When Will the Bills Staff Know Tyrod Taylor isn’t Good Enough?

by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

The Fans Know

If you are a Buffalo Bills fan you most likely already know that Tyrod Taylor just isn’t the quarterback to lead the Bills to their first playoff appearance in years. Taylor will have his moments and his overall numbers aren’t that bad but the reality is, he can’t get it done.
While many fans know this, how come the Bills decision makers don’t? One reason is this is their first year with the club and they haven’t been around Taylor enough to know. Another could be that they don’t feel rookie Nate Peterman is ready to be an NFL starter. Regardless of the reason, it has become obvious that the decision makers want to give Taylor every chance they can to prove he can or can’t be a winning starter for the team.

Having done a lot of work on Taylor over the years, my belief is that he is no more than a competent backup. He has limitations in his game that are not going to improve. Don’t forget this is his seventh year in the league, he is what he is.

Evaluation

When I watch Taylor play, I see a quarterback who is better on the move than he is in the pocket. Being that he is just over six feet tall he has trouble seeing the whole field while in the pocket, which makes it difficult for him to go through his progression. He also has a low release, which causes passes to get batted by defensive linemen. I do not see a quick decision maker and when he does make a decision, it consistently isn’t the right one.
When a play is designed for him to be on the move he is a more accurate passer and can make plays with his feet. The trouble with that is it limits what the offense can do. When he is on the move with boots and rollouts, he is playing with a half field and not the full field and that helps the defense.

Rookie Reps

As Peterman gets more practice and game time reps, the staff will get more comfortable with him. One thing that has been obvious with his play in the first two preseason games is he processes things quickly and makes good decisions. He has a very quick release and shows accuracy.

During the draft process there were some draft analysts who felt that Peterman did not have an “NFL arm”. This is nonsense. While he does not possess a cannon, his arm is plenty good enough, and it will get better. Why? Many college quarterbacks are not involved with the weight training program at their schools like the position players were. Once they get into an NFL weight program they train the muscle groups that are needed to increase arm strength and velocity.

Arms Improve

Players like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady were not known for their arm strength when they came out of college. Their arms got significantly better while they were in the League. The same will hold true for Peterman.
The good news on Peterman is he was trained in an NFL style offense. He has played from under center, directed a full field read offense, and gone through three and four receiver progressions. He has been allowed to change plays and protections at the line of scrimmage with success. These things are not new to him like they are with many spread formation quarterbacks.

Deep QB Draft?

There are many who believe that the Bills are stockpiling draft choices for the 2018 NFL Draft because they want to draft a quarterback high. Given that analysts suggest 2018 may be the best quarterback class in years why wouldn’t the Bills do that?
I am not a believer that the QB class is that much better than any other class. First off, most of the so called top quarterbacks are underclassmen and who knows if they will enter the Draft. There is a lot of football to be played and NONE of these players have been picked apart by scouts as they will be this fall. When the real evaluations start, the feeling on these players could change drastically.

When Matt Barkley was going into his final year at USC, he was the odds on favorite to be the first quarterback drafted, perhaps the first pick in the draft. He ended up getting drafted in the fourth round and has bounced around the league.
Last year at this time the favorite to be the top QB was Deshaun Watson. He ended up being the third quarterback drafted last April. Last August who even heard of Mitch Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes? The point I’m making is the draft analysts’ preseason projections are more often than not useless. Why? They aren’t real evaluators, and not one has ever been an NFL decision maker.

If the Bills are going to draft a quarterback in 2018, they have to know what Nate Peterman is first. My belief is that he has the traits to become a winning NFL starter. Sometime this season, be it in another week or mid-season, the Bills will figure out that Tyrod Taylor is not the answer and will go with Peterman. They then will find out if in fact Peterman can be the quarterback of the future for the Bills.

To read more of Greg Gabriel’s Bills analysis, click here.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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