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Thin quarterback draft class hurts the Bills

1/28/2015

After two lackluster seasons for the Buffalo Bills, it is clear that former first-round pick EJ Manuel must have competition at quarterback. Based on what I saw at the Senior Bowl, the Bills will have trouble finding that player if they look for him in this year's NFL draft.

Quarterback is one of this draft's thinnest positions, with a significant drop-off after underclassmen Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are selected in the top 5.

The Bills don't have a first-round pick. They have a variety of needs to consider in the second round, so they could be looking at third-round quarterback prospects, at best. That's the territory of Bryce Petty, Sean Mannion and Garrett Grayson. I watched all three have an inconsistent week at the Senior Bowl; it's unlikely any of them are ready to immediately lead a team.

Buffalo's best option will be to explore the free-agent market. There are interesting veterans capable of pushing Manuel, including Matt Moore, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, who has strong ties to new Bills head coach Rex Ryan. (Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and free agent Blaine Gabbert also knows new offensive coordinator Greg Roman's system well, but I think that's asking for trouble.)

The easiest solution for Buffalo is for Manuel to turn the corner in his third season. But the Bills, who have playoff aspirations, cannot go into the season expecting it. Quarterback insurance is a must-have for Buffalo this year.