Within all of the quarterback brouhaha leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft - the insanity of two teams trading up to the top of the draft for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the unbelievable possibility that Paxton Lynch could be a Top 10 pick, and that people are seriously discussing Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg as potential Round 1 choices - we're trying to figure out where the Buffalo Bills fit into the picture.
The Bills have themselves a worthwhile starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. He has a good arm, makes good decisions with the ball, and may have room to further develop his game. They need to add depth behind Taylor, and they need to build up the team around him.
If Buffalo is serious about uniting behind Taylor as their quarterback, they shouldn't be drafting Cook or Hackenberg. They shouldn't be going for Cardale Jones or Dak Prescott, either. If they are encouraged by Taylor's touch, accuracy, and style of play, the Bills owe it to themselves to draft Vernon Adams, Jr., the quarterback that played his college ball at Eastern Washington, and then at Oregon.
This is my quarterback man crush.
Now, you're either in one of three camps: either you already agree with me (cool), you have no idea who Adams is (I'll explain), or you know the guy and you have an objection. I'll give Adams some background first, and then I'll address your objections.
The Vernon Adams quick read
Vernon Adams is a 5'11", 200-pound quarterback who started three seasons at Eastern Washington (a FCS program) before transferring to Oregon as a graduating senior in the summer of 2015. He was 35-9 as a starter in the NCAA, completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 13,081 yards, 136 touchdowns, and 37 interceptions. He also had 380 career rushes for 1,352 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Originally from Pasadena, California, he only received two scholarship offers - in part because of his short stature. He's earning his master's degree in sports and business, was the offensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, and was the two-time runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, which honors the top player in FCS football.
Now that we've covered his background, let's get to your concerns.
He's too small!
So? Taylor had a fine season at 6'1"; he's less than two inches taller than Adams. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson - Adams is a quarter-inch taller than Wilson, by the way - have dominated the NFL for years. Who's to say Adams can't be the next quarterback to do that?
The truth is, NFL scouts and fans fixate far too much on height when evaluating quarterbacks. Good quarterbacks are good because of how they throw the ball, how they move in the pocket, and how they read the field, not because they're taller than their squatting linemen. Frankly, it can be disappointing how much leeway a front office will give a quarterback prospect when making their draft choices, as long as he's 6'4" and has a strong arm.
Can't read a defense? We'll work on it— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) April 21, 2016
Can't throw accurately? We'll work on it
Can't manage pocket? We'll work on it
Kinda small? *silence*
He's not athletic!
First of all, when did it become a prerequisite for a quarterback to be athletic? Is this related to the complex about his height? If he's not 6'2", he'd better be able to run for 50-yard touchdowns?
Secondly, if you think Adams is unathletic, you're looking at the wrong numbers. Yes, his 4.83-second 40-yard dash isn't outstanding for a quarterback (it's the same number that Brees managed). What's important for Adams are his short-area quickness numbers. His 6.82-second three-cone drill time and 4.2-second short shuttle are both very fast times for a quarterback. They suggest that what he can excel at is making movements in a small space - in other words, dodging pass rushers in the pocket.
He was injured!
News flash: half of the league's quarterbacks missed at least some time due to injury last year. It's not an uncommon thing. Even the presumed No. 1 overall pick, Carson Wentz, missed most of his senior season with a broken wrist. Also, the circumstances of Adams' injuries are worth noting.
Adams was a graduate transfer to Oregon. His decision to move on to an FBS program wasn't appreciated by everyone at his old school. Guess who happened to be the first team on Oregon's schedule this year? Eastern Washington, his previous school. Sure enough, one of his former teammates took a cheap shot at his head while Adams was sliding on a scramble, and knocked Adams out of the game. That player was ejected and suspended from his following game, and Adams played through the pain the following week against Michigan State, losing a close game and breaking his index finger in the process.
Ideally, Adams would sit and recover from those injuries, but Oregon's front-loaded schedule and lack of quarterback depth (remember, this team was banking on an FCS transfer to become its instant starter after losing Marcus Mariota) kept forcing him into the lineup.
What did Adams do after he finally had a chance to sit out two weeks and rest? Come back and finish the season 6-0, ranking second in passer rating nationally.
He doesn't have the right NFL preparation!
If you want to use the argument that playing FCS football didn't prepare Adams for the NFL, I'm reminding you that Wentz didn't even start two full seasons in FCS, and is probably going No. 1 overall.
If your reasoning is that the Oregon offense didn't prepare Adams, then you'd have to explain how Mariota was able to adjust so quickly to the NFL as a rookie.
Furthermore, you have to explain why we don't see more quarterbacks from pro-style programs (like Iowa) coming into the NFL every year and playing so well, given how prepared they're supposed to be.
What Adams can do
Adams is the best quarterback in this class at positioning his body to make a throw. He has good footwork, and understands how to use his shoulders and hips to point himself toward a target. Even while scrambling, he keeps the downfield throw open as a possibility.
Like Taylor, he has a pretty deep ball, which has a good arc, nice placement, and a tight spiral. He has a very fast, compact release. He reads the field with good effectiveness, and can find an open man even under heavy pressure. Honestly, just look at some of these throws, then show me Wentz doing that.
Adams is cool and collected. He processes the field very quickly, but he's not bothered by anything. A player doesn't transfer to Oregon with less than a month of practice time, become the starter, and win the games he did without having tremendous mental strength.
A plea to the Bills
Give Adams a chance. Please.
Russ Brandon, Doug Whaley, random social media intern, whoever is reading this: use a sixth-round pick on him. Russell Wilson fell to the third round because of his height, and he's won a Super Bowl. Incredibly, no team has brought Adams in on a pre-draft visit, and only one team (Pittsburgh) had a formal interview with him at the Combine.
I understand that it can be disquieting when you're taller than the quarterback you're drafting. Please don't let that stop you. Good quarterbacks rise above their station. Players like Tony Romo, Wilson, Taylor, the ones who have confidence in themselves and are given the chance, they'll prove their worth. Adams has the style that Taylor brings, he's confident and intelligent, and would be the perfect backup for Buffalo's starting quarterback. If given the opportunity, he'll be a better quarterback than Prescott or Hackenberg, that's for sure (you can pin that statement on me).
Just draft him, Doug.