The 3-2-1 - QB Draft Edition

January 11, 2018
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The worst commissioner in sports said this week that the NHL's point system is "terrific". Gary Bettman is not terrific. This column is titled the 3-2-1 to wrap three points in a nice bow, and remind everyone alive that the NHL has a desperate need to transition to the 3-2-1 point system. Gary Bettman is the new drought. Life will be better as soon as he's no longer here to ruin this sport.

That said, let's talk drafting quarterbacks!


3-Pointer - Cognitive Bias in Scouting

I stopped reading Bruce Feldman's "The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks" to post this column.  When I finish I'll get right back into the chapter on brain types and how you might be able to get an idea of the type of quarterback that a guy is, based on his brain type. This stuff is fascinating to read about, but it's not the first time I've come across it.

Thinking back to the 2004 draft, I can remember talk of the brain type of Eli Manning and how it wasn't the same as Peyton's. As I go down this rabbit hole of right-hemisphered left-handers, and what makes Peyton Manning (A number 5) different from Tom Brady (A number 9) I wonder... So what are the Bills doing?

I hope, as Brandon Beane has already told us, that they have some sort of magic formula on how to snag the right guy. There will be interviews with the players, their coaches, parents, friends, brain scientists, scouts, academic advisors, girlfriends, strangers on campus, and who knows who else. Analytics, behavioral science, and old school scouting will all come together for the biggest decision the Bills have made in a decade. And while the players entering the draft will be studied, I wonder if the general manager and his staff will do their homework on their own bias that they enter with.

I've spoken on this issue a few times on the air, but Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is a sharp mind for the sports world. He's gone out of his way to educate his staff on cognitive bias, and how players comparisons are simply a crutch that get in the way of true analysis. In the scouting process a scout will go up and down a player judging every single attribute possible, but are the scouts checking their own bias, or ego, at the door? I should hope so.  

This decision is big, and the staff can't afford to enter the process with a clouded vision.

In my eyes, April's draft is endlessly more important than this past season. All this talk of culture, and buying in, and everything that goes with it is great.  

Drafting the right quarterback is 10-times more important.  

***

2-pointer - The Stars Have Aligned

Drought over. Two first round picks. A bottom rung passing game. An offense that needs an overhaul. A roster that isn't totally devoid of talent. A cache of picks to either package, or use to fill every other hole. All SIX of the players we watched in our College Text Club are coming out.

There are some of us that want the Bills to draft a quarterback every year, or nearly every year. This time around, it shouldn't be hard to get the job done. I suppose it's only for the best that the Bills ended the drought, because while it unfortunately leads to having a draft pick at #21, it does mean that any conversation about wanting to improve the team can be had without the requisite, "But the Bills are SO close! Get some talent and end the drought!"  

That's over. That's wonderful. The time is now to get this done.

Ok, the time is April.  

***

1-pointer - Rankings

Over the next three and a half months I expect the question that I'm asked the most will be, "So...which quarterback do you like?"

My answer right now is... I don't know. I don't know when I'll know, but I'm comfortable in saying that pegging which quarterback will be a success might be the hardest thing to do in sports. Can't miss prospects have missed. Diamonds in the rough, pop up from time to time and remind you that just taking anyone might just pay off. The position is the biggest boom or bust on the board, but even that's probably not right. The boom is obviously huge. The bust, isn't what it used to be. Selecting E.J. Manuel didn't set the Bills back any further than they already were before him. It just meant more of the same losing.  

But here's my ranking for 01/11:
 

1.) Josh Rosen - The Maverick

The questions about his character won't be that he's a punk or a jerk or a loser. He doesn't have issues with domestic violence or drugs. Josh Rosen is WOKE. He's a smart kid that has the chops to challenge long-held traditions and norms. He's a tremendous talent, and with a UCLA team that counted entirely on him offensively, I'd scoop him in a heartbeat. NFL personnel people will doubt his "attitude", and there's some justification for that. Earlier this week, I compared him to Maverick from Top Gun. Ice Man gives that little speech in the locker room to Mav with "It's not your flying, it's your attitude...the enemy is dangerous but right now you're worse. Dangerous and foolish. You may not like some of the guys you're flying with, they may not like you." Rosen is a hotshot talent, who might fall out of line with a team. But... what if he's right? Elitely talented players have the right to demand more if they feel the coaches around them are dopes, right? Right? Depends who you ask, I guess. Just remember, Ice and Mav were friends by the end.

