Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News file photo
MOBILE, Ala. — In Hawaii, Tyrod Taylor is set to make his first Pro Bowl appearance.
In Mobile? The search continues. General Manager Doug Whaley is scouting other quarterbacks.
Yes, Taylor exceeded pretty much everybody's expectations in Year 1 as a starter in Buffalo, earning a Pro Bowl nod with Carolina's Cam Newton heading to the Super Bowl. But that doesn't mean the Buffalo Bills' hunt for their long-lost franchise quarterback is over. The Bills aren't ready to give Taylor a long-term contract extension yet and, down here during Senior Bowl Week, Whaley didn't flinch when asked if the Bills would seriously consider drafting a quarterback in the early rounds or if Taylor eliminated this as a top need.
"We'll do it because if you look at it, unfortunately we have two quarterbacks on the roster and both of them are entering the last year of their contract," he said. "If it presents itself, it makes sense and it's a guy we like, and we believe in, absolutely."
The numbers, of course, were solid. Taylor completed 63.7 percent of his passes last season for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions with a Bills QB-record 568 rushing yards, but as Whaley mentioned after the season the team wants to see him excel more often in late-game situations. While he developed a rapport deep with Sammy Watkins as the season progressed, Taylor rarely threw over the middle of the field and he also suffered knee and shoulder injuries.
Buffalo clearly wants to see Taylor take another step before committing top dollar.
So up close at the Senior Bowl, the Bills' scouting staff will get a close look at the next wave of quarterbacks, including North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. Underclassmen Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch, who aren't here, are also considered top prospects at the position.
That being said, Whaley does not necessarily see quarterbacks who are ready to step in right away and start. This year's group isn't like the one last year that featured Florida State's Jameis Winston and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota. This duo went 1-2 and then proceeded to inspire plenty of hope right away on their respective teams. The GM has lamented before that the college game doesn't produce as many pro-style quarterbacks today as it did years past.
"I think it's a deep crop and I think it's a crop that's going to need some time," Whaley said. "Now, it depends on their situation, who takes them and what they do. But I would say it's not as top-heavy as last year where those top two guys would still be the top two guys. How quickly these guys can matriculate into the league, I think it's going to take a little bit of time. Maybe a year, maybe a half of a year."
While repeating that he still needs to study the junior class more, Whaley said he sees more of "a future down the road" in the quarterbacks this year.
Said Whaley, "The guys I've seen, I like them and there are guys that could be potential future starters. I just think it's going to be a process."
Buffalo will stay cautious at the most important position for now. Probably a smart move considering the mistakes under center by GM's past.
Right now, the Bills starter is Tyrod Taylor and this is still a talent who has Whaley excited.
"If I would've told you guys the Buffalo Bills would've had a quarterback in the Pro Bowl, what would you say? ... Exactly."