Beane: 'We're still in the process' of finding a franchise quarterback

January 11, 2018 - 7:37 am
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With the 2017 season officially over for the Buffalo Bills, it's time to shift into offseason mode and look ahead to 2018 season.

This will be the first full offseason for general manager Brandon Beane, who joined the Bills organization last year in May. It will be his first offseason to take part in free agency and the NFL Draft with the Bills, which former general manager Doug Whaley was still a part of last year before being fired the day after the draft.

One position the Bills will take a long look at this offseason is at quarterback. The Bills have been on the lookout for a franchise quarterback ever since the day Jim Kelly retired back in 1996.

Beane has made it very clear that finding a franchise quarterback will be a top priority for the Bills moving forward.

"It's a quarterback league, and until you know you have the guy that you're definitely going to build this team around and the offense around, you're constantly searching," Beane said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on WGR Wednesday morning. "The teams that makes the runs in the playoffs consistently have a franchise guy that they lean on year in and year out. We're still in the process of getting that accomplished."

Beane is nothing new to the process of searching for a franchise quarterback. Before coming to Buffalo, Beane was part of the Carolina Panthers organization that drafted Cam Newton with the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. That process in Carolina was something that Beane learned a lot from, and will take into consideration as he continues his quarterback search with the Bills.

"I think every time you go through something like that it helps you," Beane said. "You live and you learn, you make your notes, what did you think went well, where do you think you could've done a little bit better. Going through that process back in 2011 with Carolina, we did more research on Cam and the other quarterbacks than we had done at any previous point in my time with Carolina. It definitely helps to have a plan, and know how you're going to solve a problem and answer the questions when it's time to draft."

With the Panthers in 2011, Beane served as the team's Director of Football Operations, but was actively involved with the team's search for their next quarterback. Beane knows that it will take a team effort to find the Bills' next franchise quarterback, just as it was in Carolina.

"It'll be a collaborative deal, [but] at the end of the day, it'll be my decision to make," Beane said. "Sean and I will talk things out, and we talk out a lot of things. Everyday stuff here, things that happen in the week, in the games, and we talk about those decisions and plan them out. We will go through a lot of those scenarios leading up into the draft, but you do have to have one final voice to make that call. I'll do that, but everything will be a collaborative [effort]. Sean will be very involved in the process."

While the search is already underway, things will start to ramp up as some of the top college quarterbacks will be on display leading up to April 26th. Events like the Senior Bowl, pro days, and the NFL Combine will be a chance for Beane and other NFL executive to get a closer look at each prospect eligible for this year's draft. In the meantime, there are other ways that Beane can utilize his time to determine which quarterbacks he should be looking at. The first chance will be at the Reese's Senior Bowl on January 28th in Mobile, Alabama.

"We'll be able to talk to some of our friends, or whoever is coaching some of these guys at the Senior Bowl. We'll be able to talk to other teammates, what kind of teammates was he for the week? We'll talk to some of their teammates who were with them for several years in college, we'll talk to people back at their high school. We'll do anything and everything to really know who this person is, what makes them tick as a person, and obviously we'll get into the X's and O's. Doe he work hard in the film room? Does he understand what he's seeing? What has he been though? What's the system he's been in? Has he audibled plays? Does he call the plays out in the huddle? Does this guy take snaps from center? All of those things you have to go through, and we're basically just building a library on each player."

While the Bills still have Tyrod Taylor at quarterback as of now, it seems as though Beane is getting ready to take a quarterback near the top of this year's draft. And with two picks in the first round of this year's draft, he's watching just about any quarterback that will be available when they pick with the 21st and 22nd overall picks.

"I've seen all of them that matter," Beane said. "I've seen every one of them that could potentially be in the first round."

One of the top quarterbacks that may be available for the Bills in the first round is Oklahoma quarterback, Baker Mayfield. When asked about the type of player that he is and what he likes, Beane was quite mum on the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner.

"I'm not going to really get into any of the players right now. I think it's just too early in the process. I'm very aware of him and his stuff, but I'm going to leave it as is with my thoughts on it. At this time, I think it's best if I don't go into it."

Beane and his staff will have their work cut out for them over the next few months. Whether he acquires the next franchise quarterback in free agency or the draft, Beane makes it known that he wants to get the right guy to run the offense, and not just getting a quarterback that fits a specific coach or system.

"I'm going to get one that I think is the right guy for our team, for this organization, and skill set wise that we're looking for. Good coaches will take whatever this quarterback's strengths are and work it into the offense. We all know if you draft a guy for a certain coordinator or certain system, that guy goes on and does well and becomes a head coach, and a new guy comes in here and has a different system that doesn't fit the quarterback, that doesn't make sense. We'll draft a guy with a skill set that we think fits, and it will be up to the offensive coordinator and the offensive staff to accentuate whatever his strengths are and hide the weaknesses."

You can hear Beane's entire conversation with Howard and Jeremy below:

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