Doug Whaley is blunt about the state of the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback position.
“The way we looked at it is, we don’t have a proven franchise quarterback, that’s obvious,” the general manager said Monday during the team’s annual pre-draft media luncheon.
Given the need, then, wouldn’t it make sense for the Bills to invest the first pick they have in the draft, 50th overall, in a quarterback?
Even with the presumptive top two quarterbacks – Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota – long gone by the time the Bills make their selection in the second round, shouldn’t they strongly consider one of the other players at the position such as Baylor’s Bryce Petty or Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson or someone else?
“You can make that argument,” Whaley said. “But also our job is to put the right value on those quarterbacks and if we don’t feel that the value is that second-round pick then again we don’t want to do that because then it’s over-drafting a guy and our job, just for the Pegulas, the Bills and our fan base is to make sure we get the value out of every pick. And that’s not to say that it won’t happen but we’re always going to try to put the best value on these players, be it an Ali Marpet,” a highly touted offensive lineman from Hobart, or “be it a quarterback.”
By most accounts, there is no clear-cut, third-ranked quarterback in the draft. Many analysts believe that there is a significant drop-off at the position after Winston and Mariota. Whaley, however, is on record as disagreeing with that premise.
And while he won’t offer any indication of what sort of grades the Bills have on any of the quarterbacks – or any players, period – in the draft, he does say there’s logic to considering taking one each year.
“Definite possibility,” Whaley said. “I don’t like to corner myself into something by saying, ‘We have to do this,’ because that limits your possibilities and it kind of curtails some other options that you may shut yourself out of by saying that. But it’s definitely something, between quarterbacks and cornerbacks, because it’s a pass-heavy league, that we would lean heavily to considering every year.”
One method Whaley said was unlikely for the Bills to acquire a quarterback, or any player for that matter, was to trade into the first round.
The Bills gave up this year’s first- and fourth-round picks in trade with the Cleveland Browns last year to move up five spots to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins. For now, they have six picks: one in the second, one in the third, one in the fifth, two in the sixth, and one in the seventh. That doesn’t give the Bills much, if anything, to utilize to acquire a first-round pick.
“With the lack of ammunition, I would highly, highly doubt that we” trade into the first round,” Whaley said. “We’d be more prone to listen to offers to move back from 50, and pick up some more picks. But I will never say never. And like” Sabres GM “Tim Murray says, it’s free to listen.”
The Bills don’t necessarily feel tremendous pressure to address quarterback this year because their offseason acquisitions were mainly devoted to working around their lack of a franchise player behind center in EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and Jeff Tuel. That was the thinking behind trading for running back LeSean McCoy and signing wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay.
The goal, Whaley said, “is be perfect everywhere else, where that guy doesn’t have to put the game on his shoulders and be the man. We want him to be able to just make right decisions and be able to put the ball in the hands of the playmakers. And that’s what we wanted to do is get as many playmakers and as many people that can score touchdowns as possible around that position until that position takes that next step.”
The NFL schedule will be announced Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NFL Network and ESPN.
The only date known so far for a Bills game is their Oct. 25 encounter with the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium. Kickoff is at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Media analysts have been debating almost daily about which of this year’s draft quarterback crop is more ready for the NFL. The discussion has focused mainly on Winston and Mariota, but with several quarterbacks having played in spread-style offenses in college that put the quarterback in shotgun formation rather than dropping back and working heavily from the pocket, there has been a greater focus on how well they perform in pre-draft workouts.
“It’s another measuring tool, but you still want to go back to the tape,” Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos said. “That’s who they are. And quarterbacks especially get so scrutinized on mechanics, and they work so hard on that with their quarterback gurus now. But at the end of the day, if you can shoot a basketball, you can shoot. If you can throw a football, you can throw.”
Whaley offered the following update on the Bills’ possible interest in re-signing wide receiver/special-teams ace Brad Smith and/or safety Dawan Landry, each of whom made a recent free-agent visit to One Bills Drive: “We’ll slow play it and if it’s something that works for them and works for us, then we’ll pull the trigger.”