The quest by the local media to figure out who the Buffalo Bills were going to draft with their first pick Thursday took an interesting turn in the afternoon. Let’s say “most” of the locals had the Bills interested in either Geno Smith of West Virginia or Ryan Nassib of Syracuse. Thursday morning I came across rock-solid info that Manuel was the “man”. In fact as I dug deeper and deeper it became apparent that the Buffalo Bills loved EJ Manuel and had been high on him for some time.

Thursday morning I wrote a column strongly suggesting that EJ would be the Bills pick. Later in the day as Manuel’s name began to rise more and more to the top, many local reporters and radio hosts questioned how can this be? When the pick was made many in and outside of Buffalo voiced surprise, even shock at the pick.

I have to say that on Wednesday another web site suggested that EJ would be the right pick for the Bills so honestly All Sports WNY was not the “first” to make the prediction. However, with my “side” job of running a local television station taking up much of my time I wasn’t really tuned into the Bills draft plans until late in the week.

Speculating on who the Bills and other NFL teams are going to draft has become a very big industry. The local radio hosts spend a month discussing the available players and TV stations dedicate specials leading up to the draft. Yet, to do all that without good inside intelligence is somewhat of a waste of time in my opinion.

Case in point, Mel Kiper has become re-known as the draft guru and was one of the first to reach national prominence based on that one skill set. Now that Kiper is teamed with former coach John Gruden on the ESPN draft day set he sounds like a chemistry professor discussing a recipe with a chef. He can rattle off the ingredients but he doesn’t know what combinations result in a delicious dish as opposed to a bland one.

John Gruden has obviously studied these college players, especially the quarterbacks and has intelligence on their habits, tendencies and abilities that comes from relationships with the coaches and people in the know.

Reading a stat sheet and watching game highlights can give someone an opinion on who the best players are. Knowing the players, their coaches and the teams who have spent up to a year evaluating what they do is a huge leg up in the process. Nuff said!

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