First, we need to define who, exactly, is in the second tier of quarterbacks in this year’s draft. That will quickly become the real difficulty, and it’s why the quarterback-needy teams have largely sought other solutions.
We can confidently say that Mike Glennon is in that group, and then there’s a bunch of question marks and possibilities. Glennon has sometimes been dubbed the very poor man’s Joe Flacco, though in a recent podcast with Rich Eisen, NFL Network tape analyst Greg Cosell said that he’s often a tick slow on his reads, and in the NFL, a tick can be the difference between a completion and an interception.
You’re about to notice a theme here: uncertainty, and lots of it.
That’s always present in every draft. Remember a year ago, when for a time we didn’t think Ryan Tannehill would be a first-round pick? And two years ago, when we did the same with Jake Locker? Sure, but the early feel this year is that unless your name is Geno Smith, that cloud of uncertainty is hovering heavily.
Interest in E.J. Manuel has been high throughout the draft process, and it’s increased recently. Could it rise enough to put him in the first round? That seems unlikely, but it’s possible, a word you’ll hear a lot over the next 23 days in reference to the 2013 QB draft class. If such a vault happens, Manuel will be propelled by his athleticism, a wondrous and magical word that makes a lot of young men rich in today’s NFL, a league where the read-option is quite fashionable. He’s mostly considered a quarterback in need of some development due to his time in a limited and simplistic Florida State offense, where the focus was primarily on those read-option plays.
In that sense, he’s Colin Kaepernick, just perhaps a little slower, and a little less mobile, and therefore a little less Kaepernick-y. The comparison fits in the developmental sense, though, as Kaep sat for a season and learned after being a second-round pick. The team that drafts Manuel may need to be prepared for that eventuality then, which is why with Kevin Kolb ready to be a placeholder, the Bills could work just fine. Manuel will visit Buffalo, and if he’s then targeted by the Bills in the second round with their 41st overall pick, they can focus elsewhere in the first round and add another receiver early, most likely Cordarrelle Patterson or Tavon Austin.
The gamble, though, is Manuel being there in the second round. Or taking that further, any of the second tier QBs still hanging around that deep into Day 2.
Matt Barkley could fall into the second round due to his still recovering shoulder and a penchant for making poor decisions. But in Buffalo, the most appealing name if Smith is either gone or passed on is Ryan Nassib — who also worked out for the Bills — due to his Syracuse connection with Doug Marrone, the new Bills head coach. Here’s the problem: the Jets.
The Jets are on the clock in the second round two picks ahead of the Buffalo, and at some point in this draft they’ll attempt to select their quarterback of the future, an elusive and doomed title in that fair city. The Jaguars are higher in the second-round order too, and they were also in attendance at a recent Nassib workout. The Jets weren’t there, but ProFootballTalk reports that they’re highly interested nonetheless.
The Jets, we’re told, scouted Nassib aggressively during his final season at Syracuse, and they spent extra time with him after his Pro Day workout, including taking him to dinner.
If Smith doesn’t fall to the Bills in the opening round, they’ll be gifted a whole bunch of uncertainty as they attempt to solve their quarterback catastrophe. Same for the Jets, and same for the Jaguars if they pass on this year’s gold-plated arm early.
The second round, you guys. That’s where the quarterback battle will be won.