The NFL Draft is one of my favorite sports event of the year and the 2013 draft is starting up at 8 p.m. Thursday night. The Buffalo Bills are picking at No. 8 overall this year and I put together a column in today's paper about why the Bills need to take a quarterback no matter what. Even if that quarterback might be perceived as a reach. As I outlined in the column, I'd be thrilled with Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib.
Barkley, from USC, is a 6-2 quarterback. He took over the starting job as a freshman and held onto it through his senior season, finishing his career with a 64.1 completion percentage, 12,327 yards, 116 touchdowns and 48 interceptions. He's not athletic and doesn't have the best arm, but he can effectively run a pro-style offense.
Nassib, from Syracuse, is also a 6-2 quarterback. He is a little more mobile than Barkley and has a stronger arm. Nassib was a three-year starter, finishing his career with a 60.3 completion percentage, 9,190 yards, 70 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Obviously he played for Bills head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett at Syracuse, so he knows the offense and they know what he can do.
Since quarterback is what I think the team needs at No. 8, I'd be OK with Florida State's E.J. Manuel or West Virginia's Geno Smith.
Manuel is huge for a quarterback at 6-5, 237 pounds and has a great arm and athleticism. His accuracy, decision making and consistency are question marks though. He is a two-year starter who finished with a 66.9 completion percentage, 7,741 yards, 47 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
Smith is the fastest of the four quarterbacks, running a 4.59 40-yard dash. He is 6-2 and could run the read option in the NFL. He ran a spread-style offense in college, so I don't know if he'd fit what the Bills are going to run. The three-year starter finished with a 67.4 completion percentage, 11,662 yards, 98 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
The NFL Network's Mike Mayock has Buffalo taking West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin at No. 8. He is small at 5-8, 174 pounds, but runs a 4.34 40-yard dash. He is a big-time playmaker, finishing his career with 29 receiving touchdowns, six rushing touchdowns and one return touchdown. He averaged 11.3 yards per reception and 8.9 yards per run. My issue with this pick would be that he's a better version of last year's third-round pick T.J. Graham – another under-sized speed receiver. Buffalo needs a big, physical receiver who can win jump balls. More importantly, who is going to throw the deep ball to Austin?
I've heard some talk of guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, but that would be a bad pick in my opinion. If the Bills really valued having a good left guard they would've paid Andy Levitre to stay. You don't let a player like that go and replace him with a first-round pick. What would the team do when Warmack or Cooper hit free agency? Let him go and draft another one? Guards don't win games in the NFL, quarterbacks do.
Another popular option is trading down. It takes two to tango and I'm sure many teams are looking to move down and collect more drat picks. The Bills can't afford to move down and lose out on their quarterback.
Who do you want the Bills to draft? Let me know on Twitter @MPN_DanGoldman