The 2015 NFL Draft is not a great year to need a new franchise quarterback.
It’s never a good thing to need a quarterback in the NFL. Sure, sometimes it lines up perfectly (see, Andrew Luck and ‘Suck for Luck’) but for the most part you’re looking at a long process filled with misses and lucky picks (see Tom Brady).
It feels like for several of the last few drafts, we’ve been spoiled for choice. A lot of those guys haven’t worked out, but given the new rookie salary cap, patience and an ability to wait, even a miss isn’t the end of the world aside from being setback again and having to start over.
This season though, there are few if any solutions in the NFL Draft.
Actually, let’s start from the beginning—there have been zero starting caliber quarterbacks in free agency. No, Brian Hoyer is an average quarterback with delusions of high-end mediocrity.
Once you can’t find more than a warm blankie for the most important position in your offense, you turn to the NFL Draft.
That’s where the trouble starts this year because right now there are two quarterbacks I’d consider in the first round and then there is a monumental dropoff. I’m not sure I would want to pick No. 2 or No. 3 (in my case Garrett Grayson and Brett Hundley) before round three.
Yup, I’m really not high on the rest of the class, a lot of guys who are higher on a quarterback list because they actually finished college rather than jump ship a year early as juniors and Hundley.
I don’t like Hundley’s lack of ability under center, I don’t like his dink and dunk habits and I’m not convinced that the fact that he can run makes him the next Russell Wilson, but taller.
Grayson I like more, but not much more in a lot of ways. He challenges defenders when he shouldn’t due to lack of velocity, and he pays for it too often. He locks onto a receiver early and will lead a defender to him and while he can use his legs to defend a play, he has trouble adjusting on the fly sometimes.
Both of these guys are nice projects in the third round or beyond. Second round? No thanks.
First round? Put the scotch down, now.
Beyond those two, it’s a free fall. Bryce Petty, Brandon Bridge, Connor Holliday, Sean Mannion—these aren’t prospects—they’re human Hail Mary passes.
When you get right down to it, even the top two guys have issues.
Jameis Winston is the best prospect from a football standpoint and should be able to walk onto an NFL field and ball, no problem. He’s got the most talent, is closest to being fully polished on the field and is ready to go.
Notice I said ‘on the field’ more than once there, because Winston’s issues are all off the field.
Two things before we talk too much about Famous Jameis. First, I am well aware that if many of the things I did in college were held to the same standard when dinosaurs roamed the earth as they are now, I might be living in a box rather than being paid to write for a living.
Second, I don’t know Winston, have not been around him and will not likely talk to him during the evaluation. That’s the way it is with most players, which is why when I do analysis I try to avoid the character analysis some folks are famous for.
With Winston, it’s tough because his issues are just right out there for everyone to see. Like Johnny Manziel last year, we all know what lies beneath (well, everyone but the Browns I guess).
The big question with Winston is, did the dumb things he did (and serious things he was accused of) wake him up to what he was risking? Can he be more mature, make better decisions and stop putting himself in bad situations? We all want him to (well, most do). However we have just watched Josh Gordon repeat the same mistake multiple times, and saw two ‘good guys’ get into real trouble in the personages of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
So it’s a serious risk and one teams will have to be careful of. And also one which makes Winston a little less of a sure thing.
He’s as close as you get though in many ways.
Marcus Mariota though, he’s a project. What sets him apart from the myriad of projects we listed above is 1) he’s not as raw or limited as many of the folks listed above and 2) he’s got a heck of a lot more talent.
That said, he’s probably better off sitting for a year unless he ends up in a place that is ready, willing and able to completely craft the offense around him, not unlike Seattle has done with Wilson.
His risk is on the field, as there’s always a chance even with a high-end project, that something will go wrong. Like it has so far with Robert Griffin III (which is why Chip Kelly and the Eagles will ultimately not trade up for him).
So now we’re looking at the top two guys—who are likely to go in the top ten in this draft—and even they aren’t sure things (or what passes for them in the NFL draft where sure thing pretty much means ‘least likely to implode and wipe out a stadium.’
It’s tough, and it’s disappointing for teams who really need an Andrew Luck right now.
This year though, there is no Luck and worse, there are precious few Andy Daltons, Derek Carr’s or Teddy Bridgewaters either.
It really, absolutely stinks to have to draft a quarterback this year.
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