2012 NFL Draft: 5 Surprise Teams That Should Draft a Quarterback
The NFL is a different animal these days.
Gone are the days when an average, game-managing quarterback could lead a team to Super Bowl triumph (I think you hear me, Dilfer).
The teams that don't currently have a long-term, franchise option at quarterback are at a decided disadvantage.
Consider the Super Bowl winners of late, for example. The quarterbacks to win Super Bowls in the past 10 years include Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and the Manning brothers.
Turn back the clock 10 or 20 years, to an NFL where defense and running the football were paramount, and names of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks included Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Mark Rypien and Jeff Hostetler.
Those days are long gone.
With all of this in mind, I look for several teams you might not expect to review their long-term solutions at quarterback.
Here are five surprise teams that should draft a quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft.
As much respect as I have for the talent Tim Tebow has and the admirable way Kyle Orton has played the past few seasons, it's best for the Broncos that they part ways with both.
Let's be honest: you don't get the feeling that John Elway really is in love with either of these guys, do you?
Elway, as much as anyone, understands the importance of the position. Kyle Orton is obviously not a franchise quarterback, although he has played at a respectable level of a second- or third-tier starter, as Denver's best option since the Cutler-Orton trade.
Furthermore, I'm starting to view Tebow as damaged goods, at least in Denver. To be honest, he's been treated terribly by the Broncos, and I think a fresh start with a team that runs a more imaginative, gimmicky offense might serve him best. He seems to be "gripping the bat" when he does play, which is rare.
Either way, I don't see the Broncos trotting out either of these guys as a starter two years down the line. Elway wants his guy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Broncos go after him aggressively in April's draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
I know the Chiefs just gave Matt Cassel "franchise quarterback" money, and they also drafted Ricky Stanzi late in the 2011 draft, but their quarterback situation seems to be a mess.
Cassel has been hampered by injury and poor performance in 2011, after leading the Chiefs to a divisional championship in 2010.
Or, so I thought.
Upon looking at tape, Cassel was the luckiest guy in the league in 2010. I saw enough dropped interceptions to have an least doubled his interception total in crucial situations that would have resulted in the Chiefs likely losing several more games.
The Chiefs were very fortunate to have had the record they did, and I can't believe anyone thought they would repeat last season's effort.
Furthermore, Cassel doesn't have Jamaal Charles or Thomas Jones on whom to lean, as Charles is gone for the year and Jones looks 100 years old.
Stanzi is a rookie prospect from Iowa that I, personally, think has a chance to be a success in the league. However, he has to get a chance to see the field.
If the Chiefs haven't seen enough from Stanzi that warrants him taking over once they are 2-8, which they will be, then that is a major indicator he isn't the guy.
With Kansas City having a top-10 pick in 2012, they could find themselves in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, or make a move for someone like Matt Barkley.
Mike Shanahan can give us all the lip service he wants about how much he likes Rex Grossman and John Beck, but Redskins are going to draft a quarterback in April.
I'm convinced of it.
In all honesty, if your options at quarterback consist of Grossman and Beck, you're only going to find any success if you are in a weak division and have a harassing defense.
Lucky for you, Redskin fans, you have both.
Washington could win the NFC East, but with Philadelphia and Dallas struggling, it only figures to end this way by process of elimination.
Redskins fans are a rabid bunch who deserve their own guy. Washington hasn't taken a real chance on franchise quarterback since Heath Shuler, and I think we all remember how that ended.
With a solid defense, talented receivers and two powerful running backs, a quarterback drafted by Washington could find immediate success and make the Redskins a very dangerous team in 2012.
New York Jets
I have to include the Jets as a method of self-preservation, because if I don't stop hearing about Mark Sanchez as an "elite" quarterback one minute, then hear about how disappointing he is the next, I may spontaneously combust.
Look, Sanchez is a nice quarterback. He's nice in the same way that Trent Dilfer was nice. If the defense is vicious and the running game controls the tempo, Sanchez is going to look like a first-round quarterback.
However, when it's up to him to carry the Jets offense, he looks like a bust.
Why am I so convinced that the Jets should draft another quarterback? In an era where passer ratings have sky-rocketed and, more than ever, passers dictate winning versus losing, the Jets' third-year "Sanchize" quarterback has a 71.0 quarterback rating over 35 starts.
On top of his 71.0 passer rating, Sanchez also averages just 6.6 yards per attempt during his career, and still has three more interceptions than touchdowns.
While the Jets have other needs to address in the first round, Sanchez hasn't earned the right to be immune from competition.
In a deep draft, the Jets should take a second- or third-round quarterback, let him compete with Sanchez, and watch him either sink or swim.
They can't keep waiting for him to become "the guy"; they have to force his hand.
This is an unfortunate situation for the Cowboys.
Tony Romo has as much physical talent as any quarterback to come through Dallas. But what made Aikman and Staubach champions and legends was just as much their courage and guts as it was their arms and feet.
Despite his physical gifts, Romo is the opposite of a clutch quarterback, and last week's loss versus Detroit may signal the beginning of the end for him in Dallas.
Jerry Jones isn't getting any younger, and he wants another ring. Furthermore, Romo will be 32 in April, and most teams are starting to consider contingency plans at quarterback once theirs have reached 10 years in the league.
Next year will be Romo's tenth.
We've seen the best Tony Romo has to offer. We've seen the highs, and we've certainly seen his lows. It is simply time to go in another direction.
The Cowboys have given Romo long enough to make the next evolution as an NFL quarterback and enter rarefied territory as a true franchise quarterback, but he just hasn't taken advantage.
Though it likely won't happen in the first round, look for the Cowboys to start thinking quarterback in the second round if someone like Nick Foles is still available.