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#RaceToQBMountain Week 1 by @rich_fann

Before the Bills embarked on their #ReTanking, I was going to do this series as a mental exercise – a case study in a year declared “The Year of the QB” and the desperation of teams trying to acquire them.

Little did I know, I’d have far more of a personal stake in it, as a Bills fan!

With that in mind, I wanted to lay the ground rules for what I’m planning to do this year – and what I’m not.

First, we’ll be covering the teams involved every few weeks, to see who’s “ahead” in the race to the top/bottom (depending on your perspective) and how the local media is covering their QB of the present. Additionally, we’ll also be checking in every few weeks on the quarterbacks I’ve been tracking, and drop knowledge on my observations of them in the games since our last get-together. Finally, I am a firm “it takes more than a QB to win” believer. Whomever the Bills get after using Taylor and co as stuntmen this year will need support – there’s really only 3 QBs I’ve seen in such a situation and each time it made it increasingly harder to win (Manning at end in Indy, Rodgers now, Cam Newton) – just because you have a great QB doesn’t mean he needs to be devoid of help. So the cavalcade of suck currently residing at WR needs to be updated A S A P.

What I won’t be doing is pretending to be anything more than a guy who loves watching football. As I do when I write here, or with the Bills Wire, or on Twitter, I’m just giving you what I see – without expecting you to take it as gospel. Watch for yourself. I’ll give you the games below I’ll be watching and if my observations on the QBs don’t match what you see, shoot a tweet my way and let’s chat about it. And I’m serious about this – now more than ever, it’s clear the NFL and their execs are behind on social issues and in the realm of scouting quarterbacks. So if you and I wanna have a chat about it – I just ask that you watch them play. Scoreboard / Box Score readin’ can only tell you so much.

With that said, here are the quarterbacks we’ll be monitoring initially, as well as the NFL teams that are most mentioned to be teed up to get them:

QBs

Josh Rosen, UCLA – Under the current regime, Rosen might be seen as “problematic”, but to me:

Image result for to me you are perfect

Rosen is the perfect blend of talent, awareness of the stage he plays on and perspective. In a perfect world, he’s the Bills starting QB week one 2018 – but questions will be asked of his shoulder injury from 2016 and his Texas A&M matchup this weekend will go a long way to answering those questions.

Sam Darnold, USC – Coming in for the now-Pitt quarterback Max Browne, Darnold was revelation on his feet and with his arm. Going into this year, he has a chance to cement his status as a top 3 pick and while I’m not as into him as I am Rosen, he’s still a good player to have under center.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State – Senior QB. Arm like a cannon. Mullet powered on the head coaching side of things. Mason has a great deal going for himself, including James Washington as a do-it-all Robin to his Batman. I can see McDermott and Beane loving his intangibles:

Josh Allen, Wyoming – Allen gets the double whammy of an NFL style offense that helped get Carson Wentz drafted by Philadelphia last year, coupled with the dimensions that make NFL scouts’ mouths water. I’ve seen 4 Josh Allen games. I need to see a bunch more before I can even speak intelligently on him.

Lamar Jackson, Louisville – You’d think being a human highlight reel would give you a bit more respect in the draft game, but alas, Lamar Jackson is currently the “yeah but” QB of the group. NFL execs and those in the know at that level claim he’s too slight to play in the NFL, to which I ask why can’t a 20 year old gain weight? I think Jackson moving to more under center plays with Petrino will go a long way to cementing whatever narrative NFL folks will come up with that ends with “he can’t see the field”.

(I’ve seen this movie before. It gets old. Quick.)

and two placeholders for players that invariably pop up during the season:

“The Cam Situation” – This is the placeholder for a quarterback that transferred and blows it up for a year. At present, ironically enough Jarrett Stidham, formerly of Baylor and now Auburn QB fits the bill perfectly.

“The Grit Meister” – This is the quarterback that comes out of nowhere, with the “if you REALLY watch college, you’d know the scouts like him” as the retort when you say, “who?”

