Each year draft followers, fans, and NFL teams try to figure out what teams are going to do before the NFL draft gets here. This year is a little different from others due to the uncertainty of the labor situation. When you ask people "in the know" about getting a new deal worked out, it's been mostly gloom and doom over the last few months. Maybe I'm being naive, but with last week’s developments, I truly believe that a new CBA will get worked out before the draft. But what if it doesn't?
No CBA before the draft means that teams can't trade players to acquire more picks or move up in the draft to take a player they must have. This could lead to teams having to overdraft on quarterbacks. Think of it this way, if the labor deal doesn't get worked out until August, teams that didn't draft a quarterback, would have to hope to sign one of the free agents and catch them up to speed before the season opener. What if they don't get one? If that happens they'll be stuck with the same quarterback that they were trying to get away from. Is this worse than drafting a rookie this year?
What about all of these teams that are drafting these young, raw quarterbacks and hoping that they are the franchise saviors? These players would be coming to camp without working out with any of their teammates, hopefully staying in shape, and not having a clue what a NFL playbook looks like. This would most certainly set each and every one of these 1st round picks back a year. And if that’s going to be the case, why not just wait for Andrew Luck next year and draft a position this year where the learning curve isn't quite as steep? If you are a team at the top of the draft, you obviously have lots of holes on your team, so why not fill one of those instead?
The value is in trying to get one of the free agents quarterbacks. They already know the NFL game and you know what to expect out of them. The percent of their success rate is a lot higher than these rookies as a whole, even the first round guys. What if there is a lockout and they can't get one of these vets? Well, like mentioned above they either go with the option they already have on their roster or they draft a guy they feel is a “can't miss” that they don't have to over reach for. None of these prospects were considered first round caliber, with the exception of Jake Locker, until Andrew Luck went back to school, then all of a sudden, mock drafts are coming out with 5 quarterbacks being selected in the first round. Let's look at the teams that truly need quarterbacks and some of the veterans that can be required and then maybe you can see why there isn't a need to overdraft this year and maybe waiting to the second round or later or until 2012 is the better solution.
Teams with Quarterback Needs
San Francisco 49ers
Possible Veteran Acquisitions
Top Rookie Prospects
Now going on a team by team basis, we'll look at what would make more sense to do with the above argument in mind and the current rosters on each team.
Carolina Panthers - I realize the new coach didn't draft Jimmy Clausen with a second round pick last season, but the team did, and they also drafted Tony Pike. It would make more sense to try and acquire a Kevin Kolb here instead of adding a rookie to a roster with 2 second year players.
Buffalo Bills - It would make sense for the Bills to draft a rookie. They have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick that came on strong at the end of last year who could coach the rookie up if there is a lockout and he's ready to step in on opening day without missing a beat. A rookie here wouldn't have to take a beating from standing behind this offensive line. It would also make sense for this team to fill one of their other 100 holes in this team.
Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals keep saying they won't move Carson Palmer but he will force their hand eventually. This isn't the same as the Chad Johnson situation, Palmer doesn't play for the attention and has enough money saved up to walk away as well. When they move Palmer they'll need to bring in a veteran. This team shouldn't be comfortable with the younger Palmer, a second year player in Dan Lefevour, and a rookie.
Arizona Cardinals - Arizona is another team that would benefit from signing a veteran over drafting a quarterback 5th overall because they're basically in the same situation as the Panthers. The Cards have two second year players as their top option as quarterback in 2011. Donovan McNabb could come to Arizona and convince Larry Fitzgerald to stay. It would be hard to convince Fitz to stay during the prime part of his career, while the team develops a rookie, John Skelton, and Max Hall.
San Francisco 49ers - A lot of teams are throwing out lies left and right this time of year but as crazy as it sounds, I truly believe that John Harbaugh likes Alex Smith. They also have another veteran in David Carr. I still don't believe Harbaugh thinks Smith is the long term answer though and the 49ers are in a prime situation to draft a rookie and let him develop. And when Harbaugh realizes what Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary found out the hard way, that Alex Smith equals and unemployed head coach, then he'll plug in the rookie.
Tennessee Titans - The Titans have Rusty Smith under contract right now...that's it. As much as the rest of the AFC South wished that were the Titans game plan, it obviously isn't. They can't go into the season with a rookie quarterback and Rusty Smith. Kyle Orton seems to fit the mold of the type of quarterback this fan base likes. He's the safe, middle of the road type. Orton will hand off the ball to Chris Johnson and make the safe 8-15 yard pass when called to.
Washington Redskins - Mike Shanahan loves the mobile quarterback type that can get out of the pocket and make throws on the run an there are a couple in this draft that fit that mold perfectly. I still feel that a veteran is the best fit for this team though. Shanahan needs someone to improve the team around him and carry the team. I believe Josh Johnson answers all of these needs; he’s extremely mobile, accurate, and a leader.
Minnesota Vikings - Tavaris Jackson isn't a reliable veteran quarterback. Joe Webb had people fall in love with him one week and out of love the next. Matt Flynn came in to face the New England Patriots when they were playing their best and almost knocked them off on short notice. He appeared like a franchise quarterback. The Vikings still believe their window is open and could sign Flynn to take the reins. He's also familiar with the division and particular the Vikings arch rival the Green Bay Packers. This wouldn't be the first time a Packers quarterback change his colors to purple….
Miami Dolphins - Brandon Marshall is done with Chad Henne and doesn't have the patience to wait for a rookie to develop. Tony Sparano was almost unemployed this year and doesn't have to time to develop and hope to find a winner in this year’s quarterback class. Sparano could see Carson Palmer as his savior. He's smart, ready for change, and could get the value out of Brandon Marshall that the Dolphins need and expect.
Jacksonville Jaguars - I've never seen David Garrard as a franchise quarterback but yet he keeps hanging on in Jacksonville. Jack Del Rio is right there hanging along with him. I thought he was gone for sure after last year. Del Rio could look to find the future because he has a veteran in Garrard that could mentor a rookie but with his job on the line, he would probably be more inclined to find a player that is ready to step in and be an upgrade on day one. Caleb Hanie stepped into the toughest spot you could ask and almost brought the Bears back against the Super Bowl Champs. He almost took the Bears to the Super Bowl! Del Rio is just looking for a guy to get his team to the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks - Out of all of the teams, Seattle is the team most prepared to draft a rookie. I would actually be surprised if they didn't draft a quarterback in the first round. Seattle has the veteran at the end of his rope in Matt Hasselback and they also signed a promising young veteran in Charlie Whitehurst. If they drafted a rookie he would get pushed by Whitehurst everyday for the back-up role and wouldn't have any pressure to start for at least a year.
So, to wrap up, there are eleven teams that could use a quarterback, but many of these teams are boxed in as not many of them appear to have beneficial situations that lend themselves to be drafting a rookie QB as their solution in the first round.
Let's not get carried away with all of these prospects and over value their worth. Quarterback is the glamour position to the fans but coaches have to win games and a veteran is a much more sure thing than a rookie. We keep hearing all of the talk about which NFL quarterback prospect is the most NFL ready and which ones are used to taking snaps from under center. Well, all of these vets are more NFL ready than any prospect coming out; especially if there is a lockout and they lose time for OTA's, training camp, and preseason.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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