Being wrong is a hobby I take great pride in. While others boldly(?) call Geno Smith a top five or even top three quarterback, I still firmly believe that he’ll tumble from that pristine pedestal, and be there for the Bills at No. 8.
When I wrote about the anatomy of that slight fall from the top five’s good graces, it ended up reading as more of an elaborate process of elimination. That alone is telling; whereas last year teams were clawing to get Robert Griffin III when St. Louis auctioned off their pick, and the Dolphins were even more than eager to draft Ryan Tannehill and make him a top ten QB, this year many of the QB-needy teams drafting early are making moves to shake that status, and avoid Geno Smith.
No one really knows what the hell the Jaguars are doing at No. 2, especially the Jaguars. With Matt Flynn in Oakland and Carson Palmer in Arizona, Jacksonville still feels like the only hurdle for Smith to clear before landing in the strange combination of snow and fire that is Buffalo.
When he arrives there, all he’ll have to do is beat out the Bills’ version of Alex Smith.
Kevin Kolb was signed to a two-year contract worth $13 million. He can and will be much better with improved offensive line play, but his arm strength is somewhere between average and good, which will minimize the vertical attack, and therefore also subtract from Stevie Johnson’s presence.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be awful. Far from it. He’ll be fine, sufficient, and adequate. Barring a significant leap forward (he’s still young, so we’re not ruling that out) he’ll be a bridge. A bridge to something better, just as Alex Smith eventually was in San Francisco.
The question for Bills fans and a franchise starving for a quarterback then is this: do you prefer the safety of the vanilla option, and efficiency over electricity? Or should the pursuit for elite win the day?
If Smith does fall, those are the questions general manager Buddy Nix will be pondering between his wire-tapped phone calls with other GMs. Greg Cosell, the esteemed NFL Network tape guru who’s studied Kolb’s film, has an answer: stick with Kolb.
Here’s Cosell in a Kolb Q&A with the Toronto Sun:
“Arizona was so bad along the offensive line, he couldn’t function. Kolb is a timing/rhythm functional space player. And I’m sure the Bills’ feeling is: ‘We’ve got a run game. We have two good backs, and one of them is truly dynamic in (C.J.) Spiller. We need to do a little better with our receiving corps but you can always draft receivers. Our O-line is pretty good, so we can at least make him an efficient player. He’ll never be a great player. But we can make him an efficient player.’ Because Ryan Fitzpatrick, other than a few stretches here and there, was not an efficient player. Theoretically what you’re trying to do is make Kevin Kolb Alex Smith. While that’s not necessarily great, as we know, it’s efficient.
“Here’s the last thing that a new coach wants, and it’s the reason Andy Reid traded for Alex Smith. The last thing a new head coach wants is the quarterback to bring down the entire team. Because then you can’t even compete. So even though they understand that Kevin Kolb is not a great player, just like Andy Reid understands that Alex Smith is not a great player, at least now they can build a team and the quarterback will not ruin what you are trying to put together.”
Not much to dispute there. Kolb is safe, and Smith (Geno, not Alex) is being treated like a patch of poison ivy in the woods, and no one knows exactly where it is. Cautious and careful walking results, and the foreign substance is kept away from hind regions.
But what’s interesting is that in the same interview, Cosell was asked to place Kolb in this year’s draft class, and compare him to the quarterbacks who will be selected in a few weeks.
“I think he’s a little better than Matt Barkley. He doesn’t throw it as well as Ryan Nassib “
So from a guy who’s done intense tape study, he’s only slightly ahead of Barkley. The same Matt Barkley who makes poor decisions, and has seen his stock fall from a p0ssible first overall selection a year ago had he left USC early, to maybe out of the opening round entirely.
Herein lies the quandary. You can draft a Kevin Kolb this year in the second round, and it may even be Barkley, or possibly Ryan Nassib. Or you can take the Kevin Kolb you have, and use him as the safety net he is, and then finally take the plunge on a first-round arm.
Despite watching as Ryan Fitzpatrick was something less than safe and adequate, and Trent Edwards induced vomit, the Bills have used a first-round pick on a quarterback only once since Jim Kelly retired in 1996. J.P. Losman made people cry.
The Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson era was fun, and it gave us a breakfast cereal. Then Drew Bledsoe briefly brought the awesome before the future — Losman — arrived with those tears, and it’s been patchwork since.
Kolb adds to the layer of patches. Eventually, a risk has to be taken, and the waiting has to end. If Smith is around at No.8, he’s that risk.