I’m not even a little bit bashful about essentially hating the NFL Draft. Actually, it’s the process and chatter and nonsense and everything leading up to it (the Draft – I’ll even capitalize it! – is fine) that I hate. Three months of nonstop moronic chitling from loud talking know-it-alls extolling the virtues of some kid most of us wouldn’t know if they came into our bedrooms unannounced and had their way with our significant others and assorted pets. Hey, is that the guy from Kendra’s sex tape or Carson Wentz dipping his wang into my fish tank? Philly gets all twisted in tight covers as brash city-folk Eagles fans pretend that they know about some linebacker from Missouri, or, in this case, quarterbacks from Cal and North Dakota State. NORTH DAKOTA STATE! Fuck off if you claim to have watched one NDS – abbrevs, baby! – game last season. You didn’t. Neither did I. Neither did a good number of the folks telling you about how great or terrible Carson Wentz was, is, or could be. Therefore, the trade can only be judged in theory, by inserting it into some heuristic that allows us to understand what the goal was.
Here’s what happened: The Eagles gave up a boatload – in effect, a first, second and third round pick in consecutive drafts – to obtain one of two guys they believe to be a potential franchise quarterback.
Here’s how to judge it: We can all be so simplistic and brilliant as Marcus Hayes, whose headline was, laughably, Great Move for the Eagles, if Carson Wentz is Great. He’s not wrong, though. There’s really only two ways to look at this: Do you believe a team should give up that much for a quarterback, or not? I do.
The draft itself is a total wild card. Sure, there are studs throughout all of its rounds. But there are also plenty of duds. You can run the trade through whatever calculation that approximates the worth of individual picks all you want, the fact is none of that accounts for the possibility of drafting a franchise QB, which can make or break an entire decade for some teams. Everything else, short of a world-beating defense, is useless when KevinKolbMichaelVickDougPedersonNickFolesSamBradford is your quarterback. It’s no accident that the Eagles’ only period of genuine greatness* over the last 30 years came with Donovan McNabb under center. It all starts with a quarterback and fans out from there. It’s much easier to recoup lost draft picks, or stock up on players in positions where athleticism or size or speed is more valuable than true ability. All-world running backs fall off trees. Solid corners and massive linemen can be built. Quarterbacks need to be obtained, nurtured and protected. So if, if the Eagles believe Carson Wentz or Jared Goff (probably Wentz) is their guy, then they did the right thing.
Now, that’s a giant leap of faith in a front office in which I have little confidence. I’m not so sure I trust Howie Roseman to make that decision. I may trust Doug Pederson – if only because he was a quarterback – but I certainly don’t trust Roseman, or Jeffrey Lurie, whom I’m thinking had a hand in steering the Eagles toward a QB similar to how Mr. Snider essentially forced Paul Holmgren to buy Ilya Bryzgalov.
*Plenty of frustration and failure with them, but there’s no denying they were a great team.
That said, I still like the trade, even if I don’t trust the guys who made it. We’re stuck with this front office group for a little while, so why not take the risk? They have a better chance of hitting on their QB gamble than on the lesser draft picks they gave up. The Eagles needed a quarterback, so they found a way to get a quarterback. Given their drafting prowess and the fact that they’re dialing everything back to the Andy Reid era – which, mind you, included countless draft misfires – at most the risk will cost them one Pro Bowl-level defender, an unhappy offensive lineman, and a mediocre wide receiver. I’m OK with that. Because those wouldn’t be big enough pieces to win without a quarterback anyway. So, they did the deal. Go Birds!
Side note 1: I applauded the way they messaged it and got in front of the story yesterday with an announcement, graphics, and a Spuds article telegraphing the pick and softening the blow on Sam Bradford and the other guy (can we just call him the other guy now?). But, between this move, the way Howie anxiously announced it, and running at least one QB prospect through a mock press conference, it’s obvious that the Eagles are hyper-aware of public perception. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but they can’t operate from a place of fear. They certainly didn’t with this move. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned that they will to do something, at some point, in the interest of saving face rather than improving the team.
Side note 2: There’s a groundswell of oh Chip couldn’t do the deal last year! Maybe so, but by all accounts the Titans weren’t trading the pick. And who knows, maybe Wentz is better than Mariota. Maybe.