Andy Reid loves QBs. He’s an offensive guy, having played and coached on that side of the ball basically his whole life. He went to BYU, a QB factory back in his era. He coached under Mike Holmgren, a QB guru. He learned personnel matters from Ron Wolf, who believed that teams should take a QB every year. Wolf generally meant using a late round pick to see if you could uncover a guy who would blossom in the NFL. So, when we talk about Andy and QBs, we have to keep all of this in mind.
Andy loves Mike Vick. He and the staff are high on Mike Kafka. They love Kolb, but he’s a goner once the CBA situation is resolved. That means we’ll have 2 QBs and an opening. Because Vick has some durability issues it is likely the team will add a veteran to play behind him. They need a player who can start a game or two and be functional.
Let’s talk about Kafka for a second. I had a couple of people curious about him and his level of play. You have to understand who Mike is and where he’s coming from. Mike was a 4th round pick from Northwestern. He started at NW in 2006 and 2009. In between, he was mostly a backup. This isn’t a guy who has 35 starts under his belt. He didn’t go to a school that is well known for putting out NFL passers. Kafka is raw. The Eagles knew that when they picked him. They loved his ability, athleticism, and intangibles, but knew he would take time to develop.
Kafka looked good at times in the summer of 2010. There were other times when he looked completely lost. That’s the life of a young QB adjusting to the pro game. Kafka had to learn a new offensive scheme and also had to adjust to playing in a pro style offense instead of the spread. That’s a lot for a young guy to take in. Also, he couldn’t have been getting any extra attention from the staff since they were focused on getting Kolb ready to be the starter and trying to get Vick back up to speed. Project Kafka was low on the “To Do” list.
The coaches were happy with the progress that Kafka showed. They saw what they expected: a talented, but flawed young player with a lot to learn. He seems coachable, which can make a world of difference. Wanting to be coached and working hard to learn and improve is a huge part of developing as a QB. Kafka is on the right track, but I think he needs at least one more year before he can be a viable backup for a playoff team.
If you assume that we have Vick, a veteran, and Kafka, that means all 3 QB spots are full. That makes taking a QB tough to do. Yet, we hear the Eagles are taking a look at Colin Kaepernick. They took a look at Tyrod Taylor. What’s the deal?
Go back to Andy’s background. He puts premium value on QBs. Reid and the Eagles won’t go into the draft hoping to land a QB, but they also don’t want to pass up a player who might fall to them. Back in the 2006 draft the Eagles loved Matt Leinart. They figured he’d go high, possibly #3 to the Titans. The Eagles had the 14th pick. Leinart slid down the board and the Eagles were prepared to take him if he fell to 14. The Cards (luckily) took him 10th. Donovan was still playing at a very high level back then. He hadn’t yet torn his ACL. Andy had no interest in replacing Donnie, but he sure wasn’t going to let a franchise QB go right by him in the draft.
As we head into this draft you have to know the Eagles have a similar mindset. Reid has no intention of moving up for a QB. He’s not going to spend pick 23 on Jake Locker or Kaepernick. But…what happens if Locker or Kaepernick is on the board when the Eagles 2nd round pick rolls around. If Andy likes the guy, he easily could roll the dice and take the player.
You have to keep in mind that I said “if Andy likes the guy”. Just because a QB is highly regarded by Mike Mayock or ESPN or whoever doesn’t mean that the Eagles are interested. QB is the position where teams/coaches are the pickiest. You are looking for your guy. If you don’t get the #3 OT prospect you move on to #4. QB isn’t like that. Personality and fit are huge factors.
We don’t know which QBs, if any, Reid likes from the current group. This is a very poor QB class, from the top on down. I do think Reid is fascinated by athletic guys like Locker and Kaepernick. Should either of them fall to our 2nd round pick Reid would be very tempted. He and Howie Roseman would be having an interesting discussion. I don’t think those guys will fall that far so this is probably a moot point.
The middle round targets aren’t compelling at all. Pat Devlin is interesting, but he’s not as good a prospect as Kafka was last year. Same for Ricky Stanzi. And Greg McElroy. There is something to like about these guys, but there are plenty of flaws. Andy Dalton gets a ton of credit for being a leader and a winner. He is both of those things and a player that is easy to like. His intangibles are off the charts. My problem is that he’s not a consistently good intermediate/downfield passer. That brings up a point a few people touched on. Can you coach guys to be more accurate or more consistent?
Yes and no. You have to look at the background of the players. Jake Locker played in a pro style offense for 2 years under a QB guru and showed little improvement. That really bothers me. Cam Newton played for 3 schools in 3 years. He was in 3 different offenses with different coaches. I expect him to be raw. I hold Jake to a higher standard because of where he came from.
I love Locker’s potential, but his lack of substantial improvement scares the heck out of me. He didn’t complete a pass in the bowl game until the 3rd Qtr this year? That’s disturbing. He still led UW to a win in the game, but I’m looking for a QB. Guts and toughness isn’t enough in the NFL. I need passing ability. The Eagles coaches could work with Locker on technique and try to really hone his mechanics, but after 2 years with Steve Sarkisian he still looks very raw. That’s a red flag to me. Locker may suffer from the same problems Donovan McNabb had. Guys with tremendous talent can do things there own way and get good results in high school and even college. That catches up to you against top competition and certainly in the NFL. McNabb had 5 years of good coaching and stability at Syracuse that gave him a better foundation. Reid and the coaches were able to get him to work on things and show improvement. His old bad habits never went completely away (just ask the worms at The Linc). Can Locker even get to that point or is he destined to be Kyle Boller, pt. 2?
Dalton played in a run heavy spread offense. He started for 4 years and had good skill players and stability. I hold him to a somewhat higher set of expectations. Pro coaching could help him, but I still don’t get the talk about him being a 2nd round pick. I just don’t see it. Mayock thinks he’s similar to Kolb. I think Dalton is more athletic, but not as good of a passer. Dalton is similar to Kafka in terms of size, skills, and potential so I don’t see the value in adding him.
There are some late round guys the Eagles could like. They would take these guys and try to put them on the Practice Squad. Jerrod Johnson had a nightmare Senior season. In the past I thought he could be a somewhat early pick, but he was awful in 2010. Johnson is huge and talented. I’d be willing to use a 7th rounder on him. A couple of people have asked about Tyrod Taylor. I don’t like him as a QB. Taylor is a very good athlete. He can improvise. He can throw downfield effectively. The problem is that he can’t consistently move the chains with his passing. Against Duke and Wake Forest he’s a good QB, but I don’t see him as an NFL passer. Taylor made an amazing play in the Orange Bowl that showed how dynamic he can be. I kept waiting to see more of that, but never did. Good college QB, but limited pro prospect. People will try to compare him to Vick, but that’s a major reach. I watched Vick put Va Tech on his back and lead them to the National Title game vs FSU. In that game, Vick was the best player on the field. Taylor wasn’t the best player in his own backfield this year. Heck, maybe not 2nd best.
The Eagles could spend a late round pick on Taylor to see if they could develop him. He would be a major project. It is also possible the Eagles could be looking at him as a WR/RS type. Taylor is quick, fast, and elusive. He ran for 2,196 yards and 23 TDs in college. Taylor isn’t without some potential, QB or otherwise.