AFC East: Landry Jones

Here are the most interesting stories Sunday in the AFC East:
  • The New England Patriots surprised a lot of people by taking three Rutgers defenders in the NFL draft.
Morning take: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took Rutgers corner Logan Ryan, safety Duron Harmon and linebacker Steve Beauharnais. To Belichick’s credit, Rutgers’ defense only allowed 14.2 points per game last season.
Morning take: Smith has some things to improve, but he is mostly regarded as the best quarterback in this draft. The Jets are rebuilding and need to start developing their quarterback of the future as early as possible.
Morning take: Buffalo had several value picks available in the fourth round, such as Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib and Oklahoma's Landry Jones. But the Bills didn't want to double-dip after taking quarterback EJ Manuel in the first round. They picked safety Duke Williams instead.
Morning take: Jordan has Pro Bowl potential, which is why Miami took him No. 3 overall. However, Jordan will have a lot to learn making the jump to the NFL and playing in a 4-3 defense this season.
The Buffalo Bills signed veteran quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson in free agency this offseason. Conventional wisdom would suggest Buffalo now has flexibility to pass on a quarterback in the first round with the No. 8 overall pick.

But will the Bills follow conventional wisdom?

According to new Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone, adding Kolb and Jackson does not change the team's draft plans at quarterback.

"I do not think it really is going to change the philosophy on the draft," Marrone said, according to the Bills team website. "I think that when the position comes, whatever is best for our team to get better, I think we will go ahead and choose that player, whoever it may be."

There are only two legit possibilities for the Bills in the first round: West Virginia's Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley. Any other option for Buffalo would be at No. 41 overall in the second round.

Unless the Bills have truly fallen in love with Smith or Barkley during the pre-draft process, it does not make sense at this point for Buffalo to reach and take a first-round quarterback. Kolb and Jackson can compete for the starting job in 2013, while a second-tier quarterback prospect such as Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Florida State's EJ Manuel or Tennessee's Tyler Bray can learn from the sideline.
The Buffalo Bills are usually a place where quarterback careers go to die.

Kolb
It happened to Drew Bledsoe, who went from a Super Bowl participant with the New England Patriots to a 23-25 record in three seasons as Buffalo’s starter. It happened to Rob Johnson, Kelly Holcomb, Ryan Fitzpatrick and several other quarterbacks who failed at their chance to start and lead Buffalo during its league-high 13-year playoff drought.

Can new Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb end the streak of bad quarterbacking in Buffalo?

Conventional wisdom says no. Kolb is on his third team in seven seasons. There are various reasons things didn't work out for Kolb with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, and the Bills have issues of their own. They are a team in transition with a new head coach, new offensive and defensive coordinators and a new attitude.

But the good news is Kolb has decent weapons around him. He has dynamic tailback C.J. Spiller in the backfield. Kolb also has a 1,000-yard receiver in Steve Johnson, although he's nowhere close to Kolb’s favorite target (Larry Fitzgerald) in Arizona. More importantly, Kolb has a solid offensive line in Buffalo that is light-years ahead of what the Cardinals had last season.

Kolb likely will never develop into the franchise quarterback the Eagles and Cardinals hoped he would be. But if Kolb is solid for a year or two in Buffalo and provides a bridge to the future for a 2013 draft pick (Ryan Nassib? Landry Jones? Tyler Bray?), that's all the Bills can ask for.
Here is some potentially bad news for the Buffalo Bills: According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib is rising up the draft boards and could be a late first-round pick.

It’s no secret Nassib is the favorite to land in Buffalo with the No. 41 overall pick in the second round. Nassib played under new Bills head coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse. The Bills signed veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb in free agency and is looking for a young player to groom behind Kolb in the second round.

But according to King, "When I talk to teams leading up to the April 25 first round, I keep hearing both Nassib and [E.J.] Manuel as late-first-round prospects. Nassib in particular, and certainly more than Manuel."

This is not promising news for Buffalo. ESPN's Jon Gruden even suggested the Bills should take Nassib with the No. 8 overall pick.

“If the Bills really like him, and they think he's the best guy on the board, why not take him at eight?'' Gruden told King. “Why take even the slightest risk he wouldn't be there later?"

We disagree with Gruden on this one. The Bills should address bigger needs in the first round with a player who can make an immediate impact. The Bills can boost other positions such as linebacker or wide receiver.

If the Bills lose out on Nassib later this month, there are other quarterback options in the second round. The Bills have recently had private workouts with Manuel, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Tyler Bray of Tennessee.

The Buffalo Bills visited with three additional NFL draft prospects on Friday. According to the team website, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and Connecticut tight end Ryan Griffin at the team headquarters.

