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A fundamental concern with the Bills drafting Ryan Nassib

By Tim Graham

This has been my issue with the idea of the Buffalo Bills drafting Ryan Nassib as their supposed quarterback of the future:

If the Bills do that, then they didn't hitch their wagon to Doug Marrone nearly four months ago; they essentially would have decided in January the organization's future would hinge on Syracuse's quarterback.

Russ Brandon's legacy as Bills president, the team's profitability and the chances of steering out of a seemingly never-ending ditch will depend less on the Marrone hire and more on whomever they draft to be their franchise quarterback.

That's how important the position is in the NFL. Quarterbacks are the ones who make head coaches and executives look like geniuses or fools.

To think the Bills would pursue a college coach with a package deal in mind should be terrifying to fans. Pinning a franchise's dreams on any college player is shaky. To have identified somebody because your new head coach is familiar with him is flimsier.

Now, Bills General Manager Buddy Nix and his scouting staff independently could have vetted Nassib and found him to be the cat's pajamas. Marrone repeatedly has said he and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have recused themselves from much of the Bills' interaction with Nassib.

But doesn't it make more sense that Marrone joined the Bills with assurances he would have significant say about who his quarterback would be?

Brandon repeatedly has stated Marrone was a hot coaching candidate, that the Bills beat out other teams for his services. Offensive-minded coaches with leverage don't let somebody else pick their quarterbacks.

And if Brandon, Nix and Marrone didn't discuss a quarterback plan during the coach's interview process, then this organization is in worse shape than anybody feared.

So here's what Bills fans should hope: The club legitimately kept an open mind about their future franchise quarterback and -- as virtually impossible as it may seem -- treated Nassib the same as every other prospect.

If the Bills draft Nassib, then you can bet they'll claim this to be the case.

And, to me, it doesn't matter if they've earmarked Nassib to pick in the second or third round. Entering this week's draft with the intention of getting Nassib still means they've allowed that decision to dictate the rest of their draft philosophy.

Brandon, Marrone and their quarterback will thrive or fail together.

Is it possible they've been bundled since January?

That would mean the Bills hired a quarterback then and not a coach.

The only way we'll know with certainty is if the Bills take another quarterback with Nassib on the board.

(Follow The News' intensive NFL draft coverage, beginning with a live video show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on, including analysis from Tim Graham and Jay Skurski, reports from Mark Gaughan and Jerry Sullivan at One Bills Drive, as well as an ongoing live chat. The chat continues during the second and third rounds Friday along with video highlights and analysis from Orchard Park.)


Buddy Nix | Doug Marrone | Russ Brandon | Ryan Nassib
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |