Now that the dust of the 2011 Draft has settled, it’s time to analyze the current state of Buffalo’s roster. We’ll be taking a look at one position at a time. Today: QB.
Players Under Contract (2): Ryan Fitzpatrick, Levi Brown
Possibly Departing Free Agents: Brian Brohm
1) Ryan Fitzpatrick
2010 stats: 13 games, 3000 yards passing, 57.8% comp., 23 TD, 15 INT, one sweet beard
Well, those of you that wanted Fitzpatrick to get a true shot to be “the man” in Buffalo will get it in 2011. Baring a shocking trade for someone like Kevin Kolb, Fitz will enter 2011 as the undisputed #1 QB for the Bills. The Buffalo front office certainly seemed to give Fitzpatrick a vote of confidence by not selecting a QB early (or at all) in the draft.
I, for one, whole-heartedly approve. Fitzpatrick, thrown into the fire in Week 3 of 2010 when the team finally gave up on Trent Edwards, played about as well as anyone could have hoped last season. He had some huge games (@Baltimore, @Cincy), developed a great chemistry with the receiving corps (Stevie Johnson in particular), and most importantly won the complete trust of his teammates. You can just see that the Bills love playing with Fitz and that they believe they can win with him at the helm.
Are there concerns? Yeah. Fitzpatrick isn’t always the most accurate passer, and it seems at least a pass or two a game completely sails on him. More often than not, those passes seem to land right in enemy hands. You also have to wonder: was last season about the best that Fitzpatrick can play? As tough and smart as he is, he doesn’t have a huge arm and isn’t a physical specimen. How limited is he?
In any case, giving Fitz a year as the #1 guy is really a no-lose scenario for Buffalo. If he has a big year, maybe you’ve found your quarterback for the immediate future. If not, you’re drafting from what’s shaping up to be a strong QB class in 2012.
2) Levi Brown
2010 stats: 1 game, 24 yards passing, 66.7% comp., 0 TD, 1 INT
The 7th-round draft pick out of Troy had a rough rookie season, actually getting cut out of training camp before being brought back after the Bills sent Edwards packing. He didn’t make an on-field appearance until the last game of the season, coming in during a hopeless situation against the Jets and throwing a late interception.
Brown’s a bit of a mystery man, even to the Buffalo front office. “Levi really hasn’t had an opportunity,” Buddy Nix said last month. ”(He) really didn’t have a lot of snaps as the third quarterback. We know he has talent. We don’t know exactly what he can do.”
I haven’t seen much out of Brown to indicate he’s capable of anything more than a backup role at the moment, but he does have his supporters. BLD’s own Matt Cooper is a staunch Brown advocate, naming him one of his 10 Players Most Likely to Break Out in 2011.
Personally, I think Brown will have to compete for the #3 QB job with someone (undrafted rookie maybe) Buffalo brings to camp. I see Buffalo bringing in a veteran and handing him the #2 job over Brown.
Possible Free Agent Signings:
Brian Brohm – Brohm was in Buffalo the last two seasons, and hasn’t impressed in that time. In his two starts (admittedly impossible situations at the end of awful seasons), he has not looked good at all. He doesn’t seem to be part of the Bills’ 2011 plans.
Tyler Thigpen – Thigpen might not be an unrestricted free agent due to the lockout uncertainty, but if he is free I think he’d be a good fit as a #2 QB in Buffalo. He knows Chan Gailey’s offense and has had some success in it. He could step in and give Buffalo a chance to win in case of a Fitz injury.
Tarvaris Jackson – T-Jack gets a lot of grief for his struggles with the Vikings, but you could do a lot worse for a backup quarterback. He’s athletic enough and just a good enough passer where Gailey could find ways to utilize him well.
Billy Volek – Again, you could do worse.
Matt Moore – Moore played pretty well at times for a bad Carolina team. With some time to get healthy, he’d be a decent #2 option.
What do you think of the Buffalo QB situation? Are there other free agents you’d like to see the Bills try to pick up?