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McDermott: '18 QB class quality matches draft hype

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you believe the media chatter, next month's draft could provide the NFL with as many as four transformative quarterbacks.

There arguably hasn't been this much hype about a QB draft class since 1983, when Hall-of-Famers Jim Kelly, John Elway and Dan Marino were among the first-round picks.

Does the quality of this year's group match the hype?

"I think it does," Bills coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday during the NFL Meeting's annual coaches breakfast with the media.

He didn't have to say the names, because it's well established that the four universally viewed in the upper tier are USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

"When you look at it, it's an opportunity to get game-changing players at every position," McDermott said. "It's a deep draft in that regard and quarterback position no different. I'm still going through the work involved at all the different positions, but I can tell you that there are some game-changing players that are going be at or high in the first round right there."

The Bills have the 12th and 22nd overall picks. There is rampant speculation they will attempt to move into the top five in order to land the quarterback they covet the most. McDermott said he and General Manager Brandon Beane have been discussing the team's options while going about their duties at the meeting.

"Brandon and I talk every day," the coach said. "That's an ongoing conversation. In a few minutes here, we'll sit side-by-side in another meeting and I'm sure listen and learn in terms of what's going on in the meeting, but also talk about where we are in figuring out what's our next move, whether it's to stay put or whatever it is.

How much would it cost the Bills to acquire a top pick in the draft?

"In the meetings (Monday), I saw some teams that had their trade charts out there a little bit and that was interesting to see, even when things were being presented. That's always fun to think about and less than a month from now, we'll be in the draft, so that's an exciting time for the NFL and it's an exciting time for our organization and our fan base."

McDermott acknowledged that, while spending time studying draft prospects at all positions, his work on the quarterbacks takes more time because of the critical nature of the position and the greater challenges with finding the right guy.

"It does," he said. "You have to drill down extremely deep into your research and there's a time commitment with that. So trying to get that position and all positions right takes time, so there is a commitment that way as far as time and work and resources as well."

Asked if – after trading highly mobile Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and having more pocket-type quarterbacks in AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman – he was committed to having a drop-back passer, McDermott said: "The league is a drop-back league. I'm committed to guys that win football games, so having the ability to drop back and throw it is important, yeah. But at the end of the day, you've got to be able to move the football team down the field and generate points. So I think, from that standpoint, yes, I'm committed to being able to do that within the overall skill set of the quarterback position."

McDermott excited about 'AJ and Nate'

McDermott wouldn't rule out the possibility of starting a rookie quarterback from the beginning of the season. However, he first addressed that subject from his defensive-oriented mentality.

"I like going against rookie quarterbacks," McDermott said with a laugh. "I like going against young players (who) haven't seen, haven't been around the league, so I think that that's sometimes to your advantage. But I'm not opposed to a rookie quarterback starting. I'm not opposed to really any rookie starting.

"You saw that last year. We started a number of rookies and guys that had success. And that's a credit to our staff, our coordinators and our position coaches, that prepare those players the right way."

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