With The 6th Pick In The 2012 NFL Draft…
...the Philadelphia Eagles select: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor.
What are the odds that the opening sentence of this piece are true? Are you 100% convinced that Mike Vick is the franchise quarterback of the Eagles for the next 3+ years? Could the final four weeks of the regular season lead this Eagles franchise to push aside their need for an impact, middle of the field defender in order to draft the quarterback of the future? In short, maybe.
Yea, yea. I get it. The Eagles need an impact linebacker. They need a safety that can make a play. They need a new defensive coordinator. Last, but not least, they need a new head coach. The one thing that logic would dictate isn't worth a high draft pick would be a quarterback, right? After all, didn't the team just invest $100 million in Mike Vick, and in the interest of fairness, he's not even close to the biggest reason why the team is 4-8 at this point, right?
Despite all that, here are a number of reasons why I believe that you could hear Roger Goodell announce Robert Griffin III (sub in Matt Barkley or Landry Jones if you so choose) to the Philadelphia Eagles very early in April's draft:
1. Andy Reid probably isn't going anywhere. As much as that bothers you, the history of this Eagles ownership group dictates that Reid will be the man in charge of this pick.
2. If I am right on point #1, think about A) the make up of the roster and B) Reid's comments from earlier this week. This team is young almost from top to bottom. You can make the case that we haven't seen the best football that McCoy, Maclin, Kelce, Herremans, Watkins, Cole, Graham, DRC, Allen, Rolle, and Chaney have to offer. Andy Reid mentioned this the other day on his radio show, citing the need for patience with a young group. What better way for a young team to grow than with a new, dynamic quarterback to grow with them.
3. Simply put, Mike Vick might not be a franchise quarterback capable of leading a team to a Super Bowl. He absolutely has the ability to take a team to those heights, but we are going on a decade since he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. Over that span, Vick has won two playoff games. He has had one full season with a completion percentage over 60. His play this year (11 TD, 11 INT) has not been the sole reason for the mounting losses, but he surely has not played a winning brand of football. These next four weeks aren't just critical to winning a few games, they will go into the front office determining if Vick is the sole answer at this position.
4. Even if you believe Vick is that guy, his body is probably not going to allow him to be for long. There seems to be a feeling around Vick supporters that he is younger than he actually is. Maybe it's because he was out of the league for two seasons. Maybe it's because he plays a youthful, exciting brand of football. Regardless, Vick is 31 years old. He will be 32 by the time training camp opens next summer. His body has allowed him to play a full 16 game season in the NFL just once -- in 2006, when he was 26 -- and he has either missed or been knocked out of 5 of 12 games already in 2011. To think Vick will get healthier as he ages is foolish. Franchises need to have contingency plans for older, injury prone quarterbacks, especially those who use their legs and speed to succeed. For example, Donovan McNabb's age when Kevin Kolb was drafted with the Eagles first pick in 2007? 30, or a year and a half younger than Vick will be on draft day.
5. But what about the $100 million dollar commitment to Vick?! Chill out, everyone. We all know that NFL contracts are funny money. The deal was for closer to $80 million, and even that is subject to debate. NFL people have mentioned on multiple occasions that the Eagles have a built in "opt-out" of Vick's contract after 2012. His full salary is guaranteed money next season, but after that it would be very easy for Philly to move on without a major financial hit.
6. This disaster of an Eagle season is probably going to yield a shockingly high draft pick. I didn't choose the 6th pick as a lead into to this piece arbitrarily. Considering the way this team has played, the schedule remaining (@Miami, New York Jets, @Dallas, Washington) lends itself to a very poor final record. It would not shocked me if these Eagles lost out to finish 4-12. At best they have played like a team capable of 5-11. Considering that they are currently in a muck with other 4-8 squads like Washington, Tampa Bay, Miami, Cleveland, and Carolina, it's not crazy to think their first round pick could be in line after the NFL's probable four worst teams (Indy, St. Louis, Minnesota, Jacksonville).
7. Although the team needs defensive help more, NFL teams rarely use these picks on the positions of need. Since 1999 (the year Andy Reid arrived in Philly), there have been exactly six linebackers or safeties taken within the first six picks of any draft. 72 players have been selected over the years in those spots, but only 6 play the positions we all know the team is clamoring for. Basically, there just isn't value in taking players at those positions as high as this in the NFL Draft.
8. The Andy Reid regime doesn't draft linebackers or safeties no matter where they pick in the first round! In 11 drafts since '99, the Eagles have selected a linebacker or safety with their top pick exactly zero times. Besides, unlike the 2011 class with Von Miller, this draft class doesn't seem to feature a can't miss player at either position of need. According to Scouts Inc., Boston College ILB Luke Kuehly, Notre Dame ILB Manti Te'o, Arizona State ILB Vontaza Burfict, and Alamba S Mark Barron are ranked from 12-15 in their top prospect grades and would be a reach in the Top 10.
9. This is a great, great quarterback draft. If there was a year to need a signal caller, this is it. Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, and Ryan Tannehill all could go in the first round. Even though there isn't a pressing need for a Day 1 starter in Philadelphia, passing up on a chance to secure one of these talented arms for the future could turn out to be too hard to do.
10. Recent history and draft positioning favor Philadelphia going for the quarterback. Let's be honest: This Eagle team should not be picking in the Top 10 again for a while. There is way too much talent to be in this position again soon. Therefore, when will they get a chance like this again? The New York Giants weren't a bad franchise in 2004, but a terrible season led them to Eli Manning. The Green Bay Packers were a good team in 2005, but a ridiculously talented quarterback named Rodgers fell into their laps. Was Drew Brees the sole reason why San Diego was drafting #1 in '04? No way, but acquiring Phil Rivers set them up for a long time.
Is a strategy like this the best way to build a winner for 2012? Probably not. Even with two second rounders to use on defensive players, I would imagine that a move like this would be unpopular with fans, but if there is a silver lining in losing 12 games this season, it could be the path that leads Philadelphia to a quarterback it just might need.