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Most people would consider it an innocuous comment during a pre-draft press conference.
But it really got me thinking.
If this was the case, the NFL wouldn’t have a QB shortage, which actually got worse this off-season with the retirements of Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers.
The quote I’m talking about was from ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. He was asked about the Detroit Lions perhaps picking at QB at 7.
“If they’re sitting there in a position to be able to get a quarterback, I don’t think they can wrong with any of these guys,” Herbstreit said.
He was talking about Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
Herbstreit was answering a question from a Lions beat-writer. Herbstreit is a high-road guy, but all these guys have questions marks.
Unfortunately teams usually do go wrong with their first-round quarterback selections, and often even higher than with the seventh pick.
Think about the 2015 and 2o16 drafts – the first two picks in each draft were quarterbacks, and none are still with the teams that picked them – in 2015, it was Jamies Winston (Tampa Bay) and Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) and then in 2016, it was Jared Goff (Rams) and Carson Wentz (Philadelphia).
That is illustrative of how hard it is to project college quarterbacks to the NFL. They are all on a second team.
The problem is pretty simple. It’s very hard to project whether something can do something they have never done before – read NFL defenses. You can guess whether they can, but you won’t know it until they do it.
And another problem is most of these guys are coming from simplistic college spread offenses. Check out what Bruce Arians said about this:
“The college spread quarterback gets the play call by looking at a sign that someone on the sideline holds up. He rarely uses a snap count. He just claps his hands or stomps his feet and then takes the snap in the shotgun. He barely reads the defense. The college spread quarterback doesn’t learn the mental and physical skills needed to execute the intricacies of the NFL game. That puts the college spread QBs, who aspire to play and succeed in the NFL at a distinct disadvantage. College spread quarterbacks don’t have a sense of reading coverages and knowing where to go with the hot reads. They don’t throw hot reads on sight adjustments in the spread, so they have to learn that. And they don’t really read blitzes. They have one protection, which is slide right or slide left. So that skill has to be taught as well.”
So this is why Herbstreit’s statement really hit me and drove me to write this piece.
The Lions could go wrong with any of those quarterbacks. Who knows how any of them will perform on the NFL level.
By the way, the Lions current QB is Goff, a picture postcard on how you can go wrong with a first-round QB.
And obviously the Jets will be picking a QB with the second pick of the draft, likely BYU’s Zach Wilson.
Jets fans pray this works out.
The player certainly has a lot of talent.
But with these first-round quarterbacks, who truly knows.
I could fill this page with first-round quarterbacks that didn’t work out over the years.
So yes, the Lions could go wrong with any of those guys.
You just don’t know.
It’s the toughest position to evaluate.
“Very few people can coach the quarterback, and even fewer can evaluate them.,” said the late Bill Walsh.
April 15, 2021
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