Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Will a Quarterback be the 2013 NFL Draft’s First Pick?

Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Ticket & Coin Collection
The past 4 NFL drafts have seen a quarterback selected with the first overall pick. Last year saw Andrew Luck enter the NFL fold and he went on to have a great rookie season. Naturally, since the worst team in the league picks first there is often a strong demand for a franchise quarterback at this position, and this year is no different with the Kansas City Chiefs owning the spot. But this year’s draft class seems to be barren of a young franchise quarterback anywhere in the country. In fact, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has boldly predicted that no quarterbacks will be selected in the entire first round! So will the Chiefs ignore their glaring need or roll the dice with one of the quarterbacks who will be desperate to prove scouts and experts wrong?
Kansas City has an entirely new coaching staff featuring head coach Andy Reid, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. New coaches often mean new quarterbacks, as they want someone whom they can develop and who will fit their scheme. Currently the Chiefs boast Matt Cassel as their starter. Cassel had modest success in 2010, leading the team to the playoffs, but he has regressed since then. Last season, performing quite terribly, Cassel was benched in favor of Brady Quinn and seemingly is reaching the end of his NFL career.
Chances are that the Chiefs will find a new quarterback this offseason either through the draft, a trade, or through free agency. Free agency looks to be rather barren. Although Super Bowl winning Joe Flacco has yet to re-sign with the Baltimore Ravens, I fully expect the team to hold onto him. Other than that, the free agency field is full of a bunch of players that have tried and basically failed to make an impact: Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Tavaris Jackson, and Seneca Wallace. I don’t see a franchise quarterback on this list.
Perhaps the Chiefs could trade for a player. Andy Reid is familiar with Eagles backup Nick Foles, so perhaps he could initiate a trade for him. Or perhaps he could trade for a capable backup like Matt Flynn of the Seattle Seahawks, who lost his starter’s role to the sensational rookie Russell Wilson? Once again, I doubt any GM would want to trade a very good player, unless the Chiefs surrender that top draft pick, which again is doubtful.
Therefore, it appears that the only way for the Chiefs to find a franchise quarterback will be through the draft, and that will be no easy feat. Geno Smith of West Virginia is currently the player being touted for that pick. He has all the athletic traits and statistics that have drawn comparisons to Robert Griffin III, but seems to be criticized over his team’s poor finish to the year, when they lost 6 of their last 8 games. Nevertheless, Smith did perform well and accumulated 42 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions with a 71.2% completion percentage.
There are several other quarterbacks who are being touted for the NFL including Matt Barkley of USC, EJ Manuel of Florida State, Landry Jones of Oklahoma, and Mike Glennon of NC State, but neither has impressed spectacularly like Smith. However, with the NFL combine approaching, the full merits of each quarterback have yet to be displayed, and someone may shine for scouts and merit a serious look for the top pick.
Right now the primary choice is Geno Smith. He has the athletic traits and is apparently a bright person who even competed in chess club in grade school. Of course the Chiefs may have different plans and we will have to wait several weeks before those come to light, but if I was a betting man I would place money on Geno Smith being taken #1 in the 2013 NFL draft.
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