Two weeks from now, Roger Goodell will walk to the podium somewhere between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m ET to announce the Buffalo Bills' selection.
Who that selection will be has been debated and changed millions of times over since the final whistle of the 2012 season blew. The experts and sort-of experts have added their opinions on who would be the right fit for the Bills, but who do Bills fans want to see in royal blue next season?
Buffalo faithful like to point out that their pick record is better than the guys who are getting paid to make the selections. Fans wanted Haloti Ngata over Donte Whitner and Brian Orakpo over Aaron Maybin, but they did not get their way come draft day.
Revisionist history can be pretty lame when it comes to the draft, as players’ value is not really set until a few years down the road. The “we could have picked this guy over that guy” argument does nobody any favors.
Cough. Russell Wilson. Cough.
Once again, Buffalo is picking in or near the top 10 in the draft, but never has there been so much mystery surrounding their pick. Several needs, including quarterback, can be filled with the eighth pick, but no one player stands out as the best fit.
So I give you, Bills fans, the power of making your argument for who should be the eighth player off the board in the 2013 NFL draft.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia University
Geno Smith is a known commodity at this point in the draft process. You either love him or you hate him.
Many point to Smith’s “poor performance” against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl at snowy Yankee Stadium, but ignore other attributes that could make him a great quarterback at the next level.
Smith was known for having a good work ethic at West Virginia and it showed on the field. The standout signal-caller improved each season at the helm, despite having three different offensive coordinators in four seasons. Smith played well his first two seasons, but excelled in Dana Holgorsen’s air-raid offense.
He was asked to take on more responsibilities in his junior and senior season, delivering plenty of eye-popping stats along the way. Smith finished the season with 42 touchdowns to only six interceptions, while completing 68 percent of his passes.
In four of his 13 games last season, Smith completed at least 87 perent of his passes with at least 24 attempts in all. Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were among the leaders in completion percentage during their college careers, as was Smith. Completion percentage tends to be one of the most transferrable traits of a quarterback from one level to the next.
QB E.J. Manuel, Florida State University
Manuel was one of the more surprising players on the NFL invitee list that came out Wednesday evening. This does not necessarily mean that he will be a first-round draft pick, but that thought process has generated some steam over the last few weeks.
After Smith, no one seems to see eye to eye on who the next best quarterback is in this draft. Matt Barkley has seen his stock plummet after a poor senior season and Ryan Nassib has toiled in between first-round and second-round status since February. Manuel has been firmly on the second-round bubble since the season ended, but a couple of good workouts may bump him up higher than expected.
There have been murmurs that Buffalo likes Manuel, with his big frame and strong arm, but do they like him enough to draft him as high as eighth?
He has the ACC senior connection that general manager Buddy Nix tends to covet in his players. Manuel is also a documented leader, which can only help his stock in the eyes of a team that is desperately craving one.
Before you get all up in arms about listing Manuel as a possibility, ask yourself this: Did you think Christian Ponder or Jake Locker would go as high as they did? Ryan Tannehill?
Manuel looks like a reach on paper, but he fits the bill in that he can sit behind Kevin Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson for a year and learn the position. Ideally a second-round pick would be better suited for that, but Manuel may not last that long.
OG Chance Warmack, University of Alabama
The prospect of drafting a guard this high may be preposterous to some, but he does fit a big need for Buffalo.
Warmack is the latest inside lineman to be declared the “best we have seen in years,” which has lofted his draft status to the top 15. Whether or not he actually lives up that billing is somewhat irrelevant, as long as he makes an immediate impact in the run game.
Buffalo would be unwise to spend a pick this high on a guard, considering they just let future All-Pro Andy Levitre walk in free agency. Creating a need just to replace it high in the draft seems like a counter-productive measure.
However, Warmack is elite enough a prospect at his respective position to make him a consideration in the top 10. The teams in front of Buffalo are just as unsettled in terms of who falls where, that Warmack could realistically be the best player on the board at No. 8. He was a part of one of, if not the best offensive line in the country, which could aid in the development of whichever quarterback Buffalo selects in the draft.
Do any of these prospect sound interesting at No. 8? Or is there another prospect that you would rather see in Orchard Park, New York next season?