Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly has a message for his old team — he likes Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Vic Carucci of NFL.com reports that Kelly “would be comfortable” recommending Tebow to the Bills. Fortunately for the Bills and their fans, Kelly acknowledges that he’s not qualified to make a recommendation as to whether the Bills should use the ninth pick in round one or the ninth pick in round two to get Tebow.
“Just because I’m a former quarterback, people think I can just tell
from being around a guy [if he has what it takes to be a successful NFL
quarterback],” Kelly told Carucci. “But I need to watch him go through a drill
and make all the throws. I need to really study him before I could say
whether he should be a first-round pick. Now, a second-rounder, I’d be
OK with that, but I don’t have enough information on [Tebow] to say they
should use the No. 9 pick on him.”
Kelly is right. The fact that he was a quarterback doesn’t make him qualified to determine the round in which another quarterback should be drafted. And it especially doesn’t qualify him to assess overall team needs and determine whether Tebow or any other quarterback should be picked instead of the best player available at another position, or the best player available regardless of position.
Former players who haven’t worked as scouts shouldn’t pretend to be scouts. Presumably, the Bills have given Kelly a limited seat at the table out of respect for his accomplishments. Still, as we’ve heard from many league insiders over the years, teams like the Bills and the Browns are making a mistake by giving former players a voice, officially or otherwise, in the affairs of the team.
Do the 49ers let Joe Montana determine the draft board? Is Terry Bradshaw making recommendations to the Steelers? Hell no.
If Kelly wanted to recommend players to the Bills, he should have become a scout upon retiring, rolling up his sleeves and grinding away and visiting college campuses and watching film. The fact that he played the game would have helped him in this regard, but too many former players who made a lifetime’s worth of money while playing aren’t interested in the kind of anonymous toil in which scouts engage.
It’s repetitive, demanding, thankless work, requiring organization, attention to detail, patience, and a great memory.
We realize that Bills fans have a special connection to their former players. But if those former players were truly interested in helping the franchise, they’d step aside and let the scouts do their job.
Indeed, we doubt that many/any Bills scouts offered Kelly unsolicited advice about playing quarterback during his career. He would be wise to return the courtesy now.