When the Buffalo Bills released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it almost made it a guarantee that the team would draft a quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft. When the Kansas City Chiefs traded for quarterback Alex Smith, it guaranteed that they would not be drafting a quarterback with the first overall pick. This has opened up the possibility that Geno Smith, the near consensus pick for the top quarterback available in this year’s draft, will be available for the Bills to take with the 8th overall pick. However, if the Bills are wise, they will pass on Smith, even if he’s there for the taking.
Smith may be the best quarterback available in the draft, but that does not mean he’s worthy of a top-10 pick. Although he was a three-year starter in college, his performance dipped significantly during the second half of his senior season. His high completion rate is a bit exaggerated because he played in an offense that ran a lot of bubble screens and used glorified handoffs that counted as forward passes. Although he is a gifted athlete and a capable runner, Smith is often resistant to running, making plays with his feet, or even extending plays with his feet, even when he was asked to by his coaches. Smith has more than enough flaws to make him a risky player to pick in the top 10 and immediately turn into a franchise quarterback. If they were to take Smith, the Bills would not be maximizing the value of the 8th overall pick, which is something they can’t afford to do.
Moreover, the Bills have a lot more needs to address in this draft than just quarterback. The Buffalo defense is full of holes and will require a lot of attention on draft day. The Bills need to bring in an impact defensive player, and the best place to do that is the 8th overall pick, where there will be a lot of quality defensive players available, meaning it’s less likely Buffalo will make a mistake with their pick. Going with defense 8th overall may be the safe choice, but it’s the right choice.
If Buffalo passes on Smith in the first round, there should be a handful of quarterbacks still available when the Bills draft in the second round that are just as capable of becoming NFL starters. New head coach Doug Marrone, along with his staff, need to keep the big picture in mind and pass on Smith in the first round, no matter how dire their need is at the quarterback position. After all, Marrone faced Smith in college each of the past three seasons, and Marrone’s Syracuse Orange won each time, as Smith struggled mightily in each game. That should be reason enough for the Bills to avoid Smith and find a quarterback someplace else.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.