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Bills Mailbag: It's all about quarterbacks, not receivers

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

I've got answers:

@markschrader69: I don't think it matters who is QB if we don't get a vet receiver. Thoughts?

Vic Carucci: I don't agree with that take at all.

The quarterback always matters. The quarterback is the one who makes receivers great, not the other way around. If the Bills have a viable starter – and/or the long-term answer they hope they landed with the seventh overall pick of the draft – they will manage to get at least a respectable amount of production from the receivers on their roster.

Do they need to get better at receiver? Absolutely. But the current state of their pass-catching corps is a separate issue from determining if they actually have someone who can consistently make plays throwing the ball now and in the future.

Bills Position Preview: QB job wide open

@TrentTh: Are you on the Peterman train or McCarron train to start the year?

VC: I'm inclined to jump aboard the AJ McCarron Express.

I'd say that he looked mostly solid through offseason practices that were open to the media. I agree with the consensus among reporters that Nathan Peterman looked good and even better than that in some practices, although I'm not sure I fully buy the narrative that he's soared to the top of the depth chart and is the front-runner to start.

It wouldn't shock me if some of that talk was generated by the Bills' desire to perhaps create a trade market for Peterman, who could easily find himself as the odd man out in the quarterback competition. Why not try to get something for him?

@mattcorey716: Shaq Lawson trade? Richie comeback to Bills? Strongest Bill on roster?

VC: Parting ways with Lawson makes perfect sense to me. He's not remotely close to being a good fit on Sean McDermott's team.

I've heard him say all the right things to the media about being aware of his shaky roster status and intensifying his efforts to become a better player, but I'm not buying it. I go by this standard: Would McDermott have wanted Lawson on his team if he were the Bills' coach in 2016, when Rex Ryan allowed his Clemson bias (rooted in the fact his son played for the Tigers) to make Lawson a first-round pick? No. McDermott wants serious-minded, focused players, and that isn't Lawson. If General Manager Brandon Beane can get something for him, great. But the rest of the NFL recognizes that Lawson is on borrowed time and will likely offer little or simply wait for him to be released.

I don't see Richie Incognito returning to the Bills. The bizarre path he followed out the door isn't going to allow him to get back in. Retiring as a delayed reaction to being forced to accept a $1.7-million pay cut that you initially seemed fine with accepting was bad enough. But going public with health concerns that supposedly were the reason you were walking away from the game and then later seeking your release to sign elsewhere made it impossible for the Bills to even consider bringing him back. Then, of course, was the gym-rage incident in Florida that seemingly severely injured (if not killed) any hope of another team willing to take the sort of chance on Incognito that the Bills were the only one willing to in 2015.

I don't have a breakdown from the Bills' weight room, but I would venture a fairly strong guess that rookie defensive tackle Harrison Phillips is right up there, if not at the top of the list.

@Buffwagon819: Any potential signings during or after camp?

VC: I would say Brandon Beane has established a fairly definitive pattern of not standing pat with the roster. I especially think he will, as he did last August, look to add a receiver or two.

I'm not necessarily seeing any sort of big-splash trades such as the ones he made with Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby, or a high-profile signing such as Anquan Boldin, but I fully expect Beane to seize any opportunity he can to address one of multiple weak areas. I also think he might be inclined to bring in an offensive lineman ... or two.

@rsomm12: Which rookie do you see making the biggest impact this year?

VC: I think a lot of us – including the Bills' decision-makers – would be shocked if that rookie wasn't Tremaine Edmunds. A first-round pick at linebacker gets almost no room for failure in his inaugural season.

@cooperjacob22: Is signing Dez Bryant an option?

VC: I don't see it.

The guy is limited to about three routes that he runs well, and the best is running down the sideline and going up for 50-50 balls. Given the more horizontal nature of the Bills' new-look passing game, I think more disciplined receivers who can run an expansive array of routes would be much better fits.

@behrnsie: Are there perceptible differences in how McDermott has structured camp or is handling "business" in year two versus how he operated in year one? Signs of growth or evolution or comfort?

VC: I don't know if there's any real noticeable differences in how he has been running things, at least from the standpoint of what could be seen during offseason workouts.

McDermott did do some significant shuffling of his coaching staff, which could easily be perceived as efforts to correct some rookie mistakes with hiring. The implementing of a more sophisticated scheme under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll tells me that McDermott saw the need to evolve from the stodgy playbook Rick Dennison used last year.

Overall, I do see McDermott operating with a higher degree of confidence that this is more his team than he might have felt last year, with more hold-over players that have since been jettisoned.

@RealVinceRosano: who is going to block for the qb and for McCoy??

VC: I'm not sure if the Bills know the answer to that one, let alone me.

My best guess of an initial starting lineup: LT Dion Dawkins, LG Vlad Ducasse, C Russell Bodine, RG John Miller, RT Jordan Mills.

I would expect Ryan Groy to make a strong push at center and both guard spots.

@0NickyFlash0: which position group do you expect to be a pleasant surprise this season? Any you expect to take a step back?

VC: I'll go with tight end as the pleasant surprise. I think it's reasonable to think the position will factor more heavily in Daboll's offense than it did in Dennison's scheme or previous schemes for that matter.

I think the obvious pick to step back would be the offensive line. You can't say goodbye to three veteran starters, especially Eric Wood at center and Incognito at left guard, and not feel it.

Bills Position Preview: Tight ends

@superdoops74: Many “experts” feel we will have the 1st overall pick next year. Give us an early prediction of a realistic win total for this year. Thanks Vic!

VC: It's way too early for me to be talking win totals, although I won't be surprised if the team takes a step back from last season's fluky playoff appearance.

It's hard for me to agree with those who think the Bills will finish at the bottom of the NFL, but I'm struggling with the thought that they will win nine games again.

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