They make movies about days like today, of course. Most people think we’re talking about “Draft Day.” But what we’re really talking about is “Dumb and Dumber.”
This means you, Los Angeles. You, too, Philadelphia. You’re chasing leprechauns.
In the last 18 years, there have been 13 occasions on which an NFL team has taken a quarterback with the first selection. There have been an additional four teams that have taken a quarterback with the No. 2 pick. Add it all up and what you have is an astonishing 17 of 36 selections that have been wasted … er, used … on a player who, more often than not, has gone the way of the Hindenburg.
The list of quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall with, in qualifying instances, the quarterback taken immediately after (at No. 2) in parentheses: Peyton Manning (Ryan Leaf), Tim Couch (Donovan McNabb), Michael Vick, David Carr, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck (Robert Griffin III) and Jameis Winston (Marcus Mariota).
Obviously, there are some enormous hits on that list, Peyton Manning chief among them. But there are a lot of failures and middling talents there, and it is worth noting that in 1998, the Indianapolis Colts did not trade up to get Manning. They tanked for him, as they did with Andrew Luck.
But this year? This year was supposed to be an anorexic draft with regard to quarterbacks, at least until Carson Wentz wowed at the Senior Bowl and then drew comparisons to Luck by people like Mike Mayock, which hardly makes Mayock a bad guy. What it makes him is the Bob Arum or Don King of the NFL Draft – Mel Kiper is the other – which means he is more hype than reality.
But let’s not dump on Mayock. In the end, what is even more astonishing is that teams like the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles took the cheese on players like Wentz and Jared Goff, the latter being so desperate as to eat up the leftovers of the Rams, who at least have some reason to do what they’re doing.
The Rams, after all, have moved back to LA. Taking a quarterback – particularly Goff, who went to Cal – would give them the kind of tingle that a parent gets from a first-born. But we all know that the last time the Rams took a quarterback No. 1, they selected Sam Bradford, the man who will now be displaced by whoever goes No. 2.
Bradford, naturally, doesn’t like this. Though he has been an inarguable disappointment in his career, he somehow thinks he is being disrespected by the Eagles when the reality is that he was probably never that good in the first place.
By the time RGIII came along, at least the Rams had learned their lesson. They traded the No. 2 pick to Washington for a haul of draft picks that Rams coach Jeff Fisher subsequently sent out for the coin toss before a game with the Redskins last year. The Redskins felt so good about that pick that they also took Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round, just in case RGIII went pfft.
RGIII is now in Cleveland, which is perfect. The last two times the Browns selected a quarterback in the first round, they came away with Johnny Manziel and Couch (first overall), though that is admittedly unfair. A complete review of Cleveland’s first-round picks, after all, reveals more busts than a Victoria’s Secret fashion show – Trent Richardson? – which brings us to an altogether different conclusion.
The Browns suck at the draft. They just do.
Which is probably why they wanted nothing to do with this year’s No. 2, passing it off on Philadelphia as if it were an STD.
Seriously, is there a team in the draft that made a dumber move than Philly’s trade for No. 2? First of all, the Eagles don’t get to choose. They merely get the quarterback that the Rams don’t want. That’s like paying top dollar to get into the trendiest restaurant in town, but only to eat the leftovers off someone else’s plate. You’re paying for just being there.
Is there a chance that both Wentz and Goff can play? Sure. I guess. But it seems highly unlikely that this draft, in particular, will produce one franchise quarterback, let alone, two. Prior to Luck-RGIII, the last time quarterbacks were taken 1-2 in the draft, the second guy, as noted, was Leaf. (He was a complete disaster.) Prior to that, in 1993, the No. 1 pick was Drew Bledsoe and the No. 2 pick was … Rick Mirer. Even if the first guy “works out,” the second guy is usually a bum.
Which makes the Eagles dumber than the Browns.
Further, there is this: in 2014, Teddy Bridgewater went 32nd overall, but only after the Vikes had taken linebacker Anthony Barr (an indisputable stud) at No. 9. In that same draft, the Raiders and Patriots plucked Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, respectively, and the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed A.J. McCarron in the fifth. Brock Osweiler was a second-round pick, as was Andy Dalton. Russell Wilson went in the third. Admittedly, there have been a slew of other quarterbacks taken in those rounds who haven’t amounted to a pile of dirt, but that’s missing the point. After the first round, you’re almost supposed to miss.
Don’t misunderstand. If Wentz or Goff – or, dare we say, both – turn out to be legitimate NFL quarterbacks, no price to pay is too high. We all know an NFL quarterback means that much to a franchise. But the bottom line is that the Rams and Eagles moved up in this draft – and paid richly for it – almost exclusively because they feared missing out on the next big thing, something for which neither franchise would ever forgive itself. And thus we get to the real driving force in the NFL draft and most every other.
It’s called insecurity.
Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.