Jarvis Jones is the only first-round prospect of the group. Buffalo will use a lot more 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The only issue for Jarvis Jones is that he has some neck concerns. For more, check out the Jarvis draft video above.

Landry Jones is in an intriguing prospect for Buffalo. The Bills had a private workout with Landry last week, and Buffalo continues to show genuine interest with another visit. Jones put up solid career numbers at Oklahoma and is considered a second- or third-round prospect.

The Bills are looking at tight ends in the draft after starter Scott Chandler suffered a season-ending knee injury late last season. That explains the Griffin visit.
After the Buffalo Bills signed former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a $59 million extension in November 2011, I wrote that Fitzpatrick must prove he's not the next Kevin Kolb, who was a struggling, unproven quarterback with a big contract.

Kolb
Fitzpatrick quickly went bust a year and a half later. So what did the Bills do? They replaced Fitzpatrick with Kolb, who has become the poster child for overpaying for quarterbacks too soon.

Buffalo agreed to a two-year contract worth a maximum of $13 million with Kolb this weekend. The money isn't huge for the position, but it suggests Kolb is the favorite to be the Bills' starter in 2013. Kolb is still trying to prove he can be a legitimate starting quarterback entering his seventh season. Kolb is 9-12 as a starter and is also playing on his third team in four years.

The Bills are merely spinning their wheels with this move. Kolb, 28, is not the quarterback of the future for Buffalo, and it's questionable if he can be a solid option for the present.

There are reasons Kolb did not work in Philadelphia or Arizona. Chances are, Bills rookie head coach Doug Marrone cannot do wonders and turn Kolb's career around in the same way respected offensive coaches Andy Reid and Ken Whisenhunt also failed. The Bills are hoping the third time is the charm. But it’s unlikely Kolb will suddenly find consistency, be able to stay healthy for 16 games and win big in Buffalo. All of this is against his six-year track record.

The only good I can see from this move is Buffalo no longer has the pressure of drafting a quarterback in the first round. This is a weak quarterback draft class and the Bills were desperate to find a starter. Now, they have more flexibility to use the No. 8 overall pick on other needs instead of taking a risk with first-round quarterback prospects like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. Buffalo appears more likely to find a quarterback it can develop, such as Ryan Nassib, EJ Manuel, Landry Jones or Tyler Bray, in the second or third round.

In a perfect world, Kolb can be a successful and productive two-year bridge for the Bills to one of these young quarterbacks. But based on his last two-year stint with Arizona, the Kolb era in Buffalo has the potential to get ugly.
The Buffalo Bills' journey around the country to find a starting quarterback in this year’s NFL draft will make its next stop in Los Angeles.

Buffalo will hold a private workout Monday with former USC quarterback Matt Barkley and former USC wide receiver Robert Woods, a source tells ESPN.com's AFC East blog. The Bills hold the No. 8 overall pick and have needs at both positions. Buffalo cut former starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on March 12 and is looking for a second threat opposite 1,000-yard receiver Steve Johnson.

The Bills are working out Barkley at a good time. He's coming off a solid pro day where he completed 55 of 60 passes last week. Barkley also answered many questions about the right shoulder injury he suffered last November.

Barkley will be the fifth quarterback Buffalo has privately worked out in the past two weeks. The Bills also held workouts with West Virginia's Geno Smith, Florida State's EJ Manuel, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Tennessee's Tyler Bray.
The Buffalo Bills are searching far and wide for their long-term solution at quarterback. In the past week, Buffalo had private workouts with former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Geno Smith of West Virginia. Buffalo also is reportedly considering a trade for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn.

Smith
We presented a poll to our AFC East community earlier this week on which quarterback the Bills should draft. After approximately 7,000 votes, Smith was the top choice. That means Buffalo must take Smith at No. 8 or possibly trade up to get the draft's top-rated prospect.

Regular readers of the AFC East blog know that I am not convinced any quarterback in this draft is worthy of a top-10 pick. However, quarterback is a huge need for the Bills and Smith has the most potential. If Smith is there at No. 8, Buffalo should strongly consider him. It is clear that Tarvaris Jackson is not the long-term solution at quarterback for the Bills.

Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib finished in second place in our poll. Nassib is an interesting prospect, because he played under first-year Bills coach Doug Marrone in college and knows the system well. Nassib could be a strong option for Buffalo in the second round if the Bills do not draft Smith.
The Buffalo Bills’ search around the country for a quarterback continues.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix and his staff will hold a private workout for former University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray on Saturday. Bray is the fourth quarterback the Bills have worked out privately. He joins a list that includes West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Florida State’s EJ Manuel and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.

Bray is an interesting prospect. He threw for 3,612 yards, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season for Tennessee. Most project Bray to be a second- or third-round pick.

