Buffalo Bills: Drafting a quarterback is the only thing that matters


Despite it being the most important position in sports, the Buffalo Bills have neglected the quarterback position for years. This is the year that needs to change.

For years the Buffalo Bills have tried to find their quarterback the wrong way. They have signed other teams’ backups, traded for quarterbacks with minimal starting experience, taken on players that have flashed potential or selected a quarterback in the draft because they were backed into a corner, not because it was the right time.

This draft, the class of 2018, is the year that all they need to change all of that. It is well known that this draft class is quarterback-heavy at the top. As many as four quarterbacks should go in the top 10, and while the Bills are not currently there, they need to get there.

I have heard arguments for both sides. Move up and do whatever it takes to get there, or stay at No. 12 and No. 22, take whoever falls and build the roster. But what good is having a quarterback if there is no roster around him, right? He needs weapons, people to block for him and a defense to keep him in the game.

Please, spare me.

This year I have been all in on giving up whatever it takes to get wherever you have to go to get a franchise quarterback. Every time this franchise has attempted to fix their issues at the position, they have failed. The one thing they have never done is moved up to select someone.

In 2004 the team thought about trading up to get Ben Roethlisberger, but instead he went before their pick and they ended up trading back into the first round to take J.P. Losman. They also identified in 2013 that they needed a quarterback in a horrendously weak quarterback class, therefore panicking and selecting EJ Manuel.

Neither came close to working out.

Other attempts have been trading for Drew Bledsoe, acquiring Kevin Kolb, signing Tyrod Taylor, signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, drafting Trent Edwards (third round), and drafting Nathan Peterman (fifth round). None of those are at the top of the draft.

For the crowd that says it is too much to give up by moving up or we have too many holes to fill on the roster, I get it. You want to have an entire team that is solid and then the quarterback can step in and succeed, but a quarterback won’t magically be there when you think that he is the missing piece. When you have a chance to get your franchise guy, you have to take it no matter what other needs you have.

That brings me to this year, the year the Bills need to take a franchise quarterback. This is the perfect year to make a franchise-altering move, and let me tell you why.

The Bills’ draft capital is the right behind Cleveland’s for the best in the league. They have two first-round picks (No. 12 and No. 22), two seconds (No. 53 and No. 56), and two thirds (No. 65 and No. 96). No matter where the Bills need to get to inside the top 10, they can get there.

If the Bills were to move two firsts, a second, and a third, there are still have picks left over to have a normal draft. It will hurt giving up those picks right now, but I won’t miss a second-round guard if Josh Rosen is throwing for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns every season.

Now if there was just one or two quarterbacks available this season, there probably wouldn’t be much room to move up. However, there are four top-tier quarterbacks in this class: Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. That is followed up by Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph, all players that could and should be first-round picks due to need.

I believe that Rosen, Mayfield and Darnold are the best three in the class in that order. Jackson has all the talent in the world and could be elite in the right offense. I think Allen is overrated but his talent is undeniable and Rudolph is a second-round pick to me but will most likely find his way into the first.

With so much talent at the top, you can go up there and get the one that best fits you. Each offers something different, but they are also all able to bring something unique to the table. With a new offensive coordinator, the Bills can take who they want and then build a team around him rather than building a team and making a quarterback fit the talent in place.

Using the picks you have acquired to get the one player you need is what you did all of this for. Yes, the team could use the picks to fill a roster, but what is a roster when the one hole it has is the biggest?

The team has been building up these assets for something, and that is to take a quarterback. Forget linebacker, forget defensive line, forget offensive line and forget receiver. This has to be about the quarterback. Let me know the last time someone was happier their team drafted a left guard over a quarterback and I’ll be happy to debate you.

The recent success rate of quarterbacks drafted in the top five lately has also been pretty high. In 2016, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went one and two in the draft and both were scenarios where teams traded a lot of capital to move up.

More from BuffaLowDown

The Rams (Goff) and Eagles (Wentz) both went to the playoffs this past season with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl and each team is set up to have success for years to come.

In 2015, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went first and second with the Titans (Mariota) going to the playoffs last season and Winston looking the part of a franchise quarterback.

Prior to that Andrew Luck (2012), Cam Newton (2011), Sam Bradford (2010), Matt Stafford (2009), and Matt Ryan (2009) were all the first quarterbacks taken either first or third overall and have had an immense amount of success in each of their careers.

There have been several busts in those draft years and yes, they were first-round picks, but getting to the top of the draft gives you the best opportunity to get the franchise guy. The Bills can certainly make it into the top five with the capital they have.

If moving all of these picks and missing out on filling holes scares you, allow me to ease your mind. Buffalo has about $63 million in cap space next season. A quarterback on a rookie deal allows the team even more financial flexibility and any holes that the team needs to fill can be filled next season. If the team is bad next season they can then draft high and get a talented player there.

That brings me to my final point – this team has broken the drought. It is over and it is dead. We have a new head coach and new general manager and they both appear to be more competent than anyone we’ve had in those two roles in decades. They have a plan (or process if you will) and have been following it. They are building something and now they need someone to hand the reins to. That person takes snaps from under center.

To me, this has always been about the quarterback. I am sick and tired of hearing that the team needs to build the roster or that it is too much to give up to get to the top, that AJ McCarron is the answer, or even Nathan Peterman deserves a chance (sorry dad).

We have never made an attempt to go up and get a quarterback inside the top 10 before. If you defend the Sammy Watkins trade of years ago, I cannot believe that you would be against doing the same thing for the most important position on the field. It is time to be different and be bold. This team needs it and this city deserves it.

Next: Options for adding more offensive linemen to the roster

All in all, a franchise quarterback awaits the Bills at the top of the draft, and even if he doesn’t, I at least want the opportunity to find out.