Doug Whaley issued a fair warning before the Buffalo Bills' pre-draft media luncheon Monday.
"I know you guys will have some questions but I want to give you a heads up that we can’t get into too much detail," the team's general manager said. "As a personnel staff, our pro personnel people follow these types of press conferences for all the teams, trying to pick out certain things that they may slip and tell the media. So, it would put us at a competitive disadvantage if we get into too much detail on some of these questions, but we will give you as much as we can."
So, no, Whaley didn't provide any concrete clues as to who the Bills want to select with their first pick in next week's draft, which doesn't come until No. 50 overall in the second round (their original first rounder, No. 19, is owned by the Cleveland Browns after last year's trade for wide receiver Sammy Watkins).
That means trying to read through the lines of what Whaley had to say. With that in mind, here are five takeaways from the press conference, which lasted just over a half hour.
1. The Bills know what everyone else knows -- their quarterback situation is murky at best.
"The way we looked at it is, we don't have a proven franchise quarterback. That's obvious," Whaley said. "But what we wanted to do is be perfect everywhere else, where that guy doesn't have to put the game on his shoulders and be the man.
"We wanted him to be able to just make right decisions and put the ball in the hands of the playmakers. ... Get as many playmakers and as many people that can score touchdowns as possible around that position, until that position takes that next step."
Whether that job falls to veteran Matt Cassel, third-year pros EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel or free-agent addition Tyrod Taylor is still to be determined. Coach Rex Ryan has promised an open competition.
Because of the uncertainty at the game's most important position, Whaley isn't closing the door on drafting a quarterback.
"Definite possibility," he said when asked about the idea of drafting a quarterback every year until finding the elusive franchise guy. "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."
Whaley was asked whether there was a Russell Wilson-type player in this year's draft, a player the Seahawks selected in the third round and has gone on to make back-to-back Super Bowls.
"There are some guys out there that we think may have a chance," Whaley said. "Will they be there where we value them? We're not sure. That's the thing about drafting. Everybody says, 'well you could have got this guy, that guy.' You can never say for sure this guy is going to be there unless you're at the No. 1 pick."
2. A move down in the draft is more likely than a move up.
The Bills go into the three-day draft process with just six picks, giving them little to offer in terms of trade compensation if they wanted to move up. Not surprisingly, Whaley didn't shut the door on doing that entirely. but it would be a surprise.
"We’re going to set up our board where we’ll put a demarcation line of guys that, if we see fall, that we think we have a chance to go up and get, we would consider it," Whaley said. "I’ll tell you guys right now with the lack of ammunition, I would highly, highly doubt that we do.
"We’d be more prone to listen to offers to move back from 50, and pick up some more picks."
Whaley then gave a shout out to the One Buffalo movement in borrowing a phrase from Sabres General Manager Tim Murray that it's "free to listen."
3. The offensive line is still up in the air.
Guard is perceived to be the biggest remaining hole on the Bills' roster, but that shouldn't be taken to mean it's any more of a favorite to be selected at No. 50.
"We're excited to have the new coaching staff get their hands on these guys in minicamp," Whaley said. "After minicamp, we'll sit down. One thing we're excited about is to have them with the knowledge they want to put the best five guys outs there. They're not going to stick with, 'well this guy's got to be this position, that position.'
"There's going to be a lot of combinations tried. We're excited to see after that three-day minicamp, what their thought process is and what they're feelings are of the guys we have on campus. Do we need some depth? Yes. But we need some depth at other places. We think there are some young guys who have a chance to take that next step. We'll see where it goes from there."
4. 'Best player available' just might be the case.
Outside of guard, the Bills don't seem to have any positions crying out for an upgrade (with the exception of quarterback). That makes Whaley's stated goal of going into the draft with the intention of selecting the best player available a realistic option.
"When you have a need, you have greater propensity to over-draft or miss on guys because you’re pushing them up because they look a lot better, in your eyes, than the rest of the league, because of the need factor," he said. "With what we did in free agency, we feel very comfortable with the pieces of the puzzle we have in place."
5. Rex Ryan has made the job easier for the team's scouting staff.
"Whatever they do well, that’s how they’re going to use them," said Jim Monos, the Bills' director of player personnel, of Ryan. "He’s all about what they do well, he’ll use them that way."
Whaley said the team's scouting staff will consult with the coaches on players.
"We’ve started this process all the way back last May, but we value what the coaches’ opinions are on players and especially how they see using them once they get to be Buffalo Bills," he said. "We’ve done that with every coaching staff that we’ve been a part of."