Evaluating the Risk of Taking a High Round Quarterback
The quarterback position always carries a certain fanfare with most of the game quite literally in their hands. Even more attention is paid when it comes to selecting a new one, specifically in the higher rounds of the NFL draft.
While Andrew Luck shows us the perfect example of how a new passer can instantly become a perennial star, Jemarcus Russell shows how a pick gone wrong can stifle a team's success, not living up to the high expectations that accompany the pricy selection. But what of last year's Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr, somewhere in the middle of production and display? Certainly none of their teams came close to the playoffs, or even a winning season but the rookies all showed enough promise to be handed the keys next season.
So where is the line? If Carr doesn't win more games next season do the Raiders restart the search process, again using a high pick on a quarterback, or ride out their commitment and give him a proper chance to develop? We as fans may not be able to see the grander scheme in a franchise's trajectory, wanting wins now not later, but it shouldn't be inconceivable for even the highest picks to go through rough times. In the instance of the above mentioned rookies, surrounding them with a winning team is almost just as important as the quarterback themself with capable receivers, a reliable offensive line, and solid defense to keep the pressure off.
In the case at hand, the Bucanneers seem to be closing the Mike Glennon project a bit too prematurely. Tampa Bay is not a complete team with Jameis Winston being the finishing piece of the puzzle. There are plenty of other holes to fill and with possession of the first overall pick, the team would be able to return an enormous yield by trading down to address these needs.
My opinion on Winston as well as Mariota is the same I have maintained with nearly every highly touted quarterback: their physical skillset and college production have warranted entry into the NFL but starting them right away could severely hamper their development.
In terms of value, rolling the dice again with Glennon with the likes of Bryce Petty, Sean Mannion, or Brett Hundley as a third or fourth round handcuff seems overwhelmingly more beneficial than putting another rookie in the spotlight, especially one with such character concerns that could easily spiral downward. I name these three in particular given their price tag of only a fourth or even fifth round pick creating a much lower risk should their production not pan out. Their ceilings compared with Winston's are not so drastically different as to waste an opportunity to stack up on future picks.
Johnny Manziel's situation can further exemplify my argument in which Mike Pettine was commited to Brian Hoyer while the fanbase nearly exploded with frustration. In his first career start the Browns lost 30-0 with Manziel failing to reach 100 yards passing while throwing two interceptions and being sacked three times due to hesitancy. Like Winston, Manziel had all the confidence in the world and although I do believe Manziel can be the long term answer in Cleveland, forcing him into a role he wasn't ready for tampered with the fans' perception and expectations.
In conclusion, I understand the Bucs will most likely go ahead and take Winston; throwing this particular wrench of doubt is necessary however to not only qualify the struggles of a young quarterback, but also question Winston's value to the Bucs next to the trade value of the first pick.