The following was written by long-time friend and even longer-time Raider Hater, Steve Prager. We once saw the Broncos play against, and lose to, the quarterback tandem of JaMarcus Russell and Charlie Frye at home. That probably has something to do with the NFL draft and busts, or whatever, but mostly I wanted to remember life before Peyton Manning in the same way I drink small doses of arsenic before Johnny Walker Blue.
2013 Draft Predictions
The 2012 draft is often melodramatically described as one of the best drafts for quarterbacks in NFL history, on a list that includes the momentous 1983 draft, when little-remembered guys like John Elway and Dan Marino were both selected. The talent that emerged from this round of selections is obvious. Three quarterbacks from the 2012 draft made the playoffs straight away and one even won a game. We saw Andrew Luck shatter records set by his Indianapolis predecessor, whose name is tough to remember (though as a Broncos fan I’m not all that impressed by Luck). RGIII put on a performance that was nothing short of mesmerizing, and even a four-game improvement by a Brandon Weeden-led Browns squad has to act as an (albeit weak) calamine lotion for the constant and debilitating burns inflicted on Cleveland. My personal favorite rookie quarterback to watch was Russell Wilson because of his intensity, but all hindsight-blind hype aside, 2012 did produce a pretty unbeatable cast of young talent under center.
But 2013 is not 2012. And as solid as Luke Joeckel may be, the Year of the Left Tackle doesn’t have the same sizzle as ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback. With this in mind, I was one of many predicting that the Kansas City Chiefs would pursue the proven-quantity-but-not-Colin-Kaepernick that is Alex Smith. Since the Chiefs just picked up their second former (though less impressive) 49ers quarterback to hold them for the next few seasons, we can be sure that the first overall pick will not be a quarterback. So how far will this position fall?
I believe it will be seventh, to the Arizona Cardinals. Why? The second pick of the draft falls to the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose erstwhile fans must be itching for a reason to fill up that depressingly empty stadium and usually this means, if not a gunslinger, at least a QB with some sort of draw. The team has so many holes to fill I get a stomach-ache thinking about Florida, and I’m not even running for President. Despite this I don’t see them taking a quarterback. With both Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne signed up, they might be better served if they beef up the roster elsewhere, and it seems likely they’ll want to open up some holes for MJD, which obviously necessitates an OL as their first pick. The team has high priorities at almost every position, but quarterback is surprisingly not at the top. And frankly I still have trouble believing that a certain Jet won’t be wearing a Jaguars jersey next year. I know the GM said absolutely not, but Shahid Khan knows he needs to fill seats and I can say from experience few players have fanbases like Tim Tebow.
The next team on the list is the Oakland Raiders. If they don’t inexplicably take a long snapper or backup punter third overall I’ll be floored, but after selling their future for Carson Palmer and even giving Terrelle Pryor a chance (I assume they’ll sign a 300 pound Jamarcus Russell to make the competition more titillating), they don’t want a quarterback. Not yet, at least.
Fourth overall are the Philadelphia Eagles. They’re an enigma with a new coach, but I think Chip Kelly is going to see what he can get from Michael Vick and, barring that, develop Nick Foles for a season that inevitably doesn’t work out. Either of these quarterbacks will be good enough to hold the team over until next year, which is the name of the game for this draft. Plus their need for certain positions will probably push a potential quarterback selection down at least a round.
Next are the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns. The Lions have Matt Stafford, and he’s a franchise quarterback without question. Quietly throwing 5,000 yards a couple seasons ago tends to cement that sentiment and the team did not have a bad 2013 campaign because of his arm, after all. Their problems are huge elsewhere and, like many early teams’ picks, they should pick accordingly. And the Browns have a decent quarterback in Brandon Weeden — (OK, he’s passable, but you’ll take that, right, Browns fans? On a personal note I really hope you guys sweep the Steelers). In all honesty they look like they have some potential, especially with Trent Richardson (who showed some flashes of greatness last season) but their most desperate positions are also on defense.
This brings us to Arizona. Why will they take the first 2013 quarterback? Because the Cardinals are the first team in the draft that completely embarrasses the franchise. Their talent level at the position is so bad that Roger Goodell probably calls it ‘damage to The Shield’ . They have problems at almost every position except the number one wide receiver, and all Larry Fitzgerald needs is a decent quarterback to get the ball somewhere near him. The QB should be quick – how else will he survive behind that atrocious line? But we know the Cardinals are working from the ground up by hiring hired Bruce Arians, the guy who ran the Indianapolis offense while Chuck Pagano was recovering last season. An offensive mind like this would love to see a quarterback with some actual potential. None of the three quarterbacks on the carousel last year had any faith in them by the coaching staff and I don’t see the new one feeling any different. The Cardinals started 4-0 and wound up with the seventh pick in the draft; in other words, they did the fans no favors after the hot start. Other than the Chiefs, they ranked the worst in total passing in 2012 among the top six draft picks and their situation is the most dire.
Despite a very shaky history with the Draft Crystal Ball, I would expect the Cardinals’ pick to be Geno Smith; whether or not he is the actual future of the franchise is debatable. In the end, though, draft speculation is always a little tough — just ask Aaron Rodgers.