Thursday, April 23, 2009

NFL Draft Countdown T-minus 2 days

With two days to go until the NFL draft, we’re continuing our NFL draft preview. In this edition, we take a look whether underclassmen quarterbacks are a gamble and debate the similarities of Mark Sanchez and Jack Sheppard from Lost.

The buzz surrounding this year’s draft focuses on where QB’s Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez will be taken. While Sanchez had a good year at USC, is he really ready to be a franchise quarterback? Some speculation has the Redskins trading up to select him in first round, but is he honestly better than Jason Campbell? Is he worthy of a top 10 pick, or does he happen to be the second best signal caller in a weak quarterback draft class? If Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy had entered the draft, would he still be considered a top 10 pick?

In Sanchez’s defense, USC has been a quarterback factory the past few years. Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel, and John David Booty are all QB’s in the NFL. However, none of those players left college early.

If one thing's been proven, it's that quarterbacks who leave early haven't had a great deal of success. Of the past season's 12 playoff quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger was the only one who left early. Yes, we know that Roethlisberger was the Super Bowl winning QB, but he’s more of an exception to this rule. It should be noted that he started for three full years at Miami Ohio. Sanchez only started one full season.

Matthew Stafford is another junior QB expected to go high in the first round, but like Roethlisberger, Stafford has three years of starting experience. At the quarterback position, experience and reps are vital in the development process. While he played well this year, we at Guys Who Like Sports don’t see the reason for wanting to leave early. Did one year against porous Pac 10 defenses really get you prepared for the NFL?

I feel in three years we're going to see a bearded, distressed Mark Sanchez hanging outside of an airport yelling to Stafford, "We were never supposed to leave. WE HAVE TO GO BACK!!!”

(Because there was no new Lost last night, we felt it necessary to make some mention on the blog today.) Since Sanchez declared for the draft, Pete Carroll has shown vast similarities to John Locke. In Lost, Locke was adamant about Jack not leaving the island, while Carroll was very vocal in declaring that Sanchez was making a mistake in leaving. Does USC= The Island? Only time will tell. (End Lost rant)

However, one of the key issues in all of this is how the NFL overvalues college performances. Look at Matt Cassel this past season. He started 15 games and played at a Pro Bowl level in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, yet is only worth a second round pick. However, there are GM’s who will trade up to use a Top 10 pick on a guy in Sanchez who started one full season in college. How does this make any sense?

While Sanchez will certainly cash in earlier, he won’t be as prepared to handle of the pressures of being a franchise QB. As the USC quarterbacks before him have proven, staying that extra year can prove huge dividends.

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