Buffalo is desperately searching for a quarterback in this draft and is looking for a starting-caliber player to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was cut this offseason. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is currently No. 1 on Buffalo's depth chart.
The Buffalo Bills are in overdrive during their search to find a long-term solution at quarterback in the NFL draft. Buffalo already held private workouts with West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel of Florida State. The AFC East blog also reports a workout with Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is up next.

So which quarterback should Buffalo take in next month’s NFL draft? Despite a questionable quarterback class, there are plenty of options for the Bills.

Should the Bills take Smith at No. 8 overall? Buffalo could have a shot at the top-rated quarterback in this draft. Smith had a great pro day to separate from the pack and the Bills are definitely interested.

What about USC quarterback Matt Barkley? He is another first-round prospect who must prove his shoulder is healthy. Barkley would have been a top-10 prospect if he left a year early. But an inconsistent senior season raised some questions.

Ryan Nassib of Syracuse also is on Buffalo’s radar. Nassib played for new Bills head coach Doug Marrone and knows his offense well. Nassib is a second-round prospect who could be a good fit for the Bills.

Other second-round prospects include Manuel and Jones. Both quarterbacks have questions but also were productive in college.

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on which quarterback the Bills should select in next month’s NFL draft. You can also share your thoughts in the comment section below.
The Buffalo Bills continue their diligent quest to find a long-term solution at quarterback in April's NFL draft.

Last week the Bills hosted a pair of private workouts with quarterback prospects Geno Smith and EJ Manuel. Buffalo also will hold its third private workout for a quarterback this week with Oklahoma's Landry Jones, a source tells ESPN.com's AFC East blog.

The Bills are in desperate need for a quarterback after releasing former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason. The only two quarterbacks currently on the roster are veteran journeyman Tarvaris Jackson and the inexperienced Aaron Corp.

Buffalo holds the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. The Bills have shown interest in first-round quarterback prospects such as Smith, as well as potential second-round prospects such as Manuel, Jones and Ryan Nassib.

Jones put up huge numbers at Oklahoma. He threw for more than 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Last year, Jones recorded 4,267 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the Sooners, who went 10-3.
Despite different results, the Miami Dolphins (5-10) and Buffalo Bills (6-9) remained in the top 10 of next April's NFL draft. The Dolphins blew a 17-point lead and lost to the New England Patriots, while the Bills controlled throughout in a convincing win over the Denver Broncos.

The Dolphins sit at No. 8 overall and Buffalo is No. 10 with just one game remaining. Both teams have tough games in Week 17. Miami will host the desperate New York Jets (8-7), while the Bills travel to face the Patriots (12-3). A loss by either team could result in a last-minute move up the draft board.

We've been writing for weeks that Miami will search for a quarterback. But that search took a huge hit when potential target Matt Barkley of USC decided to return for his senior season. Barkley was projected to be a top-10 pick and could have been a good fit in Miami. Now, the Dolphins have to hope Baylor's Robert Griffin III is available at No. 8 or decide if Oklahoma's Landry Jones is worth the pick if they want a first-round quarterback. Otherwise, Miami could address other needs and come back to quarterback in the later rounds.

Buffalo should be able to land a quality player at No. 10. The Bills have a lot of needs, but I think the Bills should focus on defense. An elite pass-rusher would be ideal, but those players usually go off the board very early. An offensive tackle could be a good secondary option if Buffalo doesn’t like what it sees defensively at No. 10.

Here is the top 10 after Week 16:

1. Colts 2-13

2. Rams 2-13

3. Vikings 3-12

4. Browns 4-11

5. Jaguars 4-11

6. Buccaneers 4-11

7. Redskins 5-10

8. Dolphins 5-10

9. Panthers 6-9

10. Bills 6-9

How Barkley's decision hurts Dolphins

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
5:49
PM ET
USC's Matt Barkley, arguably the second-best quarterback prospect behind Stanford's Andrew Luck, decided to return to college for his senior year on Thursday. That was bad news for the Miami Dolphins, who certainly would have been a top target for Barkley in next April's NFL draft.

Miami's biggest priorities this offseason are finding a new coach and a long-term solution at quarterback. Barkley's return to school makes the latter search much more difficult.

There were expected to be four first-round quarterbacks in college this season. Luck will be long gone with the No. 1 overall pick. With Barkley's exit, that leaves Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Miami currently holds the No. 8 overall pick and could lose out on Griffin -- who won this year's Heisman Trophy award. According to the latest mock draft by ESPN's Todd McShay, Griffin could go to the Washington Redskins at No. 7. I think the Cleveland Browns, who currently sit at No. 4, also are a possibility.

With no Luck, Barkley or Griffin, that would leave Jones as the only first-round option for Miami. Jones has a great arm. But he lacks mobility and, in my opinion, has the biggest bust potential of the four quarterbacks.

