On Tuesday night, Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix appeared on ESPN’s NFL draft countdown special. It was the usual cast of ESPN characters, headed by host Trey Wingo as well as a healthy serving of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay shoved down viewers throats. Rounding things off were in-studio analysts— known Bills basher Mark Schlereth and chronic Cam Newton hater, Merril Hoge.
Nix spoke on matters the media have been typically asking about for weeks and unsurprisingly, his answers offered little insight as to where he may be tipping his hand come April 28.
If you had no idea where Nix’s mind set is before speaking Tuesday, surely you’re no closer to knowing his intentions now.
Nix spoke on the following topics.
On Ryan Fitzpatrick and the team’s poking around at quarterback prospects.
“We really like Ryan,” Nix said. “He’s proven to us he can win if we just put enough people around him. We feel good about that. I think all this quarterback work is due diligence on our part hopefully, and it’s something that you don’t want to wait until you don’t have a quarterback, to have to draft for him.”
On the difficulties that come with finding the right quarterback to lead your team.
“I think it’s the hardest thing you do,” he said. “Quarterback to me no matter when you have take one is always the hardest position to figure it out. Intangibles are so important. You can test arm strength and accuracy and that kind of thing, but leadership and toughness and intangibles are hard to figure out.”
On improving the team’s anemic pass rush.
“It’s a big priority and it is for a lot of people. Everybody’s looking for pass rushers… that’s the reason they make more money than defensive tackles and some of those other guys. But it’s a big priority for us, obviously when you draft third you got a lot of needs and certainly that’s very high for us.”
His thoughts on hot cornerback prospect Patrick Peterson.
“When you put a corner out there, you can work from the hash mark away from him and he’s never involved. So he’s got to do be able to something else to go that high and this guy is special as a returner.”
On what Nix considers the most important thing with the third pick in the draft.
“I think we got to get a starter. We’ve got to get a guy that can make a difference over the long haul. I don’t think making a splash and taking the guys that are on all the mock drafts and that kind of thing are going to do us a bit of good if it’s not taken care of for the big picture. Down the road and somebody we can with year after year. I think that’s what it’s got to be. I don’t ever want to draft this high again, so number three has got to be a good pick for us.”
From there, Kiper and McShay appeared on camera to discuss the Bills pick—and both agreed Von Miller would be the perfect fit.
McShay went out of his way to make sure skeptical Bills fans don’t compare Miller to a recent failed first round selection, Aaron Maybin.
“You can’t get skittish about drafting another pass rusher in this 3-4 outside linebacker spot just because of Maybin,” McShay said. “Maybin doesn’t want to work. Maybin doesn’t want to act like a pro. I can tell you this knowing Von Miller the little bit that I do— he wants to be a pro and he wants to work at it.”
In-studio analysts Schlereth and Hoge wrapped the Bills segment. Schlereth agreed that Miller would be a good pick while Hoge for some reason threw out left tackle Anthony Castanzo as a potential third pick, especially if Miller wasn’t available.
Yeah….. Ok Hoge. Your judgment just made me like Newton a little bit more.
My Five Takes On Nix’s Comments
1. I truly do not believe Nix has his heart set on any one player at this time. I know the majority of people think the constant curveballs Nix tosses qualify as smokescreens, but I don’t think he’s set at the top of his draft board. In fact, I don’t think he’s close to it. That’s not a criticism either… the draft isn’t for a couple more weeks and he’s carefully prodding over every scenario.
2. Admittedly, I try to read too much between the lines when Nix speaks publicly because his comments are so indiscriminate, but I would be shocked if Patrick Peterson is the pick at three. How could Nix even mention special teams after using a top ten pick on C.J. Spiller last year, in large part because he’s such an explosive returner? Nix’s comments about Peterson, unlike a lot of other guys were short and to the point. He said he can take away a hash mark to sideline portion of the football field, but you need to do something else to be drafted that high.
3. I’m developing a very strong feeling Nix doesn’t want to take Marcell Dareus with the third pick. I don’t have a source secretly informing as such, so call it my gut, but I think Nix regards an interior defensive linemen as too high for a third pick.
4. Try as I may, I get more confused every time I hear Nix speak about our quarterback situation. Maybe I focus on his comments too much or perhaps, not enough. Either way, the volumes he speaks about Fitzpatrick lead you to believe he’s comfortable at quarterback, yet talking about winning for years to come gravitates you toward Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. I do NOT think the Bills are going to draft a quarterback in round two. It’s going to be round one or bust there– I’m growing more confident in that.
5. In playing Mr. Psychic, I truly feel Nix’s decision has come down to more than two players, but only at a pair of positions with the third pick. It’s going to be quarterback or pass rusher.
That’s allowing me to scratch off Peterson, Dareus, Fairley and a lot of others from the equation, including Da’Quan Bowers, who I heard the team was high on early in this process. I think Bowers’ risk is far too high for a team that’s had so many big draft misses.
With that in mind, here’s my final five : Newton, Gabbert, Miller, Robert Quinn and Cameron Jordan. The first four are for obvious reasons and Jordan still factors heavily into the equation, not only because he’s a pretty good pass rusher, but also the best hybrid end in this draft and needs not come off the field in any scheme or situation.
This is nothing but opinion at this point and don’t take it as anything more, but I think Miller and Jordan are leading the race with Newton, not Gabbert serving as the wild card.
Nothing I’ve seen or heard makes me think Nix loves Gabbert that much, but if Carolina doesn’t take Newton and he’s available at three, things may get very interesting.
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