It’s not hard to shake off the vast majority of NFL stupidity. It’s a league still largely obsessed with “football guys” and doing things the same way that coaches did them 40 years ago, simply in the name of tradition. A massive chunk of the league stopped learning about football as soon as they saw Bill Walsh’s offense, and have been doing the exact same thing for decades because of it. That’s true of the retread hires, the stale strategies that all but five or six teams employ, and the draft strategies that haven’t changed a bit since the days of rotary phones.
Understanding all of that — and being cognizant of it — is the first step towards being able to ignore almost all of the nonsense that the league throws at you. However, there are situations that even I — a man very rarely impacted by anything related to football after years of watching Ohio State — simply cannot let fly. Almost every single one of these blunders is related to the draft discourse surrounding quarterbacks.
Each year, without fail, NFL front offices, coaches, and media grasp onto a storyline, a narrative, or whatever it may be about a quarterback, or a quarterback class, and turn it from the opinion of someone like Mel Kiper Jr. into a commonly held “fact.”
Last year, we saw this with the “elitification” of Josh Allen, a bad quarterback that can launch the football over those mountains over there. Because he looked like a great quarterback, people who are paid to know about football talked him up as just that, and people who are paid to win football games drafted him in the top ten. Depending on how cynical you are, you could tie this media blitz back to agents, but I won’t delve too much into that here.
The point is, it happens every year. A strong quarterback that can’t hit a slant route is propped up because of his physical attributes. This year it happens to be Drew Lock, who I’m sure is a fine player that has absolutely no business being a top ten pick in the NFL Draft, because the top ten of the NFL Draft is reserved for good players.
This yearly narrative is frustrating for anyone that actually watches college football, sure, but it’s not that big of a deal. Get your money, and swindle some moron coach and/or GM who thinks that he can fix you. Rinse and repeat. Who cares?
This year, however, has been led by a different narrative, and because it revolves around a former Ohio State quarterback being discussed as a first round pick for the first time in my lifetime, I can actually talk about it at length. This narrative is, of course, that Buckeye star Dwayne Haskins is “falling” in the draft, and that front offices don’t like him as much as the media does.
Is Dwayne actually viewed as not worth a top ten pick in NFL circles? I don’t know. That’s beside the point. Whether this is a classic NFL smokescreen, set by either the Giants or some team sitting in the 10-20 range or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is how stupid this whole thing is. How stupid the idea that Dwayne Haskins isn’t a top ten player is. How stupid it is that any team in need of a quarterback would pass on him. It’s peak NFL, because it’s teams and media members overthinking the consensus, and overthinking their own eyes because they desperately want to obey tradition.
Tradition says that a one-year starter in college won’t succeed in the NFL. It says that someone who played in a quarterback friendly system won’t be able to play in the archaic offenses that the NFL trots out week in and week out for droves of fans that desperately want watchable football. It says that you hold on to your dreadful, aging quarterback because he’ll get mad if you draft an eventual successor.
If NFL tradition, and the stupidity of the league, has its way, Haskins is probably going to be waiting for longer than he should have to wait on Thusday. Kyler Murray, the only quarterback anywhere close to as talented as Haskins will go No. 1 to the Cardinals, four teams that don’t really need a quarterback will draft, and then the Giants will convince themselves that Eli Manning doesn’t suck and draft a cornerback or whatever. The Jags will do the same with Nick Foles, and the Broncos will pass because Haskins isn’t 6-foot-6 and terrible at football.
He’ll probably fall to Cincinnati at 11, Miami at 13, Washington at 15, or god forbid, the Giants at 17. It’ll be unfair, it’ll be stupid, and Dwayne will dominate with a chip on his shoulder for 15 years because he’s a damn good quarterback, even if his footwork is a little different or his play style is a little unique.
If he does fall past teams like New York, Jacksonville, and Denver that desperately need a quarterback, he’ll make them regret it, because — I say again — he’s a damn good quarterback. If those teams opt for a lesser QB that happens to have a cannon attached to their shoulder, or happen to have played for that guy who coached one of the Mannings two decades ago, so be it. That’s their burden to bear when Haskins lights up a league too stupid to draft him where he belongs: round one, pick one.