In 1993, the Seattle Seahawks drafted a quarterback with their first round pick. It was the last time the Seahawks spent their first draft choice on a quarterback. By 2013, they’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of that event because this situation isn’t being resolved next April.
Matt Barkley’s decision to return to USC next year wasn’t totally unexpected, but it’s completely changed the complexion of the draft. Seahawks fans can almost certainly forget about addressing the team’s biggest need in round one. While there was a pool of three players, they had options to move around and possibly be aggressive to trade up. With Barkley gone and speculation that Robert Griffin III may also return to Baylor, that pool could be down to one player - Andrew Luck. The Seahawks will not be trading up for the #1 pick. Matt Barkley and Pete Carroll have a mutual respect, they’ve worked closely for a long time and I believe a lot of work would’ve been done to reunite the pair in the NFL. He could’ve been the guy Seattle’s front office has been talking about, the player they’d be willing to break the bank for to lead this franchise. In my mind, that opportunity has now gone.
In some ways this allows us all to move on. We can draw a line under the situation and concentrate on other areas of the team. In recent weeks I’ve mocked the like of Courtney Upshaw, Kendall Wright and Devon Still to Seattle and this is the discussion we’ll be having from here on in. It may be frustrating, but that’s the hand that’s been dealt.
This won’t necessarily have a knock-on effect for other quarterbacks. Players like Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill and Landry Jones had no place in round one to begin with and while the need is huge at quarterback for a lot of teams, I don’t expect to see a cluster of Christian Ponder-style reaches next April. The most likely to be over-drafted is Tannehill purely down to his greater athletic qualities, but even that seems like a stretch. The Seahawks are simply going to have to try and make the most of their picks again, just like they’ve done the last two years. That’s not such a bad thing as they rebuild this roster, but I suspect until they find ‘the one’ at QB, they’ll always be just short.
The big problem created here is the stretching of the talent pool. While Barkley would’ve been an early pick in 2012, he could easily have been the third quarterback off the board. The 2013 class of QB’s was looking incredibly weak – I haven’t identified one current sophomore or junior worthy of a first round grade so far. Now Barkley is the hot favorite to go first overall. Ultimately, the Seahawks will find it harder to trade into the #1 spot than a place lower in the top-ten or early teens. If the depth of quality is permanently spread thin, how can a Seahawks team avoid being terrible and still address this issue?
Griffin may still declare, particularly now that Barkley is going back to USC. If he makes the move – and he should – he’ll be the most desirable player in the entire draft purely because he’s the next in line after Andrew Luck. Every team needing a QB will be desperate to get him, it’ll create a bidding war where the price will be far too high. The Seahawks need to be aggressive, but Griffin is much more of a project than Barkley even if he does have a higher ceiling. Chasing after Griffin wouldn’t be a wise move if it comes at a huge price.
Matt Flynn isn’t the answer, let’s get that straight right away. The Seahawks really need someone who can realistically start at a decent level by 2013, so they won’t have an eternity to groom a long-term project. Tarvaris Jackson has performed above expectations, but he’s still not a player realistically capable of leading this team to the promise land. It’s a serious problem for Seattle – this team is building into a contender, but they still need that player capable of duking it out with the best in the league.
People will want to mention Josh Portis in this debate, but he’s still such a major unknown. Nobody has enough knowledge of Portis to judge whether he even has enough talent to be a good back-up. The Seahawks have basically red-shirted him this year but if he isn’t the #2 quarterback behind Jackson in 2012, when is he going to make that move? We’ll learn a lot in the next 12 months even if Portis isn’t on the field.
It’s probably not what Seahawks fans expected a few weeks ago, or what they even wanted, but the team’s first pick in 2012 is going to be about BPA and adding to the talent pool already created. I just hope they don’t force this issue by making a bad decision at quarterback – just like Arizona and Kevin Kolb – leaving themselves handcuffed and the situation unresolved. I’ve been banging this drum for a long time now, but Austin Davis at Southern Miss would be a wise choice if they’re looking to add a player with eventual starter potential – but we’re looking at quarterbacks beyond the first round now.