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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