A few weeks back I argued that the Eagles should pass on picking a quarterback this year, in large part because they're not going to get one of the top first round prospects (unless they pay a fortune for the much-debated Ryan Tannehill) and the history of quarterbacks picked in the second round or later isn't very promising. They're usually career backups, at best, and rarely the kind of franchise starters who can win you a Super Bowl. In fact, with very few exceptions, the history there is pretty ugly.
Today Eagles general manager Howie Roseman agreed – to a point. But he also offered a counter argument to the idea that he should sit out the QB sweepstakes this year.
"You are betting against the odds," when you take a quarterback outside of the first round, Roseman said. "Most franchise quarterbacks are going to come from the top of the draft."
But, Roseman hinted that the Eagles aren't averse to gambling on a quarterback in later rounds, especially since they don't usually own a top-10 pick and that's usually their only route to a QB.
"Because the position is so important, you're OK with taking a few chances on players at that position and hoping that your evaluations on the positives that they have and the fit in their scheme works," Roseman said.
QBs are so valued in the NFL, that any passer who falls out of the first round or two is going to come with significant holes in his game. In those instances, though, Roseman said the Eagles hope the positives in, say, a third-round QB, allow him to overcome weaknesses and maybe pay big dividends with low risk.
"You're hoping you hit the jackpot on some of those guys," Roseman said.
So what does that mean for this year's draft? Roseman left the door open to taking a quarterback, but strongly suggested that if the team picks one as early as the second round, it won't be a case of them taking a flier on a player who they think might work out. It will have to be someone they are very confident will eventually start. Whether Kirk Cousins or Nick Foles or any other second-tier QB fits the bill in the Eagles eyes, only they know, but outside experts have raised serious questions about their chances of being franchise-type QBs.
"You better be pretty confident in your evaluation of that quarterback and feel really comfortable that he's going to be a good player, because really in the second round, you're not into taking projections or guys that you think have a chance to be a starter," Roseman said. "You want to, at least going into it, when you're picking him, know that your evaluation of this player is that he is going to be a starter. We're not trying to go into the second round and take projections or developmental guys. We're trying to get guys that we believe when we evaluate them are going to be good starters for us."
It also sounds as if the Eagles would know full well that any quarterback taken after the first couple rounds is a long-shot to become a franchise pillar.
To me, the QB debate around the Eagles draft is tied to the question of how much pressure the organization feels to win big this season. A second-round QB might be valuable in a couple years, but won't help in 2012, even as a backup. Roseman, however, shied away from the notion of drafting with an eye on this year rather than the future. Asked several times about his thoughts on taking a prospect for who might pay big dividends down the road versus one who can make an immediate impact, the GM consistently said the draft is about long-term value.
"We always look at the draft as a long-term decision for our franchise," Roseman said. Responding to another question a few moments later he added, "If the guy that we project as the best player is going to take a little longer, that wouldn't scare us away from taking him."
If you can believe what an NFL GM says a week before the draft, it's a sign that Roseman and the Eagles will be taking the long view when he makes their choices next week.