Bills’ First Round Draft Scenarios At Quarterback

Photo of QB Sam Darnold from si.com.

Breathe easy, Bills fans. Just two days left until the long-awaited 2018 draft unfolds. In a year that includes one of the most intriguing quarterback classes in the last decade, fans have fiercely debated how the organization should address the most important position in sports. On top of that, the Bills currently hold six of the top 100 picks, so it comes as no surprise that anticipation is at an all-time high.

With so many potential scenarios that could take place leading up to the moment that the Bills are on the clock, we dive right in and analyze several of the more plausible outcomes.

Three-Team Trade for the First Overall Pick

Let’s start with a fun one, shall we? Last week a rumor surfaced about a potential three-team deal involving the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and of course, the Buffalo Bills. In this scenario, the Bills would receive the first overall pick from Cleveland, who would move down to the second slot while receiving the Bills’ 12th overall pick. The Giants would receive the Browns’ fourth overall selection as well as another pick in the first two rounds from Buffalo.

What is unclear is exactly how many picks the Bills would have to part with in order to make this happen. More likely than not, they would have to send both of their first-round selections this year (picks 12 and 22), and likely one of their second round picks this year and possibly next year too. At first glance, it seems like a heck of a lot of draft capital to part with, however Brandon Beane could be enticed by a situation where he would have his choice of any of the quarterbacks on the board.

So if the brain-trust over at One Bills Drive were able to bring such a deal to fruition, who would they take with the first pick? To the fans in Western New York, the quarterbacks in this draft class are like pizza toppings. Nobody can agree on a favorite, and everyone likes something different. Reading the tea leaves based on what we’ve read from various media outlets (which is most certainly a mix of conjecture and hearsay), it would likely boil down to one of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.

Photo of QB Josh Allen from KGWN.com.

Throughout the draft process, nearly all of these players have been linked to the Bills in some way or another. Allen appears to be the flavor of the week among national pundits, however it’s a little tough to see why.

Sure he has a cannon for an arm, but there isn’t much else about him that justifies moving into the top-five to acquire his services. His accuracy is downright atrocious and would require a great deal of fine-tuning. Some will attribute his low completion percentage to a lack of receiving talent at Wyoming, but considering the level of competition he faced in the Mountain West Conference, that justification is pretty flimsy.

Beane allegedly runs a much tighter ship than his predecessors, and it would be a pretty glaring indictment of his regime if everyone caught wind in advance about their desire to draft Allen. If the process is indeed to be trusted, then it would stand to reason that the Allen talk is all a smokescreen.

Photo of QB Baker Mayfield from elevenwarriors.com.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the ever-polarizing Baker Mayfield hasn’t really been rumored to the Bills at all, even though the team has met with him as much as (or more than) any of the other QB prospects. From a talent standpoint, it’s hard not to love Mayfield’s game.

He is deadly accurate, and can read a defense with incredible speed and efficiency. Of course, there are concerns about his height and perceived attitude. At just 6-foot-1, he has more of a Drew Brees type build, which can sometimes hinder signal-callers at the professional level. Stature aside, he has caught heat for some of his in-game antics, which either resemble a fierce competitor, or unhinged headcase, depending on who you ask.

Photo of QB Josh Rosen from sportingnews.com.

Josh Rosen has a lot of the same strengths as Mayfield, and he was linked to the Bills very early on in the offseason. His sniper-like ability to fit passes into tight windows are unrivaled, and his intelligence is off the chart.

Despite his abilities on the football field, he has faced his fair share of criticism (fair or otherwise) about his outspoken political stances and overall commitment to the game. It is somewhat silly to expect the face of your franchise to behave like a robot who just “sticks to football”, however a lot of NFL front offices take an old-school approach.

Considering the fact that Bills owner Terry Pegula wasn’t exactly in support of players kneeling for the National Anthem last season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he vetoed Rosen becoming his franchise quarterback. From a health standpoint, there is also concern about his concussion history. He suffered two of them last season alone.

