The Houston Texans, The Jacksonville Jaguars and The Cleveland Browns all have one thing in common. Or they all lack one thing in common. In a quarterback crazed culture, these teams lack what most people refer to as the key to the franchise. All three teams, among others, will most likely chase a QB in the early rounds in the hopes that one day they will complete their franchise allowing their fans to sit around a fire place, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. This is not the year too make that chase though.
Johnny Manziel is the name on all the draft experts list and its easy to see why. The former Heisman trophy winner is flashy and ballsy. His playmaking ability is second to none in the country. He is also second to none in another category though. He is an idiot. Do you really want your franchise quarterback running around starting bar fights? A broken throwing hand due to punching the guy whose girl friend he was hitting on wouldn’t read well on your fantasy updates, none the less a team sheet. This anger issue has also manifested itself on the field in the form of persistent taunting. Combine all of this with lack of respect of authority and questions about durability and as a GM you have a recipe for disaster.
Teddy Bridgewater seemingly lacks the character issues of his peer, but hasn’t lacked the publicity. Last year Bridgewater responded to criticism around the strength of schedule surrounding his Heisman run by absolutely demolishing Florida. This was after a month of saying that no Big East offense could possibly overcome the mighty defense that an SEC team could field (Because apparently we forgot about the romping West Virginia put on Georgia). Bridgewater has accuracy by the bucket-load and coming out of a Charlie Strong system most likely means he is very disciplined. First round picks are valuable commodities though, and to spend one on an undersized player who had a mediocre season isn’t the best option. Bridgewater has a lot of upside but the first 10 picks of any draft should be reserved for players that will make an immediate impact.
Blake Bortles and Derek Carr fall into the same category for me. Both players draft stocks have massively increased due to impressive seasons. It is also not impossible for an elite QB to come out of a small school. The likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Collin Kaepernick have all come from smaller schools outside of the elite conferences, and 2 of them have one Super Bowls and the 3rd went to one in his first season as a starter. However, to compare Derek Carr to Big Ben is not fair to either player. Blake Bortles struggled against Memphis, Houston and South Florida who aren’t what anyone would call tough opponents and Carr was upended by a weak USC side (the only real opponent the Bulldogs faced all year). With the body of work, there’s no way either one is a first round pick.
There is hope for the QB-less franchises that currently occupy the NFL, but its outside the first round. The likes of
Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd and AJ McCarron should be available later in the draft since all three players lack the media attention. Any one that has watched Aaron Murray on film would put him well above Bortles and Carr, but his perpetually injured body of talent that surrounded him at Georgia this year put a damper on his NFL push. He also has a blown ACL but as a pocket passer this isn’t an overwhelming concern. Tajh Boyd gets a terrible wrap because he was constantly beat up by FSU and South Carolina on the big stage but his wins over Georgia, LSU and Ohio State shows he can perform. Finally, AJ McCarron may be the best game manager in college football. Best of all, teams will be given a chance to develop these players since the pressure to start them will be considerably less.
Quarterbacks are important for the growth of a franchise and a great one can overcome a lot of flaws that exist in a team. The answer isn’t forcing a player not ready for it in that situation into it. The answer is simple. Build. If the player isn’t there, trade down and acquire picks. Picks are currency. Utilize the free agent pool and trade. Or wait and tank for Jameis Winston. Football is a game of 3 phases, and a quarterback only affects one of those.
For more on the Quarterback Fallacy check out one of my other articles here.
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