There's been lots of talk about drafting QB's here lately. More specifically there's been a lot of talk about possibly drafting either Jimmy Claussen or Tim Tebow. There's even been talk of drafting Tebow at #9. I've made a few comments on those post.... and caught some flack for them... even from Brian. So it's at this point that I feel that I have to explain myself what I think the Bills can and cannot do in this year's draft.
First and foremost, we cannot draft a QB simply to draft a QB. Yes it is a glaring need for our team. Yes we are in desperate need of a franchise QB. But that does not mean that we should draft the first one that comes along, or that we should reach for one.
We are in a full rebuild, changing the identity itself of the team. A rebuild of this sort easily takes 3 seasons, that means we have 2 years to find a franchise QB. I say that because I think that while some franchise QB's are immediate starters as rookies, most will see some time on the bench. So if we want to have a true franchise QB leading this team in the next 3 years, we have 2 years to draft him.
That's why I've been vocal against drafting Tebow at #9. And for the record I’m not just saying this about Tebow, I’m saying this about any QB that we might draft. When your a franchise that is in such horrible state as the Bills (and lets be honest here, we’re probably the least attractive team in the NFL) you don’t pick stretches or projects with a top ten pick. You pick a guy that is safe and that you can immediately build around. Stretching for a QB (any QB) would do us more harm than good at this point. So while we can take a stretch at other positions, I do not believe that we can allow ourselves to do that at the QB position. Again, we cannot take a QB simply to take a QB.
Drafting a QB is not like drafting any other position. When you draft a QB in the first round your franchise is making a serious investment in that player. That QB is immediately seen as "the guy" on your team. That means that we would not be drafting another QB in the high rounds for another 3-4 years minimum. Starting to understand where I'm going here?
If we are to take a QB in the first round (or in the second as is most likely the case for Tebow) we must do all our homework on that QB and then do it again just for good measure. We cannot afford to have a high QB pick fail on us. The entire rebuild of a franchise depends on the QB that the select. Or in simpler terms, a team's rebuilding process almost entirely depends on the QB that they select.
We can see examples of this in recent drafts as well. We can identify two teams that have been successful in their rebuilds (however extensive that they might have been) in Atlanta and Baltimore. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both revitalized their teams and gave their franchises hope for the future. Meanwhile failed picks at QB such as Alex Smith (San Francisco) and Jamarcus Russell (Oakland) have kept their franchises down, and in Smith's case, have forced the franchise to start a whole new rebuilding process on the side of the offense.
This team simply cannot afford to take a reach in the first round this year. We must take a player that we can immediately build around. And if that means that we have to wait one more year to draft our franchise QB then so be it.
So back to Tebow for a moment. Say that Tebow turns out to be the next Steve Young, great, I’ll be more than happy to eat my words. But if he turns out to be average at best (like Alex Smith) then our franchise is going nowhere for the next 3-4 years (until we draft another franchise QB). That's why I say that we should not, and cannot, rush the QB pick, or even reach for one early. It is too high a risk to take for a franchise in this stage of rebuilding.
See my point yet?
Now I know that Tebow might be Nix's and Gailey's guy. If he is, great, I'll be happy to welcome him as the newest face of the Bills franchise. But again, we can't reach for him, and can't afford to take him at number 9 either. So here's where Nix comes in. If Tebow is his man, then Nix has to find a way to draft him where it makes sense to draft him. Stretching for him will hurt our franchise, and waiting to long (our second round pick) means that we might not get him at all. So again, if he is Nix's man, then Nix must find a way to draft him in a position that helps the team the most. Personally I think that anywhere after the 20th pick makes sense. Heck I'd even be willing to accept drafting him at 15 if we trade with the Giants. But drafting him at number 9 is to far of a reach in my opinion as we can draft a much safer pick than Tebow at number 9.
Basically all of this means that Nix has the toughest job in football. He has to draft a guy that he thinks can carry this franchise for the next decade at QB. But he must also be smart, and more importantly patient, about it. He must do his homework, find his man and then draft him at a spot that helps this franchise the most. Anything less and we may very well be facing another rebuild 4 years down the line.