The Long Reach for Franchise Quaterbacks
Recent NFL Drafts and free agency periods have displayed the desperation for a franchise quarterback and I think it’s ruining the league.
On April 27, 2017, three NFL teams took a long reach for a franchise quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City) and Deshaun Watson (Houston) are all your 2017 first round selections at QB. Why is this so negatively impactful on the league? The desperation has become so great for a starting QB — not even necessarily a franchise QB, just a starter — that players who have no expectations to play this year are being taken in the top 12 picks. This past draft was loaded with defensive stars, and three teams passed on an immediate upgrade for a starting QB at least a year down the line…maybe.
The second round brought likely the smartest (that’s not saying much) quarterback pick in Deshone Kizer to the Cleveland Browns. They already vastly upgraded both sides of the ball with three picks in the first round so this is easily justifiable to me. Cleveland knows they’re not exactly in the playoff hunt. Kizer can sit and learn, no need to throw him to the wolves. He’s got the arm, athleticism and size you desire. Now he just needs the coaching, support, time and patience from the organization. Second round picks are extremely valuable in the league and you simply cannot give up on Kizer after he inevitably gets thrown in a game in 2017 and goes 4–17 for 107 yards, one rushing TD and a pick.
Chicago could have had their pick of anyone in the draft at the three spot, thinking San Fransisco was going to take Mitchell Trubisky (new 49ers GM John Lynch stated he never wanted anyone but Solomon Thomas, that swindling bastard). So what do they do? Trade up a spot to take Trubisky, passing on potential all-pro defensive players, after giving Mike Glennon $45 million. I understand, it’s a good situation for a young quarterback to sit and learn. That’s also a big investment on a project of a offensive signal caller. Only time will tell on the Bears’ gamble.
Kansas City also took a flier on a high-potential guy in Patrick Mahomes. He’s got a rocket arm and reminds you of Aaron Rodgers the way he can exntend the play outside of the pocket, but he is wild and reckless at the same time. Does this say something about Kansas City’s confidence in Alex Smith to do the job? It seems so. But, someone’s has to be the best, right? That someone will be Deshaun Watson. I think that not only will he be the best QB of this draft class, but he will be the Texans’ starter by the end of the season. He’s a winner and has experience against NFL talent throughout his collegiate career. Some guys just know how to ball, Watson is one of those guys.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these young gun slingers definitely have the potential and talent to be good starting NFL quarterbacks, but are they worth the first round picks in which they were selected with? The patience for developing QBs in the league has grown very short (i.e. Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel, I could go on for 500 damn words). This lack of patience is yet another variable a young QB has against him, as if running a NFL offense at 22* isn’t enough. The future will tell if coaches will actually allow their first rounders to sit, learn and develop.
Most of these high draftees aren’t bad football players by any means. They’re put into terrible situations and not set-up for success. NFL teams are desperate and failing these young men at having long, lucrative careers. Some guys just simply aren’t ready to take over a NFL offense, but yet, they’re being forced to. Hell, who knows what Aaron Rodgers would be today if he were forced to take over Green Bay from day one (these picks aren’t always bad).
So is it worth it to pass a 10-year NFL starter on defense, offensive line or tight end at the slim chance of a winning quarterback three years down the road? I think not. Since 2010, there have been 22 quaterterbacks selected in the first rounds:
2010 — Sam Bradford (1), Tim Tebow (25)
2011 — Cam Newton (1), Jake Locker (8), Blaine Gabbert (10), Christian Ponder (12)
2012 — Andrew Luck (1), Robert Griffin, III (2), Ryan Tannehill (8), Brandon Weeden (22, good lord)
2013 — EJ Manuel (16)
2014 — Blake Bortles (3), Johnny Manziel (22), Teddy Bridgewater (32)
2015 — Jameis Winston (1), Marcus Mariota (2)
2016 — Jared Goff (1), Carson Wentz (2)
2017 — Mitchell Trubisky (2), Patrick Mahomes (10), Deshaun Watson (12)
It doesn’t take a GM to see the failure rate here. Even a casual fan can tell you just by looking at the list above. Eight of those 22 are either not in the league anymore or career backups, which for being taken in the first round 100 percent makes them busts. Teddy Bridgewater looked very promising and I loved him, but his career is in jeopardy after a horrific leg injury in practice — he’s not likely to play in 2017 after missing all of 2016. If he does come back, what’s the deal with fringe-bust former number one overall selection Sam Bradford? While Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota appear to have been worth their high selections after their sophomore seasons thankfully.
Carson Wentz shocked the world with the first half of his rookie year but hit a wall and left us all wondering. Then the latest number one overall selection quarterback Jared Goff…yikes. Goff showed us very little in his few games played. Although, it’s important to remember what the great Bill Walsh said in that you need to give a guy a season and a half to really see who he is and Goff has barely had half a season. Also let’s remember LA gave up their 2017 first round pick as part of the trade up to select Goff, increasing their risk
Let’s be patient with crowning Wentz and damning Goff to Hell. I also have to note that undeniably the best QB drafted in the last seven years (not named Andrew Austen Luck) was picked 36 overall in the second round by the Oakland Raiders, Derek Carr. Don’t you dare argue with me on this point, either. You can in fact find great value in the second and even third round (Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson). Don’t draft out of desperation, stop passing up no brain starters…just STOP!
Desperation in free agency is an even bigger killer to a franchise. Instead of taking a huge risk on a high draft pick and passing on a great prospect, now you’re risking tens of millions of dollars and tying up valuable cap space for years to come. Recently, Tyrod Taylor was given a six-year, $90 million contract. In 2016, Taylor threw for 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns and 6 picks at a 61 percent completion rate (Pro-Football Refence). The 90 millon dollar man was pretty average. With the departure of Mike Gillislee — even with LeSean McCoy — you have to think they will be a bit more pass heavy in 2017. But new HC Sean McDermott doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of Tyrod Taylor, and Buffalo drafted Nathan Peterman in the fifth round in the 2017 draft. Another potential chapter in the book of wasted money on an average quarterback that could haunt the Bills for years to come?
The latest travesty in cap management? Brock Osweiler. Good lord Rick Smith what did you do? Four years, $72 million, $12 million signing bonus and $37 million guranteed. 2017 stats: 2,957 yards through the air, 15 touchdowns and 16 picks only completing 59 percent of his passes and only 4.3 net yard per attempt. Below average. Osweiler was benched late in the season for Tom Savage playing for Houston. This offseason, Osweiler was traded to Cleveland along with a 2018 second round pick in exchange for Cleveland’s fourth rounder this year and taking $10 million off Houston’s books.
A bad contract followed by a ridiculous trade for that bad contract, a very Cleveland move, amirite? Osweiler is expected to compete for a starting spot in Cleveland, although it’s been reported that Cleveland is willing to take a $10 million hit in a trade for Osweiler (MSN). Man, what?! Let’s not forget the crazy contract Matt Flynn got off of one game, one game bro!! At this point I’m getting legitimately heated as I type. This keyboard can only take so much backlash due to poor quarterback play. Time to wrap up so I can relax.
Eventually, I believe the desperation will wear off. Organizations will realize that patience is indeed a virtue and not feel so pressured to win now. A win now mentaility can in fact have the opposite effect on a franchise. In the end, only time will tell how this new class of young, inexperienced gun slingers will write their legacy. Some will run towards greatness, while others will run away from the shame of the, “bust” label. It’s time to see who’s a product of their poor enviroment and who’s the real deal, word to Andy Luck.