Photo of QB Sam Darnold from SNY.tv.

That brings us to Sam Darnold. Does this guy not just embody everything Beane and Sean McDermott represent? He is a straight-laced, well-spoken kid from a tough division who quickly began to fly up draft charts once the NFL combine and private team workouts took place.

Though there have been rumblings that the Bills covet Darnold, those talks haven’t received a ton of traction. If the Bills brass believe that he has the highest odds of becoming the top player in the draft, then no price is too high to get into a position to bring him to Buffalo.

A Trade Up to Number Two

This scenario is a lot less convoluted. After seeing who Cleveland picks first overall, the Bills could opt to strike a deal with the Giants for the second overall pick. The hard part is determining what it would cost to get there.

The Giants front office might not be too keen on moving all the way down to the 12th pick, regardless of the bounty Beane offers them. The Bills might have to swing a deal with Indianapolis or Tampa Bay (who hold the sixth and seventh overall picks, respectively) prior to trading with New York in order to present the G-Men with a more palatable draft position in the top-10. Either way, Buffalo would need to part with both first round picks, and their first round pick next season at minimum, and even then it likely won’t be enough.

Photo of Bills’ GM Brandon Beane from wkbw.com.

This deal could also be contingent upon whether or not Cleveland decides to draft Darnold for themselves. If this is the case, the Giants might be more open to dealing the second overall selection. If Cleveland picks someone besides Darnold, the Giants might command an even bigger bounty, or just pick him themselves to become Eli Manning’s protege.

Despite all of the hoops they’d have to jump through in order to make this happen, let’s assume the Bills get it done. So who do they pick? Obviously if the Browns decide to take someone other than Sam Darnold, AND the Giants are still willing to deal the pick, then Darnold could reasonably be the guy. If the USC product is off the board however, it gets a bit more complicated.

Would the Bills then turn their sights toward Mayfield? It has been rumored for weeks that the Jets plan to pick him with the third overall pick. If the Bills hold him in high regard, they may need to jump them in order to have a chance. Beane could of course go an entirely different direction and select Allen, though it would be hard to imagine them parting with so many picks for such a flawed prospect, regardless of his perceived ceiling.

A Trade Up Between Picks Four Through Six

Photo of GM and Executive VP of Denver Broncos John Elway from sportingnews.com and Getty Images.

In the increasingly likely scenario where the Bills are unable to obtain one of the top-two draft slots, they could try to swing a less expensive deal to jump other QB needy teams in the top-10 and beyond. As with any position after first overall, the price will be contingent on which players are left on the board. Assuming the first three picks are all quarterbacks, which could very well end up being the case, an opportunity to secure the last of the “big four” could end in a bidding war.

At this point in time, it appears that Rosen and Allen are the most likely candidates to fall out of the top-five. If Rosen in particular is sitting there when Cleveland is on the clock again at fourth overall, the Bills would be foolish not to try and strike a deal.

Denver holds the fifth overall pick, and while John Elway did say that the pick is for sale, if Rosen or Allen are still available, that could change very quickly. Though the Broncos did sign Case Keenum to an expensive contract this offseason, it is unclear as to whether or not they may still try to add another QB early on. At the end of the day it comes down to just how far the Bills expect Rosen and/or Allen to tumble.

If they feel that Denver isn’t a threat at five, then perhaps they wait and make the Colts an offer at six. With Andrew Luck apparently nearing a full recovery, it would be a surprise to see them consider a QB so high. A leap from 12th to sixth would be manageable, and it’s quite possible that it could get done without the Bills parting with their second first-round pick (22nd overall).

If the Bills wait any longer than that, they run a very serious risk of a team like Miami swooping in and taking their guy. One of the worst kept secrets in the league is the Dolphins desire to acquire an upgrade under center. Beane is a careful tactician, however his patience could backfire if Miami, or even the Arizona Cardinals pull the trigger first.

