Bills, Dolphins make safe picks, avoid QBs
April, 29, 2011
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesThe Dolphins and Bills chose linemen -- center Mike Pouncey and D-lineman Marcell Dareus, respectively -- over quarterbacks in the first round.ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- As expected, a famous quarterback was the first pick in Thursday night's NFL draft.
Then things got a little strange. Another quarterback didn't go off the board until No. 8, and it wasn't the prospect anybody expected. Then -- boom, boom -- two more went.
Four quarterbacks were off the board inside the first dozen picks, a third of the selections. Quarterbacks were a hot commodity.
Yet the two AFC East clubs that went into the draft with quarterback curiosity steered clear of the frenzy. The Buffalo Bills certainly did so by choice, the Miami Dolphins perhaps by circumstance.
Either way, they made safer plays.
Will they regret their decisions?
The NFL is driven by quarterbacks. Neither club has one. Neither club drafted a prospect Friday night.
The Bills had their chance to add any quarterback other than Auburn star Cam Newton with the third pick. The Bills could've snapped up Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, but took Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus instead.
"I don't think there's any such thing as a safe pick," Bills general manager Buddy Nix said. "But I think [Dareus] is about as close as it gets."
Buffalo made the decision, knowing it still had the option of drafting a quarterback with the 34th selection Friday, but then the draft broke in such a way that made that scenario seem less likely -- for a bit.
Three more quarterbacks were gone in a hurry.
As expected, Gabbert was off the board, although he surprisingly slid to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 10. The Tennessee Titans plucked Washington quarterback Jake Locker with the eighth pick, and the Minnesota Vikings took Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder 12th.
When the Dolphins were on the clock with the 15th pick, the value of quarterbacks had skyrocketed. Yet despite their uneasiness in Chad Henne and minus a second-round draft choice, the Dolphins avoided any temptation of reaching.
Arkansas lightning rod Ryan Mallett was available. So was Texas Christian quarterback Andy Dalton.
Like the Bills, the Dolphins played it safe and addressed a need in the trenches. They filled a need on their interior offensive line with Florida center Mike Pouncey.
Henne certainly appreciated that selection. Not only did his protection get that much better, but he also avoided competing with a high draft choice in training camp.
Even so, the Dolphins might have the chance to add a veteran soon enough. The NFL can't delay free-agent signings or trades forever. Those kinds of transactions could be permissible as soon as this weekend, allowing the Dolphins to pursue Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb or Vince Young or whomever.
Buffalo still has options if it wants a quarterback Friday.
Four quarterbacks inside the first 12 picks indicated a couple more might come off the board before the first round concluded, but none did.
Mallett and Dalton still are around. Buffalo could have a decision to make on at least one of them Friday.
Nix didn't sound like he was going to be in that hunt. Nix declared he could "get another starter" with the No. 34 pick. Ryan Fitzpatrick still would project as the leading man over any quarterback left.
So all the AFC East quarterback situations look the same now as they did 24 hours ago because the Bills and Dolphins played the percentages. Other teams gambled a bit and snagged quarterbacks they hope will lead them into the future.
Let the speculation begin.
It is possible to be safe and sorry.