Will Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles select a quarterback early in the 2012 NFL draft? That is a popular question right now and one I’ve been back and forth on in my head since the end of last season.
As the Eagles’ torturous 8-8 season finally came to an end, it was clear that Vince Young was not the answer as Michael Vick’s primary backup. Therefore, it was a foregone conclusion that Young — aka, the Dream Team season jinxer — would not be back in 2012.
After Young, the next option was 2010 fourth round draft pick Mike Kafka. However, is Kafka really good enough to be the primary backup for the oft-injured Vick? Without much evidence to prove he is or isn’t, his pedigree says that no, he isn’t.
The Eagles apparently agree and therefore signed journeyman QB Trent Edwards. This is the same guy who sat out the entire 2011 season because he couldn’t win a roster spot on the QB-challenged Oakland Raiders last season (prior to Carson Palmer’s arrival too).
However, the job for Michael Vick’s primary backup is still wide open. Edwards and/or Kafka can just as easily be cut as they could win the job. In other words, neither is guaranteed a spot on the roster.
Because Michael Vick is who he is — a QB who is just as capable of a dazzling play as he is a big turnover or big injury — the Eagles find themselves in a difficult predicament in regards to the QB position.
Particularly because of the injury concern, the Eagles need a good backup probably more so than any other team in the league. There is also the aspect that Andy Reid has an affinity for quarterbacks and likes to have prospects to groom for the future.
This is perhaps why he and the Eagles have been connected to several quarterbacks this offseason.
The first scuttlebutt was when they interviewed Robert Griffin III at the combine. That was followed by much speculation that the Eagles were the “mystery team” that was in trade talks with the Rams about moving up to the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Following that, there was a report — followed by a semi-confirmation/denial — that Andy Reid was interested in Peyton Manning. My take was that Reid probably gave Manning a call to gauge his interest and was promptly turned down by Manning.
Therefore it was likely a short discussion and the notion was dropped immediately. However, it still shows Reid’s desire for a quarterback.
Then, Howard Eskin recently tweeted that the Eagles have worked out QB draft prospects Kirk Cousins, Ryan Lindley and Russell Wilson. Those three players are projected to be drafted anywhere between rounds two and four.
Andy Reid is sniffing around some quarterbacks on which he would be spending a relatively high draft pick. If the Eagles spend one of their first three picks (rounds one or two) on a quarterback, what could that mean, if anything?
It could mean that Reid will assuredly be the head coach beyond 2012.
Reid is known for being a QB guru of sorts. His QB-friendly system has a knack for making average quarterbacks look good. Over the course of his career with the Eagles, Reid’s system has made QBs such as Koy Detmer, A.J. Feeley and Kevin Kolb look much better than they actually are.
The idea of Reid drafting a QB early in this year’s draft wouldn’t be much of an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that many people, myself included, see this as a do-or-die year for him.
In other words, why would the Eagles spend a high draft pick on a quarterback that Reid likes if his future with the team isn’t secure?
Reid is still under contract for two more seasons but if the Eagles fail to make the playoffs, or go deep into the playoffs, 2012 could very well be his last year in Philadelphia. After all, it’s usually not good when a head coach goes into a season on the final year of his deal. And if Reid isn’t extended again, he’d be a “lame duck” coach in 2013.
One could argue that whether or not Reid is here beyond 2012, the Eagles still need a quarterback for the future. However, unless a QB is of a certain high-level status, most new head coaches like to go find “their guy.”
Furthermore, young quarterbacks are often stunted in their development if they lack stability in the coaching staff and offensive system. Therefore, it would be a waste of a good draft pick if the Eagles select a “QB of the future” only to have Reid leave after this season.
This brings me to my final point: is it fair to say that Reid’s job would be safe beyond 2012 — no matter how the team does this season — if the Eagles invest a high draft pick on a quarterback?
Spending a first or second-round draft pick on a quarterback would be considered an “investment.” Obviously, the higher the pick, the bigger the investment would be. And what if the Eagles decided to trade up for a quarterback to ensure they got the one they wanted?
What if a player like Ryan Tannehill is on their radar? He would require a trade-up in the first round so that would be an even bigger investment of resources.
It’s tough to say what Reid might be thinking about all of this. On one hand, his only choice may be to proceed as he would as if there was no “clock ticking” on his reign in Philly. On the other hand, if he feels the pressure that he must win now, then he would have no justification on spending a high draft pick on a quarterback.
Andy Reid is a smart man, but also a stubborn one too. In the end, I have to think that if he chooses to draft a QB with an early pick, he must feel secure in his job beyond the 2012 season so that he can reap the reward of an heir apparent to Michael Vick.
Either that, or maybe Reid could be making another power play and by drafting a QB early, it will help his cause to have his contract renewed. I can certainly envision Jeff Lurie saying to himself that Reid is the best guy to groom the promising quarterback who will lead the team in 2013 and beyond.
Or, maybe Reid isn’t as smart as I thought and he would just waste a draft pick that could be used to help his team win this season.