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Buffalo Bills in perfect position at No. 10 overall

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Check out the full explanation of this draft-day theory.

The Buffalo Bills can go in a lot of different direction in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft, but right now, no one has any idea what path they’ll take.

However, with the No. 10 overall pick, they’re almost assured to be in a position that’ll be beneficial to them when they go on the clock.

And this theory is centered on... you guessed it... the quarterbacks.

Let’s unpack this two-fold idea with hypotheticals.


Quarterbacks Are Picked Within First Nine Picks

Apparently this quarterback class isn’t that great, right? I’ve seen it, read it, heard it. So have you.

Does that mean none of them will be picked until the latter stages of Round 1? Ehhh. I don’t buy it.

Is Kyle Shanahan really going into his first season as a head coach in the NFL with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as his quarterbacks? [Kevin McAllister voice] I don’t think so.

How about Todd Bowles, who’s probably scooting toward the hot seat after going 5-11 in 2016? The year before that, he was held back by his quarterback play. Last year, the Jets situation under center was a disaster. Think he’ll be cool with Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, or Christian Hackenberg as New York’s opening-day starter?

Heck, even before the Jets pick at No. 6 overall, don’t rule out the Jaguars. New leadership there with Tom Coughlin now the EVP of Football Operations, and Doug Marrone the head coach.

Blake Bortles was picked in 2014. After a decent sophomore year, he experienced a colossal regression in 2016 during a season in which the defense made strides. Would any of the quarterback prospects be of interest?

That trio of teams seem to be the most likely suitors for one, two, or even three of the top signal-callers in this draft class. (let’s not forget the Bears at No. 3, either. They can get out from the Mike Glennon deal rather easily after 2017.)

If at least two quarterbacks go within the Top 9, it’ll have an obvious and awesome impact on the Bills at No. 10 overall.

Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Malik Hooker, Jonathan Allen, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, O.J. Howard, Marshon Lattimore, and Jamal Adams are the 10 (basically) consensus “elite” skill-position prospects in this draft class. I think the Bills would likely love if nine of those 10 were available when they go on the clock. As a press man-to-man corner, Lattimore may not suit the Bills defense.

Even if only one quarterback goes in the Top 10, it’d mean multiple skill-position studs would have to fall into Buffalo’s lap.

If two or three signal-callers are picked inside the Top 9... even better for Buffalo.


No Quarterbacks Are Picked Within First Nine Picks

Whoa, whoa, whoa... hold on a minute. Re-read the first sentence in the above sub-heading.

“Apparently this quarterback class isn’t that great, right?”

Right there. That settles it. This quarterback class lacks franchise-changing talent. You wrote it yourself, Chris.

Shanahan is a young. He might not be in any hurry to “reach” on a quarterback in this draft. The 49ers know it’ll take a few years for him — and new GM John Lynch — to rebuild San Francisco into an NFC contender again. They could go “Best Player Available” at No. 2 overall.

The Jets do have two youthful signal-callers on their roster in Petty and Hackenberg, and a veteran in Josh McCown. There’s a chance they’re not in as big of a rush to spend a high pick on a quarterback as many think.

As for the Jaguars, Bortles threw for 4,428 yards with 35 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2015. Maybe with another weapon or two, he’d be able to build off that campaign instead of his poor 2016 season. There’s some Eli to Bortles’ game, and Coughlin might think he knows how to win with that type of quarterback.

If these specific scenarios prove to be true, in all likelihood, the “elite” skill-position players listed above... will be gone when Buffalo goes on the clock.

Why would that be good for Buffalo?

At that juncture, the Bills would either:

— Have their pick of the litter at quarterback, if they truly wanted to draft one

— Be a prime trade-down candidate

The first point is self-explanatory.

On trading down... the Bills, sitting there at No. 10, with all the quarterbacks still available and, clearly, having shown tons of interest in them during the pre-draft process, we’d have to think they’d get calls from some of these teams:

Browns at No. 12

Cardinals at No. 13

Giants at No. 23

Texans at No. 25

Chiefs at No. 27

Teams further down the board would be less likely to trade up, simply due to the massive compensation package they’d have to give to Buffalo.

But there are a handful of clubs that presumably will look at drafting a quarterback in Round 1, either because they’re in desperate need of a signal-caller or they don’t have many holes on their roster and could be intrigued by drafting an heir apparent to their veteran starter right now.

In that case, Buffalo could slide back, add a few extra picks in Rounds 2 and 3 — when there’ll be loads of quality talent available — to bolster their roster for 2017 and beyond.


Other Considerations

No promises here, but there’s typically been one out-of-nowhere selection inside the Top 5 to Top 8, a pick no one saw coming.

Last year, that was Joey Bosa to the Chargers at No. 3, or Jack Conklin to the Titans at No. 8.

In 2015, offensive guard Brandon Scherff landing with the Redskins at No. 5 was a stunner.

The year before that... Blake Bortles at No. 3 to the Jaguars, and Justin Gilbert at No. 8 at to the Browns.

In 2013, it was the consensus that Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd would be a Top 10 or even a Top 5 pick. He went No. 23 overall.

Mark Barron had an astronomical rise into the Top 10 on the day of the draft in 2012 and went No. 8 overall to the Buccaneers.

I took an informal survey on Twitter the past few days asking who that “surprise” pick could be this year, and prospects like Leonard Fournette, John Ross, Haason Reddick, Garrett Bolles, Jabrill Peppers, Derek Barnett, Ryan Ramczyk, Forest Lamp, Christian McCaffrey, Obi Melifonwu, and David Njoku were all floated as suggestions or possibilities.

If any of those players are selected within the Top 9, one of the “elite” prospects would automatically slip to the Bills. A “surprise” early pick could have an even bigger ripple effect... it could push a quarterback to No. 10, thereby placing Buffalo in that “ pick a quarterback or trade down” position as well.


Conclusion

The Top 9 picks will have a direct impact on Buffalo’s first-round selection... obviously. Jeff Hunter pinpointed the needs of those teams very well on Monday.

Like with every club, there’s no guarantee the “right” prospect will be chosen. But based on where they pick in this draft, their needs, and the makeup of this draft class, the Bills are basically in an ideal win-win position at No. 10 overall.