A whirlwind first day at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis has yielded some rather interesting quotes from both Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey, and now general manager Buddy Nix.
Nix met with reporters for 15 minutes outside the main media room at Lucas Oil Stadium, and fielded questions on almost every position. The first topic of conversation is quite obvious.
Might the Bills be interested in taking a quarterback with the third overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft?
Nix quickly pointed out his distinction of what a franchise quarterback entails. "A guy that can win for you for years," said Nix. "You get a lot of guys that will play good for you a year or two but somebody that can be a ten year guy where you don't have to worry about that position anymore."
I asked him point blank if he believes there is a franchise quarterback in this draft class.
"I understand there probably is, but it's hard to figure out which one. That's the problem."
Predictably, the conversation started to evolve in one about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. Nix likes several qualities about Newton. His athletic ability, his size, a strong arm and also good mechanics. But the GM downplays the necessity of having perfect mechanics.
"See I don't put a lot of stock in that. A lot of people do," remarked Nix. "I mean I saw Doug Flutie throw it underhanded so I don't know why it matters if you get it there. Best thing is getting it out on time and hitting what you're aiming at."
Newton comes from a spread offense along with the likes of Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.
"It makes the learning curve bigger, no doubt. Obviously that does bother you some, and that's the reason you don't want to take one and have to throw him out there from day one."
But might having Ryan Fitzpatrick to be there for a year or two while that type of quarterback gets used to the pro-style game help the Bills in picking a spread quarterback? The answer from Nix quickly turned in to a defense of Fitzpatrick.
"I think it's a factor, yeah, I do. We really like Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's tough, he's smart, he's proved he can win for us. We are not in a position where we've got to have a quarterback. There's people in the draft that do have to have one. There is some areas, and I'll be honest with you, that we're looking at very strong, that's not quarterback."
Newton recently made comments to SI's Peter King about being an entertainer and an icon in addition to being a football player. It doesn't bug the Bills GM all that much.
"You never know how that was said, you'd have to hear it I think to know. It doesn't bother me," Nix stated. "If you like him, it's kind of like scouting, you can make excuses for him if you like him and if you like him you say he's really confident."
Buddy Nix has some connections at the University of Auburn, and will most certainly draw on those as they evaluate both Newton and one other, "Nick Fairley, and Cam [Newton], we'll know as much about them as there is to know."
Trading down from the third overall pick is a popular question from fans and the media alike. In theory, it's a good move. You can stockpile a number of picks that get you more talent on your roster. But as Nix points out, it could come at the expense of getting the guy you really want.
"If there's a guy that you are dead set on getting, you better take him and not move down thinking you can get him at number seven," the GM said. "Because you might not, and then you don't have the player. If that's the case with us, if there's a guy there that we think we're dead set on, we're going to take him."
Then I asked Nix, without naming names, if there actually is a player like that in this draft that they have their heart set on.
Nix responded coyly, "You have to ask me that in about two months." Between you and me, I'll be sure to ask just that at the draft luncheon that usually occurs in April.
The Bills of course just hosted free agent safety Bob Sanders for a visit at One Bills Drive this past week. "It went good," Nix said. "We gave him a physical and we said we're going to give it some thought and we'll look at it. We obviously need a safety and we'll get it one or the other."
The last part of the sentence was particularly peculiar. Does that mean they're closing the door on free agent Donte Whitner?
"That's up to Donte," replied the Bills GM. What exactly does that mean? Nix clarified it for us. "That means, it's up to him."
Defensively, Nix believes the team could use two players at both defensive end and inside linebacker. He said he doesn't view defensive tackle as a need, and that the need for a pass rusher will depend on the progress of Shawne Merriman, to which he mentioned, "So far so good." Nix also thinks that the defensive line and outside linebacker class in this draft is as deep as he can remember.
Keep checking back to WGR550.com for all the latest on the Buffalo Bills at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.