Confidence is an elusive, fragile creature that a young quarterback can struggle to pursue in the early stages of his career. That’s why the direction for the Colts on Day 2 was clear: get Andrew Luck some targets, and plant the seeds for chemistry to grow. Drafting a tight end he’s thrown to for the past four years at Stanford will kick start that process quickly.
Friday may be remembered as the day that Indianapolis laid the foundation for their future offense that’s led by Luck, and they did it through an emphasis on a position that’s experienced a renaissance over the past year.
Our thoughts and reactions to Day 2 of the draft and the second and third rounds begin with Indianapolis, with stops at a few quarterback situations around the league that became deeper and/or confusing.
The Colts will be doing their best Patriots imitation
Indy surprised no one by drafting Coby Fleener with the 34th overall pick, pairing the Stanford tight end with the Stanford quarterback. The surprise came in the third round, when new GM Ryan Grigson wasn’t done at the tight end position and selected Dwayne Allen. Add speedster T.Y. Hilton at wideout who was picked later in the third round, and the Colts have built security around Luck with big-bodied and versatile tight ends, while adding vertical speed for the home run threat.
Is Nick Foles the future QB in Philly, or a mid-round gamble?
The Eagles took Nick Foles with their 88th overall pick in the third round, and now there’s a log jam on the QB depth chart in Philadelphia between the new rookie, Michael Vick, Trent Edwards, and Mike Kafka.
Vick is 32 years old, and the Eagles’ highly injury prone starter is under contract until 2015. He’s their quarterback, and the leader of their offensive, until he isn’t. Vick’s playing style combined with his brittle body means that the natural quarterback aging process is accelerated, and it’s realistic to think that he may only have three highly productive years left. That’s why drafting a developmental quarterback to progressively groom now makes sense, and Foles fits that description.
That’s fine and terrific for the long-term outlook, but in the short term there’s a mess on the Eagles’ QB depth chart. Andy Reid will tell anyone with the ability to hear sounds that there’s an open competition for the two spots behind Vick. But with the upside Kafka has shown in his brief appearances, the pre-determined outcome of said competition may be Foles falling in between Vick and Edwards, and Kafka moved to capitalize on his value.
And what the hell is going on with the Seahawks’ quarterbacks?
Seattle drafted Russell Wilson in the third round with their 75th overall pick, which was both intriguing and strange. The pick comes after the Seahawks made a splash in free agency and signed Matt Flynn to a three-year contract worth $19.5 million, $10 million of which is guaranteed. Tarvaris Jackson remains on the roster too, and although Pete Carroll will tell you that there will be an open competition between the two during training camp for the top job, that’s a filthy lie. Seattle will have bought a very expensive clipboard holder if Flynn is a backup.
So where does all that leave Wilson, and why was he drafted at all? Simple. Similar to Foles, there’s a strong possibility that Wilson becomes the wedge that bumps dead weight from the depth chart. The selection of a quarterback in the third round indicates that once Jackson inevitably losses his training camp battle to Flynn, he could be moved while he still has value.
That’s a dangerous game to play at the most important offensive position, as the top two quarterbacks on Seattle’s depth chart will then have a combined two career starts.
Hey, laugh at a punter in the third round if you want
Oddly, the selection of Bryan Anger makes sense for the Jaguars, even though it’s so very Jaguars-ish to draft the first punter in the top 100 picks since 1995. But with the growth of the passing game field position has taken on an even greater importance, and the Jags averaged just 41.9 yards per punt last year (31st).
The Lions are strange
That’s really the best adjective I can come up with, which speaks to both my lack of sleep, and the overall oddness of Detroit selecting wide receiver Ryan Broyles at No. 54.
They wanted some wide receiver depth. Fair enough, because Nate Burleson isn’t getting any younger. But to get that depth, they decided to go with Broyles, the Oklahoma wideout who’s recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, while Reuben Randle was still on the board. They also passed on a handful of defensive backs that could have addressed a woeful secondary, and instead opted to add a player who will be at best a fourth wide receiver next year.
The ghost of Matt Millen was hovering over Radio City Music Hall.
The 49ers could be doing a Patriots imitation of their own
Two years ago, Bill Belichick took a quick but undersized running back, and used him primarily as another passing option. His name is Danny Woodhead, and you’ve probably heard of him, because that year he had 379 receiving yards, while adding 547 rushing yards. In LaMichael James, the 49ers found their Woodhead, or if you prefer, Darren Sproles.
Taken at No. 61, the Oregon running back is a creative pick. There’s already an abundance of Mack trucks in the 49ers’ backfield between the aging Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and the recently signed Brandon Jacobs. Even though that’s not James’ game, on the surface it seems there isn’t much room for him on San Fran’s RB depth chart. That’s why we look below the surface, because the surface is filled with lies.
James will receive some carries, but he’ll mostly be a running back in name only, and instead he’ll function in a similar fashion to Sproles, Woodhead, or Reggie Bush when he was in New Orleans, and he’ll be a finesse and speed receiving option out of the backfield. After the additions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, James represents yet another weapon for Alex Smith and his offense that had the sole goal of not screwing up last year.