Bills Voice: Don’t sleep on Tyrod Taylor
by Peter Soscia (@BillsvoiceAV) - posted 11:22 am, June 30, 2015
Welcome to The Bills Beat a new blog on Artvoice.com featuring input and analysis of all things Buffalo Bills. Don’t miss at the end of each post where we will put a Fantasy Football spin on everything covered.
written by Peter Soscia
A few years back I visited one of best friends who was away at college at Virginia Tech. We were walking out of bar in downtown Blacksburg, when a group athletic looking guys walked past us. I’m 5’9 and it seemed like they towered over me, I assumed they were basketball players. Outside the bar my friend informs me that one them was Tyrod Taylor (at that time the starting QB for VT.) I was shocked because watching Taylor on TV, he looked short and almost scrawny. Taylor is actually 6’1, 215 lbs, but only seeing him on TV standing next to his 6’5, 275-plus pounds linemen, of course he looked small.
I’m telling this story because my perception of Taylor was complete off, and your perception of his chances to win the starting quarterback role for the Bills this season might be off as well. When you compare Taylor to the other quarterback the Bills brought in this offseason, Matt Cassel, it would seem like the Cassel is the front runner for the job, or at least the lead competition for EJ Manuel.
The Bills traded for Cassel, while swapping some late round picks with the Minnesota Vikings earlier this offseason. Cassel has started over 70 games in his ten year NFL career. While he hasn’t done anything overly impressive, he does have 96/70 touchdown to interception ratio, and is the kind of game manager QB that would work with the Bills plan for winning with a strong run game and a bulldog of a defense.
Taylor on the other hand was signed as a free agent out of Baltimore where he played back up to Joe Flacco for the first four years of his career. Through out that time, he’s only attempted 35 passes, completing 19 for 199 yards, with one TD and two interceptions (he also rushed for one TD in 2012.)
Typically when a team brings in (much less trades for) a veteran QB like Cassel, it’s to compete for the starting job with a young QB like Manuel, who is struggling to develop. When a team signs a player with a resume like Taylor’s, he’s competing to just make the roster… But that’s not the case in Buffalo. By now we’ve all heard about Head Coach Rex Ryan’s love of Taylor since his days at VT, and that it’s going to be an open three-way competition with Cassel, Manuel, and Taylor for the starting job. Earlier this month at Bills OTAs, Taylor and Cassel split the first team reps and ESPN’s Mike Rodak reported that Taylor looked “sharp completing 12 of 14 passes in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.”
“Okay, So if Taylor is so good why didn’t he play in Baltimore?”
Listen, I’m not saying the guy is the next Jim Kelly, and he certainly isn’t better than Joe Flacco, but does that mean he’s not good enough to start in Buffalo? We’ve seen what Cassel is and it’s nothing impressive. He’s not going to lose a lot of games for you, but he’s not going to be the reason you win either. You also have to imagine that at 33, Cassel’s best days are behind him.
As for EJ Manuel, I will say that 15 starts is not enough games to fully judge a quarterback. He’s had his moments but overall he’s developed much slower than what you would want from a first-round pick, and has struggled to stay healthy.
Taylor is an unproven commodity with a lot of the same skill set as Manuel which leads me to believe that this could be more of a two quarterback race between Taylor and Manuel, with Cassel being brought in as a bandaid if things go off the rails.
Taylor also has the legs to run the ball. In his senior season at VT, Taylor rushed for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. That talent could be intriguing for Buffalo’s new Offense Coordinator Greg Roman, who in San Francisco had one of the best rushing QBs in the NFL with Colin Kaepernick.
Only time will tell if having three quarterbacks competing for a job will end up hurting the Bills, but at least for OTAs and into the start of the preseason it may truly be the best way for the new coaching staff to know what they have in all three players. Being the most unproven, Taylor certainly has the most to gain from this strategy, and based on what Cassel and Manuel have shown the past, it won’t take much for Taylor to unseat the preconceived notions that most of us had at the start of the offseason and become the Bills week one starter.
This is a tough topic to put a fantasy spin on this early in the season. I wouldn’t touch any of these quarterbacks on draft day but I will say that because of Taylor’s rushing ability, and knowing what Manuel and Cassel have to offer, I think he has the most to offer in fantasy out of the three players. If Taylor does win the starting job, I would keep an eye on him through the first few weeks of the season, as he has the potential to be a legitimate bye week replacement and startable in two-quarterback leagues.