The 2014 quarterback class appeared deep. But, teams at the top of the draft are giving themselves options at the position. The Texans at No. 1 overall, in the market for a quarterback, signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a two-year deal. The Raiders, in the market for a quarterback and picking at No. 5 overall, traded Houston for Matt Schaub. The presence of either hardly precludes a first-round quarterback pick. But both moves are interesting.
None of the 2014 quarterbacks is viewed as a slam-dunk star. Teddy Bridgewater looked pro-ready in college, but has not helped himself since with a sub-par pro day. Johnny Manziel, despite having all weather hands, has been a lightning rod for debate. Blake Bortles, until the NFL Draft-niks got a hold of him, was most notable for having a hot girlfriend. He, though impressive physically, may not be ready to play right away.
It’s not clear why any of the three is that much better than taking a later flyer on one of the battle-tested SEC guys in the second round. Or, if you are in a multi-year rebuilding project anyway, waiting for 2015 when Winston, Mariota and Hundley may be in play?
You need a quarterback to win in the NFL. But, you also need to get to the quarterback. Houston was in the bottom five at both last year. Do the Texans raise their immediate and long-term ceiling more by taking Blake Bortles? Or by letting Bill O’Brien milk a stable season from a middling talent, such as Fitzpatrick, while drafting Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney to rush the passer opposite J.J. Watt? And how does an unsure ceiling quarterback resolve the myriad of problems plaguing the Raiders?
The recent success of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick indicate how important the quarterback can be. But also the wisdom of being patient and trusting your scouting. Teams such as the Jaguars and Vikings that took a reach in the Top 15 picks because they “needed a quarterback” are back in position to draft another one.
[USA Today Sports]
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