My peers, meanwhile, manufactured cheaper scenarios that envisioned Suh or Gerald McCoy falling to #6 as Detroit took a left tackle instead. Incumbent Jeff Backus didn't seem to be cutting it, and the Lions had signed Corey Williams to bolster the D-line; perhaps they were patching the defense with free agency and targeting a left tackle with the pick! Once Suh fell past Detroit, the other teams' needs would make at least McCoy available to Seattle. It made so much sense.
This is the very definition of wishful thinking. Football movements have many interpretations; the Williams move was a support for Suh, not an alternative. You can create a scenario that's possible, but is it realistic and reasonable? Any theory that requires a long procession of things to go wrong for other teams to benefit us should automatically be re-examined. In the end, Suh and McCoy went at #2 and #3 respectively, leaving us to ask ourselves, "Why did we ever think that Detroit and Tampa Bay would pass those guys up?"
It's wishful thinking to assume that any of the top four quarterbacks - Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, or Ryan Mallett - will be available at #25. Sure, it could happen. Unlike most draft years, not even the #1 pick is locked in, and there are literally millions of possible draft simulations to wade through, including some that drop a top QB to the Seahawks. The problem is, each such scenario involves a number of very QB-hungry teams passing up a potential franchise QB, in favor of either an in-house solution that tanked in 2010 or an unremarkable/aging/unproven free agent (some of whom may not even be open to trade).
I've listed every team by draft order and included a color code to indicate my opinion of the degree of their need at the quarterback position. Said opinion is based on a number of factors, including current roster, offseason movements to date, organization's history, scheme and disposition of coaches, etc.
|Certain to draft a QB, no other options|
|Likely to draft a QB (very small chance otherwise)|
|May decide to pass, could have other options available|
|Set or content at QB|
Pessimism isn't much fun during the offseason, but one of the best ways to predict this matter is to ask for each team, "If we want a QB so badly, why wouldn't they?"
|1||Carolina Panthers||Jimmy Clausen unlikely to stick, QB's usually go #1|
|Set with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick not necessarily long-term answer; offense matches a couple of top QB's|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||Will most likely lose their game of chicken with Carson Palmer|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||Looking more and more like a "veteran QB" team|
|6||Cleveland Browns||Colt McCoy not the answer, despite statements to contrary|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||Alex Smith is lockout insurance at most|
|Vince Young headed out; Kerry Collins headed to retirement home any day now|
|10||Washington Redskins||Donovan McNabb all but gone; Jake Locker fits Mike Shanahan like a glove|
|12||Minnesota Vikings||They'll take any big arm they can get; Joe Webb is a backup|
|Matt Stafford, decent depth in Drew Stanton|
|Definitely in the hunt, Chad Henne experiment is over|
|16||Jacksonville Jaguars||Character emphasis might rule out Newton and/or Mallett; David Garrard could suffice|
|17||New England Patriots||Something tells me these guys are set at QB|
|18||San Diego Chargers||Philip Rivers|
|20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Josh Freeman|
|Might look for developmental QB|
|Might look for developmental QB|
|24||New Orleans Saints||Drew Brees|
|Dry as a desert skeleton|
|Joe Flacco just given contract extension|
|28||New England Patriots||Yep, they're still set|
|Jay Cutler, still with upside; depth is overrated|
|Aaron Rodgers, decent depth in Matt Flynn|
That's a lot orange and red for a QB to slip through. To be painfully blunt, the only teams who are assured of keeping their hands off the first-round quarterbacks are the teams that already have one.
We have to start there, and we have to set aside the thinking that the draft will proceed strictly in order of talent vs. risk. It never does, or Tyson Alualu doesn't go in the first round last year. Teams do crazy, unpredictable things - that's part of the excitement of the draft, isn't it?
And this year, there's actual incentive to get wild. Talk about the weighted risk and historical bust rate of first-round QB's all you like, but that's skewing the debate. History shows that the vast majority of playoff teams get there because of a first-round QB. Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck are the rare exceptions that prove the rule. No other position, nor any possible pair of positions, has the power to elevate a team that a QB does. It's a risk, but like all risks, not taking it ensures failure. Bust on Mark Sanchez and you're in the hole for two years; pass him up and you're stuck with Matt Hasselbeck or Colt McCoy for two years. Not much difference.
I've been maintaining for months that all top four quarterbacks, despite their many flaws, will go in the first 16 picks. I stand by that now. But even if you think that particular prediction is extreme, there's not a snowball's chance in hell that any of them will find their way into the second round as many predict. It's not happening.
Call these guys a reach in the first if you want, but there's no position more deserving of a reach than the QB position. Foolish or not, reaches will happen. Veteran QB's won't rule out a drafted QB; they will serve mostly as easy sponges for new schemes that are unteachable during the lockout. The 2011 QB class isn't worth waiting for unless you'll be selecting #1, which Seattle won't be. GM's and coaches will decide they can coach up a prospect. And franchises will want to entice lockout-dissatisfied fans back with shiny new quarterbacks. It's the perfect storm for an early run.
Russ Lande, a former scout, is one of the few guys who seems to understand how teams look at quarterbacks. Veteran sportswriter John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is another one. And, of course, there's the inimitable Rob Staton with his excellent instinct for how teams think.
My sincere hope is that the Seahawks will not reach at #25 for one of the second-tier prospects like Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, or Andy Dalton - that's an entirely different kind of reach, a developmental player taken in a round meant for impact starters. I highly doubt that those guys will be reached for, just like Jimmy Clausen and Coly McCoy weren't last year.
I'm not saying these QB's should be drafted in the first round (though I think one of them is underrated), and I'm not saying that teams will benefit for these reaches. They might very well regret them for years. All I'm saying is what will probably happen, for better or worse - and what it means for Seattle.
And hey, if I'm wrong - we get a shot at a possible franchise quarterback.