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Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: Can their draft still be a success with no QB taken at the top?

You've got Buffalo Bills questions that you've submitted to me via Twitter to @viccarucci.

I've got answers.

@NewAgeDemocrat: Is there a disappointing way this draft could end? I don't see one way where I'm disappointed. Even if they don't draft QB, they can get a LOT of good players at key positions. This draft has no floor for me. Is there a floor for you?

Vic Carucci: I'm inclined to agree that even if the Bills don't select one of the Big Four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield) or anyone at the position in the first round, their draft could still qualify as a success. But I'm afraid a fairly healthy segment of fans who have their collective heart set on a dramatic move into the top five to finally get that transformative passer would strongly disagree.

Every draft has a floor, this one included. My sense, in talking with multiple general managers and others around the NFL, is that no more than about 15 players have legitimate first-round grades. Through the balance of Round One, you face the likelihood of pulling up players who are second-rounders. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't find quality at a host of positions, including quarterback. It just means you need to be particularly discerning when it comes to assigning accurate value.

@ButchRollin: What in the heck are they doing at WR? Seems like they've been progressively getting worse at that spot for a while.

VC: Wide receiver has seen some neglect, to be certain. But I don't think there is or was a ready solution anywhere, including free agency. I don't see much point in making a large investment in a receiver before you figure out what you're doing at quarterback.

The Bills will likely address receiver in the draft, although the position isn't viewed as particularly strong this year. I would expect, as Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have said multiple times this offseason, there will be opportunities for receiver additions in August and September, as happened last year.

@robert_muto: What is the chance that no one in top 5 would trade with Bills?

VC: There's a very real chance that will be the case, given that a quarterback could easily make sense for three of those slots (Cleveland at No. 1, the Giants at No. 2, and the Jets at No. 3). It's reasonable to think the Browns will keep the fourth choice and address one of their other key needs with a highly rated player. Ditto for Denver at No. 5.

On the flip side, it's also reasonable to think the Browns, Giants and Broncos would be more than willing to deal with the Bills (I'm not including the Jets for obvious reasons), but the Bills might not be willing to pay their respective prices to move up.

@tomperrymansr: Should the review of dirty hits be assigned to the player's group to clean up their game?

VC: No, although I don't hate the idea of having some sort of player representation in the process, and perhaps the NFL Players Association would be a good resource. I think the new rule banning lowering of the helmet by players at all positions raises all sorts of questions about how it's going to be officiated and how it's going to be coached and how players are going to adjust.

My hope is that the league is open-minded enough in enforcing this, first, with the idea of taking dirty/dangerous hits out of the game, but also with a sense of fairness in the punitive measures taken. There are going to be plenty of officiating missteps with this rule change, especially in the early going, and it would make sense to try to bring a balanced perspective when it comes to handing down fines after the flags or thrown (or not).

@Srothenburgh: What's the better bet. Lauletta or Allen?

VC: I'll go with Josh Allen over Kyle Lauletta.

I think Allen's physical makeup, especially his powerful arm and the way he stands tall in the pocket, makes him a good fit for the Bills.

I like Lauletta, and the fact he had to transition through four different offensive coordinators at Richmond should help prepare him for the many variables that go with playing quarterback in the NFL. However, I'm not sure his throws are delivered with enough velocity to consistently stand up to the sometimes severe winds with which he would have to contend at New Era Field, especially in those critical late-season games.

@cmlegault: I had a dream last night that we drafted Baker Mayfield. Should I consider this a good dream or a nightmare? #BillsMafia

VC: I'm definitely not being paid enough to analyze anyone's dreams. You might consider speaking to someone who does that sort of thing for a living.

@qbcritic1: If we miss out on a Q.B., what is the next and deepest part of this draft?

VC: I'll say defensive back. It wouldn't shock me if a quarter of the first round consists of cornerbacks and safeties, usually considered the safest positions to address with a premium choice.

@mclennon99: There's been a lot of speculation that the Bills will trade a hefty price to the Giants for their # 2 pick but one question I haven't heard discussed is whether the Giants are actually willing to trade the pick. How far down in the draft do you think they would be willing to go?

VC: That's a great question. As of right now, I don't think the Giants want to bail out of the pick. I think they intend to keep it and probably use it for a quarterback.

I also question whether the Bills or any other team in the middle or lower portion of the draft has any desire to pay that "hefty price," which would figure to include this year's 22nd overall pick, a first-rounder in 2019 and second- and/or third-round choices this year and possibly next year.

@JeremyPowley: How many of the QBs talked about in the first round conversation do you think the Bills organization actually like?

VC: I think the question is less about who they like and more about how much they like a particular quarterback or specific quarterbacks.

And I don't have the answer to either.

A quarterback they "like" could be someone they would select if he happens to fall to them at 12 or even 22. But if they have a true conviction that one of the quarterbacks is their long-term franchise answer, they would make a strong effort to trade up for him.

@mepolito: Does John Miller have a chance to start at right guard under Brian Daboll’s new scheme? Or does the position need an upgrade not currently on roster?

VC: I don't think the scheme would necessarily have a whole lot to do with making Miller more attractive to start this year than he was last season. The fact he couldn't beat out Vlad Ducasse tells me that Miller might not be long for this team.

@Ryanmac818: Do you think the bills need to trade to 7/8 to get to 2?if so do you think Lawson, Hughes, or Shady will be used to do it?

VC: I see the logic in taking a two-step approach in an effort to climb 10 spots. If the Bills were to go that route, though, they had better be prepared to make a pick at seven or eight, even if there isn't a quarterback they want there.

From what I've been told, and reported, Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes are expected to remain part of the team's defensive end rotation. I haven't heard anything regarding LeSean McCoy, although at this point he is pretty much the extent of any offense the Bills have and would seem to have a place on the team for one more year.

@Leamer564: If by draft day, we haven't made a trade, and we have to stick with 12 and 22, how likely do think it is that Lamar Jackson will be available at 12, and do you think that's our best bet at that point?

VC: I think there's an excellent chance Jackson will be available at 12 and I wouldn't rule him out at 22. However, I have a hard time believing that McDermott and Bean want another run-oriented quarterback. They could have simply kept Tyrod Taylor.

I think they prefer a more traditional pocket passer who scans the secondary and does the bulk of his play-making with his arm rather than his legs.

@DKromNFL: Who is the most likely trading partner for the Bills: Giants (2), Browns (4), or Broncos (5)? (PS: It was an absolute honor meeting you at the Senior Bowl Vic!)

VC: Of those three, I'll go with the Broncos because they seemingly made their big quarterback move by signing Case Keenum. Still, I question just how far down in the first round John Elway would be willing to go, knowing that at a certain point he risks missing out on potential difference-makers at other positions.

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