Why the combine could decide Bills' future at quarterback

Bills general manager Brandon Beane has eight picks in the first five founds, including two in the first and second rounds. Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

The NFL combine begins in earnest Wednesday in Indianapolis, giving Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane an opportunity to meet with top draft prospects as well as agents for his team's pending free agents.

The combine also could provide an opportunity for Beane to get a better feel for the landscape should he decide to trade up in April's draft to acquire a quarterback.

The possibility of Buffalo trading up has been discussed since the Bills -- led by coach Sean McDermott and then-general manager Doug Whaley -- passed on drafting quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes and instead traded their No. 10 overall pick for the No. 27 pick (used to select cornerback Tre'Davious White) and the Kansas City Chiefs' first-round pick this year.

The Bills now own eight selections in the first five rounds, including two first-round picks and two second-round picks, giving them more assets than most teams to swing a trade up into the top 10 and position the team to select one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft: Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield.

How far could the Bills move up and what would it take?

At the Senior Bowl in January, Beane said many teams use the draft trade value chart developed by former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson as a baseline. The chart assigns point values to each pick of the draft, starting with 3,000 for the No. 1 pick.

Teams have tweaked the trade chart over the years using their own statistical analysis, and Beane cautioned supply and demand will still drive any trades, but calculating how the Bills could move up in April is still a useful exercise.

With the NFL's announcement last week of compensatory selections finalizing the draft order, the Bills own the following picks: No. 21 (first round), No. 22 (first round, from Chiefs), No. 53 (second round), No. 56 (second round, from Rams), No. 96 (third round, from Philadelphia), No. 121 (fourth round), No. 158 (fifth round) and No. 166 (fifth round, from Jaguars).

Based on the Johnson chart, the value of each of the Bills' picks is 800 points (No. 21), 780 points (No. 22), 370 points (No. 53), 340 points (No. 56), 116 points (No. 96), 52 points (No. 121), 29.2 points (No. 158) and 26 points (No. 166).

That means if the Bills packaged together their Nos. 21 and 22 picks, they would have 1,580 points, theoretically enough to get them as high as No. 6 (1,600) or No. 7 (1,500). Adding one of the second round picks would get the Bills to either 1,920 points or 1,950, which would fall between No. 3 (2,220 points) and No. 4 (1,800 points).

Obviously, executing trades is not that simple. Picks from future years might be involved, in which case the chart does not as easily apply. Players could also be involved, which brings salary-cap implications into play.

Buffalo would need to find a partner willing to do the deal. They might be able to move as high as No. 6, but would the quarterback-needy New York Jets trade out of that slot and pave the road for a division rival to take a potential franchise quarterback? Don't bet on it.

If the Bills feel strongly about a quarterback that is still on the board early in the draft, they might be forced into a bidding war with another team looking to trade up.

At this point, it is hard to predict what will happen in April without knowing how March will unfold. The free agency of Kirk Cousins will likely have a domino effect on the quarterback market that will help determine which teams will be in the hunt for one in the draft.

But for now, the possibility of the Bills trading up can at least be discussed in basic terms.