2.) Baker Mayfield - The Fireball

He's on the shorter side but watching him play at Oklahoma was incredible. Mayfield is a ridiculous competitor with a flair to go a little too far for some. I love it. Mayfield would fit in if he were in the WWE, and that's the kind of guy I want to root for. He had me at the flag planting at Ohio State. (OSU sucks). I'd be all about this, but the attitude comes up again. Is there something to this ultra-competitiveness and chip on the shoulder mentality that would turn the Bills off? Baker Mayfield tweets back at national columnists that doubt him. Is that taking it too seriously? Wide receiver Steve Smith had the clippings from his scouting report in his locker for years as a motivator. He said he never forgave a guy that essentially claimed he wouldn't amount to anything. Athletes dig deep for their motivaiton, and for Mayfield it's out on display every minute he plays. I love him. On the field, his pocket awareness and movement in the pocket is unreal.  

3.) Sam Darnold - The Class President

He's young and maybe could have used another year in school. Darnold lit things up last year, and then this year with raised expectations didn't. I have to put Darnold this high up because when it comes to makeup and approach... he's aces across the board. Every time you hear Sean McDermott or Brandon Beane talk about the type of guy the Bills want, imagine that they're talking to a headshot of Sam Darnold. This kid fits exactly what McBeane endlessly talks about. We'll hear a lot of reports along the way, but I would guarantee that you'll hear a lot about the Bills and Darnold. If I were a gambling man, I'd bet Darnold against the field, if the Bills can get up for him. Darnold, a Cali kid that loves the beach, dreamed of going to USC. He loves football Monday through Saturday. He hosted a podcast that he called his "Master Class" where he'd bring on guests he felt he could get advice from, and tried to take lessons away from them on leadership, poise, maturity, and whatever else came of it. Sam Darnold will be talked about as having near perfect intangibles. This isn't to say he's the only one like that, just the one I've come to know the most in that way.

4.) Lamar Jackson - The Human Highlight Film

I LOVE Lamar Jackson too. No he's not Tyrod Taylor 2.0 and sending me that text or tweet is a surefire way to tell me you never watched the two. Jackson was worlds better in college, and to be honest there's no guarantee he'll be better in the pros than Taylor. The comparison is one I heard last year about Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. We know what's at work here, right? Hint - Scroll back up to the 3-pointer. It's a bias. It's a lazy shortcut that the black qb that runs is the same as the other one. Friends don't let friends do this. Jackson is a jaw-dropper when it comes to mobility and ability to throw the football. He's a flick-of-the-wrist guy. His ceiling is higher than most, but like all there will be questions on whether or not he can make it at the pro level. That's true of mobile guys, and statues.  

5.) Mason Rudolph - The Other Guy From Oklahoma

Started the year lights out, and just kinda drifted for me. Rudolph was always the stat monster that was seen as second tier in this conversation. I'd be fine with any quarterback to be honest. Back to the whole "I don't know" thing... Dan Marino was the sixth quarterback taken in 1983. I'm fine with Rudolph.

6.) Josh Allen - The Body

Big. Strong. Huge arm. Josh Allen is going to get drafted and the team that takes him will have its fans yell at each other. Allen had a down year at Wyoming and just hasn't put a ton together to impress the layperson like me and you. Some scouts will swear by him. I'm rooting against the Bills taking Allen because it will make for an awful April. Then, maybe he figures it out.

I don't know... just get the right one.

It's quarterback or bust, and I reserve the right to change my ranking. As it stands, the Bills MUST take one.

 

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@JeremyWGR