Even with the Philadelphia Eagles and Sam Bradford agreeing on a new deal, there has still been buzz over drafting a quarterback this year.
I’m not sure how much of that is actually true because reports like that are always thrown around in the offseason. However, the Eagles’ fan base is clearly divided on the issue of whether Bradford should be the quarterback of the future, even after the signing. People are still holding out hope that they eventually dump Bradford and draft someone like Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff in the first round. I, for one, don’t want any of these players.
Even after re-signing Bradford, they still have a need at backup quarterback, as I’m hopeful that Mark Sanchez will be released to save cap space. Even if he isn’t released, the Eagles need to also start grooming a quarterback that they’ve actually drafted, which they haven’t successfully done since Donovan McNabb.
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I don’t disagree that they need to draft a quarterback. However, drafting a quarterback in the first round is only going to be so successful because of the other holes at other positions on the team, specifically offensive line. I have been a proponent for drafting an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2016 draft before the 2015 season even ended. With the makeshift line the Eagles had last year, it’s time they started making upgrades there through the draft instead of relying on free agency to fill the holes.
Throwing a rookie quarterback behind a sub-par line is asking for a disaster. Even top quarterbacks struggle behind bad offensive lines, so fixing the offensive line seems like a much bigger need in my opinion. A great line can make an average quarterback seem great. But a bad offensive line can make a great quarterback seem bad.
With no second round pick at the moment, the Eagles will need to wait until the third round to address one of the handful of needs they’ll still have, even if they take an offensive lineman in the first round. Having two third round picks will help, and I think it’s a perfect time to pick a quarterback. The second of their third round picks is probably the optimal pick for a QB, as it allows them to pick a couple players that would fill bigger needs first before thinking about a long-term solution at quarterback (whether that be a solid backup or an eventual starter).
Now, drafting a quarterback even in the third round might seem like it’s sending the wrong message to Bradford, but he needs to realize that they need to invest in a backup that Bradford can help groom for the future. If Bradford turns out to be the sub-par quarterback that some believe he really is, then they have an option to replace him without having to spend a first round pick. But if Bradford turns out to be great, the rookie will have multiple years (preferably two or three) to hone his skills and develop instead of being thrown right into the game. This is the best way to treat the quarterback position in my opinion, as it has worked really well for players like Aaron Rodgers in the past. Not every great quarterback needed a couple years as a backup first, but it certainly gives them an advantage that I’d like to see applied to the Eagles.
So who does that leave as an option in the draft? Well, immediately scratch the aforementioned guys off the list, because those will all likely be gone by the end of the first round. I’m nowhere near a draft expert, and I personally hate mock drafts, so I don’t really have a good idea of who would be a good option here. So many times its a crap shoot anyway. As long as it’s not Christian Hackenberg, I think I’m OK with anyone else.
Just please, don’t waste a first round pick on a quarterback when you have a quarterback right in front of you. The happy medium is to pick a quarterback in a middle round.