Randy Smith died yesterday.
What does that have to do with Drew Willy? Everything.
In a previous article (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/161481-buffalo-dreaming-local-color-for-the-draft-and-beyond) I wrote that the Bills should draft Willy because, like Randy Smith of the Buffalo Braves, Willy will prove to be a sleeper. He will emerge as a major star in the NFL. At least he could, and in Buffalo he is more likely to get the best opportunity to do so.
But the Bills didn't use a pick on Willy. No problem. No one else did either. The draft is over. Sign him as a free agent. Come on, pick up the phone before someone else does.
But someone else did. Within hours of the end of the draft, Willy's phone rang.
He was acquired by the Cleveland Browns I (oops, I mean Baltimore Ravens). He will be competing for the third quarterback spot.
"It feels good," Willy told the University at Buffalo Spectrum. "I feel like I'm going into a good situation where I can compete and get onto a team."
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. had Willy pegged as second day pick.
"He's got a good enough arm and he's got escapability," Kiper said. "He ran a 4.9 [in the 40-yard dash]. Tom Brady ran a 5.22. It's how you maneuver in the pocket and he does that very effectively. He's got more game experience than any quarterback in the draft. I don't know why he lasted until the end of the draft and went undrafted."
Willy passed for 3,404 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final year at Buffalo and will be fighting for a job in Baltimore. Second-year quarterback Joe Flacco is the starter in Baltimore, where former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith currently backs him up. Currently, Todd Bouman holds the third spot, which is likely the one Willy try to earn.
"I'm going to work on my strength and just talk to everyone and get ready for training camp," Willy said. "I have a chip on my shoulder but I'm ready."
But... with any luck (for Willy and Buffalo) he will not earn that slot. And when he is cut, for goodness sake, Bills, pick him up.
We all hope Trent Edwards has a coming out party this year. We all hope that his new dance partner Terrell will bring the onset of a new version of Dancing with the Stars to the Queen City. It is true that Edwards' first two year stats look a lot like Jim Kelly's. Kelly went to the Superbowl in his third year with the Bills. We can only hope the same is true of Edwards.
But if it isn't, TO needs an alternative partner. As does Evans, Reed, the rest of the team, the rest of the town.
Forget about the pecking order. Just get Willy on the team.
If Willy isn't needed this year, he can be the next Aaron Rogers, waiting in the wings to make a seamless transition between Hall of Famer Trent Edwards and the next generation of Bills.
And if he is needed this year? Let him be the incarnation of Randy Smith. Local college star, from a small school, under-rated, unknown outside of Buffalo, until he isn't. Until he surprises everyone but himself and takes the Bills on his shoulders and gets them to the promised land.