For only the fifth time in NFL history, quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks of last night’s draft. And as a result of the hype surrounding Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the draft’s next-best quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M and Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State, saw their respective stocks rise artificially.
So sure, the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns picked each player higher than they probably should have been chosen. But did either team really have a choice?
In theory, the Dolphins might have been able to drop back a few slots before selecting Tannehill, and it’s possible the Browns could’ve had Weeden with their early second-round pick, but when you consider supply and demand and the value of top-tier quarterbacks, it probably wasn’t worth the risk.
It’s simple, really: In this league, you can’t win consistently — and you certainly can’t win Lombardi consistently — without a quarterback who can carry your team. And there’s a misconception out there that maybe teams like the Dolphins (who haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino) and the Browns (who haven’t had one since Bernie Kosar) don’t agree with that theory.
They do. But unfortunately, knowing it and having it are two different things.
I’m not forgiving either team for poor personnel decisions, but sometimes I wonder what their respective fan bases would prefer. Did they want the Browns to mortgage their future for Robert Griffin III? The last three times two quarterbacks have been selected to start the draft, one of each set has become a bust. There’s no guarantee RG3 becomes good. There’s never a guarantee. Would he be worth it?
I don’t blame the Browns for not selling the farm for Griffin, and understand their more reasonable decision to save their draft picks for weapons to complement Weeden, who comes with significantly lower expectations but at a more reasonable price.
I also don’t blame the Dolphins for not paying steep prices for top-flight free-agent quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn. Manning, who is 38 and has neck problems, would have cost nearly $20 million in 2012. Flynn could turn into a special player in Seattle, and he’s being paid quite modestly, but by all indications, he simply chose the Seahawks over Miami.
That’s the rub. Very rarely do quarterbacks who are worthwhile hit the free-agent market, and if your team isn’t very good, it probably won’t be able to compete for the ones that do. The Browns experienced that when Manning swatted them away early this offseason.
Now at least both of these teams have capable bodies in place to provide healthy competition with the incumbent starters. Maybe they’ll hit the jackpot, maybe they won’t.
There’s a strong chance that neither Tannehill nor Weeden pan out, but the Dolphins and Browns didn’t have many other options. And in a quarterback-dependent game such as this one, you simply have to keep swinging until you find the right signal caller.