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Saturday, April 27, 2013
Should Bills draft Ryan Nassib or Barkley?

By James Walker

The Buffalo Bills made one of the most surprising picks of the NFL draft by selecting former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel at No. 16 overall Thursday night.

Should the Bills double up at the position and draft former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib or USC's Matt Barkley Saturday for insurance?

The fourth round of the NFL draft begins Saturday and there is still tremendous value available at quarterback. Nassib and Barkley were widely considered second-round prospects entering the draft and remain on the board. Buffalo has the eighth pick Saturday in the fourth round (No. 105 overall) and could have a shot at one or both of these quarterbacks.

New Bills head coach Doug Marrone is very familiar with Nassib after coaching him at Syracuse. Nassib knows Buffalo’s offensive system well and could provide a solid insurance policy if Manuel is a bust. Barkley has some physical limitations but plenty of experience playing in a pro-style offense at USC. The Bills heavily scouted Nassib and Barkley and staged private workouts with both quarterbacks this offseason.

Drafting another quarterback could invite controversy. But the situation can pay dividends if handled properly.

The best recent example is the Washington Redskins last year drafting first-round quarterback Robert Griffin III and backup Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. Some criticized Washington for doubling up at quarterback. But the Redskins' brass wisely calmed the situation by immediately declaring Griffin the starter and Cousins the backup. Now, Washington has one of the best young quarterback combos in the NFL.

Buffalo hasn't had a long-term franchise quarterback since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired in 1996. The Bills hope Manuel is the answer. But boosting their odds for success by drafting Nassib or Barkley Saturday is not a bad idea.