Every year it seems the Buffalo Bills are either rebuilding or perhaps retooling as the draft approaches.
While that point is clear, what is unclear is what they are rebuilding or retooling towards. There is some solace which comes from the knowledge that general manager Buddy Nix, who drafted well in his San Diego days, appears to be committed toward building through the draft.
However, last year's draft did not provide an instant impact, so this year's must. Based on 2001 (where the Bills drafted three future Pro Bowlers with their first three picks) and 1991 (which yielded Bills stars Henry Jones and Phil Hansen), the Bills seem to have a streak of favor in the years ending in one.
That track record aside, the Bills must take the following guy with their pick regardless of what the combine numbers show.
Cam Newton is the one player at the one position that the Bills must select in order to turn the franchise around.
Despite the solid play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, everyone in Buffalo knows that Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano are not missing any sleep when game planning against the Bills' current quarterback.
Newton is the one guy in this draft with the potential to do that and become a matchup nightmare right out of the gate. But there are many other reasons why he has to be the guy.
Let's face it. In today's sports world, getting a new star quarterback is like a getting a new Porsche or Lamborghini. Fans who haven't bought tickets in years will come to a game just to see if this kid's really got it.
With the increased attention that adding Cam Newton, a Heisman Trophy winner, will draw to the team, it is even possible that the Bills could get a Monday Night Football game out of the deal out of pure interest.
For better or worse, nothing draws attention to a team quite like a new quarterback, especially a media magnet like Newton.
There is a lot of discussion about what the Bills should do with this high pick. As such, many people are all over the board in regards to what should be done.
For a while, I was in the Patrick Peterson camp. Many any others are in the Nick Fairley/Marcel Dareus/Von Miller camp. Anyone with a brain in their head knows that the only logical picks are either Newton/Fairley/Dareus or Peterson. Since most Bills fans have a brain in their head, they would agree with me on that.
However, I will let numbers do the talking. After thorough research I was able to compile these numbers for players drafted in the top 10 since 2000 at either QB or DL. I omitted CB mainly because while it is a need for the Bills, they will probably not go that direction with this pick.
Since 2000, 28 players have been drafted with a top-10 pick to play defensive line. Since then, here are some numbers that should stick out to you.
Defensive Lineman Drafted in the Top 10
|Went on to be Pro Bowlers 8/28||29%|
Won a Super Bowl 3/28
|Was a Bust 11/28||39%|
It should be noted that if you add in Dwight Freeney, picked 11th overall in 2002, these numbers would be 31 percent (Pro Bowlers), 13 percent (Super Bowl winners) and 39 percent (busts). By the way, Buffalo drafted their own player that has yet to make an impact 11th overall in 2009.
Quarterbacks are a different story however. Since 2000, only 15 players have been drafted to play QB in the top-10 picks. Here are the results.
|Quarterbacks Drafted in the Top 10 (Since 2000)||Percentages|
|Went on to be Pro Bowlers 6/15||40%|
|Won a Super Bowl 2/15||13%|
|Was a Bust 5/15||33%|
It should be noted that if you add in Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler, picked 11th overall in 2004 and 2006 respectively, these numbers would be, 47 percent (Pro Bowlers), 23 percent (Super Bowl winners, Big Ben twice) and 29 percent (busts).
These numbers were compiled by looking at the top 10 picks in every draft since 2000 and researching the careers of those players.
Here is a list of those players just in case you are wondering.
Key: (Bold = Pro Bowler, Italics = Super Bowl Winner, Underline = Bust)
You'll note I omitted some border-line busts (?) from my numbers.
2010: Second Suh DET, Third McCoy TB, 10th Alualu JAX
2009: Third Jackson KC, Ninth Raji GB,
2008: Second Long STL, Fifth Dorsey KC(?), Sixth Gholston NYJ, Seventh Ellis NO, Eighth Harvey JAX.
2007: Fourth Adams TB, Eighth Anderson ATL, 10th Okoye HOU(?).
2006: First Williams HOU.
2005 and 2004: None Selected.
2003: Fourth Robertson NYJ, Sixth Sullivan NO, Ninth Williams MIN.
2002: Second Peppers CAR, Sixth Sims KC, Ninth Henderson JAX, 11th Freeney IND.
