Buddy Nix: Draft Has 2 “Long-time Starters” at Quarterback

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Updated: March 18, 2013
buddy nix

Buddy Nix recently answered a few questions for the Toronto Sun’s John Kryk and gave up some reveling insights as to how he is approaching the quarterbacks in this years draft. Let’s take a look at a few of the potent quotables:

“…there’ll be two quarterbacks in this draft that will be long-time starters in this league. And that’s a fact.”

This is a very interesting, specific, point regarding the general manager’s opinion of this year’s hotly debated QB class. Some have wondered if there are any quality signal callers at all, but Nix is evidently not one of them.

Perhaps more intriguing is the fact that rather than vaguely saying  that there are some good prospects this year, Nix counted them. Two. One, two. Not three; two. Given Nix’s propensity for candor, it is very difficult not to interpret this number as the truth regarding his belief. So, if Nix thinks there are two viable NFL quarterbacks among this draft, it suggests that they will take that guy at pick eight, if available.

And there’s an excellent chance that will be the case. The conventional wisdom is that Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the top two prospects. Since only Jacksonville, Oakland, and Arizona would be candidates to select either player ahead of Buffalo, two out of those three teams would need to select Smith and Barkley (or another team could trade up) in order to shut Buffalo out from “long-time starter” territory.

Another possibility is that Buffalo views Tyler Wilson or Ryan Nassib as one of those two players. If current mock drafts are to be deemed accurate, that would all but assure Buffalo gets the chance to draft one of their two guys.

Another reason the quip is revealing is that the Bills haven’t always felt there were that many sure bets on quarterback in the draft. In both 2010 and 2011, all but the top quarterback was available at Buffalo’s first round pick (9th overall and 3rd, respectively). Had Buffalo’s draft team felt there was a “long-time starter,” among the rest of each drafts quarterbacks, it seems unlikely that the Bills would have passed on that player.

“I think the physical part is over-rated. What makes it so hard to evaluate that position are the intangibles. That’s what you try to learn.”

This could be a clue that the Bills are not quite as high on Geno Smith as purported. Smith is clearly the most physically gifted prospect in this year’s class, and has a very live NFL arm. Depending on who you talk to, that is one of, if not THE main reasons he has risen to the top of this year’s quarterback group.

However, it’s difficult to make the argument that Smith is undoubtedly better than his peers in some of the intangible categories such as decision making, leadership, ability to make difficult throws, agressive-but-not-overboard-with-it-ness. That is not to say he is any worse, as intangibles are an extremely difficult thing to measure.

Depending on which type of intangible NFL talent evaluators put the greatest emphasis on, they could conceivably come up with a number of different prospects as the most pro ready. Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib are aggressive gunslinger types, Geno Smith is reported to be a gym/film rat in the mold of Peyton Manning, and Matt Barkley seems to have the “charismatic leader of men” type persona. These are all probably somewhat exaggerated media cliches, but the point is that while there is no consensus, the prospects are distinct enough that any could be considered the top prospect by a NFL scout department, provided they are deemed physically adequate (which is important, since the former Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick had most of those intangibles but lacked the talent necessary to capitalize on his “gunslinger mentality”).

Other notes from Nix’s comments:

-Nix didn’t nix the idea of trading for Matt Flynn. I don’t take this is as a sign of interest in Flynn (nor do I rule it out), but more of an indication that Buffalo is looking for another veteran to round out their quarterback stable. Oh hey look, Matt Hasselbeck’s freshly available!

-The Bills are scouting every quarterback and will host 5 or 6 for private workouts. In addition to the QBs mentioned above, EJ Manuel, Tyler Bray, and Mike Glennon are the most likely candidates to round out that group. Anyone else would make us perk our ears up.

-Neither Fitz nor Vince Young are possibilities to return as backups, which I’m sure shocks and saddens you (almost as much as if you knew I’d be making this joke last August).

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