July 31, 2014

Where There’s Smoke…

there’s bullcrap. At least when the NFL Draft is concerned. Many experts and analysts now believe the first round of next week’s NFL Draft will be chock full of quarterbacks. Mike Mayock believes there could be a so-called feeding frenzy. Adam Schefter believes both Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton might go in the first round.

Here’s why I think they could both be wrong. And here’s why the Bengals shouldn’t worry if they miss on a big-name quarterback in this year’s draft.

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How could the experts be wrong? How could the quarterback frenzy not materialize like expected?

For starters, consider the sources. Certainly some of the people who are being cited in the media reports about the surge in quarterback selections are the agents of the quarterbacks, people who get paid to create fires and puff hot air to anyone who will listen. Agents want to create a climate of desperation. And they want to make it seem – to others at least – that their clients are going to be selected high in the draft. It all creates a bidding war, with the agents being being huge benefactors in the end. Higher picks = higher salaries and higher take-home percentages for the agents. They’re pitchmen with a purpose, and their methods are often successful.

Secondly, let’s say the Bengals swing and miss on a quarterback. Let’s say the analysts are right and Dalton and Ponder are gone, along with Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, and Jake Locker, when the Bengals pick in the second round. They could always take someone else. This draft is pretty deep at quarterback. Ryan Mallett may have the mobility of a cigar store Indian, but he sure throws a nice ball. Colin Kaepernick is very athletic, although a little raw coming from a pistol offense. Greg McElroy and Ricky Stanzi may not be sexy picks, but both had solid college careers.

There are a lot of mid-tier quarterback prospects in this year’s draft who possess legitimate talent. And who’s to say some of them won’t outperform their top-round counterparts? If the Bengals are going to gamble on a quarterback, I’d rather them do it later than sooner.

Now, let’s say the “worst-case” scenario happens. Let’s say the team doesn’t get any legitimate quarterback in the draft. No. Big. Deal. Consider this. The team still has Dan LeFevour, a second-year player who probably would have went in the top three or four rounds this year. He actually has an even better chance to contribute this year than a rookie would, especially considering the shortened offseason due to the labor unrest. And if the lockout gets lifted soon, Cincinnati will likely acquire a veteran backup anyway, as insurance for a position currently unsettled by the Palmer brothers (Carson is threatening retirement, Jordan is inexperienced) and LeFevour’s limited playing time.

In the end, reality will probably settle in somewhere between the two extremes. Maybe it won’t be a feeding frenzy, but perhaps a few quarterbacks will fly off the board early. It will still likely leave the Bengals with a decent quarterback prospect at some point in the middle rounds. So there’s no need to panic about the team missing out on a big-name QB.

Look past the smoke. Smell the bullcrap.

And try not to worry too much.