The NFL Draft is a couple of months away, and speculation continues as to what the Bills will do with the third overall pick. Tied to this is the question that continues to hang over the franchise after 11-straight years out of the playoffs. Will they be able to find a franchise quarterback?
I've said it before and I'll say it again now. I think Cam Newton is the answer.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper poured gasoline on the fire this week projecting the Bills will draft Newton with that third pick. The critics say he's a reach. There are questions about off the field issues as well as his ability to make the transition to the NFL. To that end, Newton's father, who has been at the center of much of that controversy, recently had Newton work out of for the media in an attempt to start changing those perceptions.
Newton has been compared to Jamarcus Russell and Vince Young. I think those comparisons are off base. Russell was lazy and overweight. Young can run with the football but lacks arm strength. Newton can do it all, and I think the combination of his pure talent and the situation he'd be stepping into here in Buffalo would lead to success.
Newton has the ability to be a drop back passer and a threat on the ground. His numbers in college show it. He threw for 2854-yards, 30 TD's and just seven picks at Auburn this season in leading the Tigers to a national title and in winning the Heisman Trophy. He also ran for 1473-yards. He delivered under pressure and played through the controversy he faced off the field. The guy is a winner.
Add to that, he'd step into a situation with the Bills where he wouldn't have to start right away. What Ryan Fitzpatrick lacks in talent he makes up for in intelligence, toughness, leadership, and attitude. Above all, Fitz has shown that he's a team guy. Knowing many of the parties involved, I think it would be a positive situation that would accelerate Newton's development.
The Bills have said the top priority this off season is to improve on defense. They have obvious and glaring needs on that side of the football having finished last in the league against the run. But if Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix want to turn this team into a true contender, they've got to find the answer at quarterback. Ftizpatrick brings quite a bit to the table, but it's not enough... especially with the likes of Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez in the division.
Drafting third certainly makes things interesting this year but it's not a place the Bills want to be on a regular basis. The Bills need to make the most of the opportunity.
I think Newton's upside gives them the best chance to do just that.