Standing Pat at 12th Overall

Photo of QB Lamar Jackson from businessinsider.com.

What a gut-punch this would be. Sure players like Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph will still be available here, and while they’re both talented in their own right, with so many high-caliber options at the top of the draft and with more trade ammunition than they’ve ever had, it would be tough to watch the Bills stay put on Thursday night.

One particularly positive note on Jackson is his experience in the Erhardt-Perkins offense that Bills’ offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll is expected to run in Buffalo. This approach uses a lot of QB option plays, which Jackson has executed to perfection at the collegiate level. Similar to Allen, Jackson suffered from his fair share of accuracy issues last season, though not nearly to the same degree of severity.

Photo of QB Mason Rudolph from sportingnews.com.

Rudolph is a decent prospect, though largely underwhelming, especially at 12th overall. He does have the prototypical size and frame for an NFL quarterback, however, there isn’t anything he does particularly well.  If the Bills do stay put, they may be better suited waiting until pick 22 to pick a player like Rudolph, even though a team like the Cardinals could pick him for themselves.

A shrinking minority in this whole debate is the “fill other needs” crowd, who would like to see the Bills stay put and strengthen other areas of weakness on the roster. To be quite frank, this approach is unacceptable. With only Nate Peterman and A.J. McCarron on the current roster, the Bills need a franchise quarterback. They are one of just two organizations in the modern era who have never picked a signal-caller in the top-10. For over two decades now, the team has floundered in obscurity, in a seemingly endless pursuit of a viable, long-term option at the most critical position.

Only once in a blue moon do teams have the type of draft ammunition the Bills do this year. Who knows when their next chance will be to make the jump and get “their guy”.

Is there risk associated? Of course there is. Nobody ever drafted in the history of the NFL has been a sure thing. But after generations of watching other teams win year-after-year because they picked the right quarterback, the time is now for the Bills to take that risk.

At the end of the day, fans need to ask themselves this simple question. Do you want to make the playoffs, or do you want to win a Super Bowl? The time is now, and the people of Western New York should be very excited.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Anthony Sciandra for his terrific contributions to our blog. You can find Anthony on Twitter @SciandraSports. 

*Views shared by authors are solely theirs and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the owners of the BillsMafia.com website.

About Anthony Sciandra

I'm a passionate Buffalo sports fan, former amateur pugilist, and UB alum. Born and raised in Western New York.

25 Replies to “Bills’ First Round Draft Scenarios At Quarterback”

  1. “If the process is indeed to be trusted, then it would stand to reason that the Allen talk is all a smokescreen.”

    The thing that makes me nervous about Beane is the first things he mentions about his ideal franchise QB is size and arm strength with some athleticism mixed in there…Allen has all you could hope for in those departments. Problem is he doesn’t seem very good at using those gifts particularly well. The one thing that makes me hope it’s all BS, though, is early on the Bills were supposedly letting it out that they thought very highly of him… For a group that’s been as tight lipped about anything and everything, that just doesn’t seem like something they’d let out there if it were legit.

    “A shrinking minority in this whole debate is the “fill other needs” crowd, who would like to see the Bills stay put and strengthen other areas of weakness on the roster. To be quite frank, this approach is unacceptable. With only Nate Peterman and A.J. McCarron on the current roster, the Bills need a franchise quarterback. They are one of just two organizations in the modern era who have never picked a signal-caller in the top-10. For over two decades now, the team has floundered in obscurity, in a seemingly endless pursuit of a viable, long-term option at the most critical position.”

    Couldn’t agree more. I even kind of like AJ. He was one of the available guys I was most interested in…mostly, though, because he hasn’t already proven his limitations. But either way, if that’s what you’re banking on as a hopeful long-term solution or to just address the QB once you’ve built a better foundation, then I don’t have much faith in your vision or plan. The opportunities to land a legit QB are few and far between. When the opportunity actually presents itself, you’ve gotta take it!

