo, didn't have a great senior year but the scouts appraise him keenly. Kellen Moore of Boise State is all class when he delivers a pass but he is barely 6 feet and the pros prefer to spend the big money on what has become the valley of the giants.

Of course, the Bills' brass may not find any big-time quarterback to suit them. In that case, there are enough pass rushers available to at least help the frequently AWOL pass rush.


Larry Felser, former News columnist, appears in Sunday's editions.

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