With speculation swirling that the Bills are targeting Newton/Gabbert at 3 or Locker/Mallett/Ponder at 34, I’d like to make the argument that it’s not necessarily in the franchise’s best interests to select a QB this season.
Argument #1: Give my guy Levi Brown a chance
If this kid gets a chance to, he’s going to develop into a good NFL starter. As the #2 this year, he’ll have the opportunity to really grow as a player and his development can take off. However, if we bring in another guy and he is relegated to the 3rd spot again, there’s a better chance he’ll end up being wasted talent. Just give him a fair shot.
Argument #2: Every QB has question marks
While all of the bigger names obviously have potential, I only gave starting grades to the two quarterbacks who I feel have the best future: Washington QB Jake Locker and FSU’s Christian Ponder. Even those two have major issues, though. Locker’s accuracy is correctable once he gains some consistency with his feet, but it will be a very tough process. Ponder has the accurate arm, but there are durability question marks. It’s great if you have that touch, but it’s not all that helpful if he can only play 10-14 games a season. As for the others: Newton is more of an impressive athlete than QB. You have to love his ability to keep plays alive and make something out of nothing, but I feel he has below average accuracy. When push comes to shove and he has to fit a pass in a small window, I think he’s off the mark more often than not. I don’t feel he can correct it, though. It isn’t footwork related, he just doesn’t have it. Compound that with his questionable support group and character issues and he’s not my type of guy. Gabbert lacks consistent deep accuracy and gets skittish in the pocket. While I don’t have the luxury of interviewing him, I’ve been trying to scour up what people from that area think of him through message boards. He has a pretty terrible reputation to say the least (even though that’s all unsubstantiated).
Argument #3: 2012 QB class
If my past two arguments haven’t swayed you, the 2012 NFL Draft has the potential to be the next great QB class, in line with 1983 and 2004. If we feel compelled to draft a player that will sit on the bench for a year to develop anyways, why not just wait the year and get a shot at more NFL-ready guys. Let’s look at some of the potential prospects:
Andrew Luck, Stanford–The Luck saga will continue through another college football season. I can’t really blame him for wanting to return for another year, though. He’s the Heisman front-runner and has a chance to get a National Championship. Luck is a very good prospect that impresses me more and more every time I watch him play. As long as he stays healthy, he should be the 1st overall choice in April 2012.
Matt Barkley, Southern California–Barkley is the type of kid that would probably go #1 in 2013 if he decides not to make himself eligible for the draft in 2012. He has started since Day 1 and just has the look of a franchise signal caller. He can put some zip on his throws and has all the intangibles you want in a QB (for example, he plays acoustic guitar for church). He may have unfinished business in 2013 which may keep him in school, but if he comes out early, I expect him to go in the Top 5 as well as Luck. Right down to having the same overhead delivery, Barkley is a ringer for another young USC QB prospect from back in 2003, Carson Palmer.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma–I admittedly haven’t watched a ton of tape on Landry yet, but I think he already shows first round ability. He’s accurate with the ball, can make things happen with his legs, and has above average arm strength. From what I’ve seen, I feel he’s already Top 15 if he chooses to come out.
This is obviously complete speculation considering all three have to announce their eligibility, but there is definitely some talent to consider next year. For these three reasons, I feel the Bills can justify not taking a QB at all this draft while bolstering a supporting cast.