Draft Hype 06/26/2009Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: detroit lions, fantasy football, mark sanchez, matthew stafford, new york jets, NFL, quarterback class, rookie quarterback
Handicapping the NFL draft is an inexact science, at best. And projecting the quarterback position is perhaps the most difficult task of all. The true value of a draft class is not fully known for years. This years draft is no exception.
2009 is considered a poor year for quarterbacks. In fact, only 3 quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. Matthew Stafford of Georgia went first overall to the Detroit Lions, Mark Sanchez of USC went to the New York Jets with the 5th pick, and Kansas State’s Josh Freeman was chosen 17th by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stafford and Sanchez are considered can’t miss prospects. There are a few more questions about Freeman. But, really, what do we know about the futures of any of these players? For perspective, lets look at 2 recent qb first round draft classes.
For comparison, lets look at the class of 2006. While they are only 3 seasons into their careers, and they all have plenty of time to make or break their legacy, lets look at where they are today. Like the class of 2009, there were 3 quarterbacks drafted in the first round. The cant miss prospects of Vince Young from Texas, drafted 3rd by the Tennessee Titans and Matt Leinhart of USC, the 10th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. In a surprise, the Denver Broncos traded up to the 11th spot to draft Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt. Many were comparing this class to the fabled qb class of 1983 that produced John Elway (1st), Todd Blackledge (7th), Jim Kelly (14th), Tony Eason (15th), Ken O’Brien (24th) and Dan Marino (27th). In what is considered by many as the best qb class ever, Elway, Kelly and Marino are all in the Hall of Fame. That’s quite a record for the class of 06 to live up to.
The first qb in the 06 class was Young. Young is the first qb from that class to appear in a playoff game, a loss in 2007. Young suffered a quad injury during week 6 of the 2007 season, and it kept him out of the next game, but he rounded into shape and let the Titans into the 2007 playoffs. Young seemed to be on his way, but he injured his knee during the first game of the 2008 season, an injury that was projected to keep him out for 2 to 3 weeks. Kerry Collins was named the Titans starter, and has remained such since. Head Coach Jeff Fisher says that heading into the 2009 season Collins remains the starter. In his 3 seasons, Young has played in 33 games, throwing 22 td’s and 32 interceptions. His qb rating of 68.8 is the lowest of any quarterback who has appeared in at least 33 games over the last 3 seasons. Young appeared in only 3 games last season, attempting only 36 passes.
Leinhart has had even more issues than Young. He held out in a contract dispute and missed much of his first training
camp. Leinhart was the last first round draft pick to sign a contract, and never really caught up on the missed time. He did start 11 games that first season, but compiled a 4-7 record as a starter. He started the 2007 season on shaky ground, and began sharing time with Kurt Warner at the qb position. During the October 10 game against the St Louis Rams, Leinhart broke his collar bone, ending his second season. Leinhart could not displace Warner as the starter last season, appeared in only 4 games and threw only one td pass. He watched from the bench as Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Leinhart’s career statistics include only 21 game appearances, 14 td passes and 17 interceptions. There is still time for these two players to get their careers on track, but neither has thus far lived up to the hype that accompanied them into the league.
The qb from the 2006 class that has established himself as a starter is Cutler. He possesses a cannon arm. Since taking over the starting job midway through the 2007 season, he has started every game. He has appeared in 37 games so far in his career, including all 16 last season. Cutler has thrown 54 td’s against 37 interceptions and has a career completion percentage of 62.5%. He had the Denver Broncos on the cusp of a playoff appearancelast season. They had a 4 game lead in the AFC West Division with 4 games to play, but lost each of their final 4 games and missed the playoffs. That collapse led to the firing of long time Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, the hiring of a new coach and then the trade of Cutler from Denver to Chicago. How will Cutler do in Chicago? Only time will tell.
Contrast the start of the class of 06 with last years draft class. The 2008 draft included only 2 qb’s in the first round. Not much was expected last season from Matt Ryan, the 3rd pick out of Boston College by the Atlanta Falcons or from Joe Flacco, the 18 pick out of Delaware by the Baltimore Ravins. All these two quarterbacks did in their rookie seasons was to appear in all 16 games, became their respective teams starter early in the season, and lead their teams into the playoffs. They each threw more passes during the playoffs than either Young of Leinhart attempted during the entire season. Flacco even lead the Ravins into the League Championship game, just 1 game shy of the Super Bowl. These are the type of results expected from the 06 class. Surely no one saw them out of the 08 class.
So the question remains. Who REALLY knows what to expect out of the qb class of 09?