2012 NFL Draft: Why Manning Mania Proves Brandon Weeden Is 1st-Round Prospect

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIMarch 8, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Brandon Weeden #3 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates as he runs off of the field after they won 41-38 in overtime against the Stanford Cardinal against the Stanford Cardinal during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL world went crazy. Speculation continues to run rampant on where the "best free agent ever" will finally land.

Let's remember two things about Manning. First, Manning will be turning 36 years old on March 24. Secondly, while Manning may be one of the best regular season quarterbacks to ever play the game, he only has one Super Bowl ring.

What all this craziness surrounding Manning and his decision regarding where he'll play the next two or three years of football shows us is that teams are willing to do, as they should, whatever it takes to win right now.

This is why Brandon Weeden, former Oklahoma State quarterback, absolutely, positively deserves to be a first-round draft pick. If a 36-year-old, probably less than 100 percent quarterback, has over half the league drooling over him, then a 28-year-old prospect with skills galore should do even more.

Yes, Weeden doesn't have the pedigree or resume of Manning. And yes, to compare Manning and Weeden at this stage in their careers might be a little ridiculous.

However, if I'm the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins or Seattle Seahawks, I'd have to be interested in Weeden. It simply doesn't make sense to not be interested in him.

If you truly believe that Weeden is capable of giving your team seven to eight years of quality play at the most important position on the field, he's definitely worth a first-round pick. Seriously, what does age matter in that situation?

The NFL is all about winning now, and Weeden has the skill set to allow a team to do just that. He can make all the throws at the next level, and he has the mentality to be successful in the NFL.

The only knock against him is his age, which Manning's ridiculous free-agent buzz has shown clearly doesn't matter to NFL teams.

Weeden can become the type of franchise quarterback that you build a football team around. And with the Browns, Dolphins, Redskins and Seahawks, you may only be a quality quarterback away from contending for the playoffs. 

What makes this even crazier is that Weeden still has the ability to improve at his craft. He can get better, and he'll absolutely do that when he first steps foot onto an NFL field.

Manning? He isn't improving. He isn't getting better.

In fact, the exact opposite is more likely. Manning has hit his peak, and while he may still be an effective quarterback, his best years are absolutely behind him.

As for Weeden? His professional career is just starting, and any wise team would realize that he deserves to be drafted in the first round.