    • Thanks for reading! I completely agree. Allen has certain “raw” tools, but the work it would take to refine them isn’t worth a high-first-round pick, let alone trading multiple assets to acquire him. Beane’s ability to keep things close to the vest is my biggest solace in hoping that Allen isn’t their guy. Would be pretty bad if that word got out so quickly and in such a big way.

  2. a deal with the colts was the most likely outcome two months ago and it is still the most likely / realistic outcome today. unfortunately the top 3 or possibly 4 QBs will be off the board by then.
    the good news is that browns and jets are still inept until proven otherwise and will likely pick the “consensus” QBs without really doing their homework adequately to make sure he is the best fit for the NFL and their system. McD and the Beane will do their homework and will have a QB on their board unless they feel he is capable of being the next Bills franchice QB. In the process they will most likely have to “spend” just their first and any extra picks, possibly a second or third from next year. In other words if the pick a QB, he will be a good fit and we will still have decent remaining picks.

  3. Relax peeps…..stay at 12 and take Mason Rudolph as he is the “size and arm strength with some athleticism” that McBeane is referring too.

    There really isn’t anything negative about the kid so bring him on board and surround him with the crack filler fleet of picks they have left and everyone can get some sleep!

    Giddy Up, the Bills are picking a cowboy y’all :)

  4. I think taking Rudolph at 12 is taking a swing, but I don’t think it’s a very good percentage play. Any move can hit or miss, but there’s clearly a difference in hit rate with a high 1st round prospect vs a mid-round prospect. Rudolph isn’t exactly a high 1st round prospect. I’d prefer they take a higher percentage shot since they’re actually in position to do so and have made moves to get in that position. It’s sounding like Rosen is ‘slipping’ down the board and could be available in reasonable trading range, in the 5 to 8 range. If that’s the case, go get the guy!

  5. Good morning…

    I like Josh Allen and have been backing his selection for months… Big strong with a great arm, does he have warts of course he does but they can be worked out…

    If he is there grab him or move up to get him!!

    “””“A shrinking minority in this whole debate is the “fill other needs” crowd, who would like to see the Bills stay put and strengthen other areas of weakness on the roster.””””

    Hell with that idea, it hasn’t worked for the Bills since Kelly retired. An just like there is no guarantee the QB will pan out there is a good chance not all those picks will pan out. The Bills didn’t trade their assets to walk away from this draft with a QB drafted in the lower rounds…

    I don’t mind Rudolph but it is a tough call at #12.

  6. “the top 4 or 5 QBs will be gone by 12 including Rudolph.”

    QBs do have a tendency to go higher than you’d expect…but I doubt Rudolph will be gone before 12. We’ll see, though.

  7. After everything we (Bills fans) have endured from this organization for a good part of two decades, I want the Bills to draft one of the top two guys. Enough of taking other teams backups, castoffs and drafting guys like Losman, Edwards and Manuel. The Patriots have owned the Bills since 2001. Brady’s win/loss record against the Bills is an utter embarrassment to Bills fans. I want the Bills to draft either Darnold or Rosen, guys who have the potential of being elite and being able to put 30 points or more on the board; guys who have the potential of leading second half (more importantly fourth quarter) comebacks. Staying put and not going after one of the top guys is a horrible idea and with all the moves McBeane has made since last year’s draft (stockpiling draft picks), there’s no way the Bills are not moving up in the draft.

  8. My prediction is the Bills will move up and take Allen. Reason: because they’ll FINALLY do what I’ve been wanting them to do for so long and legitimately go after a franchise QB, but in true Bills fashion, they’ll do so in a way that I will be utterly put off by. And naturally, they will execute this master plan while Rosen is still on the board and he’ll go on to have an all-pro career (probably with friggin’ Miami so they can reclaim the title of most hated team) all while Allen flames out.

