NFL teams looking for a future franchise quarterback shouldn’t be hopeful during the 2017 NFL Draft, at least according to most folks, Tom Savage among them.
“It’s probably not a good year to say, ‘We’ve got to have one’,” the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and current executive director of the Senior Bowl told Tom Pelissero of USA Today last month. The quote came in an article titled “Need a Quarterback? 2017 NFL Draft May Not Be Place to Find One.”
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That’s a widely-held sentiment in most NFL circles, and a departure from the general optimism of a Jared Goff and Carson Wentz-led group in 2016, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota-led group in 2015, and Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel-led group in 2014.
But it’s very reminiscent of 2013.
That year, E.J. Manuel was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 16th overall pick. He was the only quarterback taken in the first round — fewest since 2001 — and one of just three in the first three rounds — fewest since 2000. In all, 11 quarterbacks were drafted in 2013. Manuel, Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and the others have started a combined 75 games and reached zero Pro Bowls in a time when 30-turnover Philip Rivers ‘earned’ a bid.
Three weeks before the 2013 draft, Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports wrote an article titled “2013 QB Draft Class May Be NFL’s Most Lowly Regarded in More Than a Decade.” In it, an AFC general manager gave a blunt assessment of the quarterback class:
“If either Smith or Barkley were that good, you wouldn’t see the trades you’re seeing right now. [Alex] Smith? [Carson] Palmer? [Matt] Flynn? That tells you what you need to know. If Kansas City thought there was a great quarterback in this draft, or even a really good one like Matt Stafford, they wouldn’t have traded for [Alex] Smith.”
It was a fair assessment that later became a spot-on assessment. Frankly, the 2013 quarterback class was atrocious. Aside from decent rookie seasons from Manuel and Glennon, there is nothing worth mentioning from the 11-QB contingent.
Will another lowly-regarded draft class deliver — or rather, fail to deliver — in 2017?
Mitch Trubisky sits atop most 2017 NFL Draft big boards, followed by the likes of Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahomes in some order. Though some predictions have a team aggressively selecting one of the latter four in the early stages of the first round — similarly to Ryan Nassib in 2013 — the general consensus is that Trubisky is the only real high-value prospect at the position. The gap between Trubisky and everybody else is even more dramatic than the gap between E.J. Manuel and the rest of the pack three years ago.
We’ll be watching closely at the draft slots in April to see how many teams agree with Savage and the years to come to see if the 2017 class proves skeptics wrong like 2013.