Considering the current state of the pass happy NFL, one would think it would be inconceivable that no quarterback be taken in the first round, right? Well, with the recent transactions by teams who were desperate for quarterback help and depth, that notion may be coming to fruition. With Kevin Kolb, Carson palmer and Matt Flynn getting their careers as starting quarterbacks revived in Buffalo, Arizona and Oakland respectively, 3 of the teams with top ten picks most likely vying for a quarterback in the top ten may have completely taken themselves out of the running.
There was some buzz about Geno Smith potentially being coveted by the Jaguars at number 2, or the Raiders at number 3. Both spots are far too high for the player. Matt Barkley, who many believe is the second best quarterback in the draft, was projected mostly as a low 1st rounder, again, prior to the triplet of veteran quarterbacks moving teams. The prevailing thought between both players from everything I have read is that they are solid, but not of the caliber of an RGIII, Andrew Luck or even a Ryan Tannehill or of course, Russell Wilson (who would have been a top 5 pick had the draft been re-done). Geno Smith has a boatload of talent, but lacks polish as a signal caller as well as having issues with ball security, deep ball accuracy and decision-making. Additionally, teams do not seam to like the fact that, he runs a 4.59 40-yard dash, but is not inclined to run the ball, rather, he wants to be labeled a pocket passer first and foremost (Donovan McNabb had a similar thought process when he came into the league).
As for Barkley, every publication had him as a top 10 draft pick last season. Like Matt Leinart, he elected to be big man on campus at USC and return for his Senior season.
The results were mixed.
A season, in which the Trojans were supposed to dominate the Pac-12, turned into a mess. Barkley threw too many picks, forced the action and looked like a shell of himself from his Junior season. He also does not have an elite arm, so teams will need to be sure he can make all the big time throws at the next level. Ryan Nassib, EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon, respectively out of Syracuse, Florida State and NC State, all have talent, round out the rest of the projected first 5 quarterbacks taken in the draft. The latter three are likely to be day 1 picks, ranging from the low first round to the low second round.
Once you take a look at the teams in the top half of the draft that may need a signal caller, it becomes more and more apparent that the market is scarce for quarterbacks in the 2013 draft.
As mentioned, the Jaguars seem to be out of the running for a quarterback back with the 2nd overall pick. They still have Blaine Gabbert, who has been terrible in his first two seasons, granted with very little to work with. The Jaguars, ultimately, need so much help at positions other than at quarterback that they simply cannot afford to gamble on a questionable pick at that position.
The Raiders (3rd overall pick) just acquired Flynn and appear to be keen on drafting Sheriff Floyd to replace Richard Seymour.
I can’t see the Eagles drafting a quarterback when they have glaring holes on their offensive line and they desperately need a pass rusher as they are going with a 3-4 defense.
While I’m not sold on 29-year-old Brandon Weeden, he fits perfectly with the downfield passing game that new coach Rob Chudzinski will employ with the Browns (6th overall pick), as he possesses a live arm. Although teams with a new owner, coach and General Manager typically want to go with their own guy at the quarterback position, Weeden, despite his advanced age for a sophomore player, has comparable talent to the signal callers in this draft.
Arizona desperately needs to improve their offensive line for Carson Palmer, which was a big reason Kevin Kolb was so injury prone with an unprotected blind side.
The Bills, who own the 8th pick in the draft, may still take a quarterback high in the draft, but with Kevin Kolb on board, there is a greater sense that new coach Doug Marrone, who coached the Syracuse Orange, may be a front-runner to take Ryan Nassib who Marrone recruited and coached at Syracuse possibly in the second round. They also could use a guard with Andy Levitre signing with Tennessee or a wide receiver, in a deep draft for pass catchers, who can complement Stevie Johnson.
The Jets who possess the 9th overall pick, could use a reboot of the Mark Sanchez era, but do they really want to invest in another quarterback that they are not sure of? That new regime needs to tie themselves to a guy they know can be a legitimate starter.
After those selections are made, one of the few teams I could potentially see taking a quarterback in the first round would be Cincinnati. Andy Dalton, while solid, has not been a world-beater and some competition would be good to help him get to that next level. Ultimately, I do not see them going that route with glaring needs at Safety and Outside Linebacker. If the Vikings or Texans, again two teams with average at best signal callers, do not select Geno Smith or Matt Barkley, it will be the first time since 1996 that a quarterback has not been taken in the first round which in this day and age, would seem like a monumental omission. Considering there is a bevy of good but not great quarterbacks in the draft and using the Seahawks as an example of a team that waiting till the 3rd round to find their franchise quarterback last season, it is easy to see why teams are hesitant to use a valuable first round pick at that position.
Rest assured, the Bills, Cardinals and Raiders acquired 3 stopgap quarterbacks to bridge the gap between a younger player for the future. But with a legion of teams with needs outside of the quarterback position, a deep draft heavy on offensive and defensive lineman and pass rushers, coupled with a weak draft at quarterback and it is easy to see why caution is the name of the game for teams who need some youth at sports’ most important position.
Stay tuned for my mock draft, or my poor attempt at one, in a few days as well as my grades for the aforementioned new Quarterbacks in Arizona, Buffalo and Oakland.