We, as fans, have been preparing for the upcoming draft by asking ourselves the question, "Who do we want our next QB to be?" It's a very interesting question (especially this year with no shoo-in top prospects), but it's not THE question. The question is really, "Which QB is Buddy Nix going to take?"
I think we can get a good idea of which direction he's going and we don't need to make all that many assumptions, but here's my three starting premises:
1. Buddy Nix will do his due diligence - This is a safe bet considering that Nix hasn't felt comfortable enough with QBs in the past. He'll want to feel comfortable with one this year. To me, this means that Nix will be targeting one of the pre-draft visitors. He's shown a preference for drafting those players in the past and that should continue. So the pool is this: Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, EJ Manuel, Matt Scott, Jeff Tuel, and the wildcard, Ryan Nassib. I give him a pass on this criteria because the coaching staff will have done the scouts' job on him.
2. Buddy Nix will not wait to take his guy. - He's said in the past that you can't pass up on a guy you think is a franchise QB. He also showed with TJ Graham that he's not above trading up to make sure he gets his guy even when the odds are that he'll make it to your next pick. I'm not saying it's a guarantee that Nix will pick a QB at 8, but there's a strong possibility that his pick will be considered a reach and it's extremely doubtful that Nix will wait until after his second round pick to take his guy.
3. QBs will go faster than you expect. - Because of the value placed on the position, they will go much higher than they deserve. Few people thought Locker was a top-10 pick and fewer thought that Ponder was a top-15 pick, but that still happened anyway. I guarantee at least two QBs will be taken in the first round, probably closer to 3 or 4.
Matt Scott, Jeff Tuel - Neither are seen as top prospects. This doesn't prevent Nix from seeing things differently. It does make it much less likely. They're an outside chance at best. Drafting one of these guys makes more sense in a two QB draft scenario.
Geno Smith - The reason I have Geno here is because I believe that he'll be gone before the 8th pick. Some QB needy will want the top QB in the draft and they'll know he has to be picked before Arizona and Buffalo. Nix could still trade up for him, but it doesn't make sense in a year when you only have 6 picks and tons of holes. I expect Nix to use Smith as a smokescreen.
Ryan Nassib - The probability of the Bills taking Nassib goes down for much the same reason as it went down for Smith. Everybody thinks the Bills are in love with him so he'll be gone before the Bills pick in the second. 8 is too high for him. Nix isn't going to trade down. A trade up to the bottom of the first is definitely possible, but I'm inclined to believe the reports that the Bills aren't that high on him. Another smokescreen.
EJ Manuel - I think there's a pretty good chance that Manuel falls to the Bills in the second round. He's got the potential to be a franchise QB, but it's far from a sure thing. Nix could definitely fall in love with Manuel's physical skills (I almost wrote tools instead of physical skills, but that's just a slam dunk TWSS joke). I like the chances of this happening
Matt Barkley - There's a better chance of Barkley going before the Bills at 8 than you might think. All it takes is one team to take Smith in the top-6 and then Arizona falling in love with him. Barkley's leadership skills are second to no QB in this draft and his accuracy could make him a great fit in the West Coast/K-Gun hybrid that Hackett will be running. If the Bills plan on taking Barkley, they better take him at 8.
It's a toss-up between Barkley and Manuel for me at this point. It comes down to what Nix values in a QB and what he doesn't. That's pretty much guesswork at this point because Nix hasn't drafted other than Levi Brown. Right now, my money's on Barkley because I truly believe that Nix will take his QB in the first round.
I'll leave it up to you though. Who do you think Nix is going to take?