National Football League
Luck is clearly the best QB option
National Football League

Luck is clearly the best QB option

Published Apr. 4, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

There is no doubt about it — the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Just take a look at the Giants and Patriots, the two contenders in last season's Super Bowl. They finished with the league’s 27th- and 31st-ranked defenses, but they had a franchise quarterback to cover up their defensive flaws.

Furthermore, a look back at the previous nine Super Bowl champions further underlines the importance of employing a franchise quarterback. The Giants have won two of the past five with Eli Manning at the helm, the Packers took the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees brought the city of New Orleans its first-ever championship and Ben Roethlisberger has acquired two championships in his first eight seasons.

Then, of course, there's Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who are arguably the two best quarterbacks to play the game. The position has always been the most important player on the field, but in today’s NFL, it is absolutely imperative a team have an elite player behind center if it wants to contend for championships.

That said, a team had better do everything possible to find its franchise quarterback. That is why you will never hear me criticize the Redskins for giving up so much to ensure they will acquire either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.


On that note, the recent rumblings that RG3 might be the top overall pick by the Colts are absolutely absurd. Andrew Luck has always been the pick in Indianapolis, and the only question remaining is how quickly he will sign. With the new collective bargaining agreement in place, contracts are basically already defined, so it is highly likely that both Luck and Griffin sign their respective deals before April’s draft even takes place.

With the ink on those deals already drying, it will be up to Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler to prove they are worthy of being the third QB taken off the board.

Texas A&M’s Tannehill is the popular choice, but it is an obvious “buyer beware” situation. His stock began to rise when both Landry Jones and Matt Barkley decided to return to school for the 2012 season, and Tannehill is now being discussed as a top-10 pick, and that has me concerned.

Tannehill doesn’t even have two full seasons under his belt as a quarterback; he played wide receiver for the Aggies during the majority of his career. On tape, he struggles with downfield accuracy but throws a very catchable and on-target ball on the short to intermediate levels.

I failed to see him go through a complete progression, and he threw to his check-down receiver more than any other prospect in the draft. Cleveland has been rumored to be intrigued by Tannehill with the fourth overall pick, but that is a little high for my taste for a quarterback who is being drafted totally on potential. But, then again, if you believe a guy can be your franchise quarterback, then there is no such thing as drafting him too early.

Oklahoma State’s Weeden will draw obvious comparisons to Heisman Trophy winner and NFL bust Chris Weinke, even down to the minor league baseball career and age.

Weeden will be 28 when he starts his NFL rookie season, and regardless of his skill-set, he will need to compete as a starter from Day 1 because he will already be at the back end of his career by the time he signs his second contract. Regardless, I did have the chance to visit with Weeden at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he exudes confidence and maturity and appears ready to prove that age is just a number.

Arizona State’s Osweiler is an interesting prospect. At nearly 6-foot-7, he has a similar stature to New England's third-round pick in 2011, Ryan Mallett. And, like Mallett, Osweiler will need to show he is quick enough to elude tacklers, climb, reset his feet and deliver a strike — all from within the pocket.

When I watch his tape, I see a fluid athlete with quick, balanced feet and a quick throwing action. The only thing I didn’t see him do with regularity was drop back from under center — almost all of his snaps were in the gun. But during his recent pro day, Osweiler was able to display some of those skills. He has many scouts and analysts thinking he might have played his way into first-round consideration.

Other QBs to be aware of are Kirk Cousins of Michigan State and Russell Wilson of Wisconsin. Neither has superior talent, but both are proven leaders who will bring a certain level of competitiveness and professionalism to the backup position that could fit for a team in need. Look for both of those guys to get some interest in the late third to fourth rounds.


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