This year going into the season, apparently it’s Mike White of Western Kentucky. The signal caller was okay last year, but now has become that platonic ideal that NFL coaches and execs crave.

Teams to Watch:

N.Y. Jets – Kings of the tank. At this point, the Jets are the leader in the clubhouse to get the 1st overall pick and they are quite pleased knowing that. For the Bills’ sake, whomever the Jets draft needs to be not good – or the Jets will have the “Brady buster” that outlives Brady in the AFC East.

San Francisco – Between the will-they, won’t-they with Kirk Cousins next year and the option of picking their own guy in the draft, I’m sure that Kyle Shanahan would prefer Cousins. If Dan Snyder is extra petty, aka if Dan Snyder is Dan Snyder, we can presume that may not happen. As a result, the niners will be a competitor for the QB picks.

Washington – See San Fran.

Jacksonville – While former Bills head coach Doug Marrone may not want to go with a young guy, having a high pick may force their hand. Tom Coughlin might convince Kyle Orton to return, so this may also be a pick that is traded to jump ahead of Buffalo, which bears watching.

The St. Louis Scenario – Think back to the RG-III trade. St. Louis, secure (in their minds) at the time with their quarterback, trade out of their pick for a king’s ransom to allow Washington to get the Baylor QB. St. Louis could do that this year, as could Chicago.

The Indy/Pittsburgh Scenario – Wherein a perennially good team has an off year by their standards and fall right into the quarterback replacement they need. This could be Pittsburgh, the Chargers or Arizona as things stand today.

Games to Watch: (Week 1 NCAA, all times Eastern)

Oklahoma State – Tulsa: This was last night, and Mason Rudolph did well for himself to the tune of 20-24, 303 yards with 3 touchdowns passing (all delightful bombs) and 1 rushing TD. I watched this a good bit more than the Indiana – Ohio State barn burner, mainly because #QBMountain but I’m a sucker for OSU offense any time it’s on, draftable QB or not. Rudolph is also a Senior, which seems to be a thing that McDermott and company appreciate, so make of that what you will.

Saturday

Wyoming – Iowa, 12p on the BTN – Josh Allen vs a Big-10 team, which is one of his bigger games of the year in terms of opponent quality. I’m going to see if he’s as reckless as he was in the other Power 5 conference games last year, or if he’s grown since then.

Western Kentucky – Eastern Kentucky 7p – Yeah, I’m going to have to hunt that down later, because phew.

USC – Western Michigan 7:15p on the Pac-12 Network – Darnold and company should put a beat-down on, so I’ll try to watch the first half or so before he’s pulled.

Auburn – Georgia Southern 7:30p on the SEC Network – I am a fan of the Auburn offense, so this was going to get a watch without Stidham; now there’s a great reason on top of my appreciation of the scheme. How does Stidham look after a year plus off?

Louisville – Purdue 7:30p on FOX – The reigning, defending Heisman trophy winner steps onto the field with the Boilermakers and I’m interested in how much bigger he’s gotten (a knock on him in 2016).

Washington State – Montana State 10:30 on FS1 – DVR special, unless something changes. Luke Falk is another quality QB and is looking to prove he’s more than the Leach scheme.

Sunday

UCLA – Texas A&M 7:30p on FOX – Coach Sumlin, one of my favorite guys in all of college football. Josh Rosen, a man after my own heart. Only one can win. You bet your sweet bippy I’m watching this game. And yes, I said bippy.

I’m particularly looking forward to this #RaceToQBMountain coverage additionally because it’ll be a majority of what I do on the site this season. Because of some other commitments, I’ll be paring back my content. I’ll still do recaps of the games when I can and the opinion piece when I actually am fired up about something – but arguing, weekly, about the #ReTanking or Sullivan or magically how Peterman should be the savior, or the Bills being the Bills gets old. Life is too short and there’s too much to do outside of the NFL that can be of help. Arguing the nuances of a 3rd down call for a team that actively wants the highest pick it can get? No thanks.

Am I going Anquan Boldin on the Bills? A little.

Enjoy the race, I know I will!