The Quarterback Shuffle (2011)
How I would handle the QB issues throughout the league.
There are likely infinite possibilities with how the quarterbacks available via the draft, free agency and trade will end up come opening day this fall. I wanted to throw my opinion out where I think players should land.
These events in some ways will have to happen sequentially.
1. Carolina selects Blaine Gabbert #1 overall.
This makes the most sense even if you aren’t a huge Gabbert fan. The only other option is not do anything and pin your hopes on Jimmy Clausen. I just don’t think that’s a feasible option and waiting for round 2 doesn’t get you much better than Clausen anyway.
2. Buffalo selects Cam Newton #3 overall.
This is my choice because I think Newton is the best match with Chan Gailey’s system. And being in Buffalo might curtail some of Newton’s “entertainer” desires. Newton will be buried in the cold weather behind Fitzpatrick for a season while he learns some humility and film study ethic. Buffalo’s hope is to build a dynamic offense around Newton/Spiller over the next couple of seasons. Buffalo can’t aim for just good in that division, they have to aim for great. They have to take chances if they are ever going to compete with New England or New York, that's just the reality of the situation.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals trade the #4 overall pick to the Eagles for the #23 pick and Kevin Kolb.
I just can’t get away from this trade making too much sense and being a win-win for everyone involved. This is the first team “on the clock” that wants to run a west-coast system (now that Jay Gruden is there). Bringing Kolb in will help that transition with the young receivers (Owens/Cinco are gone). The Eagles would LOVE Patrick Peterson as he's a perfect fit opposite Asante Samuel. The Eagles have plenty of young talent on the roster already (they selected 13 players in last year’s draft) so giving up quantity for quality isn’t an issue.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals trade Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals for pick #38 (2nd round).
This is how the Bengals make out winners: They get a new 26-year old QB to build around and now have picks #23, #35, #38 and #66 to fill in holes. How is this not a win for them? Arizona on the other hand desperately needs a veteran to show Larry Fitzgerald they are serious about winning now. Arizona has talent and they would keep the #5 pick to get Von Miller to fill their weakest position immediately. Again, what pick in round 2 will impact the Arizona Cardinals more that this? And Palmer in warm weather, a 90 minute flight to LA and getting away from the Bengals circus might rejuvenate his career. It’s worth a shot and even if it fails, you get 1-2 more seasons to potentially groom John Skelton.
5. San Francisco signs Matt Hasselback in free agency.
I know San Francisco needs more help than this, but I don’t see any value at pick #7 to pull the trigger on the #3 QB in this draft. Considering how much other change is happening in San Fran with a new coach and west-coast system, bringing in Hasselback makes perfect sense. In fact, if I was San Fran, I would be shopping my 1st round choice for a late #1 this year and a #1 pick next year to I can position myself with the firepower to get Andrew Luck. Unlike Buffalo, San Francisco can take their time and don't have to take risks because they are in a weaker division. This is a clear example where pushing off their QB decision a year might be the best answer.
6. Seattle selects Christian Ponder with pick #25.
I think Ponder is the 3rd best quarterback in this draft and he fits what Pete Carroll likes from the position. Ponder is just athletic enough, just big enough, just smart enough and just ready enough to potentially be a starter day one. Don’t rule out doing this AND trying to sign Hasselback, but if I was San Francisco (see above), I’d make sure to outspend Seattle and overpay on a short-term deal.
7. Tennessee selects Ryan Mallert with pick #39.
This is the right spot for Mallert to go with his question marks. I would also go so far to possibly re-sign Kerry Collins since Mallert reminds me of Collins quite a bit (big, tall, immobile passer with a huge arm). Munchack is a traditionalist type coach and won’t be afraid of Mallert’s immobility and negatives. His hard coaching might be just what this kid needs.
8. Washington selects Jake Locker with pick #41.
This connection seems the most obvious of all the picks listed. For months everyone that scouts Locker compares his roll-out ability to be a perfect match with Shanahan’s system. Locker’s most similar comparison is Jake Plummer. I have no problem where Washington is picking to try and go with Rex Grossman and Locker for the 2011 season.
9. Denver selects Colin Kaepernick with pick #46.
After using picks #2 and #37, Denver and John Elway finally pull the trigger on a quarterback and select the athletic Kaepernick in the middle of the 2nd round. Elway has made it clear he wants a mobile, athletic quarterback and Kaepernick fits the bill. Whether he’s better than Orton or Tebow is uncertain, but the competition begins this year for Elway to decide the future of that position.
10. Miami selects Ricky Stanzi with pick #80.
Miami is kind of in a tough spot with only pick #15 in the top 79 selections. I don’t think using their lone high selection on a quarterback is the right thing to do. In all honesty, they might just “stand pat” for the season with Chad Henne and Chad Pennington for one more season and not even make a QB selection. But if they DID force a selection, Stanzi would be my guess. He’s similar to Henne in many ways and just gives Miami another shot at finding the right guy.
11. Minnesota signs Donovan McNabb as a free agent after his release from Washington.
McNabb is due something like $10 million this season and that is never going to happen and no one is going to trade for him since his release is certain. The logical landing spot for McNabb (even though he fits in many spots) is Minnesota and Leslie Frasier. I think Frasier is keeping much of the offensive system in place from the Childress era and bringing in McNabb will help maintain continuity in a shortened off-season.
So those are the ten teams I have making significant upgrades or creating long term plans involving the quarterback position. In no way does this guarantee success, but I do think if everyone above follows my advice, they would put themselves in better position than they are now. Or at least create a chance for them to find success.
What are your thoughts?