I don’t know how my superiors feel about my saying this, but … the upcoming NFL regular season is going to be so pointless. Or at the very least, completely unsurprising. A quick survey of the teams with the first 10 picks of the NFL draft makes one thing abundantly clear: You need a premier quarterback to succeed in the NFL. And none of those teams (save for the Detroit Lions, and even that’s debatable) are going to enter 2013 with a premier quarterback. Not via offseason signing or trade, and not via any of the Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson or any of these other evolutionary Byron Leftwich–Charlie Frye–Rex Grossman–style caretaker QBs in the draft.
For one thing, premier quarterbacks are almost never available as free agents or via trades, but if they are … well, I can’t quite come up with the right Kanye and Kim joke, but rest assured it involved “baggage,” “absurd cost,” and “astronomical weight gain.” Secondly, the Class of 2013 might be even weaker than the 2007 crop of QBs. I could name names, but here are the first six teams that drafted quarterbacks in 2007: Raiders, Browns, Eagles, Dolphins, Lions, Bills. See what I mean?
But you don’t want to hear that. You want to hear that a Tom Brady, or a Colin Kaepernick, or a Russell Wilson, or hell, even a Tony Romo can be had here; someone who is being overlooked, undervalued, or just plain ignored.
It’s not going to happen. In fact, if your favorite team is in a situation to draft a potential starting quarterback this year, the most you can hope for is that one of the following guys gets picked in the first two rounds. That way, the GM who makes that selection is basically putting his career on the line and will inevitably be fired after two years after the rookie flounders and the panic signing of Brandon Weeden or Tyler Thigpen or, god forbid, Brady Quinn fails to result in enough late-season wins to knock them out of the running for Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Johnny Manziel, or any of the other extremely talented and awesomely named quarterbacks available in the near future.
In the meantime, if the following rationales behind picking any of the Class of 2013 sound familiar, here’s a three-tiered projection that will allow you to grieve accordingly.
Little Breakdowns: Hyper-productive in college, but undermined by the backhanded compliment of being the best quarterback in a weak class and borderline racist scouting reports that question his intelligence and “intangibles,” as if you can measure the unquantifiable.
Great Expectations: Cam Newton
Wishful Thinking: Vince Young
Worst-Case Scenario: JaMarcus Russell
Little Breakdowns: Smart, polished NFL prototype devalued by playing on a college team that flew under the radar a bit. Will enter the right situation with little expectations as a second- or third-rounder and prove to be a winning game manager–type that can get you to the second round of the playoffs.
Great Expectations: Matt Schaub
Wishful Thinking: Andy Dalton
Worst-Case Scenario: John Beck
Little Breakdowns: Familiarity breeds contempt; a ready-made, productive golden child whose game has been nitpicked to death largely because of his media presence. A guy who is going to make every team that passed on him pay.
Great Expectations: Matt Leinart
Wishful Thinking: Chris Simms
Worst-Case Scenario: Jimmy Clausen
Little Breakdowns: The guy’s a winner! From an elite program! Besides, it’s just gonna be a fourth-round pick. If he’s our starter for a year, how much is that gonna set us back?
Great Expectations: Chad Henne
Wishful Thinking: Colt McCoy
Worst-Case Scenario: Brodie Croyle
Little Breakdowns: Erratic gunslinger who can be coached up into a legitimate starter, or at the very least, an overvalued backup who will eventually be traded to the Dolphins/Cardinals/Bills for a second-round pick.
Great Expectations: Kevin Kolb
Wishful Thinking: Charlie Whitehurst
Worst-Case Scenario: Jonathan Crompton
Little Breakdowns: Intimidating natural athlete who may not have dominated at the collegiate level, but can certainly reverse years worth of mechanical flaws with the confidence instilled in him by an unnecessarily high draft pick. Just put him in coach, he’s ready to play!
Great Expectations: Ryan Tannehill
Wishful Thinking: Josh Freeman
Worst-Case Scenario: Blaine Gabbert
Little Breakdowns: Dual threat who lacks measurables, but he plays to win and is more valuable than ever in the spread-happy NFL. Besides, we can use him somewhere, right?
Great Expectations: Russell Wilson
Wishful Thinking: Tim Tebow
Worst-Case Scenario: Pat White
Little Breakdowns: Physical specimen with a cannon arm who will either be a fantasy monster on a terrible team or a stopgap until the next decent crop of QBs — you decide whether Derek Anderson and Billy Volek are respectively the ceiling and floor.
Great Expectations: Nick Foles
Wishful Thinking: Ryan Mallett
Worst-Case Scenario: John Skelton
Little Breakdowns: Imagine what he could do if he had some real receivers and didn’t go to some brainiac school. (This assumes the person in question fails to realize that pretty much all private schools in the BCS run some version of the spread.)
Great Expectations: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Wishful Thinking: Trent Edwards
Worst-Case Scenario: Mike Kafka
Little Breakdowns: If I never see a single Tulane highlight on SportsCenter, but it always seem to have some QB sticking in the NFL, does it actually play real games or just scrimmages?
Great Expectations: Shaun King
Wishful Thinking: J.P. Losman
Worst-Case Scenario: Patrick Ramsey
Little Breakdowns: How much worse could he be than his brother?
Great Expectations: Whichever McCown brother is the better one
Wishful Thinking: Whichever McCown brother is the worse one
Worst-Case Scenario: Jordan Palmer … or was it Jesse Palmer? Whichever one wasn’t on The Bachelor.