The thought of this makes me cringe. What’s next, a TE in the top five? Oops, that just might happen too. In 1983, we had 7 QB’s go in the first round, that’s really our only comparison to draw from. But 5 in the top 15, maybe even top 10? The historical repercussions of what the experts say we are about to see has me shaking my head.
Is this because “need” has overtaken common sense? Or have people just accepted the “swing and miss premise” as commonplace because Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (first two picks in the 2016 Draft) are both on their second teams, leaving a wake of dead money in the laps of the teams that picked them? They seem ok with it.
Teams are currently jockeying for position to draft the next project QB, not a polished one, mind you, a project. In this draft, I see two “ready for prime time” quarterbacks in the current group that will be taken on April 29th. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson have different skill sets and different degrees of “upside” but both, IMO, can start as rookies. Both can progress, develop and provide answers for their teams with the right cast of characters around them from a roster and coaching standpoint. Where times have changed and oh, how times have changed, is that teams seem willing to manufacture and project a player who gets inserted into their schemes as the presumed answer, even though he does not check all of the boxes or he doesn’t present an evaluation consensus in their own building.
I see things on film that make me pause a bit when it comes to drafting Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota St’s Trey Lance and even more-so with Alabama’s Mac Jones, high in the first round. That’s not to say they won’t be good players at the NFL level. However, never before have teams been willing to use up this kind of draft capital or chose these less complete players, this high in the draft. The draft intel the experts are collecting, send these possible projections into uncharted waters. Five QB’s taken within the first 15 picks would be a first.
The question that comes to my mind is Why? I could never draft a player in the first half of the first round, much less in the top five, unless we had a total consensus within our own building that we were making the right move in doing so. The conviction you feel as a General Manager comes from the comfort of what you see, combined with what others see in your inner circle. It gives me some concern and I hope SF has moved up, in round 1, for the right reasons. They have a very good offensive mind as their head coach in Kyle Shanahan, who carries the loudest and most important impact in their evaluation process. However, if I was their personnel director or even a scout in their building and saw what I see on film with these other three prospects at QB, I’d have to make several points of caution known. As a leader, John Lynch, the 49ers GM, has to “listen to everyone”. None of us are smarter than all of us. Maybe the truth is in the middle? There is a chance, in my opinion that QB’s 3-5 may never develop.
Coaches are bolder and more confident that they can plug in a player that might have a limitation or two into their systems and go win with him. They can scheme them up to have success. Truth be known, the coaches in 2021 seem to be trending toward bypassing a more complete player at another position in order to fill a need at QB, even if that player is not ideal.
I understand why the San Francisco 49ers made the move up to the third overall pick in last week’s trade with the Miami Dolphins. They HAD TOO. If they didn’t, somebody else surely would have (Carolina). I guarantee you that when this trade became public, Carolina Head Coach, Matt Rhule felt a bit of a gut punch. SF had to protect themselves from someone else making the deal which may have shut them out of the QB market, if that indeed is what they decide to do. They would have had no decision, of which QB to take, had they not made this deal with the Dolphins. For this reason and considering what they gave up to get to that third pick, they will in all likelihood take a QB and if they have total consensus on who that is, then they should take him.
Let me present you with a “what if”. But first, let it be known that these discussions should be part of any team building process. It may be too late, but as the lead decision maker, I want every “what if” to be presented and vetted. Let’s just don’t concede to the loudest voice in the room. I would be nervous about taking a project player at #3, who by many accounts. might need a redshirt year.
When I go back and look at all the QB’s that I have evaluated over the last four years the name, Sam Darnold, keeps jumping into the equation. As we know, he’s going to be available (and is probably available, right now). I think his lack of development can be explained. In fact, if the Chicago Bears brass hadn’t used up all their QB capital by failing to solve their issues, he would still be the best answer for them. Short of the Bears hiring a “Football Czar” as a boss for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, they have no chance to sell a move like this. They would get killed because public confidence has eroded around their personnel decisions in the Windy City. A move like this would have to have somebody else’s stamp on it.
It’s when you put Darnold in the same pool with 2019 and 2020 draftables that it gets interesting. I would have him rated after Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Justin Herbert/ Joe Burrow (from 2020 Draft), but ahead of Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones, who as we know are in this year's draft. What if the 49ers determine that the flaws are real with QB’s 3-5 on their draft board this year? What’s wrong with drafting the highest rated non-QB on your board, whoever it is, and giving the New York Jets a 2nd round pick for Sam Darnold? I’m assuming that SF had some love for him coming out, so why not let Darnold and Jimmy Garrapolo battle for the job? You also get to add what should be a really good player with your first-round pick, potentially even a Pro Bowl talent who is complete, brings consensus, and really makes your team better. I think you would have really strengthened your team.
Let’s not pretend that five QB’s picked in the top 15 are going to produce five legit NFL QB’s. Its why you just can’t get a pick like this wrong. You should be able to find a player without any questions and one that is elite at his position. I might be more apt to at least consider taking a different route if we can’t all agree. ☺ and pick a surer thing than a QB we have some questions about.