Bills’ Best Bets at QB in 2019 NFL Draft

Right now, Quarterback is one of the least-likely position groups the Bills’ brain trust would be looking for on Draft Day 2019, right? All three quarterbacks presented cogent arguments for a start in Week One of the regular season. Josh Allen’s the 6-foot-5, 232-pound, first-guy-off-the-bus marvel with a 99-Madden arm; A.J. McCarron’s the savvy veteran; Nathan Peterman was the 9-for-9 passer against the Panthers’ first string in preseason Week 1. All of the quarterbacks did some really good things, per Sean McDermott. The Bills appear set at QB for the next decade if things work out the way they should.

But…

McBeane’s history shows an ever-vigilant front office that’s laser-focused on becoming the best version of itself at every position. When Brandon Beane’s slow-dancing at the Senior Prom, his eyes aren’t closed; his radar keeps spinning around that dance floor. Let’s check out the room with him:

Nick Fitzgerald,  Mississippi St
6-4, 230, 4.59
32 games over 3 years
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50.5% completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
Nick Fitzgerald replaced Dak Prescott (2016 RD4, Cowboys) at Mississippi State, and since then has completed an impressive 43 passes of 15+ yards. Even though Fitzgerald led the SEC in total offensive yards last year, it looks as though he’s playing in an even-more-downfield offense in 2018 with Joe Moorhead (Previously Trace McSorley’s Yoda). Fitzgerald suffered a gruesome ankle injury in the Egg Bowl, but he’s now almost 100%. He has the experience and work ethic McBeane looks for, and (of course) he’s “attacked his rehab” with dedication. McBeane seems enamored with the size-speed combination, and Fitz (can we call him Fitz?) has all that. Fitz doesn’t have McSorley or Kelly Bryant’s accuracy, but as we all know by now, that can be fixed.
Fit For Bills: A

 

Tyree Jackson,  Buffalo
6-6, 245, 4.57
18 games over 3 years
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no completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
You’d have to think that the Bills would begin looking at Quarterback later in the draft. How about this local talent? At 6-6, 245 pounds with a bazooka arm, Jackson’s traits resemble Allen’s at first glance, just with better speed, discretion, downfield accuracy, and pocket awareness. Nationally, Jackson was third in passing efficiency (171.6), fourth in yards per pass attempt (9.50), and 10th in passing yards per completion (14.55) last season. I like his pocket presence already. He has another year should Jackson decide not to declare, but he’s a consideration for 2019 or ’20.
Fit For Bills: A+

 

Kelly Bryant, Clemson
6-3, 220, 4.64
25 games over 3 years
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61.6% completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
Kelly Bryant makes the short list because of his consistency vs AP-ranked teams. If only the scouts could agree. Admittedly, Bryant’s accuracy number is skewed due to scheme, and some scouts question his short- to intermediate-level throwing. Others say it’s deep throws that need work. Still others say he’s better than Deshaun Watson, at least on the run, and that Bryant is bigger, so he’ll have more NFL success without the injuries. A few whisper that Bryant may cede the QB job to newbie Trevor Lawrence. The truth lies somewhere in between. Bryant was one of best QBs in December (79.3% in 2017), and his mix of accuracy and mobility will be attractive to the McBeanes. Who’d say no to a Bryant-to-McCloud reunion?
Fit For Bills: A-

 

Lamar Raynard, North Carolina A&T
6-3, 200, 4.64
33 games over 4 years
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no completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
The most-likely FCS quarterback candidate this year is graduate senior Lamar Raymond. While he hasn’t faced AP-ranked teams, his 63.7% passing completions rate, 8.9 yards per attempt, impressive mobility, and 27:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio will still get folks lining up at his Pro Day. Raynard’s team led the MEAC in scoring offense and passing offense. Raynard’s durability (33 games over 4 years), as well as his outstanding work ethic, will attract McBeane. The conference Offensive Player of the Year Raynard hails from the Bills’ front office’s NC stomping grounds.
Fit For Bills: A-

 

Daniel Jones,  Duke
6-4, 215, 4.77
25 games over 3 years
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47.7% completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
Jones’s lack of success against AP-ranked teams may give the Bills pause, but his great speed, size, and strength will pop off the tape. He’s David Cutcliffe’s latest project, and Cutcliffe was Peyton and Eli Manning’s coach (On the other hand, Thad Lewis, the Bills’ 2013 QB, was also a Cutcliffe project). McBeane is very attracted to smart players, and Jones committed to Princeton before Cutcliffe spirited him away to Duke. Jones will be the only returning QB in the ACC Coastal division, and that will help Jones distinguish himself even more. With Cutcliffe’s mentorship, he also will shine in the fundamentals, poise, and technical aspects of the game, so he’ll stand out at draft interviews, too. Watch the entirety of the Northwestern and Miami games. You’ll see the sizzle –and some of the fizzle.
Fit For Bills: B-

Trace McSorley, Penn St
6-0, 215, 4.64
33 games over 3 years
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64.4% completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
Trace McSorley lacks the distinguishing physical presence that led the Bills to select Big and Bigger, Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds in RD1 of the 2018 draft, but I couldn’t leave McSorley off my list. Start with the obvious: McSorley is from Pegula’s alma mater, Penn State. Add grit to his resume, too; McSorley had a higher completion percentage against ranked opponents (66%) than he did against unranked opponents (65.6%). Clutch. McSorley came up big in big games. For example, he was a perfect 12-for-12 on third down vs the Washington Huskies in the Fiesta Bowl. McSorley has been productive in his starts; over his last 2 seasons, he has thrown for 6,842 yards and 55 TD vs 16 INT.  His quick thinking helps him evade big hits and make big plays. Some compare McSorley to Baker Mayfield, who didn’t do too badly –unless you count being drafted by Cleveland as “badly”. Instead, I compare McSorley to the 6-0, 209 Drew Brees. Both are playmakers whose hearts have won over height.
Fit For Bills: B

 

Andrew Ford, UMass
6-3, 210, —
21 games over 2 years
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no completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
If the Bills’ brain trust is looking for the quarterback that works arduously on improvement from the day before, the right QB might be a lefty, Andrew Ford. His career stat line shows no games played vs AP-ranked teams, but this year he attained an average of 265.8 passing yards per game, a 64.3% completion rate,  and a 13:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Camp Hill, PA native has an extra year of eligibility left, and he’s still a work in progress. Like I said, a work in progress. But if you mine long enough you’ll find the diamonds.
Fit For Bills: C+

 

Jake Bentley, South Carolina
6-2, 220, 4.81
20 games over 2 years
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57.8% completions vs AP-ranked teams, 2017
Most of us hated the class brain (okay, I did). Jake Bentley’s lowest grade was an “A” in high school. He skipped his senior year and, due to a loophole in the rules, will be NFL-eligible a year earlier than his age-mates. He still has only two years of stats, and may stay in school, and I’d advise him to do just that. Bentley still misses easy throws, reminding us of a certain current Bills QB in college. Some of his throws are off the mark. He makes decisions at times that also echo too closely for comfort. He has had to “attack his rehab” twice from ACL injuries.  Physically, emotionally, and socially, though, Bentley shows a maturity that belies his age, and his work ethic is top shelf: says Hayden Hurst: “It’s easy to get behind a guy like that, when you see how hard he works every single day…He’s in there first, watching film and lifting (weights) with me.”  …Stay in school, Jake.
Fit For Bills: C+

 

One Reply to “Bills’ Best Bets at QB in 2019 NFL Draft”

  1. Hi Dean –

    Great stuff brother!

    What’s your take on Jared Stidham out of Auburn?