Unless you're Ryan Grigson, the best way to stay employed as an NFL general manager is to land a franchise quarterback.
Grigson managed to get fired even after landing Andrew Luck for the Indianapolis Colts, but that's the exception to the rule. By and large, teams with top-tier quarterbacks don't have as much turnover in the front office, because having that player covers up most of an organization's flaws. It's why Bill Belichick can whiff on as many second-round draft picks as he has with the New England Patriots. Tom Brady makes you forget about all that.
That's why it would make sense if Doug Whaley -- provided he has any real say in anything anymore over at One Bills Drive -- is pushing for the team to draft a quarterback in the first round next week. Earlier this month, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report spoke with a director of player personnel who indicated Whaley was high on Clemson's Deshaun Watson.
Since then, it's been learned that the Bills have done their due diligence on all of the top quarterbacks available this year. Drafting one 10th overall sells hope, and if there's one thing the Bills are good at, it's that.
In Whaley's case, it might also provide job security -- particularly if that player, be it Watson or another QB picked 10th, sits for a year behind Tyrod Taylor. No matter what happens in 2017, Whaley could point to that quarterback as "the future" and build a case that more time is needed to see if that's indeed true.
How much does his opinion really matter? That's the great unknown. The picture of new coach Sean McDermott and owner Terry Pegula at North Carolina earlier this month -- where they met with the Tar Heels' Mitchell Trubisky -- seemed to be another example of how the Bills have comically marginalized their general manager, even if Whaley was at the meeting. If nothing else, it was a symbolic reminder of how desperate the Bills are to keep Whaley as far from the spotlight as possible.
It's been written and said many times now that McDermott seems to be running the show in the football operations department. If Whaley really does have an opinion on the matter -- which is hard to know since the team is going to great lengths to keep him out of the media -- it's difficult to gauge at the moment.
When McDermott meets with the media Thursday to discuss the draft, he'll no doubt spin something about how the front office will come to a collaborative decision on "the best pick for the Bills" next week at 10th overall. Left unsaid is how exactly it will be resolved if McDermott and Whaley split on who that pick should be.
It's important to remember that Whaley is supposed to have final say over the 90-man roster -- McDermott said that himself at his introductory press conference. That doesn't guarantee a quarterback at No. 10 overall will definitely be the pick by any means. But given the self-preservation potential for Whaley that would be involved if that's the pick, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.