Hunger for QBs could drive draft trading frenzy
By Pete Prisco
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
April 13, 2011Tell Pete your opinion!
Taking a look at the 2011 quarterback draft class, there seems to be a clear line of demarcation between the top two passers and the rest.
However right or wrong that perception might be -- and I say it's wrong -- it could make for a wild end to the first round. Quarterback-starved teams that missed on getting one early in the round might be in a frenzy to trade back in to get a different quarterback later in the round.
Passing on a quarterback in Round 1 doesn't mean there will be one waiting in Round 2, which should trigger the trades.
Where is the right place to take Ryan Mallett, late first round? (US Presswire)
"There will be a mad dash to get a quarterback," said one NFC general manager. "You will see a lot of activity with teams trying to trade up to get a quarterback with the teams at the back end that have one trying to trade back to load up on picks."
The assumption is that Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, the two top quarterbacks, will be gone in the first six picks. That would mean quarterback-needy teams like San Francisco (seventh pick), Tennessee (eighth pick), Washington (10th), Minnesota (12th) and Jacksonville (16th) might miss out on a quarterback in the first round, unless they draft one higher than most expect. If Buffalo (third), Cincinnati (fourth) or Arizona (fifth) were to pass on one of the top two quarterbacks, they will also be among the potential move-back-in teams later in the round.
Let's say Newton goes first to Carolina and Gabbert goes third to the Bills. That would put the Cardinals at No. 5 and the 49ers at No. 7 in a position of taking the supposed third quarterback in the draft, even though most scouts and personnel men say that would be way too high for any who are left.
"You can't take a guy like Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett that high," one AFC scout said. "There isn't another quarterback who would be worth taking there."
That's why the quarterback rush will likely come later in the round -- and it won't be by the teams in those late spots, but rather these quarterback-needy teams who make a move.
Of the teams picking from 17-32 in the first round, the only team that really needs a quarterback is Seattle, which is picking 25th. The rest are all set, unless one of those teams was to be looking for a quarterback of the future. The quarterback stability of the teams in those spots is why they are there. They're the good teams for a reason.
What that should do is set up what could be a wild ride at the back end of the first round, with a flurry of trades.
The haves can make deals with the have-nots.
"I still think as many as five quarterbacks go in the first round," the NFC general manager said. "You watch. Some of those guys will go late in the round when teams realize they won't all be there in the second, and they have to make moves to get them."
After Newton and Gabbert, there is a group of five or so passers who would seem to come next. The order is debatable. There is Locker and Mallet, as well as Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick.
Locker, who is from the University of Washington, was once considered the top quarterback in this class, but struggled through a so-so season in 2010. Some scouts question his mechanics, but few question his athletic ability or his arm strength.
"He has the arm, but you wonder about his accuracy," one NFC coach said.
Mallett, who is from the University of Arkansas, has the biggest arm of all, and one general manager said he's the most NFL-ready of the group. But there are questions about his character.
Ponder didn't play well as a senior at Florida State in part because of arm troubles that required cleanup surgery after the season. But he is a smart, heady player who has shown over the past couple of months that his arm is fine. That, coupled with his good junior tape, has him rising up boards.
Dalton, who is from TCU, is also a player who has impressed with his ability to read defenses and command an offense. He doesn't have a huge arm, but it's good enough.
"When you watch Ponder and Dalton, they both get it," the coach said. "When you put them on the board, they know where to go and what do to. That means something in this league."
Kaepernick has a big arm, but he is raw, having played in the "Pistol" offense at Nevada-Reno. He ran a lot in that offense and wasn't asked to make a lot of reads in the passing game. But his athletic ability is impressive as is that arm.
The best guess is that a couple of the quarterback-needy teams that pass on one in the first round will make a move to get back into the first by offering a package of picks. It could mean moving ahead of Seattle in the 25th spot.
That could be pricey. Say the Titans, picking with the 39th pick in the second round first round, want to go up and get to the 23rd pick, which is owned by the Eagles. That, according to the value chart, would cost them 250 points, which would mean a future second-round pick or a combination of other picks, including possibly a third-round pick this season.
In 2004, the Bills gave up a 2005 first-round pick to go from No. 43 to No. 22 to draft J.P. Losman, a move that proved to be a disaster. The price was steep last year when Denver moved from 43 to 25 to take Tim Tebow and the cost was second-, third- and fourth-round picks.
A team like New England, which picks 17th and is always willing to move, might be a natural trading partner. If that's too high, maybe the Colts (22nd) or Eagles could be interested.
"Somebody at the back end of the first round is going to load up on picks," the NFC general manager said. "They will take advantage of a team's desperation to get a quarterback."
The other wildcard in this process would be that one of the teams in need of a quarterback would just go ahead and draft one in their first-round spot. For example, why couldn't the Jaguars take Ponder in the 16th spot? Jaguars general manager Gene Smith proved last year when he picked Tyson Alualu in the 10th spot that he doesn't care about perception when many considered that too high for Alualu.
Most would say No. 16 would be too high for Ponder, but who says? If the Jaguars have a high grade on him, why not just take him? It might be a lot cheaper than waiting to trade back into the first round for a team.
Then again, that would make too much sense, but I get the sense that most of these quarterback-needy teams think they can wait. One problem. On draft night, they all won't be as patient, which should start the madness.
If teams pull the trigger on quarterbacks earlier than expected, it could create even more of a frenzy late.
Some team is going to miss out and not get one. I see four or five quarterbacks going in the first round, but the team that misses might have an even better option next season in Andrew Luck. But who wants to wait?
I donít think patience will be at play come the first draft night. Get ready for a night of wheeling and dealing with the quarterback in play.