Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking A QB In 1st Round Would Be A Mistake

Finding the next franchise quarterback needs to be the Seahawks highest priority. There will be no Super Bowl dreams until that role is ably filled. Getting that player is so critical that this blogger even hedged about whether it was worth missing the playoffs this year to get a higher draft pick. It may come as a surprise, then, that I would now consider it a mistake to draft a QB in the first round.

Let's start with a simple question: how long will it be before you can say with certainty that a QB drafted this season is the rightful heir to Matt Hasselbeck's throne? Two seasons? Three? Four? Hasselbeck, himself, took three seasons in Seattle (not counting two seasons in Green Bay) before he asserted himself as the franchise QB. Unless you find a really special player, it's unlikely they will step in right away and claim the position. There is a reason guys like Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and others are drafted in the Top 10. Aaron Rodgers was drafted in the late first round and didn't get his shot until season number four. The point is that you can expect it to take a few years before you really know what you've got with a QB.

Then think about the expectations associated with any first round pick, especially a QB. A guy like Kelly Jennings has managed to stick around largely because of where he was picked, not because of his performance. When a front office picks a QB in the first round, they are implicitly saying, "this is our guy, and we're going to bet our future on him." Franchises go to great lengths to prove they made the right choice, even firing coaches before admitting they might need a different QB (see Alex Smith). So now you have a position that generally takes a few seasons to ripen, and expectations that often causes teams to stick with bad choices even longer than normal.

Now, let's add this particular talent pool of QBs into the mix. Only Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are players most consider legitimate first round talents. Analysts, coaches and fans may disagree about who will get chosen where or how many will be chosen in the first round, but nobody argues the fact that most of these guys are 2nd-5th round talents. The incredible demand for QBs are driving up their value, but demand does not change their talent or potential. It's a certainty that a number of QBs will be taken above their graded value. It could be easily argued that *every* QB will be taken above his value.

Sit back and play GM for a second. Are there any QBs that you are so certain about that you want to pin the hopes of your franchise on for the next 3-5 years? I really like some of these guys, but the answer is a pretty simple "no," for me. The only QB I'd be willing to use that 25th pick on is Kevin Kolb, and without a CBA, that's not even possible (nor likely enough to land him). I could even talk myself into taking a QB in the 3rd round or later, and then coming back with a vengeance next season if he is not looking promising. The Seahawks absolutely need to draft a QB this year, but picking him so high that the team is forced to stick with him even if he's not the right guy would be the worst-case scenario. Getting a guy like Christian Ponder or Colin Kaepernick in the 3rd round (assuming we add a pick in that round) would be ideal. If there is a run on QBs early, though, it will be tough for the team to hold to its draft board. They could easily end up with the leftovers like Ricky Stanzi in the 4th or 5th. The key here is that we should want them to get the right guy, not just get a guy. Too much depends on this position to make another Charlie Whitehurst-like mistake.

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