Buffalo Bills: Which direction is the franchise headed?

Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) passes against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 76-61. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) passes against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 76-61. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 12, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) prior to the snap during the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s look at the good, bad and ugly for the rookie quarterback class this year.

The top-nine college QB prospects in the 2017 NFL, in the order in which they were drafted are as follows:

  • Mitchell Trubisky
  • Patrick Mahomes II
  • DeShaun Watson
  • DeShone Kizer
  • Davis Webb
  • Joshua Dobbs
  • Nathan Peterman*
  • Brad Kaaya
  • Chad Kelly

Only two of them have played in a true pro-style offense. That includes, but is not limited to: calling plays in the huddle, taking a snap from under center, changing pass protections, calling audibles at the line of scrimmage and using the entire field while going through their progressions.

One of those two QBs is Brad Kaaya out of Miami, who was picked by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round. The other is Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round.

The Buffalo Bills drafting a pro-style QB is noted because it is very important to differentiate between most college QBs who have not been asked or done much of what has been mentioned above.

Just in case you are still not convinced, here is a quote from ESPN’s John Clayton during an interview that took place on January 18 of this year on the Schopp & Bulldog show on WGR AM 550:

"“…it’s the same problem. They’re spread QBs with three years of experience in college, and they’re not going to be ready. When you get somebody, and he’s not going to be the every down guy. If he’s going to be the every down guy, it’s gonna be a first season like Blake Bortles or somebody like that. So that’s why they can get uh ya know a guy like DeShaun Watson at their pick. Or maybe they can get a Trubisky; Trubisky seems to be the guy the better Buffalo build, the kinda taller QB with a strong arm and that. But uh, I think they’re at a better spot, Buffalo is than the teams up top. Because if you, ya know cuz if you look up and you see the last couple of years, there’s been some great defensive players at the top of the draft, and it looks like that might be the case this year. So if you’re gonna get a pro bowl player in the first two years, if you’re Cleveland, San Francisco on that. And then ya know, either Hatch it at QB or get one in the second round. I think it serves you better.”"

Clayton is someone who knows what he’s talking about, so I would take his word for it.

Now, as far as this season goes, it’s pretty clear that Tyrod Taylor will be the starter for Week 1 and beyond — if he performs well. McDermott has noted that everyone will have to earn a spot on the roster, though, which means anything can happen.

Regardless of whether Taylor or Peterman end up winning the starting job, it is fair to draw that conclusion that Rick Dennison will rely heavily on his offensive line and running back “Shady” McCoy to carry this team. He will of course also sprinkle in some play action passes.

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Remember, his offense will be very dependent on a passing game that at optimum works on precise timing and anticipation out of the QB position. That is where Peterman might have a little bit of a leg up on Taylor. Unlike other teams who drafted quarterbacks ahead of them, the Buffalo Bills do not have to try and reinvent the wheel for their rookie QB in Peterman.

In case you didn’t watch the Senior Bowl, Peterman and second-round draft pick Zay Jones seemed to have developed some nice chemistry together during that game. If you have not already watched their highlights together, I cannot urge you enough to go check it out for yourself.

Just about all the quarterbacks that were picked ahead of Peterman in the draft have stronger arms and are far better athletes than he is. All this merely shows is the Buffalo Bills are looking ahead to when the older quarterbacks in this league decide to retire. Yes, that includes Tom Brady.

It is clear the Buffalo Bills and coach McDermott do not have a franchise quarterback as it stands right now.

One thing he does have is a defense full of players ready to breakout. Let’s look a little more closely at that.