The countdown to a new era is underway in Buffalo. Help is coming. Soon, a new general manager, new head coach and new quarterback will recharge the franchise. A drill so many are used to by now.
Many fans this offseason will focus on this third need — a quarterback. Buffalo's decade of losing is directly correlated to poor quarterback play. Once again, the Bills need a new face of the franchise after Trent Edwards' season to forget.
And suddenly, this spring's draft class boasts a plethora of quarterbacks. Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. If Washington's Jake Locker follows suit, five or six quarterbacks could be drafted in the first round.
With so many holes at so many positions, it's impossible to speculate what Buffalo will do this soon. Fact is, though, the Bills need a quarterback. And this year's draft has a ton to choose from in Sam Bradford, Clausen, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike and possibly Locker. BuffaloFootballReport.com recently chatted with Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber to get a sense at what the Bills' plan of attack may be.
How does this QB class shake up and how would Buffalo fit into it? The answer may surprise you.
Even with Clausen enriching the field, Steuber says the Bills should not pursue a quarterback in the first round. Their future is already in good hands, he assures. After studying and spending time with Brian Brohm for years in Louisville, Steuber has confidence that he's the answer.
"I think the whole Green Bay thing was a sham," Steuber said. "I think that was a no-win situation in Green Bay. People are going to say ‘he lost it, he's way over his head' or whatever it may be. When you have a guy like Aaron Rodgers as the starter and you bring in Brian Brohm, who has been starting since high school, it's a situation that's not comfortable with him. You're going to struggle. You're in an environment that's not conducive to success. I think that's what Brian felt in Green Bay."
In Green Bay, Brohm was kept on a short leash. He rarely was asked to fire the ball downfield, staying within a comfort zone of dinks and dunks. Such actions suggested that Brohm has a noodle arm. Steuber points out that this argument is nonsense. At the NFL Combine two years ago, Brohm possessed the second strongest arm — finishing one mile per hour behind Joe Flacco in a drill. Maybe he just needs the green light in a new environment.
"I think that Brian is so young right now that he can develop into the quarterback he was supposed to be," Steuber said. "I don't think that what you saw in Green Bay was Brian Brohm.
"Brohm can drive the ball. He just didn't show it in Green Bay. I think that if Buffalo gives him a chance, he's going to be fine. I really don't think Buffalo should go after a quarterback in the first round. Just give Brian Brohm a shot. If you want to draft a quarterback, go second or third round. I don't know what Trent Edwards' situation is. Maybe he's not there next season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a journeyman. He's a smart kid obviously, going to Harvard, but to me he's not a starting quarterback in the NFL. Brian Brohm, to me, at least has a pedigree. If he came out after his junior year at Louisville, you're talking about a top ten draft pick."
What the Bills ultimately choose to do will boil down to who's in charge. Right now, Buffalo's future front office structure is a mystery. If the Bills opt to take a quarterback in the first round, Steuber believes Bradford and Clausen will be long gone. Thus, Buffalo may be choosing between McCoy or Tebow. Neither is a typical pro. Neither has the prototypical pocket presence. But both rank high on Steuber's big board — McCoy at No. 10 and Tebow at No. 16 — because they're both gamers in the purest sense.
"Is he NFL-ready? Is he ready to be a starter in the NFL? Probably not right away," Steuber said of McCoy, who has 3,512 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 picks this season. "But I think he's more advanced than a lot of people think. Does he have the best throwing motion? No. Does he find the throwing windows? Not consistently. But he gets the job done. He's effective. And he's a great leader."
Don't get Steuber wrong, though. He holds strong hope for Brohm. Unlike this crop of rookies, he believes Brohm could start next season. More dire problems ail this team, he says. Starting at left tackle. After dealing Jason Peters and cutting Langston Walker, Buffalo has allowed the third-most sacks in the league. Edwards and Fitzpatrick have been under constant duress and the rushing attack has been subpar.
So before harboring any daydreams of Colt McCoy prancing through the snow at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills may need to secure sturdy protection on the blind side. Steuber lists Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga (if he declares early) and Oklahoma's Trent Williams as possibilities. "There are going to be some good tackles available," he said. "I think that's the direction they should go. Here are some more quick-hitters from Steuber. To see his recently updated big board, click here.
"He has great moxie, a great presence in the pocket. Mark Sanchez has struggled this year but he'll be fine next year. To me, Clausen will be that type of quarterback. I think he will be a top-five pick."
"I'm not really high on Locker. He's not ready yet. From what I heard, he's probably going to stay at Washington for his senior year. He loves school, loves playing baseball and wants to do that for another year…Some scouts believe he has more of a passion for baseball than football. He played with the Angels. The kid has a future in both sports. I think he'll go with football with the money he can get right away…If Locker stays in school, he'll probably be the top pick overall next year."
"He's probably the most accurate and most disciplined in the pocket. My only question with Bradford is his leadership skills. He's not the most vocal player in the locker room. He's more of a ‘My play justifies me as a leader.' I think teams won't like that about him. …But if he can overcome that shoulder injury, he'll be a top three pick."
On QB class in general:
"You could see five or six guys taken in the first 35 picks. I don't know if it's a rich quarterback class but it's an intriguing quarterback class. There are so many teams in the league that need a quarterback so you'll see some guys get over-drafted. Teams will be interested in a potential franchise quarterback and take them higher than they should."
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