INDIANAPOLIS — The Buffalo Bills have personnel issues all over the place, but they don’t believe EJ Manuel is one of them.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said Friday he will consider every position except quarterback with the ninth overall draft pick.
“With the way our roster’s set up right now, besides quarterback, we could go with any position,” Whaley said. “We want competition, and competition, like I’ve always said, brings out the best in people, and it adds depth.
“We could go either way across the board. To stack the board, that makes it that much more appealing because you’re not pushing anybody up just because of need.”
But the Bills apparently aren’t too interested in adding competition for Manuel, last year’s first-round pick.
Whaley said veteran backup Kevin Kolb’s status remains cloudy because of last year’s concussion. Kolb needs to be medically cleared to return before the Bills make a roster move.
Asked about addressing the depth chart behind Manuel and beyond Kolb, Whaley left the door open for exploring another quarterback. But the GM endorsed Thad Lewis’ return in the backup role.
“We’re very happy with Thad Lewis,” Whaley said. “One of the things that Russ Brandon said that John Butler always told him is, ‘In your backup quarterback, you want a guy to go .500.’ Now, he went 2-3. Is that good enough? Obviously not. You’d rather him go 5-0.
“But we’re very comfortable with him, and then we have Dennis Dixon and Jeff Tuel. So we have some competition there, but like any position, if we see someone out there that we think can help us and get us better, we won’t hesitate to investigate.”
Whaley even left the door open to taking a running back in the first round.
“Because of our situation on our roster, we can pick the best player available,” Whaley said. “If it’s a running back, we will go after a running back.”
Since the Bills were founded, they’ve had an infatuation with drafting running backs. In 2010, they drafted C.J. Spiller ninth overall even though they already had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers on the roster, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch.
Since 1978, when they selected Terry Miller fifth overall, the Bills have drafted more first-round running backs than any other NFL team. The Bills have taken eight of them.
And with running backs becoming increasingly fungible – many effective rushers go undrafted or are found in the later rounds – justifying such a high pick is difficult.
“He’d have to be very special like a Adrian Peterson, just because of the devaluation of the position,” Whaley said.
Interestingly, Whaley did not use Spiller as the example. The Bills have the ninth pick again this year.
“Most teams, you’ve got to have two now just because of the laws of physics,” Whaley said. “Everybody’s bigger, stronger, faster. And those collisions wear these guys down.
“It’s tough to say you’d take one, but there’s always exceptions to the rule.”