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Bill Polian: Drafting another QB in first round not absurd, but Bills shouldn't


On the subject of drafting another quarterback in the first round, many Buffalo Bills fans stress teams simply don't do that two years in a row.

"Sure, you could," replied Bill Polian, the former Buffalo Bills general manager and Indianapolis Colts president.

The Bills likely will be slotted in the top 10 for May's draft. A significant reason is rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's knee operations and uneven performances.

A prominent storyline for the next few months will be whether the Bills should double down on football's most important position.

"It's absolutely viable," Polian told me by phone Thursday night. "We felt in Indianapolis we could have kept Peyton Manning and drafted Andrew Luck. There would have been no impediment to that under the salary cap."

First-round quarterbacks used strap teams into financial straightjackets. But the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 included a revised rookie wage scale that prevents an overcommitment to first-round draft picks who've yet to play an NFL snap.

"That's what the new rookie wage scale does for you," Polian said. "It's a football pick, not a money pick."

All that said, Polian's stance on Buffalo's quarterback situation is that it's "in pretty good shape." The Bills Wall of Famer even likes Thad Lewis as the backup.

"I'm not sure there's a quarterback in this group that I would say is as good a prospect as EJ Manuel," Polian said. "I'm not sure that I could stand on the table for somebody in the first round out of this group aside from Teddy Bridgewater, and he's probably gone before the Bills pick. Beyond that ...

"They have other needs they're going to have to deal with, but at some point and time you have to commit to somebody."

A search of shows there haven't been many cases of team's taking quarterbacks in consecutive first rounds. But it has happened six times.

The Baltimore Colts did it twice: Cotton Davidson in 1954 and George Shaw in 1955; Art Schlichter in 1982 and John Elway in 1983 (the NFL's last back-to-back duo).

The Los Angeles Rams did it with a flourish three years in a row: Roman Gabriel second overall in 1962, Terry Baker first overall in 1963 and eventual Bills quarterback Bill Munson seventh overall in 1964.

Washington had a trifecta around the same time with Dan Allard in 1959, future Buffalo quarterback Richie Lucas in 1960 and Norm Snead in 1961.

The other two pairs included notable names.

The Detroit Lions drafted Y.A. Tittle in 1948 and future Bills coach John Rauch in 1949. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Earl Morrall in 1956 and John Brodie in 1957.

  • Paul Bruhns

    So, the question is… if Terry Bridgewater is available, do you draft him?

    • LDawg

      Yes. EJ is not good enough and his knees are now susceptible to injury easily.

    • Mr. Trade Down in the 1st

      You almost have to (unless you can trade down and get a bunch of picks).
      The reason you almost have to is WHEN will you get another chance to draft a QB as good as Bridgewater? Tell EJ he is the starter. Tell Bridgewater he will sit as a rookie for the 1st year. I see nothing wrong with having a good #2.

  • mightytacoman

    The best comparison might be Dallas took troy Aikman first overall in 1989 draft. Then they turned around and took Steve Walsh in the 89 supplemental draft. The eventually traded Walsh to New Orleans for 3 draft picks.

    • Mr. Trade Down in the 1st

      What wasn't said is the Bills could trade DOWN in the 1st round, maybe twice, and then select a QB at say 24th, for example. Hmmmm. I think Aaron Rodgers was selected 24th....who then was the backup for 3 years. Not a bad plan.

  • JoeL

    Similar - NY Jets drafted Joe Namath and John Huarte with their first 2 picks in 1964. As for EJ he needs to be coached up that's on Marrone. The 2014 draft I say Khalil Mack then OL.

    • SteveK

      Mack would be a great addition and look pretty good along with Alonzo. Mack just won the Lambert award and is up for the Butkus so he is not an unknown. He is not going to be on the board very long. The guy is a stud!!

  • Chris Delvalle

    Um yeah I don't care about QB's drafted in the 40's. Why not throw in a Bing Crosby quote about the New Deal while you're at it Buffalo News?

  • Steve Nelson

    As a Bills fan here in Atlanta, I look at it this way. EJ's making approx. $2 million/yr. whereas Matt Ryan here in Atl. is making $21 million/yr. People here are starting to doubt Ryan and he has 6 yrs. to go on his contract. If EJ's a bust, his contract's not going to cripple the Bills like Ryan's. The Redskins are looking to shop Kirk Cousins. He's playing here Sunday. I'd take a look at him.

    • jim

      The Bills are intentionally hiring cheap so they can maximize their profit. A new cheap head coach and QB every three years. It can't get any more obvious at this point.

  • Bill W

    What's everyone's thoughts on Thad Lewis? I thought he did a nice job when he played, starter maybe, I think he's got the tools.

    • jim

      He's certainly got a better long ball. The Bills were actually exciting for a few minutes while he was at the helm.

  • B662

    I like EJ. It just goes to show that the ability to draft a franchise QB is not always easy. We all want 'Jim Kelly' back but QBs like him are once in a lifetime, unless you spend the big bucks and have the chance to get a QB in FA. Fact is Manuel is making throws Fitz could not, possess's a level of maturity needed to grow in the NFL and this team needs other players (LG, OLB, Safety) to complete the team. We are also seeing a coaching staff learning as we go. Patience is key!

    • Steve Nelson

      The Bills now hold the record for the longest playoff drought. Totally inexcusable. I guess no one rebuilds like the Buffalo Bills :)

      • jim

        They're definitely in a class by themselves.

    • jim

      You've been brainwashed by Russ Brandon, CEO of this stinkpile.

  • jim

    I wonder how much Bill Polian was paid to say that.

    Considering the scouts have long proven themselves as incapable of evaluating talent, it doesn't matter whether another QB is drafted or not. The end result next season is guaranteed to be similar.

    • Gerald Frys

      Bring in Polian as a consultant or the GM. He knows what to do.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.