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Can Kevin Kolb fare any better in Buffalo than he did in either Arizona or Philadelphia?
The Bills on Saturday night agreed to terms with Kolb on a two-year deal worth up to $13 million, according to Philadelphia-based NFL reporter Adam Caplan. The team had not announced the signing as of mid Monday evening.
Kolb, 28, is a six-year NFL veteran who played his first four seasons in Philadelphia, before the Eagles traded him prior to the 2011 season to Arizona.
Often injured and poorly protected by a horrible offensive line, Kolb started only 14 games with the Cards — and was terrible.
Cosell (left) pores over as much game tape as anyone in the biz, and shared with me his thoughts on what the Bills have in Kolb. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview:
ON WHY THE BILLS SIGNED KOLB:
“It’s a really interesting move to me … It would seem that they would not draft a quarterback at No. 8 right now. Kolb, even though he has been very erratic in his career, is in some ways a starting NFL quarterback … The Bills may feel: ‘We’re a running team. We’ll do play-action. We’ll manage and manipulate Kolb, and we’ll be able to get the best out of him. Even though that doesn’t make him a Top 5 or 6 quarterback (in the league), we can make him an efficient player who won’t be an albatross around the neck of his team.’”
WHAT ARE KOLB’S BIGGEST LIABILITIES?
“I think Kolb always has been a couple of things. Even though he was a second-round pick, I think it’s the reason he’s never really reached the second-round-pick level. One, I think he has limited arm strength. He does not have a poor arm, but I think that he does not have a big arm. And two, I think he’s always struggled in a muddied pocket. He has a very difficult time when there are bodies around him, which was GREATLY exacerbated in Arizona, and which might not be as big an issue in Buffalo. Now, he does have that problem — and there will always be plays in which that’s an issue. But hopefully in Buffalo they can control that better, and it won’t become the kind of problem that prevents him from playing.
“Arizona was so bad along the offensive line, he couldn’t function. Kolb is a timing/rhythm functional space player. And I’m sure the Bills’ feeling is: ‘We’ve got a run game. We have two good backs, and one of them is truly dynamic in (C.J.) Spiller. We need to do a little better with our receiving corps but you can always draft receivers. Our O-line is pretty good, so we can at least make him an efficient player. He’ll never be a great player. But we can make him an efficient player.’ Because Ryan Fitzpatrick, other than a few stretches here and there, was not an efficient player. Theoretically what you’re trying to do is make Kevin Kolb Alex Smith. While that’s not necessarily great, as we know, it’s efficient.
“Here’s the last thing that a new coach wants, and it’s the reason Andy Reid traded for Alex Smith. The last thing a new head coach wants is the quarterback to bring down the entire team. Because then you can’t even compete. So even though they understand that Kevin Kolb is not a great player, just like Andy Reid understands that Alex Smith is not a great player, at least now they can build a team and the quarterback will not ruin what you are trying to put together.”
ON WHETHER THE BILLS WILL STILL DRAFT A QB AT NO. 8:
“The Bills now have a professional quarterback. They do not NEED to draft one at No. 8. If there’s a guy in the third round, say, that they like as a developmental guy, they can take him … At No. 8 you need to take a player who’s going to be close to an all-pro … I don’t think they’ll take a wide receiver, because this draft is so deep; you can easily get one in the second, third or fourth round. Or you can get a bunch. But they also need help on defence. Signing Kolb says two things to me about the Bills at this point: No. 1, they’ve studied the (draft) quarterbacks and they don’t believe there’s one worthy of taking at No. 8. And, two, they clearly are trying to improve other areas of their team. That’s the focus.”
COMPARING KOLB AT THIS STAGE TO THIS YEAR’S DRAFT QBs:
“I think he’s a little better than Matt Barkley. He doesn’t throw it as well as Ryan Nassib …”
ON KOLB’S COLLEGE EXPERIENCE AT UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON:
“The one thing about Kolb at Houston was he had a certain poise, although he knew that offence really well. A spread offence. And the guys who know spread offences really, really well — they tend to look very efficient because there are a lot of easy throws. And people have to be careful about that. You watch Geno Smith or Landry Jones, and SO many of their throws — John, you and I can make those throws. They’re seven-yard throws. Anybody can make those throws. You have to go deep. And that’s what I try to do. I really look carefully at the plays that I think correlate to the NFL. It’s why with spread quarterbacks I really look carefully at the small sample of throws in which they’re under pressure, because that’s going to happen in the NFL. It doesn’t happen to them very much in college, but it’s GOING to happen to them in the NFL. It’s why I knew that Blaine Gabbert wouldn’t make it. It was a small sample that I watched (from his college days), but he couldn’t handle anybody around him. And that’s proven to be the case in the NFL.”