This summer, I wrote a column called "The Stupidity and Illogicality of Baseball's Unwritten Rules", basically making fun of people getting mad at others bunting against shifts, watching homers and every other thing Brian McCann wouldn't like. While thinking about the upcoming NFL draft, it occurred to me there's another stupid and illogical thing going on, slightly more important than baseball players getting mad about stuff, and that's the way NFL teams evaluate quarterback prospects.
The first blunder teams constantly make is their obsession over pro days, combines and measurements, valuing them over, well, you know, actually how good a quarterback is. Just ask the numbskulls who decided that Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert would be better players than Andy Dalton, someone who was statistically better than those guys in college. The only quality they had on him was height, Dalton was 6'2", Locker 6'3" and Gabbert 6'5". Need any more assurances? Well too bad 'cause I'm giving them to you anyway. The next year, the first four QBs taken were Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, three of whom were at least 6'3". Meanwhile 5'11" Russell Wilson was taken in the third round. I bet you'll never guess who the only guy with a Super Bowl ring is.
That's only the measuring side of the combine. I haven't even mentioned how a player can greatly improve his stock by making decent throws in a controlled environment which apparently means more than a college career. Blake Bortles over Teddy Bridgewater* anyone?
*Knock on wood
It may feel like I'm beating a dead horse here talking about how combine things mean nothing but this is such a strange phenomenon to me. Not only is it nonsensical, but there's no history of it ever working. If you look at the most successful quarterback so far from the last six drafts, all of them were either bypassed because of their height or were chosen mainly because of their college performance, with Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Glennon (by default), Russell Wilson, the aforementioned Andy Dalton,** Sam Bradford (once again by default), and Matthew Stafford. It's a little too early to tell if Bridgewater was the right pick, but it's shaping up that way, and Andrew Luck could easily blow Wilson out of the water someday, but there are still the guys I mentioned above who Wilson's better than.
**Some people would say Cam Newton's been better, but since you'll see pigs flying next to the ice capped mountains of hell before I don't defend a fellow ginger here's my response. Dalton's been more consistent since they got into the league, and you can't play the "He can't win in the playoffs" card if Newton's only win came against Ryan Lindley.
All this brings me to the Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota debate. I've been in the Mariota bandwagon for awhile, partly because I think he'll be a good player in the NFL, partly because I wouldn't touch Winston with a ten foot pole. In college, Winston had his terrific 2013 year, then came crashing down to earth in 2014, throwing for just 3907 yards with 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Meanwhile, Mariota improved every year he was at Oregon, topping Winston's Heisman season last year by throwing for 4454 yards with 42 touchdowns and a miniscule 4 interceptions. Just based off my personal philosophy, (or, as I like to call it, the philosophy that has a history of working) Mariota fits the bill.
I haven't even mentioned Winston's off the field antics yet. Most scouts and evaluators chalk it up to "character issues". I'm sorry, but two shoplifting incidents and a sexual assault aren't just "character issues", he's a downright headcase. Now if you're a GM, do you really want to pass up on the best quarterback in college football, for someone who looks better on paper and has slightly more upside, but could easily crash and burn? And after the seven month Johnny Manziel Debacle are you really ready to take the risk on someone even crazier than him? Just take Mariota. He's the safer pick.