January 28, 2012; Mobile, AL, USA; North Squad quarterback Russell Wilson (16) of Wisconsin looks to throw during the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Draft: Will the Buffalo Bills Take a Mid-to-Late Round QB?


With the Bills now owning 10 picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, the team is going to be looking to upgrade its depth at every position.

That certainly includes quarterback.

That’s not to say the Bills are looking for some competition for starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitz will get at least one more year as the unquestioned man behind center.

But the guy who should be watching his back is backup QB Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen was signed to be Fitz’s backup in 2011, and after holding off a challenge from Levi Brown in training camp Thigpen held on to that job all season.

But honestly, would you feel good about it if Thigpen had to come in and play? I certainly wouldn’t, based on Thigpen’s rather lackluster performance in the exhibition season last season.

There’s a good chance Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey feel the same way, or at least want to bring in a young arm to push Thigpen a little in training camp.

I don’t see the Bills going for a QB early in this draft, but there’s an excellent chance the Bills go for a signal caller in rounds 4-7. Let’s take a brief look at some of the names that might be available and could be wearing a Buffalo uniform for at least the 2012 preseason:

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin – This is a guy who I think is underrated. A super athlete who was already drafted by the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball, Wilson has put up fantastic numbers as a college QB. (His QB rating was 22 points higher than Andrew Luck’s in 2011.) Wilson’s arm strength is tremendous – he’ll make all the NFL throws. He’s very accurate and makes good decisions with the ball. His intangibles are through the roof. The only real downside? He’s short for an NFL QB at just 5’11. But I just don’t understand why that’s knocking him down so far. If the Bills  could nab him in Round 3 or 4, I’d be pretty happy.

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State – Prototypical NFL size (6’4) and arm strength. Really inconsistent accuracy. Not very mobile. Don’t think he’s a fit with Gailey and the Bills offense.

B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga – Started out at the University of Tennessee before transferring to Chattanooga to get more playing time. Impressive raw skills, with plenty of size and strength. But he’s really, really raw. He’s at least a year or two away from contributing to an NFL team. His footwork is a mess. Someone the Bills could stash on a practice squad for a year if they felt so inclined.

Nick Foles, Arizona – Not terribly impressed with Foles. He’s really big (6’5, 243) and has the arm strength to succeed in the NFL. But he just never really put it together in Arizona (he was just 15-18 as a college starter, including 4-8 as a senior). It sometimes seems like he’s got happy feet from playing behind some terrible offensive lines in college. Other times, he holds the ball forever. Reminds me too much of Trent Edwards in that way.

Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi – Another shorter-than-ideal QB who won a lot of games in college. Very athletic and not afraid to run. Passes pretty well on the move. Super intangibles. Actually reminds me somewhat of Thigpen and Fitzpatrick in some ways. Chan Gailey could put him in a position to succeed. However, he didn’t really run an NFL-offense at Southern Miss and I don’t know how he’d fare reading NFL coverages. Accuracy is a big question mark.

Kellen Moore, Boise State – Won more games than any college QB ever. Really intelligent. Excellent accuracy – doesn’t miss when he has time to set his feet. Just looks very comfortable playing QB. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if he’s a coach someday. The real concerns with Moore are threefold – his size, his arm strength, and the level of competition he played against at Boise. Moore is very slight for an NFL QB (6’0, under 200 pounds). There’s real concerns he couldn’t take NFL hits. His arm strength is also a worry, but I think that’s overblown. He can make NFL throws. But will he hold up playing great defenses every week? At Boise he played against maybe two or three decent defenses a year. He spent many college games never getting touched and throwing to wide-open receivers. Not gonna happen in the NFL. I like him as a late-round pickup, though.

Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois – Our friends at NFL Mocks like Harnish quite a bit. I’m a little more skeptical. This guy reminds me a lot of Thigpen – a decent-sized guy who can move and make things happen, but also can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Harnish is not an accurate passer, which will be a problem at the NFL level if he can’t figure it out. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be worth a late-round flyer. He’s a real competitor who led NIU to several late-game comeback wins. Harnish could spend a year holding a clipboard and really improve.

