Undrafted Free Agents 2012: Buffalo Bills Will Try out Quarterback Alex Tanney

Josh CembellinCorrespondent IMay 3, 2012

Photo courtesy of D3blogs.com
Photo courtesy of D3blogs.com

Alex Tanney may be best known as the trick-shot quarterback, but Buffalo Bills fans are hoping this ain’t no one-trick pony.

According to Mike Trueblood of Galesburg.com, the small-school prospect out of Manmouth (IL) will try out for the Bills at the team’s minicamp next week. The decision comes on the heels of Tanney having a change of heart and opting not to try out with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

A former D-III standout, Tanney goes 6’3” and 223 pounds. Like recently signed Aaron Corp, he’s an accurate passer who can thread the needle. He was also a highly recruited quarterback whose draft stock was hurt by where he played.

During his final season at Manmouth, Tanney completed over 70 percent of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards and 38 touchdowns.

NFL Draft Scout details Tanney’s many college accomplishments, including his 157 total touchdown passes, which is No. 1 in NCAA history for all divisions. His 14,249 passing yards also put him atop the D-III record book in that category, and in 2009, he won the Melberger Award as D-III’s top player.

Despite his massive production, high achievements and strong physical attributes, though, “he’s still the guy from the small school” (NFL Draft Scout).   

What’s admirable about Tanney is his attitude. Even in high school, he played for a small school in Lexington High. Though he impressed D-I scouts, they ultimately passed him up out of skepticism of how his skills would translate against stiffer competition.

But Tanney has used the “small-school stigma” to push himself. Per NFL Draft Scout, he stated, “It’s kind of extra motivation for me. It pushes me to continue to work hard and puts a chip on my shoulder.”

Tanney also mentioned that all he wanted out of the whole process was a shot to compete for an NFL roster spot in camp. He’ll have that chance with the Bills.

A player with an underdog mentality will do his best to impress an underdog team that has been fighting for over a decade to get things turned around.  But it won’t be easy.

While not exceptionally athletic, Tanney has decent mobility and actually throws well on the move. He can get outside the pocket and fling it with tight spin. He has a strong arm, and based on his tremendous stats, seems to make good decisions with the football.

He’ll have an uphill climb, though, out in Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick is entrenched as the 2012 starter. Current backups include Tyler Thigpen (with whom Chan Gailey worked in Kansas City) and Brad Smith (who was signed to a four-year contract just last offseason).

Meanwhile, the Bills just worked out Vince Young, and according to wide receiver David Nelson per ESPN.com, Young seems like he’s in great shape. Undrafted rookie Aaron Corp also signed with the team following the draft. He’ll have just as big of a chip on his shoulder as Tanney after transferring from USC to Richmond following multiple leg injuries.

But Tanney does have one advantage going for him, which is his reportedly extensive contact with new Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee, according to Mike Trueblood of Galesburg.com.

Lee is a bright-minded technician who can help Tanney improve his greatest weakness: his footwork.

The underdog battle is nothing new to Alex Tanney. Bills fans can appreciate that more than anybody. And while the uphill climb won’t be easy for the lifelong, small-school kid, if anybody’s up to the challenge, it’s him.