The Bills will be looking over the quarterback prospects this week, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. But one of the league's top personnel evaluators says it will be tough to find a quarterback prospect that stands out.
Former Bills GM Bill Polian, who won a Super Bowl with the Colts as President and General Manager, says there are plenty of good quarterbacks in this year's draft class, but not many big names. He was a guest Thursday night on The John Murphy Show podcast.
"There's an opportunity for them to get a good player," Polian says. "It's not going to be a marquee name, but who cares? That's not important. Can he play—that's what's important."
In his work as an NFL analyst for ESPN now, Polian has done his homework on this year's class of quarterbacks at the combine. And he has yet to identify one who merits the eighth overall pick in the draft, where the Bills select.
"At this point, there's not a stick-out there," Polian says. "But you can always trade down. I guarantee that if you back up, from the second round to the bottom of the first, there will be plenty of guys there that you would consider. Now they're prospects—they're 'Frank Reichs.' But are they going to go further than that? Nobody knows that until you get them on the field."
There are likely to be some free agent quarterback options available when the league year begins March 12th. But Polian, the architect of the Bills and the Colts Super Bowl teams, says that's not the way to go when you're looking for a franchise quarterback.
"I don't think there's anything in free agency that would solve the problem," he said. Polian believes the Bills focus should be on the draft when it comes to finding their quarterback of the future.
"Unfortunately, the class that contained perhaps a future Jim Kelly has already come into the NFL, and they're proving themselves," he said. "But there are going to be some guys in this draft that can play, no question about it. They've probably got to identify him. Buddy's said that, 'we need a franchise quarterback,' and I think he's right. That guy has to come through the draft, barring some unforeseen circumstance. The kind of guy that can lead you where the Bills want to go, don't often come free. Bottom line, he probably has to come through the draft."
Polian, a native of New York City, has an interesting connection to new Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone. They are both graduates of Mount St. Michael's Academy in the Bronx. And Polian says he's followed Marrone's career through the years because of that connection.
"I've been convinced for years that he would be a great college head coach. He did a remarkable job at Syracuse. That was literally, statistically, the worst team in the country when he took it over. Judging by the number of kids that came into the NFL, the recruiting was very down. And overnight, literally overnight, he turned it around. He turned them into a bowl team, and a team with a very bright future. That was not a surprise to those of us who knew Doug Marrone."
Polian, who was enshrined on the Bills Wall of Fame last October, says Marrone was high on his list of potential head coaching candidates in the NFL.
"Every general manager in the league keeps a list of potential head coaches, because you never know what's going to happen. Doug was number one my list, and I know he was number one on the list of a lot of other people in the National Football League."
"Football people knew who he was and what he had done. He just was not a, quote, "hot" name in the media. But football people knew him and believe in him. I think the Bills are lucky to have him. He would have gotten another job if he wanted it. The Bills beat everybody to him and good for them. I think he'll succeed if he gets the kind of people that he needs, it's always about the personnel in the National Football League."