 

So what do you think, Bills fans? Any of these guys interest you? Did I leave someone out you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments.

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  • As Smart As I look

    I agree that the Bills will be looking for depth at the QB position, but I’m not sure we will or should depend on that depth from the draft.  I look at the draft in two ways in respect to the QB position,  you’re either going all in and drafting what you believe is your franchise QB or you are drafting thinking he will eventually be your franchise QB.  This is the one position I don’t believe you should draft for the sole purpose of depth.  In other words you draft to have someone rival Fitz not Thigpen.
     
    In saying that I agree that we don’t draft one earlier with the one caveat that if Tannehill is there in the first round.  I’m not saying I think they will or that I think they should, but I believe part of what they are doing with their draft board as we speak is “what do we do if he’s there?”

  • LifetimeBillsFan

    A lot of Bills fans are down on Thigpen as the # 2 QB because he didn’t play well last year, particularly in the preseason. But, that can be ascribed to three things that many Bills fans don’t take into consideration: 1.) lack of OTAs; 2.) the loss of Easley and D.Jones; and 3.) the LT situation. Thigpen, unlike Fitz, is a strong-armed, “bomber” who made his reputation making something out of nothing for a bad KC team. With no OTAs, Thigpen had little time to get familiar with his WRs before the preseason and, then, the Bills lost their own two real deep-threats in Easley and Jones before Thigpen got a chance to play. With D.Bell also going down and Levitre not showing that he could hold down the LT spot, the Bills were forced to start a rookie, Hairston, at LT. Gailey adjusted to this by going even more to the short, rhythm passing game–which Thigpen is ill-suited to playing, even under ideal conditions. Without a speed receiver to throw bombs to, Thigpen, naturally, struggled with his accuracy when he got the chance to play in place of Fitzpatrick.
     
    That should not be the case this year, if the Bills can solve their left tackle issues in the draft and with the further development of Hairston at the position. If the Bills believe that, they may decide to hold off on drafting a young QB until next year when the talent at the position in the draft class should be deeper. However, if they do decide to draft a QB in the mid-to-late rounds this year, there are two obvious candidates that I think they should look at.
     
    All of the candidates listed above have issues regarding their games. Some may be fixable, some not. But, there is one quality that I think the Bills know all too well has become a huge factor for a QB in the modern NFL–accuracy. A strong arm and size can be helpful, but Drew Brees (and others) has shown that those aren’t nearly as important as whether a QB can deliver the ball with pin-point accuracy on a consistent basis.
     
    Of the QBs listed above, there are only two that have shown the kind of consistent accuracy (and the intelligence to read defenses well enough to be accurate consistently) to potentially be starters in the NFL in the short-term: Russel Wilson and Kellen Moore.
     
    The knock on Moore is his size, but he is the same height as D.Brees (and taller than Wilson) and can add weight in a NFL conditioning program. I like both, but, if the Bills draft a QB this year, I like Moore a tad more.

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  • beenwatchinkellen

    @LifetimeBillsFan I watched Kellen everydown he played at BSU. What most people don’t realize is the reason he wasn’t hit much is he is a ghost in the pocket. Some of the best rushers in college including TCUs best, when they had some of the best. would get there and he would be gone. Not because he can run, because he shifts two steps out of where he knows the rush is coming from. His offensive line does not need to hold a pocket around him, they just need to create a pocket somewhere and he slides around in it. What an advantage for those guys in keeping down the sacks.

  • LifetimeBillsFan

     @beenwatchinkellen  @LifetimeBillsFan You are absolutely right about this! I’ve watched every Boise St. game that I could over the last 7-8 years (going back to when Hawkins was HC) and I noticed this about Kellen Moore, too.
     
