So, in the last few days, I've gone from being open to drafting Tannenhill... to being determined that he must be the pick. And it not from anything extra I've seen on film from a few days ago, and its not from any stats either.
Its from me realizing that the value of the QB position in the draft has drastically changed... and its all b/c of the rookie cap.
There have been a few arguments for drafting a guy like Tannenhill... and these arguments IMO have been based on an outdated way of thinking that dates back to before the rookie cap was implemented.
When people say that Tannenhill isnt worth the 8th overall pick... most of the time its not b/c he doesnt have any of the tools/talent/ability/size you are looking for... as most agree that he has all of those qualities to be a franchise QB. The arguments mainly revolve around the fact that he still needs work and grooming due to his inexperience, and that he isnt ready to be thrown in right away (which I tend to agree with). But what I ask... whats wrong with sitting a QB for a year to groom? That never used to be that big of a deal. So, why did that change? Well, rookie QB's became so expensive, that teams literally couldnt afford not to be getting production from a player taking up such a significant portion of the cap. Even then, not long ago Carson Palmer was taken 1st overall, with 3+ years of experience, and sat the whole year to develop. And this is the deal he was on:
And the salary cap per year in 2003? 75 million.Palmer can make roughly $40 million in bonuses and base salary over six years, with escalators that could take it to $49 million. He'll get $18.25 million in the first three years through bonuses and salary.
Thats a ton of money. But it didnt stop there, and obviously spiraled out of control to contracts like Jamarcus Russell and Sam Bradford... and the risk on drafting a QB high became insane. If you didnt hit, your team was screwed for half a decade. And you certainly couldnt afford to pay $50mil guaranteed for a backup QB while he developed on the bench. You HAD to play him. However, an end was put to the madness with the rookie cap. Order was restored if you will... and hence... value in the draft has changed IMO.
Last years 8th overall pick, QB Jake Locker, signed a 4 year 12 million dollar deal. Thats it. And the salary cap in 2011? 120 million. If you miss on that, its hardly difficult to get out from. So, now with the upside of having potential to be a franchise QB... a position that can make 10x more impact than any other position, especially in today's NFL... makes the reward now far greater than the risk. And with the rookie no longer taking up a huge portion of the cap, you can now afford to sit them for a year to actually groom and develop, especially in cases like a Tannenhill where the tools are there but the experience is lacking. And due to there being less risk... like last year with guys like Ponder, you are going to continue to see QBs go higher than they would have in previous drafts that didnt have the rookie cap.
I dont think teams feel the pressure to play a rookie QB, other than fan chants, like the financial ones they felt previously. Now, some coaches will still feel the pressure to get immediate production from their rookie QB more than others (like say, Shannahan who is already on the hotseat and needs big things fast to save his job. He needs RG3 to play immediately, and play well. Hence the 50 visits they are doing with RG3 trying to teach him the playbook before hes even drafted). However, with a coach like Philbin with a built in honeymoon, who groomed Aaron Rogers for a couple of years before he got on the field... I believe he sees and understands the value of grooming a QB and not necessarily needing to throw him into the fire immediately.
So, I guess I ask after all that... if we were to take Tannenhill with the plan and understanding of icing him for the year to groom behind Moore and develop (as I would like to see), and not be rushed into action like many believe that he isnt ready for, why would that be such a bad thing? Without the financial risk... isnt the potential of being a franchise QB to set your team up for years worth more than the opportunity cost of potentially missing on a good player at a different position (who also has a decent percentage of busting as well)?
And that brings me to the next point. Due to Tannenhill's inexperience... there is definitely some added risk to drafting him vs. say someone like Luck who we've seen for 3+ years and know exactly what he is. With Tannenhill, there is more "projection" involved in drafting him b/c you havent seen it. And if you swing and miss on the QB, you are missing out on the opportunity cost of acquiring an impact player at another position. But, its not like the choice is between a risky QB, and a surefire lock impact player at another position (non-QB)... b/c that player at another position also carries a good chance of becoming a bust. Looking at the 8th overall pick since 2000, with Jake Locker selected last year, here are the players previously selected at 8 overall over the past 10 years, all of which were non-QBs.
Rolando McClain - Jury still out, but promising
Eugene Monroe - Jury still out, but has been pretty shakey
Derrick Harvey - BUST
Jamall Anderson - BUST. Has 7.5 sacks in 5 seasons, and is now on his 3rd team
Donte Whitner - A gross disappointment, if not a BUST, according to Bills fans
Antrel Rolle - A good player, on his 2nd team
DeAngelo Hall - A talented but inconsistent player. On his 3rd/4th team now?
Jordan Gross - A good player
Roy Williams (Safety) - You decide whether to call him a bust. Was great as a SS for a year or 2, but quickly fizzled out
David Terrell - BUST
Pending on how you rate some of those players, theres a 40-60% chance of the player you select 8th overall of being a bust. And that is my point. They are ALL risks. Sure, a QB like Tannenhill may provide a little more risk than another player at a skill position... however, how much more risk than 40-60%? IMO, whatever extra risk comes with a QB like Tannenhill... the possible reward of being a franchise QB FAR exceeds that.
I guess what I'm saying, is that I believe the traditional line of thinking of where a 50/50 "should go", is becoming outdated due to the implementation of the rookie cap... b/c you are no longer risking gambling a huge financial investment with only a 4 year 12mil deal. More and more often you are now going to see those 50/50 QB's go higher in the draft than where they "should have gone" in previous drafts without the cap... as the risk on them is plummeting, while simultaneously, the reward for one panning out is sky rocketing as the league becomes more and more about the QB position and the passing game.