If Jones is the only quarterback choice in the first round, it will be interesting to see the Dolphins' draft strategy. Veteran quarterback Matt Moore has played solidly this season and is 5-5 as a starter.

Maybe Barkley's decision will force Miami to fill another need other than quarterback in the first round.

DraftWatch: Dolphins, Bills improve

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
9:00
AM ET
The Miami Dolphins (4-9) and Buffalo Bills (5-8) are officially eliminated from the playoffs. So let's look forward to the NFL draft.

Both teams improved their draft standing last week with a pair of blowout losses. The Dolphins moved from No. 9 to No. 7, while the Bills moved from No. 13 to No. 12.

With Miami looking for a quarterback, getting further up the top 10 is key. Teams like the St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford), Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton) and the Minnesota Vikings (Christian Ponder) all have young starting quarterbacks and will be looking at to address other areas in the draft. Sitting at No. 7 could give Miami the chance at players like USC's Matt Barkley, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Buffalo's needs are mainly on the defensive side of the football. The Bills need an impact playmaker who can make a difference. A pass-rushing outside linebacker or help in the secondary would benefit the team most.

Here is the top of the draft order entering Week 14, according to ESPN’s Stats and Information:

1. Colts (0-13)

2. Vikings (2-11)

3. Rams (2-10)

4. Panthers (4-9)

5. Redskins (4-9)

6. Browns (4-9)

7. Dolphins (4-9)

8. Jaguars (4-9)

9. Buccaneers (4-9)

10. Chiefs (5-8)

11. Eagles (5-8)

12. Bills (5-8)

Right coach, QB would fix Dolphins

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
5:20
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins are 4-9 this season, but they are not far from being a contender.

There are several good pieces in place in Miami, and the cupboard is not as empty as the Dolphins' record might suggest.

Miami began moving in the right direction Monday by firing embattled head coach Tony Sparano. This move has been in the making since the team's 0-7 start. Sparano's recent hot streak only delayed the inevitable.

[+] EnlargeTony Sparano
AP Photo/Amy SancettaAfter firing Tony Sparano, Miami has a chance to rebuild with a new quarterback and new head coach.
It's time for Miami to think about 2012 and beyond. The Dolphins are missing the two most important pieces of any NFL organization: head coach and quarterback. They must find today's version of Don Shula and Dan Marino.

The Dolphins were consistent winners under Shula and Marino. In fact, the pair once held the NFL record for most games won as a coach-quarterback combo. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady recently broke that record.

Since Shula and Marino retired, Miami has been in the doldrums with forgettable coach-quarterback pairings such as Nick Saban-Joey Harrington, Cam Cameron-Cleo Lemon and Sparano-Chad Henne. Miami's six head coaches after Shula posted a combined record of 126-127.

For the first time in four years, both spots are simultaneously open in this once-proud organization. The Dolphins must get it right, or it could set them back another several years.

Miami owner Stephen Ross has deep pockets and isn't afraid to spend. He wants to make a splash. He must make a splash.

Football fans in Miami have short attention spans and have lost hope. The thousands of empty seats for every home game at Sun Life Stadium are prime evidence.

Miami is a glitzy town with an abundance of entertainment options. The Dolphins must compete with the Miami Heat's "Big Three" and the Miami Marlins, who are about to open a beautiful new ballpark. The Dolphins must give fans a reason to spend their hard-earned money on football, and right now, there's no reason to do so.

It starts by hiring the right head coach. A big name with experience would help, but Miami could be hard-pressed to find one.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that the Dolphins plan to keep general manager Jeff Ireland on board and hire Carl Peterson as president. The "A-list" names such as Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden likely won't come out of retirement unless they have complete control, or at least the ability to pick their own general manager and president. Veteran coach Jeff Fisher is a good possibility if he doesn't care about having a say in personnel. Otherwise, Miami must find the best NFL assistant to lead the team.

Finding a quarterback is next. Matt Moore is a good backup, but he's not the long-term solution who will lead a franchise to a Super Bowl.

Miami's quarterback question can be best answered in the draft. Fortunately for the Dolphins, 2012 is shaping up to be a very good quarterback class. Andrew Luck of Stanford leads the way, but he will be gone. Miami, with a top-10 pick, could have a chance at Baylor's Robert Griffin III, USC's Matt Barkley or Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

The Dolphins have one of the NFL's best left tackles, Jake Long, to protect their quarterback. Miami's next quarterback will have various weapons to throw to next season, such as receiver Brandon Marshall. Miami also has a solid defense that is only a couple of players away from being elite.

With the right coach and a top-level quarterback, Miami could be dangerous.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

AFC EAST SCOREBOARD