Draft Day is upon us, and as you can imagine every Buffalo Bills fan is full of anxiety and excitement. This year they hold out hope that the Bills will finally get it right in the draft. Not just with their first pick (third overall) but also with the picks that are to come in the later rounds and perhaps maybe, just maybe the Bills can usher in a new era of great football in Western New York.
Many Bills fans have already decided who they hope the team drafts, but this year the Bills have to draft someone who can change the course of the franchise for the better. I have already written about the reasons why a quarterback is a better choice in the first round than a defensive lineman, especially early in the draft, but today I will examine what it would cost to bring Cam Newton to One Bills Drive and how he and the Bills would have to adapt to one another.
What Will it Cost Buffalo?
Buddy Nix has the chance to do what he was able to do in San Diego a few years back, and that is get a franchise passer. Although this time it would be almost the exact opposite of what he did before.
In the 2004 draft, his Chargers had the first overall pick and desperately wanted to draft Eli Manning, the only problem was, he had no desire to play for them. With that being the case, Nix and co. had to find a way to get a franchise quarterback and find a taker for the disgruntled Manning. The New York Giants relented and paid a king's ransom for Peyton's little brother. They traded their first-round (fourth overall), third-round (65th overall) and their first-round (12th overall) and fifth-round (144th overall) in 2005.
Based on the draft pick value chart, this move cost the Giants 3,299 points or essentially the value of a No. 1 overall pick and a high second rounder. In return, the Chargers got three Pro Bowlers (Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding). However, the Giants got a Super Bowl win.
Based on several factors, including the fact that the Panthers aren't totally sold on Newton and the fact that he is a lesser prospect than Eli Manning was, I think the Bills could secure Newton in a trade with the Panthers for just their first pick and their third-rounder. Anything more would be too much.
How Newton Fits
This is the reason why Newton is even worth the trouble of trading up. Newton is a rare athlete, who possesses the right amount of talent, God-given ability and intangibles to become a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
He does have character concerns there is no denying that, but many of those issues are related to his previous immaturity and also factors he cannot control, like his father.Those same character issues led him to the career purgatory that is JUCO, from which he came out even better. The resilience he showed is a quality that a Buffalo Bills quarterback must have.
When faced with intense adversity, Newton showed a level of composure perhaps matched only by that of Kobe Bryant during the widespread allegations he faced in 2004. To put it in perspective, when faced with the same level of scrutiny, Ben Roethlisberger—to whom Newton is often compared—failed to lead his team to a championship this season while trying to overcome distractions and an injured ankle.
Facing very similar circumstances and also distracted by injury concerns and allegations, Newton led his team to a championship. If Buffalo is looking for a true leader, this might be the guy.
How the Bills Would Have To Adapt
First and foremost, the Bills would have to get used to the amount of attention Newton would bring to the team. How this would impact a group of blue-collar performers and fans remains to be seen. But there is recent evidence that Buffalo can handle a star player who comes with talent and some controversy.
On the field, Chan Gailey would need to set up an offensive package that plays to Newton's strengths while allowing the talents already in place to flourish. Ryan Fitzpatrick would have to become a willing and capable mentor, leading and guiding, Newton's professional growth, for the betterment of the team, whether he retains the starting role or not.
All in all, this is the draft that will set the tone for the next four years in Buffalo, and possibly much longer. With the talent that is in place, most of it being very young, Buffalo is at a crossroads. If they do not take the next step forward and choose instead to fortify other need areas on the team with the hope of one day finding a signal caller, then they could burn out the talent already on the roster who will get sick of not being a true contender.
So Buddy Nix, the decision is yours, but my money is on a franchise quarterback.