If you followed my mock draft scenarios last week, you noticed a key position was missing. Not just a key position, but the most important position in all of sports. It's not because the Redskins seemed to have found something in franchise-tagged Kirk Cousins, it's because I couldn't give the position the attention it needed there.
The quarterback position is a conundrum in itself. With the growth of spread offenses and college concepts, quarterbacks need more time to learn the game at the NFL level. Meanwhile, the time frame for expected production has shrunk. That means more to learn in less time. Every year, players are over-drafted on measureables based on the concept that you can't win without a quarterback. If a quarterback isn't drafted to start, then he has to find a way to learn the game while the team gives the bulk of the snaps to the starter. With so few franchise quarterbacks in the league, the backup quarterback so often becomes the popular guy in town.
I took a look at where Scot McCloughan has been to gauge what those teams have done to address the quarterback position in the draft.
Green Bay Packers '95-'99 (Brett Favre was starter)
5th Round QB Jay Barker (Alabama) 6'3" 220 lbs. (Won a National Championship)
7th Round QB Kyle Wachholtz (USC) 6'4" 248 lbs. (Moved to Tight End)
7th Round QB Ronnie McAda (Army) 6'3" 205 lbs. (Mr. Irrelevant)
6th Round QB Matt Hasselbeck (BC) 6'4" 235 lbs. (Traded to Seahawks)
4th Round QB Aaron Brooks (Virginia) 6'4" 220 lbs. (Traded to Saints)
Seattle Seahawks '00-'04 (Matt Hasselbeck was starter)
6th Round QB Josh Booty (LSU) 6'2" 221 lbs. (Voted 1st team All-SEC)
7th Round QB Jeff Kelly (Southern Miss) 6'1" 212 lbs. (Became High School Head Coach)
4th Round QB Seneca Wallace (Iowa St) 5'11" 205 lbs. (Traded to Browns)
San Francisco 49ers 05-'09 (Flopped between Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey)
1st Overall QB Alex Smith (Utah) 6'4" 217 lbs. (Solid starter then traded to Chiefs)
5th Round QB Nate Davis (Ball State) 6'1" 226 lbs. (Strong leadership intangible)
Seattle Seahawks '11-'14 (Signed Tavaris Jackson and Matt Flynn)
3rd Round Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) 5'11" 204 lbs (Strong leadership intangible)
- QB drafted 5 out of 5 years in Green Bay, 3 out of 5 years in Seattle (1st stint), 2 out of 5 years in San Francisco, and 1 out of 4 years in Seattle (2nd stint). Less per year in SF and SEA because starter was drafted. Total: 11 QBs in 19 years.
- Of the 11 QBs, three came in the 7th round, two came in the sixth round, two came in the 5th round, two came in the 4th round. Late round QBs.
- He selected Alex Smith 1st overall and Russell Wilson in the 3rd round when teams needed a QB to start.
- Value comes in two packages: 2 of the QBs became starters, 4 were traded.
- Shown preference to athleticism with Wallace, Smith, Davis and Wilson. Don't need to be a burner but can escape/extend.
- Leadership intangible
- When working with Ron Wolf, no QB under 6'3". Afterwards, only 1 QB over 6'3".
In the current draft class, I have three tiers.
- Tier 1: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, and Connor Cook.
- Tier 2: Christian Hackenberg and Dak Prescott.
- Tier 3: Everyone else
Following trends, with Kirk Cousins on a franchise deal and the team looking long-term, I don't expect Redskins to look at QB until Tier 1 and 2 are gone unless one falls to day 3. Let's take a look at some draft prospects who fit the profile:
Arkansas QB Brandon Allen 6'1" 217 lbs.
Allen is one of my favorite quarterbacks in the draft. Because of the finicky nature of the position, it's good to take a relatively safe prospect at a relatively unsafe position. Brandon Allen ran a pro style offense with pro style concepts at Arkansas. This shortens his learning curve. He ran a ton of play-action plays on a team that wanted to establish the run. He has a stronger arm than you would expect and can make all the throws across the field. He showed great leadership while elevating his game this year. He stood in the pocket and took big hits to deliver big throws and his teammates saw it. He doesn't have elite speed but he has great feet to move, slide around the pocket and take off when he needs to gain yards. His height and hand size will drop him as he misses the 9" threshold but he looks like a poor man's Russell Wilson on the field and that make make McCloughan spend a pick on him.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan 6'3" 218 lbs.
I can't think of many players who improved as much as Hogan. After a down year, Hogan looked much better this year. Hogan worked in a pro-style offense that featured a bunch of quick hitting passes and play-action bombs. Hogan possess the toughness and the competitive chip that coaches/GM want to see. Whether it's moving to extend the play, taking the big hit to give his receiver one last second to separate, or tucking his head to get that next first down, Hogan looks to lay it on the line which will garner respect. His arm is strong enough to make NFL throws and his athleticism gives him opportunities to make off-schedule plays. He is going to need a quarterback coach to help him with his mechanics. His weird throwing motion is probably here to stay, but he needs work with his foot placement and weight transfer. His base sometimes get too wide causing the ball to flutter (air/spiral). With his throwing motion already being an alert, he can't afford the ball to get there any later. He can help this also by learning how to guide safeties with his eyes.
Alabama QB Jacob Coker 6'5" 236 lbs.
You know it's a tough road as a quarterback when you're built like the prototype, have above average movement skills, run a pro-style offense, put up a 21:8 TD:INT ratio, compete in the SEC, go 14-1, win a national championship -- and you can't get an NFL Combine invite. This is the life of Jacob Coker. The Crimson Tide passer has a pretty good arm, not as strong as you'd expect for his size but enough to do what is asked. He made advanced throws (NFL route tree, back shoulder throws, etc) and knew when to use touch. McCloughan likes players who have competed on the big stages, played in big games and displayed competitiveness/leadership. Coker needs to work on his deep ball and speeding up his delivery but he has a solid base of traits that can be developed.
Up next: Where's Cardale Jones?
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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