Nix has been consistent in his claim that there are quarterbacks worthy of the eighth pick in the draft.
“I think there are,” he said. “Also, I’ve said from Day One, this quarterback class is better than everybody thinks it is. It’s better than the publicity they get and by that I mean there’s about five or six of those guys, maybe seven, that do a lot of things good and do them good enough to win. I said this from the start that two or three of these guys will be franchise quarterbacks. I believe that.”
Buffalo’s personnel boss admits that there has been some movement among the top quarterbacks in this year’s class on their draft board over the last few months.
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“I think they do move some. I could sit here and tell you they don’t change, but I think they do,” said Nix. “The reason at that position is because the intangibles are so important and they’re so hard to figure out. A lot of times you get a guy, most of them at that position are smart guys and they figure out what you want to hear. And you have to dig and dig to find out how they really are. That thing does fluctuate some.”
Part of that digging happens during the pre-draft visits when Bills coaches and personnel staff can check just how cerebral a quarterback is when it comes to the duties of the position.
“You’ll bring a guy in and go through all the mental stuff where you get him discussing scheme and see how much he can retain, how quick he can retain it and sometimes that makes a difference,” said Nix. “In this business you don’t have much time to get it done and while guys get cut sometimes for physical deficiencies; sometimes they get cut because they can’t get it mentally. And that’s the big thing we’re trying to find out.”
“It doesn’t, but it makes me sleep a little better at night,” said Nix. “At least we’ve got two veterans that have played because you never know what’s going to happen in the draft. You can do all the planning you want to do, but it’s still a crap shoot some. You don’t know who is going to be there or who is going to jump over you and take a guy. We’re excited to have him, but as far as our plans they’ll be the same.”
Nix and Assistant GM Doug Whaley were asked specifically about some of the top signal callers in the draft pool this year and gave some general assessments.
When asked about USC’s Matt Barkley specifically, Nix affirmed the Trojan quarterback’s football acumen.
“He’s a brilliant guy. He’s real smart and picks it up in a hurry. He’s played in a good league,” said Nix.
“He’s been on the big stage for a while. He’s produced,” said Whaley. “I think the best thing about him is he knows how to get the ball to his playmakers. I think that’s one of the best qualities he has, and a good trait to have in a quarterback. We believe that he has a chance to be successful with his skill set.”
As for Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, Nix sees some flaws to his game, but didn’t make it sound like he’d be ruled out by the Bills.
“It always comes back to you’ve got to be able to throw the football in this league to win and to score. If you’ve got a guy that can run it, he better first of all be able to make NFL throws. I’ve seen him make NFL throws. He made them at Florida State. He’s maybe a little inconsistent with it, but he’s got plenty of arm and great athletic ability. It’s a matter of whether or not you can get him consistent in that part of it.”
The bottom line is while Buffalo’s scouting staff does have to compare and contrast quarterbacks in the draft pool to establish an accurate ranking at the position, they do have to take a thorough look at each of the signal callers on their own individual merits.
“We’re going to take everybody case by case,” said Whaley. “You take the full body of work. There's no real specific stamp that you can say we feel this guy can definitely get it done. I think what you do, again, you take the whole full body of work and everything we've done up to this point and combine it to try to come up with you best educated opinion.”