There’s a lot of unanswered questions in the comments section so rather than go through all the individual articles I’ve just listed the questions and answers here in a mailbag session. Feel free to build off the discussion here or ask any further questions.
Kevin Mullen asked, “Is RG3 game one ready? Obviously Luck and Barkley are but not too sure about Griffin. That would mean another half season of TJack then to Griffin3, possibly another top10 pick in 2013, yikes!”
To be blunt, Robert Griffin III is not game one ready. There’s a lot to like about his play, but there’s also a lot of technical flaws he has to repair. For example, his footwork is a major concern. He’s still dancing in the pocket and taking 2-3 unnecessary steps on a pure drop back. It means he has to re-set to release, and it’s just wasting time back there. He needs to find a way to snap, make a 3-5 step drop and release in one fluid motion. This will be particularly difficult for Griffin because I sense it’s a habit that’ll be tough to shake. Considering he’ll also need to learn the basics of a pro-offense and drop backs/reads anyway, you don’t want the guy starting quickly in the NFL. It’s not impossible though – Joe Flacco had similar problems with his footwork and drop backs coming out of Delaware and thanks to some excellent coaching in Baltimore he enjoyed a productive rookie season and started immediately.
I actually think the Seahawks fanbase – if not the media – would tolerate another difficult season in 2012 (and the subsequent high pick) as long as the team makes a long term commitment to the quarterback position. If Jackson or whoever is starting next year with a rookie basically on a red-shirt year, that’s acceptable. What people tend to complain about – and rightly so – is when a team is perceived to be coasting at such an important position. Using stop-gaps and re-treads is fine and so far the Seahawks haven’t passed on any ‘can’t miss’ talents, but eventually they need to take a shot on a player. If the Seahawks wait much longer to draft a quarterback, people are going to start asking questions of the Carroll and Schneider regime. It really is as simple as this – barring several high-profile decisions to stay in college, the Seahawks cannot get out of the 2012 draft without a quarterback.
Rugby Lock asked, “What about Flynn at GB? How expensive would that be?”
Matt Flynn is not the answer for Seattle. Yes – the Seahawks previously found a franchise quarterback trading for a former late round pick from Green Bay. However, Flynn went in round seven for a reason and the Seahawks won’t be introducing that player to an offensive guru like Mike Holmgren when he gets here. Neither will he be protected by two of the finest offensive lineman to ever grace the NFL and neither will he be supported by a NFL MVP at running back. That was a perfect storm for Hasselbeck and combined with his talent, coaching and football IQ - it worked. This is a very different situation in Seattle and a very different NFL.
You need a great quarterback to prosper in this league. Matt Flynn is a physically limited back-up who can spell Aaron Rodgers in a crisis, but he’s a million miles away from starting. Flynn’s reputation is based around one game against the Patriots, but what did we truly learn from that one game? People pair him with Seattle because of John Schneider, but we have no idea what Schneider’s actual view is on the player. Flynn should stay in Green Bay doing what he does best – working as the back-up to the league’s current top quarterback. Seattle needs to be aggressive in the draft to find their Aaron Rodgers, not get cute and sign his understudy.
Reuben asked, “Rob, I don’t know if anyone has talked about this yet, but isn’t it a 4 year contract from rookies under the new wage scale? If so, that would make Luck and Manning have the same amount of years on their contracts if Indy drafts first. I just can’t imagine the Colts having two qb’s under contract for $130 million without one getting a chance to play regularly. If Indy has the first pick I think they have to either cut Peyton or trade the pick away. What are your thoughts?”
I tend to agree, Reuben. This isn’t a cut and dried situation like many people seem to think. It’s illogical for the Colts to pick Andrew Luck and keep Manning, something has to give there. Manning will be owed $26m in guarantees before the draft, so if he’s still on the roster by April you have to believe Indianapolis are going to expect him to start for the foreseeable future. I just can’t picture a situation where not only are the Colts paying $130m for two quarterbacks the next four years, but they’re also facing constant quarterback questions with the most high profile college quarterback since John Elway riding the bench.
And what about Luck in that scenario? He’s read to play in the NFL – so how’s he going to feel about having to sit indefinitely, becoming a peripheral figure behind a future Hall-of-Famer? Would he force a trade? Of course, Manning’s injury could be serious enough to solve this situation. But I expect Manning to come back, forcing Indy to choose between the man who made that franchise and an unproven yet highly rated rookie. Peyton Manning could be a free agent soon enough and you can just see a team like Washington breaking the bank to sign him. On the other hand, it may offer some ray of hope to a team like Cleveland with two 2012 first rounders who may have ambitions to trade up for Luck. There are questions to be asked and it’s nowhere near as simple as Luck simpy riding the pine for a while as Manning waltzes back into the team.
