NFL general managers at the top of the draft have been playing musical chairs with their quarterbacks in recent days.
We have witnessed the Seattle Seahawks shipping Matt Flynn to the Oakland Raiders, who in turned pawned off discontent Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals, who were more than happy to get rid of the albatross formerly known as Kevin Kolb to the Buffalo Bills.
Let us also not forget that the San Francisco 49ers sent Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles kept Michael Vick.
All of these moves by teams drafting in the top 10 picks of April’s NFL draft suggest that the league is underwhelmed by the quarterback crop this year, headlined by West Virginia University’s own Geno Smith. Some analysts have pointed out in recent days that the moves made at the top of the draft suggest that NFL teams are going to opt for other positions such as offensive and defensive line rather than taking a quarterback.
But when you look at the players acquired by these teams, you can’t help but think that these quarterbacks are short-term solutions.
If you are the Chiefs, are you really excited about Alex Smith? Yes, he had one and a half good seasons under Jim Harbaugh but was a nobody before that system. Andy Reid’s system is not Harbaugh’s system, so there are going to be a ton of questions about how he fits into Reid’s style of play.
What about the Oakland Raiders? Matt Flynn, for his entire career, has thrown 141 passes (completing 87) for 1,083 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions over 5 seasons. He showed flashes of greatness in Joe Philbin’s pass happy offense but Philbin decided to pass on Flynn when he had the chance to bring him to Miami. If Flynn really had the potential to be great don’t you believe Philbin would have made a greater push to acquire him?
The Cardinals and Bills certainly can’t be happy about their current quarterback situations. Both are saddled with over-priced washouts. Palmer, who enjoyed his greatest success in Cincinnati, still has a solid arm, but seemed to be less than thrilled to be in a Raiders uniform. Not sure suiting up for an offensively depleted Cardinals squad is going to make him happier. And Kolb, who seems to always seems to be injured, is not going to fair much better for a Bills team that just let their most talented offensive lineman (Andy Levitre) walk in free agency.
As for the Eagles, Michael Vick is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL…. 5 years ago. Vick is clearly past his prime and his style of play has cost him his explosiveness. He was once the most elusive man on the field, but after so many hard hits and injuries, he is a shell of the player he once was. Chip Kelly certainly could use Vick to mentor the young quarterbacks on his roster, but Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon have done little to substantiate that they can carry an NFL franchise.
So it is clear that while these franchises have brought in new quarterbacks, they are far from solving their issues in the pocket. Drafting a quarterback like Geno Smith at the top of the draft is the logical choice.
Sure, this is not the 1983 quarterback class featuring Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and John Elway. But there is no reason to believe that, with proper grooming and time to learn, that quarterbacks like Geno Smith might not have similar career trajectories as Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.
If you are in the front office of the Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, Cardinals, and Bills, you have to be making a push to draft Geno Smith to be your grooming project for the next season or two. With the rookie wage scale in effect, you can snag Geno Smith for little more than you pay a decent back-up quarterback. If he doesn’t work out (which by all indications he is going to be a franchise quarterback), then you still have some hope that the misfit toy of a quarterback you brought in will work out.
It would be foolish to not roll the dice on Geno Smith in the top 10 of the draft.