Let's assume for a moment on this lovely Monday morning that a weekend report concerning the Buffalo Bills' apparent lack of interest in Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen are accurate. If you've been here longer than, say, a day and a half, you're probably aware that I find that notion insane. But we're assuming here, so let's continue to assume that the report, courtesy of Michael Lombardi, is spot on.
We know that GM Buddy Nix covets a quarterback with the requisite arm strength to cut through the icy, wintry winds that plague Ralph Wilson Stadium in late November, December, and dare we dream, January. Nix also prefers a great deal of college experience, production and big-game exposure. We also know, courtesy Lombardi and every other talking head that has paid the slightest bit of attention to Chan Gailey's coaching career, that the Bills' new head coach prefers an athletic quarterback that can make plays on the move.
If Buffalo isn't hot on the draft's top two QB prospects, Clausen and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, then they're not interested in finding a quarterback that can start any time soon, first and foremost. But we've also been told repeatedly that the team plans to add a fourth quarterback to the current mix of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. Combining Nix's preference for arm strength (and those aforementioned intangibles) with Gailey's preference for athleticism isn't easy - we're kind of trying to create the perfect quarterback here, after all - but there are five guys that should be available after the first round this year that could satiate the needs of both Nix and Gailey, while providing a good deal of long-term potential in some cases.
1. Tim Tebow, Florida. I apologize for speaking He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's name; I assure you, the jinx is in full effect, and I'm already being dragged off to Malfoy Manor by a bloodthirsty werewolf. (And for those of you who despise or ignore Harry Potter, my further apologies - but we've kind of been over this Tebow stuff before.) No one's exactly sure where Tebow will be drafted, because some teams love of him, and others are completely disinterested. In terms of the requirements, however, Tebow fits the bill - he's an excellent athlete (though not to the point where scouts rave about those abilities), and his arm is quite strong. He's a rather massive project, but as we've discussed ad nauseam here, he's exactly the type of prospect that would appeal greatly to both Nix and Gailey.
2. John Skelton, Fordham. Thought to be a favorite of quarterbacks coach George Cortez, Skelton's size, arm strength and highly underrated athleticism have scouts drooling over his potential. But he comes from FCS competition, worked out of a spread offense, and as of this moment has an incredible amount of work to do not only polishing his technique, but far more importantly, learning to read a defense (something Tebow has to work on as well, by the way). Like Tebow, he's a huge project, but in terms of raw skills, he's got a lot, and I don't foresee a scenario where he drops out of the third round - that's how far he's risen up draft boards.
3. Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee. If you haven't heard of this guy, you should probably peruse the Sporting News draft guide that's been made available this year; War Room scouts rank Crompton as the second-best quarterback available this year, behind Bradford and just ahead of Clausen, whom they consider a second-round prospect. Crompton is another prospect that has an excellent blend of NFL size, arm strength and athleticism, and his stock really soared over the second half of his senior season, when he really began to take to the tutelage of Lane Kiffin. His biggest problem as a senior, when the light finally went on for him, was that he was incredibly streaky, seeing his completion percentage fluctuate by about 20% three separate times over his final eight games. Yes, he's another project, but he's also another project with very solid long-term potential.
4. Jarrett Brown, West Virginia. If there's any quarterback Gailey the media cliche (not necessarily Gailey the Bills head coach) would like, it's Brown, who wowed scouts at this year's combine with a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, a quick release and a strong arm. Nix may not love the fact that he only started one season at WVU, when he took over for Pat White as a senior. Brown is a super smooth athlete that can make a lot of plays for you, but he wasn't overly productive as a passer thanks to West Virginia's gimmicky offense. Like everyone on this list aside from Crompton (who has a bit of experience running a pro-style offense and thus making pro-style reads), Brown will need time in the film room to understand what the heck he's trying to do on a pro field. But the athleticism is definitely there, and his arm isn't bad, either.
5. Levi Brown, Troy. This story should be familiar to you by now - tall, well-built guy with athleticism and a solid arm that played lesser competition and ran a spread offense. Lump Brown into that category, but don't discount him as an add-on, because there have been serious rumblings that the Bills are high on this guy. Troy did a lot of winning under Brown the past two years, going 17-9, winning two Sun Belt Conference championships and losing two close bowl games to Southern Mississippi (2008) and Central Michigan (2009). Brown can play, but once again, he's a guy that will need to spend a seriously lengthy amount of time in the film room and taking practice reps reading an NFL defense.
Seriously. Can't we just take the guy who's read defenses from a pro-style offense, and excelled at doing so, for three full seasons? (If he's there, of course.) Sheesh.