Kevin Kolb has the look of an NFL starter.
With a new champion crowned and the 2010 season fully behind us, the football media has begun picking out the hottest topics leading up to the 2011 season—if there is a 2011 season. Other than the labor dispute, the likely trades of Vince Young and Kevin Kolb are almost certain to be the two biggest stories of the offseason.
The pair are the most attractive available quarterbacks in a quarterback centered league during a year when there are not many starter-level quarterbacks out there in the draft or free agency. At the same time, a lot of otherwise competitive teams need a quarterback.
Now that none other than Larry Fitzgerald has officially kicked off the 2011 Kevin Kolb sweepstakes by throwing the Arizona Cardinals' hat in the ring, it's time to assess the prospective trade value of the Philadelphia Eagles backup signal caller.
Looking at Kevin Kolb's situation, the most similar scenario in recent NFL history was the Houston Texans' acquisition of Matt Schaub. Kansas City's acquisition of Matt Cassel differed from Kevin Kolb's because Cassel had put in a full season as a starter for New England.
Following the 2006 season, Houston extracted Schaub from Atlanta in exchange for two second round picks plus moving up two spots in the top 10 of the 2007 NFL draft. This last point was not insignificant as the two clubs each took a defensive lineman so one would assume that it was important to Atlanta that they land Jaamal Anderson at No. 8. Likewise, Andy Reid loves moving up in the first round.
When traded, Schaub was a third round pick out of Virginia who had contributed 1,033 yards on 84-of-161 passing with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He had completed 52.2 percent of his passes.
A (surprise) second round pick out of Houston, Kolb has an additional year of NFL service. Kolb has thrown almost exactly twice as many passes for twice as many yards but his numbers are not necessarily more or less impressive. His 194 completions out of 319 attempts for a 60.8 percent completion percentage and 2,082 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions are actually remarkably similar figures to Schaub's.
Kevin Kolb has a better completion percentage but a worse touchdown-to-interception ratio. Both stat sets indicate a young, developing quarterback with potential. Matt Schaub is more of a prototypical quarterback at 6'5" and 235 lbs while the 6'3" Kolb has already suffered a relatively significant injury in his career.
Examining both Schaub's numbers and where he has ended up as one of the two or three most productive signal callers in the league the last two seasons, you have to have confidence that, given Kolb's pedigree, he has a better than odds on chance of being a successful NFL starting QB.
Whatever you may think of Kevin Kolb, here's the key: you just can't say that about any other quarterback whom any of Kolb's suitors could reasonably hope to land this offseason, with the exception of Vince Young. And the Tennessee Titans have undercut their own leverage on a possible Vince Young trade to the point where they may be forced to release him outright.
As recently as December, ESPN's John Clayton put Kevin Kolb's value at a first and third round pick, which is only slightly more valuable that two second round picks, depending on where in the rounds they land. The 2011 first round quarterback talent consists of Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Cam Newton (Auburn) and Jake Locker (Washington).
While any of these players may develop into a franchise quarterback, each comes with questions about his game, especially for a head coach on the hot seat or in charge of a team that has the talent to win now.
To varying degrees, the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings all have the talent to win now. Tony Sparano is on the hot seat in Miami and Arizona must turn things around to keep the interest of 2012 free-agent-to-be Larry Fitzgerald. The Vikings and 49ers have new coaches that have competitive teams that will win immediately with above average quarterback play.
The Cleveland Browns, who were linked to interest in Kolb last off season as well as the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and even the Washington Redskins are all teams that could pursue Kevin Kolb. You have to think that not even Andy Reid would trade two quarterbacks in two years within his own division, though.
Given the number of suitors, the dearth of competitive talent available at the position, and Philadelphia's relative weakness behind Kolb on the depth chart, Kevin Kolb is likely to command a stiff price on the trade market, when there is one.
Whether the Eagles sell will likely come down to just how desperate those squads are to field a competitive team immediately. Given the win now attitude of the NFL, a swap of first round picks, a second round pick and a third contingent pick have the feel of a likely price for Kevin Kolb.