Who to choose

Who do you think the Bills should draft in April?

Nate Geary
March 13, 2018 - 7:16 pm

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

By now, I think we can all come to the same predictable conclusion: the Buffalo Bills are moving up in the 2018 NFL Draft to draft a quarterback. If you’re still on the other side of the fence, here’s a tweet from senior NFL writer Charles Robinson from Yahoo Sports!:

We know now that the Bills are looking to trade up, book it. The veteran market for quarterbacks is all but dried up. As reported on Tuesday – also knowing that nothing during the free agency and legal tampering period is official – Sam Bradford is headed to the Arizona Cardinals, Josh McCown is headed back to the New York Jets and Teddy Bridgewater might be joining him? It appears Case Keenum is off to the Denver Broncos and Kirk Cousins (this was always happening) is signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

That leaves thin pickings for the Bills to upgrade their current quarterback situation, which consists only of Nathan Peterman (resists the urge to make a five-interceptionin one half joke).

Perhaps Teddy Bridgewater can still be had? Otherwise, you’re default has essentially become A.J. McCarron. McCarron doesn’t exactly represent an upgrade whatsoever over Tyrod Taylor, much less Nathan Peterman.

Everything I just laid out regarding the quarterback well being bone dry has me completely focused on the 2018 NFL Draft. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure, if you ask me. Not securing at least a stop-gap or replacement level starter now leaves them open to a major step back at the position. 

I’m not here to stress you out about what’s to come in the next few weeks; I’m here to guide your thoughts about the type of quarterback the Bills should target if they’re prepared to go “all in.”

If you listen to my Intentional Scouting podcast (which you can find in the On-Demand section of WGR550.com) you know that my buddy Mark Schofield is a quarterback savant. I’ve had some incredibly smart and talented scouts and evaluators on to discuss the specifics of every top quarterback in this draft. I’m just a guy – the Joe Marino’s, Benjamin Solak’s and Jon Ledyard’s of the world spend every waking moment evaluating and learning.

In a recent podcast, Mark referenced an article he wrote up at Inside the Pylon that discussed the passing trends in today’s NFL, and we applied it to some of the quarterbacks we have discussed throughout the pre-draft process.

When you’re thinking about whom you’d most want the Bills to pick if/when they move up in this year’s draft – Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, or Mason Rudolph - keep some of these stats from 2017 in mind:

Among the quarterbacks with at least five starts last season, “on a league-average basis, they are attempting throws shorter than 20-yards 85.8-percent of the time.” That is really an astonishing number when you consider how important NFL teams make having a quarterback who can “stretch the field.”

Let’s talk about stretching the field. In 2017, the league average in attempts further than 21-yards was only 10.2-percent. When you see this, you realize why the Bills have consistently been at the bottom of the league in passing. The best passing teams are consistently thriving on throws that travel less than 20-yards in the air. It’s imperative you have a quarterback who can lead receivers on crossing routes, slants, and deep in-breaking routes. Everyone in the NFL can get it there, but it’s about who can get it there on time and on target so your receiver can catch and run with it (all about the YAC, baby).

In fact, there are very good quarterbacks in this league who are operating nearly 70-percent of the time under 10-yards. “Six quarterbacks attempted 70-percent or more of their passes 10-yards or shorter (including passes behind the line of scrimmage): Brees (71.5%), Smith (72.2%), Brett Hundley (70.9%), Aaron Rodgers (73.1%), Josh McCown (73.6%), and C.J. Beathard (74.1%).”

If you’ve made it this far, you probably think this is a Josh Allen hit piece. To be fair, it sort of is. What I took away from all those numbers and percentages is that it’s so very important to lead your receivers in this league and to throw with timing and precision in the rhythm of an offense. What in Allen’s game gives anyone the impression that he checks any of those boxes having played in the Mountain West Conference, much less whether that could translate to the NFL level?

I'm not going to lie, the rumors of Josh Allen have me terrified.

Maybe it’s a smokescreen, maybe it’s real life. What would terrify me more is Brandon Beane ignoring statistics like the ones I just referenced. I refuse to believe that Beane and McDermott – who we already agreed don’t have a veteran option in view or in place – would value a player this early in his development. He’s most literally a work-in-progress.

Bringing back Kyle Williams and signing veterans like Vontae Davis and Chris Ivory, the Bills don't appear to be a team rebuilding. I'd make the argument they appear to be a team willing to hand the keys to the car to a rookie quarterback next year, and that just isn't Allen. If they like him as a project, I can't say that isn't fair, but I would be very concerned if they drafted Allen with the idea that he's ready to play right away.

Here’s what Mark Schofield had to say in regards to Allen and the potential team that drafts him:

“If I’m drafting him, especially early, I want a clear plan in place. I want a strong coaching staff with a proven track record of quarterback development. I want a creative and open offensive coordinator who will build an offense to suit him. I want a bridge-type quarterback who can start as long as necessary - perhaps the whole year. I want an ownership group that is patient with handling expectations, same for a fan base. If we are investing in him; it needs to be handled the right way. I don’t want to break him.”

Does any of that sound like the Bills?

I’ll let you decide for yourself whom to pull for in this race. I’m all in on Josh Rosen and together, we can unite and simply be against anyone who says it should be Allen.

I'll leave you with this. 

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