(Photo by Sporting News)
When you think of college football today, what come to mind are the following: elite programs like Alabama, underachievers like LSU and Notre Dame, and young phenoms like Leonard Fournette, J.T. Barrett, DeShaun Watson, and Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson. None of this is a surprise as one looks to extend a dynasty, the next two have disappointed due to traditional standards, and the final could be playing on Sundays to help out your current team.
But when it comes to future Sunday players, the position that comes to mind is the quarterback as many of you believe that your team needs one while none grow on trees. The backups-turned-fringe starters are flaming out before our eyes and yesterday’s veterans are becoming one year older in their mid-30s, and now might be the time to upgrade and dominate. Except, the upgrades may not be there by April 2017 with each big-name having his own share of red flags.
J.T. Barrett: Plays with one of the most talented teams in football and has troubles making throws downfield due to accuracy and, unexpectedly, a lack of arm strength. It is possible that one more year of free tuition from your pockets and no money in his could help him play better from the pocket.
DeShaun Watson: “His accuracy is just OK and he’s not a great decision-maker,” one AFC executive told NFL.com. Although likened to Marcus Mariota in some ways, in addition to his accuracy, Watson’s arm talent and ability to read coverages have been perceived to be less commensurate. He may be a first-round talent, but there may even be a long road ahead for him to be considered as good as Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Teddy Bridgewater.
Lamar Jackson: We will have to wait until the 2017 regular season ends. As a true sophomore, Jackson will not be eligible for the draft until January 2018.
That is not the only downside to quarterback upgrade zealots. Since 2012, it seems as if the decency of every quarterback draft class changes every year based on the notable names listed below:
2012: Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, and (for one year) Robert Griffin III.
2013: EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, and Mike Glennon.
2014: Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
2015: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
2016: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Cody Kessler, and Dak Prescott.
Sure the quarterback draft class of 2011 seemed to precede 2012’s modestly as busts like Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder were camouflaged by one-hit wonders like Colin Kaepernick, Pro Bowlers Andy Dalton and Tyrod Taylor, and an MVP such as Cam Newton. But with 2010’s class featuring Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow and preceding 2011’s, and multiple classes after 2012 struggling, the trend of bad quarterbacks coming every other year could occur in 2017.
Besides, with the 2017 Senior Bowl Watch List featuring one possible top-50 pick (Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly) and teams not usually inclined to make middle or late-round picks starters (unless they are Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott), the quarterback pool may be shallower than a tub used for washing your feet.
So do not be surprised if teams take the approach that some did in 2013 by passing up a potentially weak draft class and having signal-callers for minimal risk. The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals respectively acquired Alex Smith for a second-round pick and Carson Palmer for a sixth-round pick and the Oakland Raiders coaches went 3-6 while reluctantly playing Terrelle Pryor, even though they secretly knew that the Matts (Flynn and McGloin) stunk with a combined record of 1-6.
Notable veterans for trade this off-season could include Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, Jimmy Garoppolo, and, if healthy, Tony Romo. Plus, if you are Chip Kelly and in need of a quarterback whose accuracy slightly misses Bradford’s at his best and athletic ability is just short of Kaepernick’s, Ryan Tannehill might be a decent option.
Sure, the draft pick gives off the same feeling that a brand new car does as the possibly available quarterbacks could give off the feel of damaged goods and thus play like Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, or Scott Mitchell. There is one possible bright side to look at, however. We will all feel our best if we do not see our home team’s uniform worn by Jay Cutler.