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Chad Pemberton: This year's NFL Draft unusual, in Buffalo for sure

May. 03, 2013 @ 12:30 AM

Stray thoughts on the NFL Draft. ...

It's a quarterback's league, but this year wasn't a quarterback's draft. Sure, we knew this heading into the NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fascinating to watch quarterbacks like USC's Matt Barkley and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib tumble all the way to the fourth round after being projected as potential first-round picks.

Come on, this is America -- the only story we love more than redemption is one where somebody gets cut down to size.

The lone quarterback selection in the first round by the Buffalo Bills marks the first time since 2001 (Michael Vick) that only one quarterback was taken in the opening round. In fact, only three quarterbacks were drafted in the first three rounds of this year's draft -- Florida State's E.J. Manuel, first round, 16th pick; West Virginia's Geno Smith, second round, seventh pick; and N.C. State's Mike Glennon, third round, 11th pick) -- the fewest quarterbacks taken in the first three rounds since 2000 when Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi and Chris Redman were the only quarterbacks drafted in the first three rounds.

The first running back taken in the draft was North Carolina's Giovani Bernard in the second round (37th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals. This was the first time a running back wasn't taken in the first round since 1963 when the NFL and AFL held separate drafts.

Nine total offensive linemen were taken in the first round, which is the most since 1968 when the NFL and AFL held a common draft. Kansas City's decision to draft Central Michigan offensive lineman Eric Fisher with the first overall pick marks the first time in five years that a position other than quarterback was taken with the No. 1 overall pick. Jacksonville drafting Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M with the second overall picks makes this the first time offensive linemen were taken with the first and second overall picks in the same draft since the AFL and NFL merged.

The methodology for drafting players is fairly uncomplicated. Never burn a current pick on somebody that you can get in a later round. Every pick in the NFL Draft has a particular cost associated with it, and the idea is to make sure the value of the player you're drafting comes close to the value of the pick.

So, what exactly was Buffalo doing with their first pick when they decided to draft Manuel? Why would they take him with the 16th overall pick when most reports, like Scouts Inc., didn't even have him as one of the five best quarterbacks in the draft, let alone the first one to be taken?

First year head coach Doug Marrone attempted to justify the decision by saying: "He can throw the football vertically down the field, he has a good arm, he can get himself out of trouble, he can create things with his feet, he has good presence in the huddle, he's accurate and we are excited to have him."

OK. Fine. Maybe Manuel can do all those things and be all of those things for Buffalo -- but then again maybe not. We don't really know and we won't for a while. But regardless of the outcome -- good or bad or something in between -- this was a poorly conceived decision because Buffalo burned a first round pick on a player they could have gotten much later. You mean to tell me Buffalo couldn't have drafted Manuel in the second round with the 41st or 46th overall picks, or in the third round with the 68th overall pick, and filled another need (one of their many) with their first pick instead? Please!

I guess it should come as no surprise that Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the NFL. Maybe we don't know anything, but neither does anyone with the Bills.

Chad Pemberton is a Marshall University graduate who follows the NFL and is writing about it for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at pemberton@herald-dispatch.com.

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