INDIANAPOLIS -- Buddy Nix, general manager of the Buffalo Bills, may be in an ideal position to draft a player such as Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert with the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NFL draft -- but he doesn't need either in 2011. Unlike nearly every other team drafting high in this draft, Nix has at least a decent short-term plan, a quarterback he believes he can win with in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Does he believe in starting a rookie in Week 1? "You might have to," he said, "but I wouldn't want to have to."
The general feeling among coaches and evaluators at the NFL combine is that no member of the current rookie class is ready to help a team win games in 2011 as a starter. "Even your top two guys on the board are facing a serious learning curve," said one GM. "These aren't NFL offenses, and these aren't seniors in the case of Gabbert and Newton." Adds Bills head coach Chan Gailey, "With this group ... we're projecting more than maybe we have in years past."
The caution makes sense. Systems and experience aside, the numbers are significant: