Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, one of the better-connected NFL Draft reporters in the business, isn't buying the rhetoric that the Buffalo Bills are interested in making Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib their next franchise quarterback. He said as much in a Wednesday night appearance on The John Murphy Show.
"I'm hearing from league insiders - the vast majority would be surprised if they go in that direction that early in the draft," Pauline told Murphy. "In fact, people have told me that Nassib may not be their top quarterback, and that's something I reported after the Senior Bowl."
Who, then, might sit ahead of Nassib on Buffalo's draft board? Pauline had an answer for that, as well.
"I hear that Doug Marrone really favors E.J. Manuel of Florida State," Pauline said, "for a number of reasons. He'd do a better job at running the read-option, which Marrone tried at Syracuse with Nassib. He's got better physical skills; he's got a better arm than Nassib - and you're going to need somebody with a strong arm to get that ball cut through the winds at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the months of November and December. I think that Manuel comes with more downside risk when you compare him to Nassib - he's not as NFL ready - but if you can coach him correctly and get him throwing with fundamentally sound mechanics and making proper decisions, you're going to have a franchise quarterback there for the next decade."
Manuel is a 6'5", 237-pound senior with two years of starting experience that scores well in the talent and intangible departments, but who never developed into a consistent passer or performer as a Seminole. He's widely considered a late first-round or early second-round pick, but could the Bills bite the bullet and draft him in the Top 10, as Chris Brown speculated they could earlier today? Pauline doesn't think so.
"I would be surprised if the Buffalo Bills take a quarterback that early," Pauline said. "I would assume that they've learned from teams' mistakes like the Jake Lockers and Christian Ponders - quarterbacks are always over-drafted, and this is not a good quarterback draft."
The Bills have also been reported to favor Nassib and Matt Barkley over the past week; if what Pauline is hearing is accurate, then Buffalo's new head coach may try to make a push for a different guy, as well.