QB or not QB, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of JaMarcus Russell
Or to take arms against a sea of Mannings
William Shakespeare: Third overall selection 1936 NFL draft Pittsburgh Pirates (Steelers).
If ever a franchise needed a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs are it. Recent Kansas City masterpieces Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn must have Arrowhead fans yearning for the days of Bill Kenney. But the Chiefs can’t catch a break, in 2012 franchise changing quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were both available. In 2013 the trio of Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon all come with serious question marks.
As the NFL has evolved into a pass first league the pressure to draft a franchise quarterback has dramatically increased. There is no decision that shapes a franchise more than the selection of a first round quarterback. When teams strike the jackpot with a Peyton Manning (1st overall 1998) or Aaron Rodgers (24th overall 2005), they’re set for a decade or more of deep playoff runs. However, a flubbed selection like Ryan Leaf (2nd overall 1998) or Jason Campbell (25th overall 2005) can set a franchise back years.
While Cam Newton, Luck and Griffin III seemed to be quarterbacks of the franchise variety other recent first rounders like Blaine Gabbert, appeared to be selected by teams that desperately needed a quarterback. Quite simply, just because a quarterback is the highest rated passer on your board and selected in the first round does not make him a franchise quarterback.
Teams pore over college film, intently watch combine drills, assess the Wonderlic Test and go through the lengthy interview process with prospective candidates. Still, the act of drafting a quarterback is one part skill and one part chance. For every Manning (Peyton and Eli), Rodgers and Roethlisberger raising the Lombardi, there is a Russell, Sanchez and Leinart carrying a clipboard while cashing a fat check.
Consider the draft position of the best quarterbacks of the past 15 years. Peyton Manning was the top overall pick in 1998. At the 2000 combine a little known quarterback out of Michigan ran a Herman Munster like 40 yard dash. Long after Giovanni Carmazzi was selected in the third round that year, Tom Brady went in the sixth round to the Patriots. A year later an undersized Drew Brees was drafted in the second round, 31 picks after Michael Vick was the number one overall selection. And who can forget poor Aaron Rodgers sitting in the Green Room until his name was called four hours into the first round in 2005.
At some point in the first round of the NFL draft we will likely hear the name of a quarterback, one has been taken in the first round every year since 1996. And hopefully under the franchise’s heavy burden, that quarterback does not sink. Because nothing stings more than a failed first round quarterback.