2001: Third Warren CLE, Fourth Smith CIN, Sixth Seymour NE, Seventh Carter SF, 10th Reynolds GB.
2000: First Brown CLE, Sixth Simon PHI (DNP SB XLI).
2010: First Bradford STL.
2009: First Stafford DET, Fifth Sanchez NYJ.
2008: Third Ryan ATL.
2007: First Russell OAK.
2006: Third Young TEN, 10th Leinart ARI.
2005: First Smith SF.
2004: First Manning NYG, Fourth Rivers SD.
2003: First Palmer CIN, Seventh Leftwich JAX.
2002: First Carr HOU, Third Harrington DET.
2001: First Vick ATL.
2000: No Players Selected.
Chan Gailey's offense needs a true identity. As we have seen in the past, Gailey is a creative and talented offensive play caller when he has the tools to win. In a pinch he also uses what he has to make it happen.
In his career he has made Tyler Thigpen (Kansas City Chiefs) and Reggie Ball (Georgia Tech), both mobile quarterbacks, look much better than they actually were. Giving him a weapon like Newton would take away the need for smoke and mirrors and allow him to really go to work.
It shouldn't be forgotten that in his two-year stint with the Cowboys, Gailey led them to the playoffs both times. At his disposal were QB Troy Aikman, RB Emmitt Smith and WR Michael Irvin. Giving him solid tools to work with can produce great results.
Jim Kelly and Joe Ferguson, the two winningest quarterbacks in Bills history, both hailed from schools in the south.
Kelly went to Miami and led the Bills to four Super Bowl appearances. Ferguson went to Arkansas, which plays in the SEC, like Newton's former school, Auburn.
If you run through the list of quarterbacks who have played for the Bills, you see several trends. First, there is a successful track record shown by southern-school quarterbacks in Buffalo. Second, with the exception of the Jack Kemp, we should avoid California quarterbacks (Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman, Rob Johnson, etc.).
When you really put it altoghether Newton has what it takes to succeed in Buffalo. Aside from his gaudy statistics and his strong arm he has the ability to make something happen when things get dicey.
Can you imagine Newton taking over the game with his feet when the conditions in Buffalo are too sloppy to pass? With his size and strength he could make a defense bend to his will.
Another strength he has shown is the fact that he is able to stay calm in the midst of controversy and persevere through injuries and distractions. These types of things are hang-ups for many young star quarterbacks. While the verdict is still out on his involvement with the allegations against him, Newton showed a rare ability to put aside these distractions. This proved his mettle.
Lastly, when you compare him to Blaine Gabbert the comparison really isn't fair. Gabbert played well for Missouri but wasn't a world beater. Newton was. This situation reminds me of the 2005 draft where after Matt Leinart who had scouts and media attention all season decided to pull out of the draft everyone scrambled to find a new quarterback to make the it guy. As we know the controversy came down to who was better between Aaron Rodgers (The proven talent) and Alex Smith (The Spread Sensation with a slingshot arm). We all know how this turned out.
While that argument could be deemed opinion based once again numbers will help highlight discrepancies.
Both Newton and Gabbert played against some top tier competition in 2010. But what I looked at is how they fared against NFL type defenses with strong defensive coaches.
Against Bo Pelini's Nebraska Defense Gabbert was 18/42 (42.9%) and threw for 199 yards, with a TD and 1 Int. This was followed up by a clunker 12/30(40%) w/ 95 yards passing the next week against Texas Tech.
Newton didn't blow the world away with his performance against Alabama's Saban coached defense but he did win and his stats were 13/20 (65%) 216 yds and 3TDs (passing) and 1 TDs(rush).
A lot of scouts are enamored with Gabbert's recent bowl performance against a stingy Iowa defense 41/57 (71.9%) with 434 yards passing. It should be pointed out that Gabbert threw 2 picks and only one touchdown in this loss. For the season Gabbert also threw 16 TD's and 9 INT's, compared to 24 TDs and 9 INTs as a sophomore. At the JUCO level Newton threw 22 TDS and 0 INTs last year for a total of 2833 yards. This year as a Junior he threw 30 TD's and 7 INTs in addition to another 1400+ rushing yards and 20 TDs on the ground. With Newton you are clearly getting a rising player.