What the Bills should do with their 8th pick in the Draft
In light of the recent events that have transpired at One Bills Drive for the Buffalo Bills, it’s time to discuss the most glaring need on their roster; quarterback. The Bills released veteran signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, who went on to sign a two-year deal with the Tennessee Titans, joining former teammates Andy Levitre and George Wilson. The release of Fitzpatrick has some fans jumping for joy and other fans wondering what the front office was thinking.
With the departure of Fitz, the Bills now have only two quarterbacks on their current roster: Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp. Neither of which will be the long-term answer to fixing the Bills’ abysmal offense, therefore making it an almost certainty the Bills draft a QB with the eighth overall pick in April’s upcoming draft. The QB they select will be under a very close watch, as the new coaching regime is looking to turn this team around almost immediately and get them back to the playoffs.
So, who will the Bills take with their eighth pick in the draft? It’s still too early to tell. But it’s quite obvious the Bills have more than just a casual interest in at least two of the QB’s in this year’s draft; Geno Smith from West Virginia and EJ Manuel from Florida State. Both players excelled and impressed at their pro days and certainly increased their draft stock after the performances they put on for the scouts. While Geno Smith seems to be the QB most talked about between the two, Manuel is slowly and quietly creeping up the draft boards of many teams, including the Buffalo Bills.
Smith was the more coveted QB of the two prior to the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day, and there are many people still impressed with what Smith has to offer to a team; his athleticism and arm strength are above average, and he has great mobility and can throw well on the run. Manuel possesses roughly the same skill set (Smith ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, while Manuel ran a 4.65) and abilities that Smith has, and he also has a height advantage (Smith is 6’ 3”, Manuel is 6’ 4 ½”, not much of a difference, but Manuel outweighs Smith by 30 lbs, 208 vs. 238) and can throw the ball with similar touch to Smith.
As you can see, the stats and Combine numbers are dramatically close. If either one of these young QB’s is still on the board when the Bills are on the clock, it only seems logical that they go after either one. While this may seem like a stretch, the NFL is certainly geared more towards athletic quarterbacks now more than ever. Smith or Manuel would most definitely have an immediate edge in winning the starting job, as Jackson and Corp have not shown the ability to play winning football with a lot of consistency. Expect one of the two to be released after camp if the Bills decide to draft a QB like Smith or Manuel.
There are obviously other QB’s in this year’s draft class that could also land in Western New York come draft day (Ryan Nassib from Syracuse, Tyler Wilson from Arkansas, Mike Glennon from NC State, Landry Jones from Alabama, Tyler Bray from Tennessee), but Smith and Manuel appear to be just a few steps ahead of the competition. There are several other teams that may draft a QB with their first pick in April (The Cardinals, the Raiders, the Jets, the Browns), so the Bills may think about trading up to grab either Smith or Manuel. While it may seem like a reach, these two young men will be more successful at the NFL level than many people would think. And the Bills could end their search for a franchise QB by drafting either one.
It may sound crazy, since the so-called “experts” have said there are no surefire starting QB’s in this year’s draft. But to be honest, there’s never any “surefire” thing in the NFL. Look what happened to Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Terrell Pryor, and Vince Young. They were all studs in college, but their game never translated into the NFL. There’s always that chance that a draft pick won’t work out, and the Bills and their fans are all too familiar with that situation (are you reading this, Aaron Maybin?). But think about it this way: what happens if the Bills pass on a QB, and that guy turns into an immediate impact player for the team that drafted him? Everyone will then be wondering why on earth did the Bills, and every other team for that matter, pass on such a talented player?
That’s why the Redskins traded up last year to draft Robert Griffin III, because that’s the guy they wanted and they didn’t want anyone else to get him. Perhaps the Bills can use this same strategy and try to move up a few spots to guarantee they get the man they want. If it doesn’t work out, so be it. But if it does work out, the Bills will be back in the playoffs for years to come. The Bills need to take a QB with the eighth pick or they may miss out on a golden opportunity; end of discussion. On April 25, the world will see if Buddy Nix sticks to his word about finding a franchise QB in this year’s draft. Many Bills fans want to see a new QB behind center that they can depend on. Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp are not the answer, but Geno Smith or EJ Manuel just may be the long-term solution to a position that hasn’t been adequately filled since Jim Kelly left. LET’S GO BUFFALO!