Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Ponder, Dalton, Kaepernick and Stanzi. Those are the 8 names that comprise this year’s class of QBs with potential to earn a starting job as soon as the 2011 season. Some have strong arms. Others are great decision makers. And a few are natural leaders.
But there’s just one thing each of them has in common: they all have legitimate question marks.
Most draft analysts have gone on record this year as saying they’re not sure this year’s draft class has a bona fide franchise QB to offer, which is a bit disappointing given the unusually high amount of teams that find themselves in need of a QB, the Vikings included. Often times, you’ll hear a draft analyst offer up names such as Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan in comparison to this year’s crop of QBs to hammer home the point that this year’s draft class is void of a blue-chip prospect.
But is that fair? Is it fair to compare players who haven’t had the chance to prove themselves at the NFL level to 3 recent QBs who’ve found success in the NFL? At least one analyst, former Vikings offensive coordinator and Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick, says it’s not.
Billick was quoted as part of an article about this year’s draft-eligible QBs written by Judd Zulgad in this Sunday’s sports section of the Star Tribune and he made a point that I think is important to keep in mind when both analyzing this year’s crop of QBs in the draft and in critiquing teams’ choices in this year’s draft.
“Let’s be careful,” Billick said. “When we go back and talk about [St. Louis' Sam] Bradford and Ryan and Flacco with such glowing terms — and we should, because they are going to be excellent quarterbacks — we had concerns for them, too. Bradford, is he going to stay healthy? Matt Ryan, does he have the arm strength? Flacco, he doesn’t look like anybody we have in the league right now. Is he too big, is he going to fit? They turned out well, but we had questions about them, too.
Billick’s point is a great one. And I’ll add to it. Drafting a QB in the NFL is not an exact science. If it was, we wouldn’t see so many busts. There is no perfect prospect, at any position. There is no prospect with no flaws and no question marks. Regardless of which QB you like in this class, someone else can raise questions about that player or about that player’s skill set.
I like Jake Locker, but someone else can question his accuracy. The next guy might like Blaine Gabbert, but I can point out that he’s coming from a spread offense and may have issues transitioning to the pro game and playing under center.
“So when I say that there’s questions about these guys … everybody has [questions] every year,” Billick said. “We kind of forget after a kid gets in the league and plays well and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I had him really high. I knew he’d be good.’ No, you didn’t. We had some questions about all of them.”
The bottom line is that regardless of whom the Vikings select in this year’s draft – even if it’s not a QB, which could happen – some people are going to love the pick and others are going to dislike the selection. But the goal is not to find the perfect prospect with no flaws. The goal is to pick a player who turns out to be a winner.
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft
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