    He’s not “fleet of foot”, in the sense of being able to get out of the pocket and downfield, like Wilson can, but Moore has tremendous “escapability”. I can’t tell you how many times Tom Brady has driven me crazy over the years with the way that he feels the rush and, just when you think he’s about to get hit, he takes two steps, slides away from the rush, and completes the pass. While I won’t say that he’s quite on Brady’s level in that regard, I haven’t seen a college QB better than him at doing this. And, to me, it more than makes up for the fact that he’s not going to be able to break out of the pocket and scramble for 20 yards–because, with his accuracy, Moore is going to get those 20 yards and maybe more by putting the ball into the hands of an open receiver.
     
    If he was just 2-3 inches taller and had just a bit stronger arm, I think Moore would be a top 10 draft pick. From what I’ve seen, I think he’s better than Andrew Luck in the mental aspects of the game (knowledge of the game, reading defenses, etc.) and just as good of a leader, if not better. People who didn’t see him play much don’t realize just how good he was in the big games–were it not for his place kickers, he might have lost only one game in his college career and that would have been largely because of his ability and leadership.

  • LifetimeBillsFan

     @As Smart As I look I actually agree with you about trying to draft a franchise QB rather than a QB to develop. In fact, I think that Buddy Nix will wait until next year, when the depth of the QB class in the draft will be much deeper with M.Barkley, L.Jones and G.Smith, plus perhaps others who aren’t far away, being likely first rounders already.
     
    I’m not a big fan of Tannehill at all and would be unhappy if the Bills took him at # 10 (same with Osweiller at # 41 for the same reasons). I know that Tannehill has excellent size and a strong arm (Osweiller, too). And that, with his speed (something Osweiller doesn’t really have), Tannehill has a lot of potential. But, what I didn’t see are three things that I think are essential in a franchise QB: 1.) accuracy (neither are particularly accurate despite having a strong arm); 2.) the ability to read defenses (yes, they are both raw and might learn to read defenses better, but it’s hard to catch up in this area and a lot of highly-touted QB prospects never do); and, perhaps most importantly in my opinion, 3.) the ability to consistently win the big game, even against superior competition. With regard to the latter, Tannehill had some moments, but overall his performances against the toughest opponents was spotty at best (Osweiller played for a much less talented team, but his record in those games was even worse). I think Tannehill and Osweiller are both huge reaches at where they are projected to go in this draft and I don’t think the Bills should or will reach that far with the other needs that they need to fill on their roster.
     
    I think the Bills will look to fill their other needs in this draft, rounding out the roster and then surprise everyone by trading up if they need to to grab their future franchise QB in next year’s first round–when they will be better situated to do so and can get a better prospect in the process.

  • Brad Andrews

     @LifetimeBillsFan Part of the reason I wrote this was to help convince myself that the Bills wouldn’t take Tannehill. I want no part of him.  I really don’t see why people are so excited by that guy.

  • Brad Andrews

     @LifetimeBillsFan @beenwatchinkellen Good points about Moore. As I said, I like him more than anyone else on this list other than Wilson. His size is a real issue though. We can throw “Drew Brees” out all we want, but Brees is much sturdier and has a better arm than Moore. And as good as Moore is in the pocket, there’s a big difference between the pass rush of TCU and an NFL pass rush. 
     
    But we’ll see. He’s going to get drafted and he’ll get his chance. If you can play, you’ll find your place in the NFL.

  • LouCarey

     @Brad Andrews probably the same reason they are high on Reilly Reiff, because  people write about how good they are and they believe it because they are sheep. 

  • LouCarey

    if FItzy has more than an overachieving 7th rounder, a couple journeymen, and a few undrafted FA’s to throw to things might turn out differently.  I think Mr Nix knows this and will draft accordingly.  A smart accurate qb is the smartest option, someone who wont get the non-Fitz crowd all in a tizzy to start the backup, like they did here in Denver with Orton ad the excited one.

  • LouCarey

    when Chan sent in Brad Smith to run on 3rd and short early in the season the Bills record was very good, once the WR depth was depleted and the “wild bill” formation was scrapped, the third down conversion percentage plummeted.  No fault of Fitzy because thats also the same time Freddy went down.