If you draft out of fear of failure you will fail.
By Bill Smith
Given all the failures of QBs early in the NFL draft over the recent years, this year there is more talk than ever of drafting not to fail. The new administration of the Lions is going to have to byte the bullet about their first overall pick.
There was the first overall pick in 1999 with the Browns taking QB Tim “I’m on the” Couch (Kentucky). The team never has recovered.
That same year the Bengals drafted Akili Smith (Oregon) with the 3rd pick overall. The Bengals ended up drafting QB Carson Palmer (USC).
There was the first overall pick in 2002 with the Texans taking QB David Carr (BYU). The Texans languished for 5 years before putting their QB on the used Carr lot.
In 2006, Arizona took Matt Leinart (USC) with the 10th pick. He now holds the clip board for 38 year old Kurt Warner.
There was the first overall pick in 2007 with the Raiders taking JaMarcus Russell (LSU). A herd of coaches have yet to make him a NFL quality QB.
Although Vince Young (Texas) was the 3rd pick overall, it has stunted the playoff success of the Titans.
No wonder the Lions are a little squeamish about drafting a QB with the first overall pick. But here is the deal—IF (and only if) you feel that Matt Stafford (Georgia) is a franchise QB, you have to draft him. Failing to take a franchise QB out of fear of failure is a recipe for years to come. And most of those years will be managed by your replacements in the front office.
As you know, I have reservations about Stafford. His decision making leaves a lot to be desired. Some of that may be that he depends on his strong arm too much. But throws you shouldn’t make in college will result in touchdowns for the opponent in the NFL. But Stafford is very bright and with tape study and work on the field, he can improve his decision making. His footwork and mechanics are also in need of work. But those too can be fixed.
Last year the Dolphins had the first pick and took an O lineman Jake Long (LT Michigan) with that pick and QB Chad Henne (Michigan) with a 2nd round pick. The Lions are not going to be able to do that this year. If they pass on Stafford, chances are the other two supposedly 1st round picks Mark Sanchez (USC) and Josh Freeman (Kansas St.) will be gone by the 20th pick. I don’t have any other QB rated in the second or third round.
Like it or not, the Lions have very few choices other than Stafford. One possibility would be to trade for QB Derek Anderson (Browns). He is a young but somewhat proven QB with a strong arm that would make the Lions offense better. Then they could draft an LT with the first pick and either later this year or next pick up a QB of the future. That is the safe choice. But if they feel that Stafford is franchise QB, they have to go for it.
Such are the decisions that make a GM famous or if it doesn’t work out, unemployed. That is how so many ex-GMs end up on ESPN.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]