The draft is almost here and many of us have our own opinions on who the Bills should take, or what guys we think will be great and what guys will be monumental busts. No position is filled with more controversy or fear as quarterback, especially drafting one in the first round. I always hated the posts of people saying "wait until next year, that class will be better or look at how many stars there will be in the next draft". It doesn't make sense to pass on a franchise QB in the hopes of landing another one the next year, especially when we have all seen guys fall from grace most recently Jake Locker and Brian Brohm (both considered top 5 picks if not #1 overall, and both had bad senior years). This post is not like that in any way.
The Bills have had a need for a franchise QB since Kelly retired. They have tried drafting mid round guys like Edwards, traded back into the first for Losman, traded for a vet in Bledsoe, and even traded for a promising young guy in Johnson. None of these plans has worked out for the Bills and the quest to find the next great Bills franchise QB continues.
Currently we have a very fortunate situation. We are picking both 3rd and 34th in this years draft and have an okay starter in Ftiz. He is not great but he also is not horrible he seems to be more of a stop-gap guy who can slow the bleeding and get your team by for a year or two until you draft your franchise QB. The wrench in the mix is his contract which is up after this season (if there is one). So now the question comes in, should the Bills take a QB in this years draft?
If the Bills believe that Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Ponder, or Kaepernick are possibly franchise QB's I believe that they have to take one of them regardless who is on the board in the respective round. I always hated it when teams would throw a rookie QB out there right away. Sure there are some success stories like Manning, Flacco, and Matt Ryan. But there are many more horror stories like Alex Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, and even Jimmy Clausen. The main difference is those teams who had success with their rookie QB's also had done a good job of building all the other pieces first like the o-line, backfield, WR core, and even a strong defense to support a sputtering offense. The teams who had problems with rookie QB's had questionable lines, and holes at the other core areas along with average-below average defenses.
We all know our Bills defense is not likely to turn around in one year. Also we have a very questionable offensive line that at times has looked okay but certainly did not do many favors for the ground game. This I believe is because our offensive line is just too weak. We have some pieces in place but the reason I believe the passing game was successful is because the offense ran quick short-intermediate routes, meaning Ftiz had to make pre-snap reads and get rid of the ball in just a few seconds. Compare that to offenses that run deep routes like the Colts, Saints, and even the Eagles, their lines have to hold blocks for sometimes over 5-6 seconds (which may not seem like a lot but anyone who has played football before 3-5 seconds can be a long time to hold someone for). This made our Bills offensive line seem okay, and not really all that bad. The ground game showed the lines true weakness of strength however. It seemed like almost on every play our line was getting stopped right at the LOS or pushed back rather than the road graders driving people 4-5 yards down field. This like I said, seemed to be because our line lacked any real size or strength. Teams like the Vikings and Giants have those big guys who can drive their man 4-5 yards down field and open up holes for the runners. That is why CJ Spiller was so ineffective and Freddy Jackson was much more effective. Spiller was not used to running through tight spaces or no holes at all, and Freddy is the best in the league at making something out of nothing.
So what does all this mean? Well I think the time is now for the Bills to take a QB, whether it be in round 1 or 2. Fitz may not be back after next year and I hate the idea of throwing a rookie QB out there when our line is questionable and defense is weak. We are in the perfect situation to let a guy sit and learn for a year, develop him and ease him into the game. Also if we wait until next year we may end up losing Fitz because he may prefer to sign with a team that wants him long-term or we may end up having to overpay him just so we aren't forced to start a rookie. Another reason I believe we should take a QB is there is no guarantee where we will pick next year. I believe we will improve slightly meaning we fall back a few picks in the draft. A franchise QB may certainly be there or we may end up in a situation much like 04 when the top 3 guys were all selected before we had a chance to pick (Rivers, Manning, Rothlesbergr) and we get stuck reaching for a guy who we shouldnt have like Losman. I think it is smart for the Bills to go QB at 3 or 34 and groom their guy rather than risk waiting another year.