It’s been incredibly quiet at One Bills Drive since new Bills head coach Sean McDermott was hired. They’ve been especially quiet regarding, you know, the future of the most important position in the sport. By Saturday, March 11th, fans and media alike will know for certain where McDermott and Bills GM Doug Whaley stand on quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Opting in to pay a guaranteed $27.5 million would suggest the Bills may not necessarily be targeting a quarterback when they pick 10th in next month’s draft, unless somehow their top rated quarterback fell to them and they felt compelled to draft him. It more than likely means they’d do their due diligence on a number of mid-round quarterback prospects and focus their early picks filling holes on the defensive side of the ball.
If they decide to walk away from what is essentially a two-year contract extension, then the organization would be left with a huge hole at the quarterback position. Moving on would give them more salary cap flexibility to address holes on the defensive side of the ball in free agency and focus on addressing the quarterback position with one of their first two picks. If they add a veteran to the roster in free agency or via trade, then they can go into training camp with a three-way battle for the starting job.
Either way you spin it, it seems likely the Bills will address the quarterback position at some point in the draft. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing my list of the top 10 quarterbacks the Bills will have available to them with one of their six total picks.
10. Chad Kelly (Sr.) – Ole Miss
Height: 6-2 Weight: 215
40-Yard Dash: N/A (Injury)
6,858 passing yards, 51 TD’s, 21 INT’s, 63.9 comp. %
Player Comparison: Johnny Manziel
Projected Draft Round: 5-FA
If you’re a Bills fan, then I likely don’t need to tell you too much about who Chad Kelly is. You probably have a crazy uncle who always suggests the Bills draft Kelly and rekindle the magic of his uncle Jim’s magic run with the Bills during the Super Bowl era. Kelly has a lot of on-field intangibles that make him an intriguing prospect for NFL teams. His on-field production is paired with prototypical size and arm strength, but his attitude has held him back on almost every team he’s ever played for. Questions about his maturity have followed him his entire playing career, and it’ll likely scare off a number of GMs across the league. However, someone will roll the dice on the former WNY high school football standout from St. Joe’s, solely based on his on-field potential. If he’s put in the right situation with a veteran locker room, then I believe Kelly could have the potential to be a viable, replacement level NFL quarterback. The problem is that there aren’t many NFL teams with an immediate need at quarterback that also have the sort of stable supporting cast to keep him out of trouble.
What they’re saying:
“He has the arm to make any throw, but could stand to get more consistent in his field vision, accuracy and decision-making. While Kelly can’t be blamed for his defense struggling in allowing comebacks to Florida State and Alabama, Kelly never displayed the leadership and intangibles to push his team to tough victories. He doesn’t have a killer instinct and gets rattled by pressure; both the physical pass rush and the mental/emotional pressure of critical moments in big games.”
“He might have the best highlights of any quarterback prospect in this class and when given enough time in the pocket, Kelly has the impressive arm talent to let loose and fire strikes downfield. He competes with a gunslinger mentality and his strengths show a future NFL starter, but streaky decision-making is problematic as he doesn’t subscribe to the quarterback Hippocratic Oath (keep team from harm). He has a “Superman complex” according to one NFL general manager, which isn’t the worst quality for a quarterback, but his team will also have to take the negative implications that come with that, including several past examples of immaturity that can’t be ignored.”
“Now, if you wanted me to locate a guy who I think could have success and is more of a middle-round prospect, I would point to Chad Kelly. I think it’s ridiculous– this whole red-flag behavioral issue. This has been going on for years so unless the NFL is going to 1- keep from getting drafted and 2- keep him from playing in the NFL, this whole Combine discussion is just stupid. It’s ridiculous in my mind. One, Chad Kelly has the moxie to go in and think he can play. That’s a big deal in the National Football League. And then, two, he’s got a lot of ability and he’s an anticipatory thrower. That’s something we don’t see in college football a lot. It’s always, ‘I want to see my guy open, then I’m going to cut it loose.’ But he’s an anticipatory thrower and he gets the ball down the field well. He’s confident. He’s got all that swag and he’ll tell you all about it, but because of those reasons if there was one guy in the middle rounds that I think could have success early, I think it’s Chad Kelly.”
-Joe Klatt (FOX Sports) on seccountry.com
“When NFL scouts come to Oxford, Ole Miss coaches emphasize that the team keeps a “distraction” list for players who are late to class or miss assignments; Kelly has never been on the list. Coaches tell the story of the aftermath of last year’s Sugar Bowl win, when they returned to campus after a recruiting visit to find Kelly in the film room scouting 2016 opponents.”
-Emily Kaplan (MMQB)
The Bills haven’t really shown a commitment to drafting a quarterback since Jim Kelly retired. EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones are the only two picks the Bills have used on quarterbacks since 2013, despite perpetual inconsistency at the position. I think if Taylor comes back, then the likelihood of Doug Whaley taking a flyer on Kelly increases tremendously. Although I believe Kelly coming back to his hometown team is a recipe for disaster for Kelly, I believe it will be hard for Whaley, who’s certainly feeling external pressure to permanently address the most important position in the sport, to resist Kelly’s potential. Kelly spent almost his entire career exclusively working from shotgun and will, to me, struggle to transition into an NFL offense. New Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison runs an offense that utilizes rollouts and pocket movement, which do suit Kelly’s game. Personally, I just don’t think Kelly can handle the pressure and temptation of being home. I don’t think it’s an ideal fit, but it simply wouldn’t shock me in the least if Kelly ends up a Buffalo Bill come April.