Kevin Kolb

The biggest question of this offseason for Eagles fans hasn’t been will we trade Kevin Kolb, it has been what will we get for him.  There has been endless speculation and rumors about what the Eagles will get in return for the NFL’s hottest back-up quarterback.  By most counts, a 1st round draft pick is considered to be the standard speculative choice.

However, Greg Esposito over at ArizonaSports.com wrote about a radio interview, hosted by Sports 620 KTAR, with ex-NFL personnel man and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi.  He is a well respected figure in the NFL community and does have applicable knowledge on talent evaluation as it was his job with multiple teams.  Apparently, Lombardi doesn’t think Kolb is worth a 1st round draft pick.  His exact quote was that “It’s hard to watch tape on Kevin Kolb and think he’s worth a first round pick“.

Mike Lombardi

Mike Lombardi

He then elaborates a little bit:

“When you study the tape on Kolb, it’s not overly impressive,” he said. “It’s very disappointing at times. I know Philadelphia doesn’t like me when I say this, I think ultimately if he did have to play Philly would have been a 7-9 team. If it wasn’t for Michael Vick it would have been bad.”

Let me say that my intention here is not to disrespect Lombardi.  But I do take issue with his opinion and wanted to provide my rebuttal as to why Kolb is, in fact, worth a 1st round draft pick.

There were times last season when Kolb looked less than stellar but it was mainly when he was under duress.  Many QB’s look bad when they are getting hit, sacked, and pressured much of the time.  Lombardi might be right that the Eagles would have went 7-9 with Kolb as the starter.  But that would have been more a reflection of the offensive line’s inability to provide proper protection along with Andy Reid’s refusal to have a balanced run/pass ratio. 

Last year the difference was not Mike Vick’s accuracy or prowess at reading defenses, it was his incredible athleticism that kept him in the starting lineup.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would have had a bad year behind that offensive line.  If Vick and Kolb’s athletic ability were even, Kolb would have remained the starter because he is the more accurate QB.

Then we have to take into consideration just how well Lombardi can actually judge talent at the QB position.  The last draft he was in charge of as a Senior Personnel Executive for the Oakland Raiders was in April of 2007.  The Raiders had the #1 overall pick in that draft and ended up selecting the most monumental bust in the history of the NFL…Jamarcus Russell.  Could he have been anymore wrong about a quarterback?  Now having said all that, let’s talk about how we can look at placing a value on Kevin Kolb.    

When you’re talking about assessing a player’s trade value in the NFL, of course production and game tape come into the equation.  Then there is the aspect we call “projected production”.  Kolb still falls into the perception category of “unkown but promising”.  People can justify a higher value placed on a player they think will become a star (thus the projection).  This is especially true when dealing the quarterbacks as they play the single most important position and are the face of the franchise.   

One needs to look no further than this past NFL Draft to see how desperate teams are for quarterbacks.  Many teams drafted QB’s much earlier than what their talent called for.  This is simply because of the supply and demand rule…the demand is great and the supply is limited.  This rule also means that Kolb’s value diminished a little bit due to the NFL Lockout.  Had free agency began prior to the draft, there would have been many more teams in the mix for Kolb’s services thus elevating his value.  This is unfortunate for the Eagles but there will still be a market for him once the league does open for business.

Arguably the biggest factor in negotiating trades is past precedent.  Trades are never really exactly the same as there are always differing circumstances but past precedent usually serves as a guideline or starting point.  The Matt Schaub trade from Atlanta to Houston in 2007 is probably the most similar trade to Kolb’s situation so lets do a comparison of the two quarterbacks and review what Atlanta received as compensation.

When looking at their statistics, I am only going to count games in which Schaub and Kolb either started or saw significant playing time.  I am discounting “garbage time” stats or games where they didn’t play much since they really have no significance and only serve to alter their overall stats. 

During his 3 years with Atlanta, Schaub had 4 games where he either started or saw extensive playing time.  His stats for these games came to 64/118 for 794 yards, 5 TD’s, 4 INT’s, and an average QB rating of 79.1.  Kolb has started or saw extensive playing time in 6 games (I threw out the Dallas game at the end of last season because he played with all back-ups against Dallas’ 1st string).  His stats for these games came to 147/228 for 1,729 yards, 10 TD’s, 7 INT’s, and an average QB rating of 93.9.

As you can see, though Kolb has 2 more games to go by he certainly has significantly better stats.  And one other key thing to note here is their won/loss record in these games.  Schaub was 0-4 and Kolb was 3-3.  Winning can certainly influence the perception of a QB.

Here is what Atlanta received in compensation for Schaub: two 2nd round picks and a swap of 1st round spots (Atlanta moved up from the 10th spot to the 8th spot).  Moving up from 10th to 8th is worth a 4th round pick according to the NFL Draft Value Chart.  So in essence the trade was for two 2nd’s and a 4th.

Ultimately, given what Schaub garnered in compensation, there is definitely a solid argument that Kolb is worth more.  Another indirect factor in trade talks and value should also be that if Kolb is traded within the same conference, the price should be higher since the Eagles would be trading him to a competitor (Schaub was an interconference trade).  At the end of the day, determining value comes down to numerous factors and is a highly subjective art.  Kolb will go to the highest bidder and his value will be set by what the market determines.  I happen to believe that it will be at least a 1st round draft pick and most likely a little more.


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