By Christopher DiMarino
With the 2013 NFL draft now behind us, we are entering a stagnant time of waiting and over-analysis. Many are spiteful of this advanced look, but it\’s only natural given the amount of time, effort and excitement that goes into the draft. Sure players won\’t be battling for positions for a few more months, but those battles are all but set in stone. So, I decided to start taking advanced looks at the rosters and position battles that are generated from the draft.
While position battles league wide are important, I bet you\’re wondering why you should care. Well since I\’m the self appointed fantasy and competitor analyzer on the site, there is value on fantasy draft day and should the Pittsburgh Steelers face any of these players in 2013. For the quarterbacks, I\’ve put a grade on each player, which is just my opinion. I have also made several categories to break them up by age and experience. In my experience, rookie\’s are very risk/reward type of guys, because so little is known about how they will make the transition or if they will even get a chance. Second year guys usually surge from their first year if they were starters, but the rookies who overachieved might struggle to equal their rookie numbers in their second season. Third year players are usually a safer bet because of their time in the organization, and thanks to new rookie rules, the anticipation of their contract already being half over. As far as the older player designations, I read an interesting article at Football Perspective that pretty much shows that quarterbacks start to have a slight drop off at the age of 30. Obviously, these stats are averages, but it makes you think twice about reaching for a guy like Peyton Manning.
The Buffalo Bills are the first team on the list and they were the first team to take a quartervabk in the draft when they grabbed E.J. Manuel. Manuel is a physical and talented guy, but I doubt anyone would want to start him Week 1. He needs time to get used to the speed of the NFL and to also work on his accuracy. He doesn\’t have the elite speed of a Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick, but he makes up for it with size, which might provide a little more durability and protection on your investment. Manuel\’s competition is Kevin Kolb and he must love that. While Kolb should be steady enough to win the battle, which I\’m sure is part of the plan in Buffalo, he is injury prone and Manuel will likely get a chance to show what he\’s got early on in his rookie year. He might be worth a late round pick and has value as a keeper, but should be a non factor this year.
For the next quarterback battle, we jump to the New York Jets where Geno Smith will battle against Mark Sanchez. Smith is similar to Manuel in a lot of ways, but it smaller and doesn\’t have as good of an arm. Smith, however, is much more polished and should be in a better position to step in right away. That being said, he still has a lot of work to do before he is a capable starter. Unless he shows some great promise in preseason, Smith will start the season as a backup to Sanchez and should be given a year to develop. Sanchez doesn\’t have a chance of going anywhere unless he shows something, so it\’s mutually beneficial for the Jets to try and revive some of Sanchez\’s value which means keeping him a bit longer before switching to Smith in a year. New York is a vicious city and the Jets coaching staff has shown vulnerability, so there is a good chance Smith will play some football this year. However, the state of the Jets offense and weapons concern me, so unless he shows that he can make plays in preseason, I would pass on him.
Those two battles will be the most covered this preseason because both quarterbacks are No. 2 on their respective depth charts and they are both behind less than stellar incumbents. There are many more quarterback battles out there and there is still hope that some of the other rookies can pull off what Russell Wilson did last year and become the starter.
Other Rookie QB\’s:
- I would say that the next likely quarterback to earn starting time would be Matt Barkley with the Philadelphia Eagles. He is in a crowded club of mediocrity behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Foles showed some promise last season, but also showed some big flaws. Dennis Dixon doesn’t strike me as an option, so if Barkley can wow more than Foles during the preseason, he could have a chance to play should Vick get hurt or start the season slow.
- Tyler Wilson is a close second to Barkley on this list. The Oakland Raiders might have thought they struck gold in the 2011 supplemental draft when they grabbed Terrelle Pryor, but he hasn’t earned any praise yet. The Raiders opted to get some insurance with Wilson, and in doing so they also grabbed almost the polar opposite of Pryor. Depending on what the Raiders coaching staff decides, if Pryor isn’t the type of guy that they want, then Wilson will likely be the backup to Matt Flynn.
- The other quarterbacks that were drafted most likely won\’t get the chance of making an impact this year barring a stellar preseason or injury to a starter. Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib and Landry Jones are all behind talented starters and could factor into future plans, but not present ones.
Other QB Battles:
- One of the more interesting quarterback battles brewing this offseason is within the AFC North division as the Cleveland Browns grabbed some great insurance by adding Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer to their roster. I honestly think Brandon Weeden is underrated, but look for Campbell to be given a fair chance to compete for the starting job during the preseason. Either way, this battle should not mess with your draft day plans. Advantage: Weeden
- I think the most talked about battle this offseason will be in Jacksonville where Blaine Gabbert will compete against Chad Henne. Gabbert has made some strides, but has also looked terrible at times, while Henne was a much needed breath of fresh air. It\’s a tough battle, but neither quarterback really has much fantasy value. Advantage: Gabbert
- In Tennessee, Jake Locker has had to work in the shadow of Matt Hasselbeck, but with him now gone, the Titans brought in a high profile backup in the form of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who wants to challenge for the job. I like both, but don’t love either. Fitzpatrick showed some promise in Buffalo, but it could be because of the time that he spent in the system. Locker, on the other hand, has shown promise, but his stat sheet always ends up mediocre. Whoever wins the job here could be a quality backup in fantasy. Advantage: Fitzpatrick
- The last battle might make some of you laugh, but I don’t think all is well in Minnesota. After a great 2012 season, they made an early exit from the playoffs due largely to the quarterback play as Christian Ponder didn’t even play. However, it is clear that his opportunities are running out and Matt Cassel was brought in just in case. Cassel might get revived in a system where the quarterback isn’t heavily relied on. I think Ponder will start, but look for Cassel to get thrown in if the Vikings struggle in a strong division. Advantage: Ponder
There you have it, the status of the quarterback position around the league post draft. Preseason is still a ways off, but it is the next necessary event that will answer the questions regarding several of these players. Though not many of the quarterbacks listed have a good chance to succeed should they start, there are plenty of young guns that got drafted around the league that will fight for a backup role. From there, your just one injury away from them playing.
|2013 POST DRAFT: QUARTERBACK|