After hearing Buddy Nix seem to tell WGR’s Howard Simon and Jeremy White that he’s without a franchise quarterback in Buffalo, I was surprised to read an NFL Draft expert proclaim 2013 a bad year for quarterbacks unless a team is choosing at the very top of the draft. I don’t have access to loads of film and I sure as heck am not an NFL general manager, but I do know this: I don’t buy that for a second.
Unfortunately, football now judges itself on some faulty barometer akin to national politics. Like Barack Obama’s strong week supporting flood victims could render opinions of his four years as President moot regardless of opinion, or how Mitt Romney’s ability to choose his beliefs like he’s ordering appetizers at TGI Friday’s, we’re supposed to just forget what we’ve seen for three or four years because Aaron Murray threw three interceptions against Florida.
Consider this post from Bucky Brooks, who is not the expert in question and a guy I generally like to read (He also knows a ton more football than me). He’s high on Mike Glennon after the NC State product lit up North Carolina’s suspect pass defense but still threw multiple picks for the third time this year, but Aaron Murray’s stock is going down after the junior’s first multiple pick game of the season came against Florida. His other substandard game this year came on the day his father’s was diagnosed with cancer — on the road at South Carolina — which probably deserves a pass, huh? But you’ll probably hear plenty of draft turds dig into his game-by-game resume later this year and point out his “struggles” against elite defenses and Jadeveon Clowney (who will likely make NFL quarterbacks struggle for 10 years or more; he’s basically an unblockable FREAK SHOW).
This is hardly a critique on Brooks. Remember when Geno Smith jumped past everyone quarterback alive after throwing for 1,000,000 yards in one game. Two weeks later, his WVU team lost against Tim Tebow — er, K-State’s Collin Klein — and he went from a must to a bust. Can’t be both, right?
This is without mentioning Matt Barkley or the fact that every year there’s a sneaky quarterback who bumrushes the draft board at the combine, whether he be from Vanderbilt (Jay Cutler), A&M (Ryan Tannehill) or Florida State (Christian Ponder).
So now that we’ve established that everyone who projects quarterbacks is full of crap, let me give you my bag of excrement: this year’s crop is bumper. This isn’t a fly by night rush judgment; if you’ve hung around this site or my words for the past, say, 18 months, you’ll know I advocated skipping the QB early in 2012′s draft because of the variety of prospects coming out in 2013.
First, how many teams will — barring their own personal quarterback apocalypses (couldn’t it be apocalypi?) — almost certainly not be taking a QB with their first overall pick (10): Green Bay, New Orleans, New York Giants, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Washington, Pittsburgh, Houston, Miami, Tennessee.
Probably not (6): Tampa Bay, New England, Denver, Detroit, Cincinnati, San Francisco
Up for discussion, but just took a QB (5): Jacksonville, Cleveland, St. Louis, Seattle, Minnesota
Up for discussion (7): Dallas, San Diego, Chicago, Oakland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Carolina
Almost certainly (4): Kansas City, Buffalo, NY Jets, Arizona
Let’s take three QB scenarios here, from draft best case to worst case (Remember, after all, it’s November and the Bills are a win out of a playoff spot):
1) The Bills drop off the map and only win 1-2 games the rest of the way, finishing at 5-11. Chan Gailey is fired, so is Buddy Nix, and the way is cleared for a new quarterback.
In such a clustered year, let’s say that five wins is good for the 5th pick, after Kansas City, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Carolina. Even with regime changes to come, Jacksonville saw progress from Blaine Gabbert pre-injury (7 TD & 3 INT) and Newton is going to get another year after his statistically-promising rookie season in 2011. Ignoring that Cleveland is seeing signs from Brandon Weeden (a first-round pick in 2012), let’s say that KC takes Barkley and the Browns go Geno Smith. If it has to be a quarterback, you’re looking at an elite college gun like Aaron Murray (should he come out, which I expect he will) or perhaps Matt Scott from Arizona (whom I expect to rise). There are also guys who could use another year of college, like Tyler Bray of Tennessee, but I would not hesitate to pick in the first round.
2) The Bills do what they do and finish 7-9.
Moving to 11 in the draft, how many teams in absolute need of a QB do they pass?
3) Buffalo steals one from Houston/New England and goes on an epic run to the playoffs, finishing 10-6, even winning a first-round game against the AFC West winner.
Let’s face facts: if the Bills make the playoffs, they may draft a quarterback, but it’s much more likely their first pick is a linebacker. This is owing to the fact that they do not have a single difference making linebacker on the team right now. You can love Nick Barnett, Nigel Bradham and whoever else you like but no one is calling them Butkus… or even Spielman… or even Cowart.
In my opinion, which shouldn’t be a worth a ton considering I just watch a ton of college football and get to cover the sport (the difference being we get to ask the players and coaches questions while you have to hope we ask the ones you want. You probably have more football playing experience than my one year of freshman ball at Kenmore East), there are more quarterbacks of value and merit available than last season, and many other seasons (Make no mistake about it, Murray is my No. 1. Kid’s got zip on that thing).
2013 QB Early Reads (* denotes underclassman)
Elite: Aaron Murray* (Georgia), Matt Barkley (Southern Cal), Geno Smith (WVU)
Serviceable at-worst: Tyler Bray* (Tennesseee), Matt Scott (Arizona), AJ McCarron* (Alabama)
Projects but so much potential: Collin Klein (Kansas State), Sean Renfree (Duke)
Keep your eyes on: Mike Glennon (NC State), Alex Carder (Western Michigan), Casey Pachall* (TCU)
Leery, but draftable: Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Tyler Wilson (Arkansas), EJ Manuel (Florida State)