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QB’s From The NFL Draft Find Their Teams And Their Opportunities

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This year’s Kentucky Derby started as it always does, with a group of horses all at the gates.  It finished a two-horse race.  The NFL Draft at the QB position began and ended a two-man race from the very beginning, with the field a distant third or worse.

The Buccaneers owned the first pick and GM Jason Licht let it be known that Marcus Mariota never really had a chance to go No. 1 in his mind, but let head coach Lovie Smith draw his own conclusion, without trying to influence him.  Smith also came to the Licht’s opinion in short order and all they had to do was wait for April 30th and hope Jameis Winston would keep his nose clean long enough to let them justify their huge investment.

Although a civil lawsuit stemming from the sexual assault allegations Winston faced while at FSU did get filed shortly before the draft, the Bucs braintrust said they had expected it and it did not deter them.  Winston said most of the right things in his post-pick party and introduction the following day at One Buc Place, even though he created a quick controversy over a poorly thought-out Twitter post with some crab-legs, another of his college miscues.

What was hoped by ESPN and others to be a drama-filled #2 pick by the Tennessee Titans, turned out to be mundane, as they decided they couldn’t let Marcus Mariota pass or couldn’t get their price inside their 10-minute time limit.  Mariota and Winston decided to stay home and enjoy the time with their families, a good choice by both players, as they both will be extremely busy boys through New Year’s, trying to become the savior of their respective franchises.

Like the derby, the “show” horse was a non-story, as was Garrett Grayson from Colorado State.  The Saints used a third round pick as they look for a future as Drew Brees’ career starts to wane.  Sean Mannion, the big QB from Oregon State, was a surprise jump into the third round and the fourth QB taken this year.  He’s 6-foot-6 and the Rams are looking for someone right now.  They think right now is Nick Foles, who they acquired when they sent Sam Bradford to the Eagles, but there are still questions about the former fourth round pick from Arizona, as he was successful in Chip Kelly’s unique and new offense in the NFL, which Mark Sanchez showed others could run his fast-paced attack quite well.  So, the easy bet goes to Foles based on experience, but Mannion very well could be given a chance to compete with his great size and arm strength.

Bryce Petty fell to the fourth round, a surprise to me, since Winston and Mariota went so high, I thought a team would reach for him much earlier, but either the Baylor system or something else in the strong-armed player turned teams away much longer than expected by most analysts and turned him into a third day pick, which must have left him sleepless at least an extra 24 hours than he hoped.

UCLA’s Brett Hundley was the last of the big names running on this draft track and the Green Bay Packers picked him up in the fifth round, but it very well could turn into a great situation for him, as it did for the guy that fell to them in 2005.  Aaron Rogers had to bide his time behind the future Hall-Of-Famer Brett Favre, but his talent and a pretty good team made the transition from Favre rather seamless.  Favre was a lot closer to the exit door than Rogers is at this point, but injury is close to inevitable at some point, and Rogers did struggle through a calf injury in this year’s playoffs, so Hundley may find himself in a situation where he could get some playing time on a good team.

Will Winston and Mariota follow the lead of Andrew Luck and RGIII, the most recent QB’s to go first and second in the draft, with both finding early success or more like Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf from 1998?  This year’s top guys should both be successful in time.  If they both stay on the field, barring unforeseen, but not too unpredictable off-the-field situations, these guys are as well-prepared and scrutinized as any two QB’s in draft history, but if I had done the choosing, I’d have taken Mariota by a nose.


About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

Former NFL quarterback, training youth QB's in Tampa, Florida. Football Analyst for Bright House Sports Network and Football Insiders.