I’m in the minority, both at home and abroad.
Quarterback, to me, is not THE ISSUE for the local football franchise that plays at Lincoln Financial Field just up the road, nor is it for the 2013 NFL Draft, which begins tonight in New York City.
Oh, it’s been talked about, near and far, to the umpteenth degree for weeks, heck, for months – how the Eagles need a new one, a surefire, can’t-miss guy to run the show in new coach Chip Kelly’s offense for years to come, and how this year’s available choices are lacking, not only in that regard, but just in general.
I just don’t buy it, on either count.
Put it this way, the view here is that Philly doesn’t necessarily need a quarterback. That it’s fine if GM Howie Roseman opts to fill another spot with the No. 4 pick tonight, or if the Kelly/Roseman braintrust opts to pick a QB, too – because the pickings are pretty darn good … for any team.
The rub with this year’s draft has been that the QB class wasn’t exactly a bumper crop, that it paled in comparison to last year’s, which yielded the likes of Andrew Luck, RG3 and even Ryan Taneyhill, who proved to be something a little more than a “reach” by the Dolphins with the eighth pick. Experts have next year’s crop as being superior to this year’s, too.
Really? Not sure why. With Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, E.J. Manuel and Tyler Wilson heading this year’s group, it doesn’t seem likely that 2014 will present more pro-ready QBs. Tajh Boyd, essentially, is a smaller version of Manuel. Teddy Bridgewater is similar to Smith. Johnny Manziel? Well, he really doesn’t have a comparable guy in this year’s draft, but when the time comes next April it wouldn’t surprise if most questioned whether the 2012 Heisman winner’s skills translated to the next level anyway.
It’s amazing the difference a year can make. This time last April, Barkley may have been the first pick in the draft – yes, even ahead of Luck and RG3. His stock was that high. It dropped like a stone in the fall as his return to Southern Cal didn’t bring about the national-title run many predicted. He got hurt, his arm strength and know-how critiqued and, lo and behold, he wasn’t considered such a hot prospect anymore. Well, you know, until tonight drew closer. Now he’s back with his name being bandied about as a possible first-round pick, even a top-10 one.
Point is, we really don’t know – for sure – anything, with any of these QBs, or, really, any draft-eligible player. We can guess, we can project, but so many things can factor – injuries, surrounding talent level, coaching philosophy, franchise stability/instability – with what happens in a football player’s career, and the jump from college to pro can be forever altered by any of them, regardless of how well he performed in the past or how impressive his combine numbers are.
In Philly, the Eagles have an aging, but still electric option at QB. They also have young and strong pro-style one. Despite the calls for someone new to take the reins, for someone more capable of leading the team to the promised land, neither Michael Vick nor Nick Foles has shown that they are incapable of doing so – with the requisite quantity of quality pieces around them.
That is the case with every QB … both in the league already and on the board tonight.
No one behind center does it alone. Not Tom Brady, not Peyton Manning, not Eli Manning, not Drew Brees, not Joe Flacco. Each one has had the combination of weapons at his disposal and a front wall of protection that dwarfs what has been seen by Eagles QBs throughout the years.
The Birds haven’t been stacked on defense, either. They’ve been OK. Pretty much middle-of-the-pack in terms of talent there, and the results on the field have followed suit.
Thing is, sitting at No. 4 tonight, they really can’t go wrong. They need help everywhere, and even if they chose a QB, a position that really isn’t one of immediate need, they’d be bolstering the most important position on the field. Any of the top offensive linemen available – Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson – would look good in midnight green, too. Same thing with defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd, Dion Jordan or the rapidly rising Ziggy Ansah. Tavon Austin might be a case of creating overkill with pint-sized receivers on a roster, but he is a playmaker, and the Eagles, as well as any other team, always can use those.
If I were Roseman and/or Kelly, I’d trade down to get more picks, preferably to have two in the first round … because this draft appears to be quite deep, and the Eagles are in dire straits for bodies, bodies who can evolve into legit NFL players, as much as any potential fantasy-league superstars.