COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 05: Anthony Richardson #15 of the Florida Gators signals at the line of scrimmage in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 05, 2022 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 05: Anthony Richardson #15 of the Florida Gators signals at the line of scrimmage in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 05, 2022 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Time For NFL Teams To Rethink Draft Strategy?

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Brock Purdy was the last player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he should cause every scout and every general manager in the league to stop and think.

“Mr. Irrelevant” has San Francisco marching toward the postseason.

Think about that for a moment…

31 teams passed on the most productive quarterback from the 2022 draft class seven times over in seven rounds.

Over the past two drafts, we’ve seen six quarterbacks selected in the first round, and it hasn’t been an easy road for any of them.

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Kenny Pickett have all found out the hard way, the NFL is significantly different than college. It’s not just because the NFL has a larger regulation sized football either.

Well, in Pickett’s case with his smaller hand size that could be the case…

Here we go again?

The pre-draft media hype machine is running at full steam ahead pumping out the names C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Should we expect any less of a struggle for these four than the six above mentioned names?

Jones has had the most success out of the 2021 draft class. However, even he has had his struggles for the Patriots this season.

It’s worth pointing out Jones went to best situation of anyone out of that class as well landing in New England where he led them to the playoffs his rookie season and was the Offensive Rookie of the Year Runner-up.

I’m sure having that pre-existing nucleus of players and coaches didn’t hurt the learning curve.

The league has long held onto this draft philosophy of the top perceived quarterbacks going early, but it might be time to rethink that.

Is it realistic?

Can teams like Houston, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Carolina honestly expect any quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft class to step in and make them competitive?

With the league going to rules that favor the offense, defenses have countered by becoming even more complex and harder to read.

This is not good news for any young gun slinger in any draft class for the foreseeable future.

Solid free agents on the board

Further clouding the draft board are the names of veteran quarterbacks available this coming offseason.

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, Mike White, Taylor Heinicke, Cooper Rush, Gardner Minshew, and Lamar Jackson headline the list.

These names have the very strong potential of causing quarterback hungry teams to rethink things.

At the very least, these veterans have been around the block a time or two (or three in Brady’s case), and they have a good idea what they are looking at when they drop back in the pocket to pass.

Is it man or zone coverage?

As elementary as that may sound, that hasn’t been easy for any of the mentioned youngsters to answer.

Between the six of them, they have a touchdown to interception ratio of 111-94.

It’s especially bad news for media darlings’ Will Levis and Anthony Richardson.

Levis had a 19-10 TD-INT ratio this past season at Kentucky. Florida’s Richardson had a 17-9 TD-INT ratio.

Imagine what that will look going up to a higher level of competition next season?

Time for a different strategy?

As a former NFL Scout and as an aspiring NFL General Manager myself, maybe it’s time to focus more on the game film and less on season ticket sales, with winning as the goal in mind.

We can’t ignore the success of Brady, Purdy, White, Heinicke, Minshew and Rush have had in the NFL.

Brady and Minshew went in the sixth round, Purdy as mentioned went in the seventh round, and White, Heinicke, and Rush were undrafted.

Even Garoppolo and Smith went second round.

Only Jones was a first-rounder out of the list of coveted upcoming free agents who have performed well at the NFL level.

Agent Leigh Steinberg told me on a plane ride once, “Quarterbacks are like a fine wine, they take time to develop.”

Maybe it’s time NFL teams rethink things and see where this is trending.

Maybe the franchise quarterback is the last piece of the puzzle instead of the first?

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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