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How quarterbacks could alter the 2019 NFL Draft trade down possibilities for the Buffalo Bills

The class of 2019 is making their push into the top 10

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

In 2018, several teams moved up the draft board to pick their quarterback of the future. One of the reasons was a supposedly sub-par class of quarterbacks coming down the ‘pike in 2019. Well, 2019 is here and already the quarterbacks are moving up into the top half of most draft boards.

With the Buffalo Bills not in the market to draft a quarterback this year, despite what your opinions of Josh Allen might be, general manager Brandon Beane might be in a position to use the quarterbacks to his advantage in trade-down options.

Which teams might be thinking QB?

In the 2019 NFL Draft, a host of teams could be looking for that quarterback in the first round.

4. Oakland Raiders (and picks 24 & 27)

Who knows what Jon Gruden is going to do. The Raiders’ head coach and Derek Carr sparred on the sidelines in November, though both downplayed it after the fact. We can probably rule it out at this point, though.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite being benched by his previous coach, new head coach Bruce Arians has come out in favor of Jameis Winston, so it’s doubtful they will pick a quarterback.

6. New York Giants

A bona fide landing spot for the first quarterback off the board, the Giants could be looking to replace Eli Manning either immediately or in the near term with their pick in 2019. Many thought they should bypass the supremely-talented Saquon Barkley to make the move in 2018. Manning had a solid year in 2018, though the Giants did not. Still, he just turned 38.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Squarely in the mix for a quarterback and with a coach and executive on the hot seat, the Jaguars feel like one of the most quarterback-desperate teams in the entire draft. They are definitely going to be eyeing one of the top prizes.

8. Detroit Lions

While they say they aren’t taking any position off the board, and specifically mentioned quarterback, they are on the hook for a ton of money to Matthew Stafford in 2019 and by the time the draft rolls around, some more guaranteed money will be added in 2020.

10. Denver Broncos

The other supremely quarterback-desperate team in the draft, Denver seemed to be just a quarterback away from being a contender just a year ago. They seem like another lock for a quarterback pick in the first few rounds.

13. Miami Dolphins

Has new coach Brian Flores made up his mind on Ryan Tannehill? Do the Dolphins want to ride the veteran into a full-on tank in 2019? Will they sign a veteran to try and compete?

15. Washington

Washington was dealt a bad hand with the Alex Smith injury. The veteran may never play again and certainly won’t be ready for the start of the season. So is now the time to draft a replacement or sign a stop-gap?

19. Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota enters the final year of his rookie deal with no signs that he’s the surefire franchise quarterback they had hoped.

28. Los Angeles Chargers

Phillip Rivers will turn 38 this season, but says he wants to play a few more years.

32. New England Patriots

They have to start planning for the retirement of Tom Brady at some point, right?

Where are the sweet spots?

In the latest mock draft from SB Nation, there are two trade ups for quarterbacks in the top ten and three quarterbacks in the top 13 picks. The first is the Jaguars trading up to number three to select Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State. A team with a strong defense and a glaring hole at quarterback makes a move into the top three. After that, Denver trades up from ten to five to jump ahead of the Giants. They select Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. The Dolphins stay at 13 to select Kyler Murray, who on Monday said he was sticking with football and forgoing his baseball opportunities. (While Daniel Jones from Duke doesn’t crack the top 32 in this mock, he is near the top of other mocks.)

It’s not likely based on the Raiders’ selection that Jacksonville trades up, but more of what the market will bring. They aren’t just competing against Oakland, they’re fighting off the Giants, Broncos, and Dolphins in the top 13 picks. If they want their choice of signal callers, three looks to be the magic number.

The next spot to watch is five overall. With the Giants picking at six followed by the Jaguars, teams will want to get ahead of them to ensure their quarterback is still available. Tampa Bay could be looking at a haul.

The next pivot point for quarterbacks is ninth, where Buffalo currently sits. With the Broncos tenth on the clock, if they haven’t traded up by the time Buffalo is on the clock, the Bills could be in for some action if one or more of the top three quarterbacks remain. Unfortunately for Buffalo, the teams that are most desperate picking after them would be the Miami Dolphins, who would have to give up a mountain to trade within the division for a “franchise quarterback”, or perhaps a desperate Washington team.

If Buffalo could swing some pressure from Miami or Washington, they might be able to get ten from Denver, move back one spot, and pick up an extra third-rounder for their troubles. But if Denver was that desperate after Jacksonville and the Giants’ picks, they’d want to trade up ahead of Buffalo anyway.

What works out best for Buffalo?

The free-agent market could be Buffalo’s ticket to some draft trades. If Jacksonville banks on their defense bouncing back, they may not want to go through the ups and downs of a rookie quarterback and instead try to swing a trade or sign a veteran. (Note: The Jaguars currently sit over the 2019 salary cap and even by releasing Blake Bortles, wouldn’t have enough to fit Joe Flacco’s current 2019 salary without a restructure.) They still probably draft a quarterback, but might not be as desperate while making a push with a veteran on board.

If that pushes all the rookie quarterbacks to the Giants, Jaguars, and Lions, then Buffalo would seem like a logical tipping point just ahead of the Denver Broncos for the first or second quarterback off the board.

But that’s a whole lot of “ifs.” And it assumes that Denver, Miami and Washington all stay out of the trade-up game to jump ahead of number nine. It’s going to be difficult for Buffalo to manufacture interest in their pick based solely around the quarterback position.

One more thing to remember: If the Bills fail to land a trade down because two or three teams trade into the top eight picks to get their quarterback, more options will be available for Buffalo at nine and they could end up with one of the top players on their board. It might even be a blessing in disguise.