After a great deal of war room maneuvering, the Buffalo Bills were one of only two teams (the Cleveland Browns, picking first and fourth overall, were the other) with two picks in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft Thursday.
Buffalo picked seventh and 16th.
This was something of a hidden message to their fans; 716 is the area code for metro Buffalo.
The Bills traded up to seventh in order to get their quarterback of the future, Josh Allen, while they took Tremaine Edmunds with the 16th pick.
Trouble was, they had to sacrifice two second-rounders to move up from 12th, and that move up from 22nd to 16th cost them a third-rounder. They traded away most of their Day 2 moves in order to make a splash on Day 1.
The national media were divided on the wisdom of Buffalo’s trades.
Rodger Sherman at The Ringer killed the Bills, calling them the biggest losers of the first round, pointing out that no player with stats as bad as Allen had in college has ever panned out as a quality NFL player, and suggesting that Allen might have a cannon arm but he can’t hit a receiver to save his life.
Sherman got straight-up vicious about this on Twitter:
The red flags of draft QBs, all of which must apparently be treated equally:
MAYFIELD: too short to play QB in NFL?
ROSEN: too smart to play QB in NFL?
JACKSON: too fast, why put him at QB in the NFL?
ALLEN: cannot throw football to other football players
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) April 24, 2018
The Buffalo Democrat and Chronicle put that same weakness down as “he couldn’t hit a target if he was in the checkout line with his REDcard.”
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports loved the Bills’ moves, however; he gave the team an A-plus, saying Allen was the best quarterback in the draft.
SB Nation, meanwhile, gave the Bills a D-plus, and the way they worded their criticism of Allen, you’d think they were all set to give the Bills an F but for the fact that they didn’t have to trade that second first-rounder in order to move up to No. 7.
And Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports pointed out that Allen wasn’t even first- or second-team All-Mountain West in 2017.
Bills GM Brandon Beane bided his time, accumulating the assets he needed to make a big, bold move. Trading up to seventh and 16th wasn’t just a symbolic gesture for the fans; it was a move calculated to bring him exactly the players he wanted at the perfect moment to strike, when he had two first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-rounder with which to wheel and deal.
Whether or not the players themselves pan out, this was a good piece of maneuvering if nothing else.
But you really have to wonder whether the Bills truly got their quarterback of the future when Allen might be as likely to throw the ball to the opposing defense or to the hot dog vendor in the cheap seats as he is to hit the guy he’s aiming for in the passing game.
Likewise, was it necessary in the first place to trade Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a third-rounder when Buffalo could have grabbed a guy like Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame, who went ninth to the 49ers and, once he’s had time to learn the system, could prove to be the brick wall that turns Jimmy Garoppolo into Joe Montana? Having a better offensive line can do wonders for a quarterback in terms of getting him time to throw, but if you give a guy like Allen plenty of time, there’s still a good chance he’s going to miss his receiver.
Allen hit just 56 percent of his passes at Wyoming in both 2016 and 2017. His 15 interceptions in that sophomore season in 2016 were the most in the Mountain West and fifth in all of college football.
It’s one thing to run plays out of the shotgun. It’s another thing to be as accurate as a shotgun when the expectation of an NFL quarterback is to be more like a sniper rifle.
Oh, and then there are his character issues stemming from racially insensitive tweets he made in high school. He apologized, and you have to hope he’s grown up since then: Adding immaturity to inaccuracy sounds like a career killer.
Sorry, Bills fans, but when you trade two second-rounders to grab a guy whose collegiate comparables are Brian Griese and Josh McCown — well, that D-plus grade from SB Nation looks a lot closer to the truth.
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