The Buffalo Bills' chances of selecting a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 draft were dealt a blow when the Chicago Bears traded up Thursday night to select Mitchell Trubisky second overall. When the Bills dealt out of their No. 10 pick despite Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson remaining on the board, it became clear Buffalo was not going to address their long-term quarterback need in the short term.
Maybe the Bills' predraft meetings with the draft's top quarterbacks were, as first-year coach Sean McDermott coyly theorized, simply a smokescreen.
Even so, quarterback could still become a priority for Buffalo in 2018. In swinging the trade with Kansas City, the Bills gained a first-round pick next year that could potentially be packaged with the Bills' existing first-round pick to move up for a quarterback.
What about Tyrod Taylor? The seventh-year veteran will remain the Bills' starter this season, but his restructured contract allows for the Bills to cut him after 2017 if they deem him not worthy of being the franchise cornerstone. That means if top quarterback prospects Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen (or a late riser) are within striking range for the Bills in 2018, Taylor's time in Buffalo could be short.
While the Bills might ultimately look foolish if Mahomes or Watson turns into a star, the decision to trade down Thursday with Kansas City was a logical move for first-year coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo -- starved for draft pick flexibility in recent years after trading up for Sammy Watkins (first round, 2014) and Reggie Ragland (second round, 2016) -- now has draft capital to either contend for a top quarterback in 2018 or continue to maneuver.
Such a forward-looking tactic from the Bills might not have been popular among a segment of fans that wanted the Bills to take tight end O.J. Howard, cornerback Marshon Lattimore or any of the other talented players remaining on the board Thursday at No. 10, but the decision to trade down has McDermott resting easy.
"At this point in time, having two first round picks next year? Yeah, I feel really good about it," he said. "That being said, we wanted to make sure that a player that we valued would be there at our pick and, in fact, he was, with Tre'Davious White. ... I’ll be able to sleep fairly well tonight, until tomorrow rolls around."
The Bills' trade in some ways overshadowed the selection of White, a 2016 first-team all-SEC selection at LSU who fills a need at cornerback. White is considered a technically-sound and high-character player who fits best in McDermott and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's zone-based coverage scheme, even if he does not start right away.
Buffalo enters Friday with three selections in the second and third rounds, although they lost their fourth-round selection in the trade for Ragland last year. With three fifth-round picks, the Bills could look for a trade partner to get back into the fourth round.