AFC East: Tyler Bray

The Buffalo Bills were quiet in free agency, but the team was extremely aggressive in this weekend’s NFL draft. The Bills have added several players with significant off-the-field concerns in the process.

The latest example is Buffalo’s signing of rookie free-agent receiver Da'rick Rogers. The former Tennessee and Tennessee Tech star has good upside and production on the field. Rogers and former Tennessee teammate and quarterback Tyler Bray were arguably the top two undrafted players available. However, Rogers' long list of issues, which include an arrest, a suspension, a failed drug test and being kicked out of one school caused all 32 teams to stay away. Rogers announced on Twitter that he signed with Buffalo.

Are the Bills taking in too many character risks? In addition to Rogers, here's a rundown of concerns with Buffalo's 2013 draft class:
  • Bills second-round pick Kiko Alonso had major issues at Oregon. The linebacker had multiple alcohol-related incidents in college and also was arrested for burglary and criminal mischief in 2011. Alonso stayed out of trouble last year at Oregon and focused on football. That was enough to make Alonso a second-round pick for Buffalo, which needs to improve its 31st-ranked run defense. The Bills hope Alonso's off-the-field issues are a thing of the past.
  • Buffalo fourth-round pick Duke Williams was suspended three times at the University of Nevada for various incidents. Williams reportedly got into a fight with a teammate in 2010, which led to one suspension. He also was arrested for theft in 2009.

Rogers is the third player from Buffalo’s 2013 rookie class with major character concerns. Buffalo is a team with a rookie head coach -- Doug Marrone -- who is trying to establish his program. Marrone cannot afford to spend too much time policing off-the-field issues in his first year.

Alonso, Williams and Rogers are all talented enough to make Buffalo's 53-man roster. But the Bills must keep these players with questionable character on a short leash.
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' 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’ 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.

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