    And this is why, while I’m very excited about the draft, I’m also dreading it…

  9. I want them to move up to the indy spot at 6. they should be able to grab one of the top (3) at that point. I just do believe in the future for allen, rosen or darnold- they each have serious issues.
    sounds like cleveland is in talks with mayfield so he will probably be gone. with their track record he will probably turn out to be johnny manzeil part dos.
    mayfield is who i would want. prediction= rudolph.

  10. I don’t think Cleveland will go Mayfield…but I think the Jets very well could, and will if Darnold is gone.

    I like Rosen the best because he had a crap team around him and still performed at a high level…unlike another Josh. My concern with him is injury history. But you can’t really predict a players health unless he’s notoriously hurt like Sam Bradford, and part of the reason Rosen was hurt as much as he was is because he had a bad line in front of him.

  11. I’ll take Allen over Rosen and let him develop, Rosen maybe better at first but in the long run Allen will be better–:)

  12. It should be interesting to see who the Browns take, then what transactions/moves happen after that. Will the Bills move up once or twice to grab their QB?

    I’m hoping the Bills are able to draft either Rosen, Darnold or Mayfield. I’d be disappointed if they’re unable to get one of those guys.

  13. “I’m hoping the Bills are able to draft either Rosen, Darnold or Mayfield. I’d be disappointed if they’re unable to get one of those guys.”

    +1

    I’ll hold my breath hoping against the odds if they take Jackson or Rudolph. If they take Allen, it’ll be an interesting experiment on how long it takes for anger to turn into apathy. On the bight side, it should save me money on Sunday Ticket expenses for the next few years as I won’t subscribe until the guy proves me wrong.

  14. I should probably revise that…if Rosen, Darnold, & Mayfield are off the board and they take Allen, I won’t be livid…I’ll just be depressed. Well, at least if those guys come off the board and there’s little the Bills can do about it. If they’re out maneuvered resulting in their unavailability, then I still reserve the right to be pissed. If one of those guys is still available at 6, 7, 8 and the Bills are waiting it out while another team trades up and doesn’t have to give up the world to make it happen…then I’ll drop more F-bombs than Allen drops N-bombs.

  15. “if Rosen, Darnold, & Mayfield are off the board and they take Allen, I won’t be livid…I’ll just be depressed.”

    Same here. Then we’ll be like “Only if the Bills tanked, they could of had…” Story of Bills fans lives with this team. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

  16. more chatter – matt hasslebeck says josh rosen is the best QB in the draft followed by darnold. which means that the browns will take allen and the jets will take mayfield.
    take hasslebeck’s opinion with a grain of salt (although he did sound convincing). remember- john gruden absolutely loved ryan nassib.
    however- we could have a shot at a really good one ! the question is- are the broncos happy with case keenum? could be the deciding factor for the bills including the ability to trade with them at their spot.
    let the draft begin!

  17. Sorry Goose, but NO to Josh Allen! Do u think the Bills are a bunch of scientists because a “2 year project” wouldn’t make Joma nor many of us very happy since we’re a bunch of loud mouth, opinionated old farts that ain’t got 2 years of waiting to see if the kid “develops” or not. Hell, I’m so old that I don’t buy green bananas anymore!! :)

  18. “remember- john gruden absolutely loved ryan nassib.”

    In that draft, though, was there a right answer? You had to talk about someone in that draft and none of them were any good. And it is likely he’s nothing special, but he never really got much of a chance either. Would he have been any worse than Manual or guys that got starting opportunities? Who knows?

    “Do u think the Bills are a bunch of scientists because a “2 year project” wouldn’t make Joma nor many of us very happy since we’re a bunch of loud mouth, opinionated old farts that ain’t got 2 years of waiting to see if the kid “develops” or not.”

    That’s the biggest problem with Allen after him probably not being any good…he’s also the guy you’ll have to give the most time to in order to determine he’s a bust. It’s one thing to swing and miss…it’s another throwing away 4 years to find out.

  19. joma point is talk is talk at this point.

    josh allen just cancelled his black lives matter speaking engagement. interesting to see how his old tweets will affect his draft.