Just for kicks, after watching Russell Wilson toy with the Bills for three hours while T.J. Graham suffered through a severe case of the dropsies, I decided to take a look back at the Bills' draft history for some answers. Think of this as a public service as they move forward in search of a quarterback.
First, let's address one problem. Chan Gailey points to Ryan Fitzpatrick's past success as a foundation for his faith in his struggling passer. “He's done it before” stands out as a common refrain, but it's an entirely twisted approach. With that logic, I would have spent the past seven years on the PGA tour.
After all, I have two holes-in-one.
Forget the fact that my swing is terrible and my scores fall somewhere between 90 and 110 for 18 holes. I should be shooting around par or better. Why? Because I've done it before. I birdied every hole on a golf course at least once in my life. Of course, I've also had enough snowmen to populate an arctic village, which is why the only way I'm breaking 72 is by hopping in my car after 13 holes.
Yeah, I know many believe hindsight should be inadmissible. I understand that point as much as anybody. Last year, I wrote a column saying the Bills needed to sign Fitzpatrick to a contract extension after he had played so well. Last summer, I wrote a column suggesting the Bills had the right people in place with Gailey and Nix.
Looking back, they were regrettable pieces. What can I say? Both were written based on evidence that was available at the time. General managers work under different standards. They should be experts in player evaluations. Nix should have known Fitz wasn't the long-term answer before handing him a six-year extension that included $24 million guaranteed.
It's too bad Fitz wasn't the one throwing the money around. It would have been intercepted.
Anyway, if Gailey can use hindsight to extend his commitment to Fitz, the same can be applied when examining the Bills' drafts history. Rather than having Fitzpatrick look dazed and confused against the Seahawks, the Bills could have had Russell Wilson or Andy Dalton throwing passes to Rob Gronkowski and Chris Givens.
Gronk was taken in the second round in 2010, one pick after Nix passed on him and reached for defensive tackle Torrell Troup. The Bills worried about Gronkowski's back problems in college. Gronk is the highest-paid tight end in NFL history and could wind up in the Hall of Fame. Troup has started two games in his career and has been sidelined all year with ... back problems.
No general manager is perfect, and Nix shouldn't be criticized for every poor decision. He inherited numerous problems, but he hasn't done enough to solve them. Still, I can't imagine him reminding us that there were other scouts in the room the way Mario Williams made sure fans knew there were 10 other players on defense Sunday.
The Bills' organization has picked 13th or higher nine times, starting with the Mike Williams debacle in 2002. The former fourth pick overall leads this list of first-round busts who failed for one reason or another: J.P. Losman, John McCargo, Marshawn Lynch and Leodis McKelvin. Wait, I almost forgot Aaron Maybin.
Marcell Dareus isn't exactly eating up offensive linemen. Time will show what the Bills have in Stephon Gilmore, who is off to a good start. Buffalo has had little room for error, especially in the early rounds. And yet they have made a ton of errors over the past decade and counting.
General managers thumb their noses at so-called armchair draft experts, but the Bills wouldn't be any worse if they handed you a magazine and told you to oversee the draft. They didn't miss on every pick, but nobody would if armed with the same information.
In 2010, Buffalo used the ninth pick on C.J. Spiller when they already had Lynch. Lynch was more trouble than he was worth and was sent packing. Spiller has been terrific this year, if not underused.
But look at the players selected after him. Six who were taken later – Ryan Mathews, Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey, Jermaine Gresham and Devin McCourty – were picked to play in the Pro Bowl. Gronkowski was picked after them, and had a bigger impact than any of them.
In the third round, the Bills took Alex Carrington with Eric Decker and Jimmy Graham still on the board. Decker is a big receiver they need. Graham is just behind Gronkowski among the NFL's elite tight ends. Aaron Hernandez and Geno Atkins were taken after Marcus Easley in the fourth round. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who started Sunday, was picked after Buffalo took Ed Wang.
In the sixth round, the Bills took Arthur Moats and Danny Batten before the Steelers grabbed wide receiver Antonio Brown. In the seventh, Buffalo took Levy Brown nine picks before Chicago selected J'Marcus Webb, an offensive tackle who has started all but two games.
Dareus was picked third overall in 2011. The two players picked before him, Cam Newton and Von Miller, and the two players picked after him, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson, were selected for the Pro Bowl. Dareus has added beef along the defensive line, but he's far from a dominant player.
The bigger blunder in 2011 came in the second round, where the Bills picked cornerback Aaron Williams one spot before the Bengals took Andy Dalton and two before the 49ers selected Colin Kaepernick.
Stevan Ridley has 1,105 yards rushing for the Patriots, including 106 yards and two TDs in a blowout over Buffalo. We'll see what happens with quarterback Ryan Mallett, but he and Ridley were taken after Kelvin Sheppard.
In April, it was much the same. Thank goodness Gilmore can cover receivers because they missed on Williams and McKelvin. It's still hard to fathom that Nix traded up in the third round for T.J. Graham, who couldn't catch a cold Sunday against Seattle. It was viewed as a reach on draft day because Graham had problems catching the ball.
Wilson was taken six picks after Graham. The Bills wouldn't have needed Wilson if they selected Dalton over Williams in 2011. They could have passed on Graham and taken Chris Givens, who has been very good for St. Louis.
They had many options. Too often, they chose the wrong one.
And that's how teams miss the playoffs year after year. Sunday's loss marked the 13th consecutive year the Bills fell short of the postseason, giving them a baker's dozen of doughnuts. You can only hope they lose the final two games, improve their draft position and finagle a way to take N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon.
Yes, that was an attempt at foresight.