Ralphy asked, “Rob, where do you stand on Austin Davis now? I was under the impression you thought he was a good second tier guy who might be a round two option. Have you changed your opinion on him? Weren’t the Hawks scouting him? I’m trying to stay excited about at least one second tier guy!”
The Seahawks sent a scout to watch the Southern Miss vs Virginia game, but it’s unclear whether any player in particular was the focus of their attention. My opinion hasn’t changed on Austin Davis – he’s the most under rated quarterback in this class. He’s a player with surprising athletic qualities, he’s improved his arm strength and upper body muscle, he’s accurate and he’s got a great head on his shoulders. Southern Miss are ranked at #25 right now and that’s at least 80% down to Davis. I expect him to be drafted higher than people think and I expect he’ll have a shot to make it at the next level. However, I also think the Seahawks need to be aiming big at the position – meaning the top of round one. Unfortunately the time may have passed to draft and develop an Austin Davis. There are certain situations where turning to Davis may be a viable alternative if other options are blocked, but they have to be aggressive in round one first. Right now Davis is my #4 ranked quarterback behind Luck, Barkley and Griffin III.
Misfit74 asked, “I’m curious where guys like Toon and Sanu grade out in your book? 2nd-3rd rounders? What about Fuller or Floyd?”
I have Mohamed Sanu graded in round one – big, physical receiver with good enough speed to keep a defense honest but more importantly great hands. You can line him up anywhere on the field – maybe even at running back occasionally – and he will make plays. Nick Toon is getting a lot of attention but he’s hit and miss. I have him with a round 2-3 grade, but others have pushed him into round one. He has the NFL bloodline and he can be a sparky playmaker, but he’s patchy. Jeff Fuller has been one of the biggest disappointments this season for me and he’s dropping – he’ll be a steal for someone in the mid rounds considering his potential. Michael Floyd is over rated in my eyes – big body, but not great downfield speed and he’s a body catcher. He runs sloppy routes and isn’t as physically dominating as he should be. I think round two at the most, others have him a lot higher.
Dwight Jones and Justin Blackmon are the top receivers in this class. Jones in particular has the complete package at receiver, he deserves a lot more attention.
Dave asked, “Here’s my question. Suppose Seattle drafts 8th. Luck (Indy), Barkley (Miami) and RGIII (somebody trades up) are off the board. What would YOU do if you were Seattle’s GM? (Honestly curious–not intended as a “gotcha”.) That scenario does not seem implausible. Do you explore the trade/FA market? If so, who are some targets? I agree with you. Seattle has to get a QB. Yet, they’re a lot like major league starting pitching. Everybody needs some, but it’s always in short supply.”
If I was Seattle’s GM, I’d be working a deal to move up and do whatever it takes. Sometimes you have to go after the prize, not sit around and wait for it. This team is a quarterback away from being pretty good, at least more competitive. Without that quarterback it’s 2-6 and drifting. If it takes two first round picks to get Matt Barkley, then it takes two first round picks. If you prefer Griffin, then you go and get Robert Griffin. There’s nobody in free agency that interests me unless Peyton Manning is cut by the Colts and he’s actually healthy enough to start. Seattle has to force the issue, it’s 19 years since this team drafted a quarterback in round one and they’ll be waiting another 19 years if they just sit around hoping for the next big thing to fall to them.
It’s difficult because Washington are in the exact same situation – Mike Shanahan became the Redskins coach the same year as Pete Carroll moved to Seattle. The Seahawks took a left tackle in Carroll’s first draft, the same happened in Washington. The Redskins were hoping to draft Jake Locker last April and when he went to Tennessee, they moved down. Shanahan is losing with John Beck and Rex Grossman, he needs to find a quarterback. Miami also needs to find a quarterback. Denver may still decide they need to find a quarterback. There’s a lot of competition out there, but it’s up to Seattle’s front office to win the day. Tarvaris Jackson can’t be starting for this team on a one year contract in 2012 with no young freshly-drafted player waiting in the wings. It will be unacceptable if the Seahawks don’t come away with a quarterback this April – and the only way that changes is if players like Barkley and Griffin choose to return to USC and Baylor respectively.