Monday, April 30, 2007

Rolling the Dice with Andy

The Eagles- bless’em- threw the dice here. Man, quarterback is oh so tricky- and to spend your first pick of the day here...

For example, there are probably thirty guys in the NFL playing linebacker that are pluses most Sundays- and at least another thirty that won’t cost you games running them out there each week. But quarterback… well, by definition, if there are 32 starters, only sixteen are “above average”- and of that sixteen some will get hurt, and some won’t sustain their success for five years. Worse, that #16 QB is someone like David Carr. Or Tony Romo.

Right now, there really are only a dozen guys in the whole freakin’ League that have had either sustained success or can realistically expect it. Figuring a top quarterback plays a decade, then on average, only one guy a year entering the League that deserves the “franchise quarterback” tag. People kill Ramsey- but he’s certainly one of the Top 50 qbs on the planet. If he were a linebacker, that would be fine- he’s be the second best ‘backer on a decent team- but the cut for quality in qbs is so much higher.

Kolb could turn out to be the second best quarterback in the entire draft- then it follows around the 18th-20th best qb in the whole world- which is something like Joey Harrington, right? Conversely, the second best defensive tackle in the draft could be a pro-bowler for a generation. It’s hard to take that sort of gamble unless you really, really need to. And the Eagles don't.

Sigh. The vast, vast consensus was that Russell and Quinn were the 1 and 1A prospects in this draft- and Kolb, Beck and Stanton were the next tier. Yes, you can justify taking Kolb higher than “consensus”- ‘cause he wasn’t certainly, without a doubt, going to be on the board the next time around. And if he’s one of those special ten-twelve guys- no will care where you took him.

To me, that is the difference. You “miss a little” choosing a defensive lineman- and get a guy who is the fiftieth best player in the League at his position, you get a high quality starter. You “miss even a little less” choosing a quarterback, you get the 25th best qb in the League, and that guy gets booed out of the stadium. Normally, I tend to cut teams a break selecting quarterbacks- you need one, it is so darn hard that maybe you need to invest picks there.

Kolb has got as good a chance as any of his immediate peers (Stanton & Beck), he wasn’t going to be on the board much longer, they traded down a dozen spots to get him (picked up an extra 2, 3 and 5- round selection- maybe they could afford a flyer) so I’m okay- but just okay- with the selection. It is a gamble- and I hate to gamble if I don't need to. I get the rationale. And again, I really want to cut them a break cause it is a quarterback they're reaching for (not, say a safety)- just don't expect me to be happy about it.

To me, their best pick was Tony Hunt- from Penn State. He shouldn’t have been on the board that late, he should be able to contribute a dozen or so touches at a higher level than Correll Buckhalter, he is healthier than Buckhalter, and as a gifted power runner he complements Westbrook. Now, the team can get rid of two of this uninspiring trio: Ryan Moats, Buckhalter and Reno Mahe- which is cause for much rejoicing.

And the trade was a good one. Trading down in the new vogue in the NFL- and it makes sense to me- particularly since the Eagles, once the safety from Miami went off the board, clearly weren’t in love with anyone. Moving down a dozen or so spots for a three and five seems shrewd. The Eagles recent draft history suggests a certain quantity over quality strategy works best. But that end from Purdue must now never touch McNabb though.

The rest of the draft was unremarkable- the risk-reward trade-off seemed adequate- and the trade agasin reasonable, a plus. I feel ultimately nonplussed- nothing here to cost them dominance of NFC East, nothing here to close the gap on the League’s elite.