The time has passed in the NFL of quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who would and usually do, get chased down by the average defensive tackle. The name of the new game is speed. Everyone is getting faster, most importantly, defensive players. With that in mind, the game of the quarterback needs to adapt as well.
That’s not say that 2013 will be a complete overhaul in conventional draft wisdom as it relates to the quarterback, but it will be the start. Couple the new quarterback style with the lack of depth at the position this year (consider Matt Barkley, projected top ten in 2011 now falling out of the first round) and you will most certainly see upside as a more important factor than security.
With all of this in mind let’s take a look at this year’s draft order. Of the teams with the top ten pick in the draft, four seem to be content with their current quarterback situation. The Eagles resigning of Michael Vick suggests he has been chosen to run Chip Kelly’s new offense, whether he can be healthy for the whole season, remains to be seen. Regardless, there seems to be enough confidence in Nick Foles to make the switch if necessary. Meanwhile, Matt Stafford, when on his game and healthy, is the second half of the Auto-Bots with Megatron, to not see a switch this season. Continuing, the Bills offered Ryan Fitzpatrick a six-year, $62 million contract in 2011 and Tavaris Jackson sitting on the bench behind him, I don’t see the Bills make a move on QB just yet. Lastly, the Titans have switched between Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck based on injury for the past couple of years; when drafted, Locker was believed to be the quarterback of the future for a down Titan’s team. This leaves us with six teams, each with a miserable quarterback situation and each with a potential to snag one early on.
Now, I think it comes down to two factors in choosing a quarterback early on; first, depth in this year’s draft and current situation in the other positions. As I previously stated this year’s draft class is nothing to fawn over. But, I do believe West Virginia’s, Geno Smith will be the first taken. His ability to make plays both through the air and with his feet is not something that will be passed up on by many teams. After moving into the Big 12 for the 2012 Season, West Virginia would go onto to finish second into if not the best, then the second best conference in college football. Geno led the way for this team and it was no wonder he was an early Heisman Candidate.
As far as the top ten picks are concerned there are three teams that jump out at me as in need of quarterbacks, the Chiefs and the Cardinals and the Jets, of course. While the Chiefs could be a suitor for Smith, they are a disaster in too many other spots to jump on merely a whim. Newly resigned Dwayne Bowe provides some security on the offensive end in contrast to the most miserable defense in the league last year. Prior to the combine I saw the Chiefs grabbing a defensive player with the first pick, but after Luke Joekel’s impressive day and Star L’s heart condition announcement it seems as if the Chiefs will go with the best player in the draft. Joekel. Before I continue with the Cardinals, I will mention the Jets. If not for the Cardinals I believe the Jet’s would have grabbed Geno with the 9th pick but I believe Geno will be gone at the 7. The Cardinals currently employ one of the most skilled receivers in the NFL and are not that far removed from a Super Bowl appearance. But, since the retirement of Kurt Warner, they have not been able to find a way to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball. Geno may solve those problems. His ability to move in the pocket and out of it will certainly create openings down field where Fitz may be the most talented receiver in the NFL, with the ball in the air.