It’s appearing more and more likely that both Auburn’s Cam Newton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert will be drafted before the Washington Redskins pick at No. 10, and no other quarterback prospect is believed to have a top 10 grade. So draft analysts have Coach Mike Shanahan & Co. meeting another need with that first round pick, and possibly going for a quarterback with the 41st overall pick.
But can a team really find a franchise quarterback in the second round?
Taking a look at recent history, the results aren’t great. The most promising quarterback not taken in the first round of last year’s draft is Colt McCoy, who went in the third round to the Browns. Jimmy Clausen, who went in the second round to the Panthers doesn’t appear to have it.
The Dolphins took Pat White in the second round in 2009, but he’s a utility player.
The 2008 draft featured Briam Brohm to the Packers at 56 and Chad Henne to the Dolphins at 57. Brohm doesn’t see the light of day behind Aaron Rodgers, and the jury’s still out on Henne.
The 2007 draft saw Kevin Kolb go 36th to the Eagles, and John Beck went 40th to the Dolphins. (How many second-round QBs is Miami going to take?) And in 2006, the Jets took Kellen Clemens 49th overall, and the Vikings used the 64th pick on Tarvaris Jackson.
So none of the second-round quarterbacks taken in the last five drafts has distinguished himself as franchise material. Kolb could be the best of the group, but no one really knows because he spent the first three seasons of his career behind Donovan McNabb, then got hurt and couldn’t wrestle the starting job back from Michael Vick.
To find the last second-round quarterback who has accomplished anything in the NFL, you have to go all the way back to 2001, when the Chargers took Drew Brees with the first pick of the second round. But Brees didn’t fully blossom until he went to New Orleans.
“The second round has not produced a lot of good quarterbacks when you go back over the long haul,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says. “It’s not an impressive group.”
McShay believes that this year’s draft class could be an exception to the rule, however. Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder all are expected to go in the second round, and one or more of those passers ultimately could define himself as a franchise quarterback.
There are questions about all of those quarterbacks, however, according to McShay and others. For Locker, it’s accuracy. Mallett has a strong arm, but isn’t good under pressure and has character issues. Dalton has average arm strength, and Ponder’s health problems in college have hurt his draft stock.
But despite those issues, and the fact that many of the quarterbacks haven’t run pro-style offenses in college, McShay believes NFL teams such as the Redskins can find a quality quarterback in the second round.
“Even though we’re seeing more spread offenses, and systems that don’t fit the NFL, I do think you have a bunch of seniors that have played a lot of games and that have been successful. And you have a lot of intelligent players. With guys like Dalton and Ponder, and even [Nevada’s Collin] Kaepernick, and [Iowa’s] Ricky Stanzi, they know what it takes and have won a lot of games at the college level. Even though all of them will have to make some type of transition to succeed at the NFL level, I think this year is the exception.”
Dalton and Ponder appear to be the best fits for Washington’s version of the West Coast offense. Both have good mobility and decent accuracy. Dalton reminds McShay of McCoy, and the draft analyst thinks Ponder is similar to Kolb.
So, what do you think, Redskins fans? Given the poor track record of second-round quarterbacks and the questions looming over each of this year’s prospects, should Shanahan roll the dice on one of them this year? Or should he meet other needs and wait until next year?