Niagara Gazette

Bills

April 28, 2011

Jonah Bronstein: Still not time to draft a QB

COMMENTARY

ORCHARD PARK — Thursday night felt like Christmas morning for Buddy Nix. As recently as a couple weeks ago, the Bills’ GM was expecting Marcell Dareus to be taken with one of the top two picks in the draft. So when the top-rated defensive lineman was available for Buffalo at No. 3, Nix compared it to “opening the presents.”

Presumably, Nix went to bed a few hours later eager for the NFL personnel man’s Boxing Day. With the 34th overall pick, the Bills should be able to pick up a first-rounder on sale today.

“We think we can get another starter,” Nix said.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Last year, the Bills drafted three players in the first two days, and none of them have established themselves as starters yet.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has established himself as the Bills starting quarterback for the time being, so if Nix wants to get an immediate impact player at No. 34 today, he won’t take a quarterback. Popular pre-draft opinion was that the Bills would pick a passer in the second round if they went defense in the first. If that was the plan, it blew up quickly when Jake Locker and Christian Ponder got drafted.

Good.

The Bills need to find a franchise quarterback sooner or later, but now’s not the time. Besides, there might be a better option after the draft.

The Tennessee Titans have already said they are going to part ways with Vince Young this offseason. They made that crystal clear Thursday by using a top 10 pick on Locker.

Anybody who wanted the Bills to draft Cam Newton should be just as excited about the opportunity to acquire Young.

Young has had his issues in his first five years as a pro. As with Newton, most of them occurred off the field. All of them indicated he didn’t yet know what it meant to be a professional. But at 28, he’s just entering his prime, and you can’t question his talent. He was every bit as good as Newton in college, if not better. He became a starter, willed his team to a comeback win at the Ralph on the way to the playoffs, played in the Pro Bowl and was put on the cover of Madden — all in his rookie year.

Things went sour between Young and former Titans coach Jeff Fisher. But if Young can be obtained for a mid-round pick in next year’s draft — or, even better, signed in free agency — it’s well worth taking a chance on finding out if he’s been humbled by the experience.

Young wouldn’t be handed the starting job in Buffalo. He’d have to beat out Fitzpatrick, or take advantage of an injury. It would be a lot like the situation Michael Vick found for himself in Philadelphia. That worked out pretty well for Vick and the Eagles, right? If Chan Gailey can coach up a rookie, he should be able to get the best out of Young, too.

Young is no longer one of Santa’s shiny new toys anymore like he was five years ago. That status has now been bestowed upon Newton. He’s being sold at the second-hand shop now. That doesn’t diminish his potentially transcendent talent.

Sometimes the best present is the ones you didn’t have on your wish list.

Contact sports editor Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2264 or jonah.bronstein@niagara-gazette.com.

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