MOBILE, Ala. -- Make no mistake.
Doug Whaley fully understands that the Buffalo Bills' top offseason priority is to find a quality starting quarterback.
"But if people really looked at the two games this past weekend," the Bills' general manager said of the NFC and AFC title games, "the common denominator is they all ran the ball. Even when Seattle was under the gun, 12 down," late in the fourth quarter against Green Bay, "they did not give up on the run."
As far as Whaley is concerned, the trend is worth noting because it reinforces the wisdom of new Bills coach Rex Ryan. Ryan also is well aware of the team's crucial quarterback need.
However, the coach has always subscribed to the idea that success is built on the foundation of a dominant defense and a strong running game.
"So I don’t care what type of quarterback you have," Whaley said while here for the Senior Bowl college all-star game. "If you can run the ball -- and that’s what he does and that’s his philosophy -- it even helps out the best quarterbacks."
The Bills are a long way from having the "best" at that position. The depth chart begins and ends with EJ Manuel, their so-far disappointing first-round draft pick from 2013.
That's why Whaley and the rest of the Bills' player-personnel staff are spending a good portion of their game at the Senior Bowl practices watching the quarterbacks -- Alabama's Blake Sims, Southeast Louisiana's Bryan Bennett, and Colorado State's Garrett Grayson on the South squad, and Baylor's Bryce Petty, Oregon State's Sean Mannion, and East Carolina's Shane Carden on the North team.
That's why they and Ryan and Buffalo's offensive coaches will pay close attention to all of the other quarterbacks in the draft and in free agency.
"We’re going to have to do a lot of hard work and a lot of due diligence, turn over every stone because just by sheer numbers we’re going to have to add a quarterback," Whaley said. "So we’re going to attack this and all the all-star games, Combine and free agency. We’re going to attack it with a lot of vigor because, again, we have to add two, maybe three, more guys to the roster. And we’re not going to sit back and let it come to us. We’re going to be aggressive and go out there and try to find the best guys.
"It’s not a deep" draft "class with quarterbacks. In my opinion, this draft is not as top-heavy as drafts past, but it’s got a glut of players that are in that second to fifth rounds that you can get a lot of value and get some really good players there."