(WECK 1230) — There is quite literally zero reason for Buddy Nix to draft anything other than a quarterback with the Bills’ first round draft pick in next April’s draft. It is by far the team’s biggest need and they simply need to pick the best one available.
I’ve tried to rationalize the idea of getting one of my favorite college quarterbacks later in the draft as a diamond in the rough, but let’s face facts: the first round is your surest bet for finding a franchise quarterback.
Think I’m overstating here? Take a look at each NFL franchise’s best quarterback in the last 20-25 years (and please allow me to make the selections for us):
Atlanta – Michael Vick (1st round)
Arizona – Kurt Warner (undrafted)
Baltimore – Steve McNair (1st round – HOU)
Buffalo – Jim Kelly (1st round)
Cleveland – Bernie Kosar (1st round)
Chicago – Jim Harbaugh (1st round)
Carolina – Jake Delhomme (undrafted)
Cincinnati – Boomer Esiason (2nd round)
Denver – John Elway (1st round – BAL)
Dallas – Troy Aikman (1st round)
Detroit – Rodney Peete (6th round)
Green Bay – Brett Favre (2nd round – ATL)
Houston – Matt Schaub (3rd round – ATL)
Indianapolis – Peyton Manning (1st round)
Jacksonville - Byron Leftwich (1st round)
Kansas City – Trent Green (8th round – STL)
Minnesota – Daunte Culpepper (1st round)
Miami – Dan Marino (1st round)
New Orleans – Drew Brees (2nd round – SD)
NY Jets – Ken O’Brien (1st round)
NY Giants – Eli Manning (1st round -SD)
New England – Tom Brady (6th round)
Oakland – Rich Gannon (4th round – MIN)
Philadelphia – Donovan McNabb (1st round)
Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger (1st round)
San Francisco – Joe Montana (3rd round)
San Diego – Philip Rivers (1st round – NYG)
Seattle – Matt Hasselbeck (6th round – GB)
St. Louis – Kurt Warner (undrafted)
Tampa Bay – Brad Johnson (9th round – MIN)
Tennessee/Houston Oilers – Warren Moon (undrafted)
Washington – Joe Thiesmann (4th round)
Exactly half of the quarterbacks are first round picks, with that number rising to 19 and 22 if you move to include second and third round picks. In other words, while your Alex Carringtons and Torell Troups are being picked (who may turn out to be fine football players), the hyped guys generally pan out more often than not. Save me the Ryan Leafs and Heath Shulers, because a good number of the above team’s second-best quarterback of the last 25 years were also first rounders: Drew Bledsoe, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Chad Pennington, Phil Simms, Carson Palmer, Vince Young and Jay Cutler. When you consider that Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, and Joe Flacco are on the path to quickly joining this list if they aren’t on it already, well, you get the idea.
I’m never going to discourage you from watching college football because I happen to enjoy it more than the National Football League, but it’s time to stop power ranking who will go No. 1, 2 or 3 based on one bad game. Some guy went 14-of-24 for just 134 yards in his final college game, prompting some to fear how he would fare against NFL-level defenses like the one he faced in that 1998 Orange Bowl. Peyton Manning turned out to be okay.
It’s especially dangerous to get tied into numbers now, even with the NFL joining the NCAA in its love for the spread offense. I’m a fan of NC State’s Russell Wilson (small), Cincinnati’s Zach Collaros and Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts. That doesn’t mean their numbers will translate to the league. If the bulkhead of scouts and football talking heads are saying Jake Locker, Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett will make the best pro quarterbacks, the odds are in their favor. This is very difficult for me to type as the king of rooting for the overlooked gem.
That said, indulge me in the case of Potts, who I think has the capability to rise the draft day charts by April. He succeeded with crazy Mike Leach coaching him and now seems to be fitting Tommy Tuberville’s system nicely.
The 6’5″ Texan still has dates remaining against decent Big 12 defenses in Missouri, Baylor and Texas A&M, so look to see how he fares. Also, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi is a very intriguing prospect.
So while I’ve yet to decide whether I’d like Luck, Locker or Mallett, it’s going to take a whole lot of something special for me to think one of the three shouldn’t wind up in Buffalo come 2011. For once, I’ll play the odds.