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Monday, June 11, 2012
Bills dropping the ball with Brad Smith

By James Walker

The Buffalo Bills, who I think are ready to make a big jump in 2012, are making their first head-scratching decision of the offseason. The coaching staff is working the versatile Brad Smith exclusively at quarterback, according to the team's website.

Buffalo has made virtually all the right moves this offseason. But this is the first decision I disagree with.

Smith
Smith is a player with many traits but a master of none. It's been proven over his six-year career that his biggest strength is his versatility. If Buffalo goes away from that, it reduces his effectiveness.

Smith is currently a fourth-string quarterback in Buffalo behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backups Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen. Barring a rash of injuries, the Bills are wasting their time if they think Smith will be anything more than third on this year's quarterback depth chart. Smith is 28, which is too late in the game to suddenly learn how to effectively play the position full time in the NFL.

In fact, the Bills do not have a need for Smith at quarterback this year. Young was signed as a free agent and is a better, more-refined version of Smith. Young has 31 career wins as a starter and can run the Wildcat, while Smith has thrown just eight passes in six seasons. Virtually anything Smith can do at quarterback, Young can do better.

If anything, the Bills should be getting Smith as much work as possible at wide receiver. That is where he is most needed. Buffalo has no one who is proven at the position besides Steve Johnson. Smith should join receivers Donald Jones, Marcus Easley and rookie third-rounder T.J. Graham to add depth and competition at the position.

Smith had 23 receptions for the Bills last year. With more reps and coaching, perhaps those numbers could improve. The Bills need all the production they can get at wide receiver.

The Bills signed Smith to a four-year, $15 million contract last season but always seem lost with how to use him. Smith should be more of a receiver than quarterback in Buffalo in 2012, not the other way around.