Handicapping the Bills' QB Competition: May Edition

When the Buffalo Bills waited until the seventh Round of the 2010 NFL Draft to select a quarterback, the general consensus was that the Bills were doomed to another year plagued by inconsistency at football's most important position. GM Buddy Nix and company passed on the likes of Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and many others because of the belief that none of those individuals were ready to contribute from day one.

With rookie mini-camps and OTAs fast approaching, we will soon be able to make assumptions on who the leading candidate is to lead the Bills' offense. Chan Gailey's offense will be a completely different animal than what we have seen over the last couple of seasons. This will lead to a wide open competition for three roster spots, and a very interesting pre-season to watch it all unfold.

As we go through OTAs and the pre-season, these odds can change dramatically, so expect a lot of movement. Let's take a look at the betting favorites as of May, which you'll find after the jump.

Trent Edwards (3-1): Arguably, Trent Edwards is the early leader at the quarter pole, and I believe the new coaching staff will give him every opportunity to win the starting job. Whether you like him or you don't, Edwards has the skill set to be successful in Gailey's offense. When he's confident, he makes quick and accurate decisions, can get the ball vertical, and checks down when appropriate. If you want evidence of this, look at the first six games of the Bills' 2008 season; the numbers don't lie:

Comp Att % Yds TD INT QBR
106 152 69.7 1,209 5 2 97.3

The issue with Trent is that he lacks confidence right now, and this leads to the jittery, broken quarterback that we have seen in the second half of 2008 and 2009. No confidence equals too many check downs, bad decisions and poor accuracy. If he buys in and learns Gailey's system quickly, he can return to the form that we hoped to see last season. Edwards' coachability will allow him to be successful, and if he can stay healthy and productive, he will win the job with ease.

Brian Brohm (5-1): The most athletically gifted quarterback on the Bills' roster is right on the heels of Edwards. Brohm came from college with a lot of hype and recognition, and he could have conceivably been a top-five pick after his junior year, but decided to return for his senior year. He can make the throws a quarterback needs to make, and could adapt very well in the offense Gailey would run. Remember, Gailey turned Tyler Thigpen into a starter in Kansas City, and would love to have a young disciple to groom.

However, does Brohm have the mental chops to learn another new playbook? The knock on him coming from Green Bay was that he could not get the playbook down, and this was causing him to look disjointed in practice. He will find himself quickly out of favor if this repeats in 2010. In his NFL debut last year, Brohm showed glimpses of his ability, but the results weren't there. If Edwards falters, Brohm will have an opportunity to grab the position and run with it.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (10-1): No one can doubt Fitzpatrick's willingness to compete and his moxie, but I simply don't believe he has enough tools that would cause Chan to consider him at the moment. His biggest liability is his accuracy; it's not that he is mildly inaccurate, he can be woefully inaccurate. Coupled with the fact that his decision making can be dreadful does not bode well for his chances as a starter.

However, all is not lost for Fitzpatrick. He can be quite mobile and has made plays with his feet, which Gailey likes in his quarterbacks. As well, he has the intelligence to learn a new system and contribute right away, which will be important as the new regime sells the product to the fans. If he can reign in his gunslinger approach and manage the game, Fitzpatrick could come from behind and surprise us all.

Levi Brown (150-1): Brown is destined for the practice squad unless some catastrophe befalls the Bills' quarterbacks in the 2010 season. He's too raw, doesn't have enough experience, and needs the time to adjust to the NFL game. 150-1 is generous, all things considered, but we didn't expect Brohm to start a game last year, either.

The Field (12-1): There are quarterbacks lurking on the open market that could conceivably be a front-runner before the ink is dried on their contract. Jeff Garcia and Daunte Culpepper have been mentioned in the past, but don't rule out new players becoming available, as cuts are bound to happen before Week 1. Any reasonable quarterback that is a free agent will be linked to the Bills, and if injuries or poor performance creeps up, don't be surprised if someone is asked to come and save the season.

This will be the most interesting competition leading into training camp, and will have a direct impact on the performance of the Bills. With an average-to-good quarterback, this really could be a playoff team. However, if they get the type of production that they got last year, they could end up in the Top 5 of the 2011 NFL Draft, and the cries for a quarterback will be heard loud and clear at One Bills Drive.

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