Last Thursday, a pair of NFL teams gave up a pair of first-round draft picks to get potential franchise quarterbacks. For the Chiefs (who invested two first-round picks and a third-round pick to get Patrick Mahomes) and the Texans (who gave up two first-round picks to get Deshaun Watson), an obvious question arises, as posed by former Patriots and Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Notre Dame and Kansas head coach Charlie Weis on Thursday’s PFT Live.
Before giving up a pair of first-round picks to get quarterbacks who may never thrive at the NFL level, why not offer those picks for quarterbacks who have shown that they can? Whether Jimmy Garoppolo or Kirk Cousins or A.J. McCarron, why didn’t the Chiefs or the Texans (or, for that matter, the Bears) opt for a safer gamble when placing their bet?
History shows that, when it comes to quarterback (and every other position for that matter), the draft is a crapshoot. The Chiefs and Texans were willing to invest two first-round picks despite the unpredictable nature of the draft. Why not offer those picks to a team with a proven commodity?
It’s possible that either or both did, and that no one has leaked it yet. It’s also possible that the combination of the draft-pick compensation and the contractual expectations made a move for a veteran quarterback impractical. Regardless, if the goal is to find guys who can get it done in the NFL, why not look for guys who already have gotten it done?
On that point, Weis gave his assessment of the factor that most determines success as a pro quarterback: The ability to lead. It’s a cousin to the “he’s a winner” cliché, but there’s merit to the notion that a guy who can inspire teammates to do the right things during games, on the practice field, in the weight room, in the film room, at home, in the offseason, and pretty much every day of their lives can be successful in part because his influence helps the rest of the team succeed.
It’s not the kind of thing that shows up in the stats sheets or through analytics or any other form of advance football study. But it’s a real dynamic of human nature; we’ve all been influenced by a compelling personality that we seek to please in some way, or that we don’t want to disappoint. A quarterback who can draw that quality out of as many players as possible in as many ways as possible elevates himself by ensuring that those around him are elevated.
True franchise quarterbacks have that. Some of the guys picked this year will, and some won’t. The Texans and Chiefs won’t know if they guessed wrong on that front until it’s far too late to do anything about it.