Five games into the 2012 NFL season, it is becoming increasingly clear which teams are going to end up with a high 1st round draft pick – winless Cleveland, terrible Tennessee, punchless Kansas City and the awful-again Jaguars. By far, that quartet appears to be the dregs of the NFL. The next batch of struggling teams are the Panthers, Jets, Raiders and Bills, all of which look like sub-6 win teams.
We’re only through a month of the college football season, but two QBs have clearly been a cut above everyone else – USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Barkley hasn’t quite lived up to lofty expectations (Heisman, title) because of injuries to his offensive line, and Smith, at this juncture, is challenging him as potentially the top QB taken in April. This isn’t quite the “Andrew Luck sweepstakes,” but both have the look of franchise QBs.
An early breakdown of teams in the hunt for Barkley and Smith, and whether or not they need a QB:
Cleveland: Brandon Weeden, the rookie
2nd 1st round pick, isn’t off to the best start (nine INTs). The former Oklahoma State QB is completing 55 percent of his passes, and has a QB rating of 64.5, both which rank near the bottom of the league. The bigger question: Will coach Pat Shurmur be brought back for a 3rd year? Cleveland went 4-12 last year, and you have to wonder if there is a coaching change, what scheme will the new coach want?
Tennessee: Jake Locker, their 2011 1st round pick, played well this season before the shoulder injury. The early guess here is the Titans lean defense in the draft – currently, Tennessee is last in ppg (36.2), and in the bottom 10 in yards per game, rushing yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game, and sacks per game.
Kansas City: Without question, QB will have to be addressed. Matt Cassel cannot be the guy going forward. Brady Quinn probably won’t get the job, either. The question: Who will be the new GM making the pick? It almost certainly won’t be Pioli.
Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert, arguably, has been the worst QB in the NFL so far. He’s only in year No. 2. Their 2012 top pick, Justin Blackmon, has been a non-factor (13 catches in five games), too. It is still too early to say both picks will be busts. Think they’d bail on Gabbert already? The bonus here is that Barkley and Smith thrived in up-tempo offenses (and Barkley is a SoCal kid), so perhaps the weather in Jacksonville might help both of them as opposed to windy, cold, Cleveland.
Carolina: No. Next question.
New York Jets: Reminder – the Jets have to pay Mark Sanchez $8.25 million next year. He’s too much of a salary cap hit to just cut. So they’re stuck with him thanks to their idiot GM who extended him for no reason. With all the holes on this club, I (right now) don’t see them jumping at either QB this year. The 2014 QB class will have plenty of solid prospects, and this Jets mess won’t be turned around quickly.
Oakland: Do the Raiders even have a pick following the Carson Palmer trade? It’ll be interesting to see if the Raiders are out of the playoff race in November, whether or not the team benches Palmer to avoid giving up that 2nd No. 1 pick to the Bengals. Palmer turns 33 in December, and hasn’t exactly been the star the Raiders thought they were getting. Gotta think the Raiders are considering a QB, the offensive line, or a defensive player.
Buffalo: Ryan Fitzpatrick got big money last year, then underperformed, and while he has put up solid numbers (12 Tds, 7.0 YPA) so far, the Bills are getting blown out because the high-priced defense has given up 48 to the Jets, 52 to the Patriots, and 45 to the 49ers. Would be curious to look inside Fitzpatrick’s contract to see if the Bills have an out this year.