One of the most consistent reasons I’ve heard for not dumping quarterback Jay Cutler is that neither of the two top prospects in the draft will be there when the Bears pick in the first round. Greg Gabriel at the National Football Post tells you (indirectly) why this is likely to be a patently false assumption and why the Bears will likely get a shot at Marcus Mariota and, maybe, even Jameis Winston. If they want them at all:
“We are a week away from the Combine, and the first round quarterback hype is already high. Many of the draftniks and media have both Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota going in the top 10. Their thinking is that because they are the two most talented quarterbacks, they will automatically go that high. If you notice, it’s only the media and draftniks that are making these statements. No one from the NFL says a thing and they won’t until they get into the lying season full swing. Once you get to the Combine, you can’t believe a thing an NFL exec says about a prospect because 90% of the time they are lying.
“If you go back a year or 13 months, most of that same group had Teddy Bridgewater going, if not first overall, at least in the top 5. They also had Johnny Manziel as a sure-fire top 10. As we got close to the Combine, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles started to catch fire and by the start of that annual event, many ‘experts’ had all three of those quarterback’s being drafted in the top 10. The problem is the people making these predictions aren’t the ones making the decisions. While quarterbacks did get largely over-drafted for a number of years, in the last two drafts, they’ve been drafted just about where they should have been.”
Personally, I thought Bridgewater was under rated by NFL teams in the end (and his rookie season proved me right). But the point still stands. Everybody had NFL teams over-drafting quarterbacks last year just as they probably have them doing it this year.
I actually wouldn’t put it past Lovie Smith to over-draft Winston or Mariota. He isn’t dumb but i don’t think he’d know raw quarterback talent if it crept up and bit him in his nether regions. I doubt very much that he knows what he’s doing and whether he will actually listen to the people that do is also highly doubtful. He’s a very stubborn man. In any case, which ever one Smith doesn’t take (or both) will fall, especially if its Mariota. That statement may surprise some but Mariota is a much bigger risk that Winston.
We can use notable failure Johnny Manziel as the ultimate cautionary tale for those wondering what the draft status of these quarterbacks should be. The comparison of Winston to Manziel doesn’t hold water because, though they share concern over off field issues, Winston has already shown that he can throw from the pocket with anticipation to a receiver. Immaturity aside I doubt very much that any quarterback accomplishes that without putting in some work, something that by all accounts the Browns were told that Manziel only rarely did. Mariota, on the other hand, compares well to Manziel on the field because hasn’t shown the kind of ability that Winston has. He worked from a spread offense and has never thrown from the pocket. His accuracy is also suspect. Winston has shown the traits on the field that you want to see. Mariota hasn’t and might never show them.
Both of these guys are over rated in the media right now. And it says here that one or both will fall to the Bears if they want them and (very probably) beyond that. In fact, if they do want one of them they might be wise to trade down (as Gabriel suggests that Jacksonville should have done before drafting Bortles last year).
There is one other factor to consider here and that’s why the quarterbacks tend to be over rated this time of year. The truth is that the opinions of draft “experts” like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper are highly suspect. In addition to the fact that no one is telling them the real truth about any of the prospects and how they are actually viewed by the league, its worth considering that they are under immense pressure to increase ratings. And we all know that when it comes to the media and the NFL, it’s all about the quarterback. The minute these guys start talking about offensive tackles, you can practically feel producers getting nervous and you can practically hear them telling the on air personalities in their ears to get back “on point”. Setting up questions like “which quarterback will go number one overall” is where media outlets like ESPN make their money. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to over rate the quarterbacks.
I’m not saying don’t listen. I’m saying listen strictly for the entertainment value. Because it’s all hot air until April when the Bears finally are off the clock.