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Bills GM: Cardale Jones could 'be a franchise guy'

Out of all the non-injured players selected in last weekend's NFL draft, the biggest wild card might be quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones has a massive arm, athleticism and NFL size. There are also major question marks about his accuracy and decision making. Jones' lack of experience makes him a mostly unknown commodity at the most important position in sports.

The Buffalo Bills selected Jones in the fourth round on Saturday. He'll spend his first season behind Tyrod Taylor and competing with EJ Manuel for practice snaps. General manager Doug Whaley loves Jones' upside.

"We think our situation's good for him," Whaley said, via the Buffalo News. "He's going to come in and be a three, be able to develop, be able to learn under some professionals that have been at their craft for a while, with EJ and Tyrod.

"We like his skill set. He's got the talent to possibly be a franchise guy. Is he there yet? Absolutely not. He's got a lot of work and a lot of ways to go. But this guy's driven, this guy's a proven winner; he's undefeated."

The Bills will not pick up Manuel's fifth year option (the deadline is today), NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported. A potential extension for Taylor is also on hiatus for the moment. Both moves open the door on Jones' future. 

After suggesting Jones has the upside of a franchise quarterback, Whaley acknowledged the quarterback could also become a career backup, which wouldn't be terrible value for a late-round pick.

"We thought the upside was so big ... because we looked at it as basically a fifth-round pick," Whaley said. "So if you hit on this fifth-round pick, we thought, 'Boom!' The upside is great. We feel his floor at the bottom of his talent level is a solid No. 2, so to get a solid No. 2 in the fifth round, we thought, was good value."

As I broke down at length before the draft, the NFL rarely develops quarterbacks drafted between rounds four through seven. Only two players taken in those rounds over the past six years are currently slated to start in 2016: Taylor and Kirk Cousins -- and Taylor was "developed" by the Ravens.

Greg Roman has a history milking the most out of athletic but faulty quarterbacks -- see, Colin Kaepernick -- which could give Jones a chance. Rex Ryan's history in that regard is patently dismal.

Landing in Buffalo is a solid spot for Jones. He'll have a chance to sit for a year, but should still compete for a starting gig during his rookie contract. Becoming that franchise quarterback, however, remains a long-shot.

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