Quarterbacks are probably the most important position on a football team, and are therefore often the most prized prospects in a draft. Too often though, teams take a QB high in the draft, and immediately throw the QB in a losing position and expect him to win. They throw their young centerpiece to the wolves, and are upset when they don’t meet their expectations. NFL teams need to realize that the players they are drafting are still young kids, and if you throw the weight of an entire franchise on their back, some of their backs are going to break.
There are certain steps a team should take before, and after drafting a quarterback, to make sure he has the best possible chance to succeed. Take the Colts for example, they drafted Luck with the first overall pick, and spent most of the rest of that draft taking offensive weapons to help him.
Look at the Rams as a comparison. They drafted Sam Bradford, and have since failed to give him a suitable offensive line, or an elite weapon on offense since. Yet they are surprised that he has yet to pan out for the top pick they spent on him. You could also look at the Jets, who brought in Mike Vick to compete with Geno Smith, despite only drafting him one year ago.
With all of this said, here are a few steps every team should take before drafting a quarterback.
1. Give your Quarterback as many weapons as possible
Like mentioned above with the Colts, it is a smart idea to give a young QB a plethora of targets. Even good QB’s will sometimes struggle without anyone to throw the ball to, how can you expect a rookie to do any better. Giving him a few good targets, perhaps even an elite one can make a huge difference in his early progression. Give him the confidence he needs early on in his career, so he can carry it through his career.
2. Solidify the Offensive Line
Any quarterback will find it hard to succeed if they spend half of their time on the ground, and that goes double for a rookie. It may not be the flashiest position to spend a high pick on, but have a strong o line is essential for having a good team in general. This goes back to the idea of solidifying a QB’s confidence early on.
If you are going to spend a high pick on a QB, then at least give him a few years to prove himself before giving up on him. Especially if you failed to meet the previous, two steps. Don’t even bring in some veteran QB to “compete” with him, because despite popular belief, competition isn’t always a good thing. How is this guy supposed to handle his team bringing in a new guy? The Jets signing Mike Vick isn’t going to help Geno Smith. Stick with your young guys, it can take a while sometimes for a player to blossom.
These are three steps that should be obvious for most teams, yet many continue to fail. The fact the Rams are still considering drafted another defensive player instead of a WR or O linemen is concerning, but at least they have stuck with Bradford even if they refuse to give him an actual chance.
You can’t expect guys to be great out of the gate, comparing every new QB to Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who experienced early success is a mistake. Cam Newton struggles a little early before he finally had a few receivers to work with. The bottom line is, if you are going to draft a young QB, you should give him every chance possible to succeed. Defense can wait, sure up the offense first so your QB can at least build up some confidence.