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NFL Draft Post Mortem: The QB Carousel

This will not be a team-by-team breakdown on winners and losers. i.e. which teams did themselves favors by their picks in last week’s NFL


This will not be a team-by-team breakdown on winners and losers. i.e. which teams did themselves favors by their picks in last week’s NFL Draft. Rather, it will look at the quarterback carousel which has been created by the ambitious, head-scratching moves by the Rams and Eagles to mortgage their draft futures to get the top two picks, which they used on quarterbacks. By most accounts, the two young men, Jared Goff of California who went to the (now) Los Angeles Rams and Carson Wentz of FCS (formerly Division I-AA) school North Dakota State are capable passers who can develop into strong leaders after some seasoning. Words of warning: ‘Can Develop’. Neither was seen as being of the quality and talent level where a team should have wanted to give up so many draft picks to another team to move up to grab him. The team with the #1 pick, the Titans, did not need a quarterback, having drafted Marcus Mariota from Oregon last year, so from their perspective, their  needs were not for someone who would have been the best pick after the two quarterbacks (the #3 pick ended up being swarthy Joey Bosa, a defensive end, who went to the Chargers) so why not ship the pick to a team that was willing to overpay and needed this year’s top signal-caller? The Rams had an awful offense last year and, in moving to a new home in LA, needed to make a splash for their fans. The Eagles? They traded 5 picks from their surplus to the Browns who, given their Johnny Manziel fiasco, actually needed a quarterback to back up Robert Griffin III. Sounds like a game of Twister, a game which ends with players falling over each other and giggling hysterically. Here is the question that remains unanswered. Both of these franchises had (and still have) other quarterbacks on their rosters, eating up cap space. It’s like the new car that you just had to have but didn’t really need. As has been discussed, those spare parts now can be offered to other teams who really do need a quarterback, bring back future picks in trade, but what has that really solved? Both of these franchises also have not had stability at the position, so presumably wanted to put a stake in the ground and say ‘OK, we will build from here, whatever happens, happens.’ The incumbent quarterbacks are rightly dismayed, despite the nice contracts the Eagles’ Bradford and Rams’ Foles and Keenum are sitting on. Dismayed at making high seven figures for playing a kids’ game? Yep, as they now know their respective teams have no long-term interest in their services. On to other teams, specifically my New York Jets. Their quarterback situation is equally unstable, with their starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, coming off a career season in his walk year (good on him) and demanding to be paid as if he were a starter with multiple years of success behind him. The two sides are not said to be close, with the original gap said to be close to $10 Million per annum. Fitzpatrick has not found his number elsewhere, so my guess is that he will come to some sort of agreement with Gang Green, closer to $10-11MM per and enabling the Jets to avoid having to trade for a starter like one of the scrubs mentioned above or to hand the keys to either the underwhelming Geno Smith, the wet behind the ears Bryce Petty, or the newly drafted (2nd round) Christian Hackenberg from Penn State, who has impressed just about nobody with his college achievements (except for his first year, maybe) He would have been on the board several rounds later. Let him catch punts. As late as 2014, the Jets had a great guy in Matt Simms, who I thought was the best guy at the position during his time on the roster, but never gave him a real shot, despite his achievements and peerless pedigree. He has now bounced from the Bills to the Falcons, his future completely uncertain. A shame. In San Francisco, their new coach Chip Kelly can bring his brand of football to Levis Stadium, and it may or may not be with Colin Kaepernick throwing balls. Two years after the 49ers signed him to a massive and massively convoluted contract extension and then changed coaches to the overwhelmed Jim Tomsula, Kaepernick is now almost an afterthought, his performance having suffered. I like him a lot, he is tough, multidimensional and can run like a gazelle, something opposing defenses cannot always prepare for, so why is he out of favor? Coaches like what coaches like, they employ systems and schemes which don’t always fit the personnel on hand. I am not sure there is a football analyst on the planet who fully understands Coach Chip Kelly’s brand of hair-on-fire football or logic. My Jets could have used him and saved the Hackenberg mis-pick. They have shown before they are willing to try the flavor-of-the-month such as Favre and Tebow (whom the odious offensive co-ordinator Tony Sparano horribly mis-coached and misused), so why not now? Teams draft for need and also for best available player. They know when a name is likely to be available and try to move up or down accordingly by trading picks for the current and future years, though how they can place a value on a 5th rounder in 2017 or 2018 is beyond me. I looked at the pre-draft ranking of available players and it certainly seemed that teams went for need and not ‘best available’. So much money is both available (thanks to the NFL TV contracts) and at stake that teams feel they’ll be left behind if they don’t strike fast and quarterback is the most important position on the field, which is why patience wears thin very quickly, even at the cost of swallowing mega contracts with stupid amounts of guaranteed money, costing teams roster spots and cap space. The most exciting quarterback in this year’s draft was likely Keenan Reynolds of Navy – he of the incredible 88 career rushing touchdowns – who lasted until the 6th round, going to the hometown Baltimore Ravens. He is undersized and will face some sort of active duty commitment (up to 5 years) after he finishes at Annapolis, but the Navy has shown flexibility in these sorts of situations as with basketball’s David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson who was allowed to start playing professionally after just a two year commitment. Robinson did not have the problem with being undersized, nor did the great Roger Staubach who waited the full five years, including duty in Vietnam, before playing for the Cowboys. Sadly, this story will likely be repeated next year and in later years as coaches will move, quarterbacks will get hurt or just underperform, and few franchises will ever have a long-term plan for the position. Look at hockey and goaltenders. Same problem, right?


NFL Draft Post Mortem: The QB Carousel

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