2011 NFL Draft: Will Patriots, Colts Draft Their Quarterback of the Future?

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent IApril 15, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls out from under center against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Aging isn't always easy, especially when you're an NFL quarterback. Heck, just ask Brett Favre how he felt when the Green Bay Packers selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 draft. As far as Favre was concerned, that was his team, and it would always be his team until he decided he wanted to walk away.

Well, Brett, welcome to the business side of the NFL.

If one thing is clear through this whole lockout fiasco, it's that both players and owners are only worried about the money. The easiest way for owners to make money is to have that "Face of the Franchise" quarterback to sell to their fans. That means having a shiny new face ready to take the reins once the beloved veteran walks away from the game.

I don't think anyone would question Ted Thompson for drafting A-Rodg at this point. Favre still had a few good years left in him, while Rodgers was able to sit back and soak it all in for a few seasons before taking over for a legend. In the end, it all worked out great (for the Packers at least).

In what looks to be a deep quarterback class at this year's draft, there could be a few surprises as teams look to groom a quarterback similar to the way Green Bay did. Of course, there may also be other concerns that lead a team to search for another quarterback of the future.

In the end, it all depends on where the chips fall with the picks ahead of them in the draft. Green Bay didn't go into that draft looking for a QB, one just happened to fall into their lap. If a similar situation presents itself at this year's draft, look for one of these seven teams to come calling.

7. New Orleans Saints

Clearly, Drew Brees is still at the top of his game. But at 32-years-old, he is getting into the latter part of his career. Favre was only a couple years older when the Packers drafted Rodgers, and most quarterbacks don't stick around into their 40's like Favre has.

By no means will the Saints reach for a quarterback but, if somehow Colin Kaepernick is still available when the Saints' 88th pick comes at the end of the third round, this selection could make sense. Kaepernick may end up being the best QB to come out of this draft class, and having four years of mentoring from a guy like Drew Brees could lead to an easy transition when Brees calls it a career.

The Saints currently have Chase Daniel as the primary backup, but he hasn't raised many eyebrows since going undrafted out of Missouri. There is also no guarantee that another opportunity will present itself in the next couple of drafts, as the quarterback position doesn't look to be as deep as it is this year.

6. Dallas Cowboys

This isn't as far fetched as some people might think. Tony Romo is only 31-years-old, so, if healthy, he has some good years left in him. The fact that he is coming back from an injury isn't my major concern. It's how much longer will owner Jerry Jones have Romo's back?

Jones wants nothing less than a championship, and Romo hasn't made a believer out of many people in that regard. Over the last couple of seasons, Romo has also shown that football isn't always his top priority.

We all know how much Jones loves his quarterbacks, so don't be surprised if he snags one with the 71st pick if there is still a big name on the board. At this point, journeyman Jon Kitna is their backup, and Jones would love to have a young quarterback waiting in the wings as a back-up plan in case Romo continues not to deliver.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

This isn't really a surprise because by now we all know that Carson Palmer wants out of Cincy. However, owner Mike Brown has made it clear he has no intentions of trading the 31-year-old quarterback. So how do they attack draft day?

I don't think the Bengals will draft a quarterback with the fourth overall pick—they have too many other needs. I don't even think they will grab one with their early second round pick. Out of Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andrew Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, at least one of them will be available when the Bengals make the 66th overall pick. Why reach when you don't have to?

Aside from Tim Tebow, more quarterbacks fall on draft day than rise—just ask Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. Out of all the quarterbacks projected to go in the first two rounds, there will surely be at least one of them who falls to the Bengals' lap in the third.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

This has nothing to do with age and nothing to do with an incapable quarterback. This is all about Ben Roethlisberger himself. He is walking a thin line within the Steelers organization and if he so much as breaks wind in the wrong direction, he will be gone.

Drafting a young quarterback as a safety-net is not a bad idea, especially if a top arm falls to them with the 95th pick at the end of the third round. Aside from his personal issues, Big Ben takes a lot of hits and may not have the longevity to last into his mid-30's.

Owner Dan Rooney definitely wouldn't draft Ryan Mallett, whose drug accusations may lead him to fall on draft day. But if another top QB prospect is available at the end of the third round, without a doubt I expect the Steelers to grab him.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Yes, the Eagles have Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb at the quarterback position. But as soon as the lockout ends, Kevin Kolb is gone. No question about it. Some team out there will give the Eagles at least one first round pick for Kolb, and probably a second or third round pick to go with it.

If the Eagles can draft a quarterback in the third round with the 85th pick, all while flipping Kolb for a multiple high round picks, they will be making out like bandits. By no means is Kolb an "established" quarterback. He has had a few bright moments in a limited amount of work. The Eagles would be crazy not to flip him.

Then there is the other half of this equation: Michael Vick. Arguably the most exciting player in football, Vick's style of play leads to injuries. He turns 31 soon and, as we saw last year, his body can only take so much of a beating. If all goes right for the Eagles, they could be the biggest winners in the draft.

2. Indianapolis Colts

We've been hearing rumors about the Colts selecting a quarterback over the past week, but will they actually have the guts to draft the future of the franchise without Peyton Manning even being under contract? I think they have to, without regard to Manning's feelings on the matter.

At age 35, Peyton only has a few years left. He will not play into his 40's like Favre has, seeing as he has more aspirations in life after football. This is the perfect scenario to mimic what Green Bay did in their transition from Favre to Rodgers.

There will be plenty of the top names available when the Colts select with their 53rd pick, and I'd be willing to bet a least a couple are still available in the third round when the Colts are on the clock with the 87th pick.

1. New England Patriots

Does anyone realize that Tom Brady will be 34-years-old by the time the season begins? The Patriots are in the same scenario that the Colts are with Manning. The question remains, how soon is too soon to draft a future Hall of Famer's replacement?

The Patriots always make big moves on draft day, generally trading their first round picks to a desperate team and receiving a crop of mid-round picks in return. This is the perfect opportunity for them to draft a quarterback.

As it sits now, the Patriots have two picks in each of the first three rounds. You can guarantee at least one of those first round picks will be flipped for more picks. If you look at the number of potential picks the Patriots will have, then you consider how deep of a quarterback class there is this year, it would be absurd for them not to look at finding Brady's replacement.


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