Thursday, April 21, 2016

On The Clock 4.21.16: The Goff/Wentz Debate: What History Tells Us

By Alex Hale, @DaSportsGenius7

The great debate almost every draft has been, “Who’s the best QB in this year’s class?”  This year has been no different, but unlike previous years, the Top 2 QBs are almost complete polar opposites.  One is considered, “Pro ready” and technically might be one of the most technically sound QBs we’ve seen over the past decade.  The other is that, “Upside” guy who has the big, projectable frame plus a strong arm to back it.  When the great debate started between Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, I thought it was a pretty sure thing who the better guy was, it was Goff.  Then one day I was watching NFL Network’s, “Caught In The Draft” on the 2005 NFL Draft, which most Browns fans remember for selecting Braylon Edwards.  But it was the QB debate in that draft class as I watched that opened my eyes.  So let’s go back to the 2005 NFL Draft to see if the past can teach us something.

The 2005 NFL Draft was headlined as a very good, but not a great draft class going in.  The San Francisco 49ers held the #1 pick and were projected to select a Quarterback.  In this draft class, the consensus around the league was that you had Utah QB Alex Smith and Cal QB Aaron Rodgers, take your pick on who you want.  What people forget about this draft was that for most of the Pre-Draft process, Aaron Rodgers was projected to be the #1 pick by the San Francisco 49ers.  He seemed to be the more “Pro ready” prospect in the class, who had a good arm, solid accuracy, and a good frame, but one that needed to be built up a little more.  Then it seemed out of nowhere Utah’s Alex Smith was suddenly going to be the #1 pick.  In the documentary, Aaron Rodgers says that he was told by San Francisco he was going to be the #1 pick.  So what made Alex Smith the #1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft?

Upside  The #1 reason Alex Smith somehow jumped what seemed to be by most executives (one being Bill Polian) the #1 QB prospect in Rodgers was simply Smith seemed to have more upside.  Coming out of Urban Meyer’s Spread system that is very QB friendly and also in a lower conference of play, Smith had put up ridiculous numbers his last year at Utah (67.5%, 2952 yards, 32 TDs, 4 INTs).  Much like Rodgers, Smith had a projectable frame and some considered he was the better built of the two to take the beating he might take in the NFL.  From all of this evaluation the 49ers relied on numbers and projection to take Alex Smith over a future Hall of Fame QB in Aaron Rodgers…WHOOPS!

Now let’s fast forward to 2016, we have Jared Goff and Carson Wentz as the top two QBs in this draft.  Let’s now take the evaluations I had earlier for the Goff/Wentz with the evaluation of Alex Smith/Aaron Rodgers:

Aaron Rodgers/Jared Goff Both men are Pro ready QBs who don’t necessarily have the greatest arm strength out of college, but they can place the ball on a dime.  Goff isn’t as built as he should be at 6’4’’, much like Aaron Rodgers was fairly skinny when he was a draft.  Both were excellent leaders who were always poised in a Pac-10/12 Conference that plays at a fairly high level for the most part.

Alex Smith/Carson Wentz For the record, Wentz has a much better arm than Alex Smith.  Both men came from lower level schools and dominated again lesser competition.  Both men had ideal size coming out of college with the upside to build on their frame to take the beating they might take on in the NFL.  Quite possibly the biggest similarity between the two is very simple… IT’S ALL ABOUT UPSIDE!

Now I’m not saying Carson Wentz is going to be Alex Smith and I’m sure not saying Jared Goff will be Aaron Rodgers. What I’m suggesting when you evaluate talent, sometimes you look too much into the prospect and not stick to the basics of finding a QB. The keys to finding a QB are Ball Placement, Poise and Leadership.  Arm strength and speed are bonuses in QBs, all the great QBs have those 3 things. As I evaluated the QBs in the 2016 NFL Draft, I kept coming back to this.  There is only 1 QUARTERBACK in this draft that has all of these traits, that man is California QB Jared Goff.  On Draft Night it’s going to be interesting to see what the Rams and Browns scouting departments will tell us in those first two picks.  If the Rams take Goff #1, they value the key traits in a QB.  If the Rams select Wentz and the Browns select Goff, it shows the Rams are going on projection and not the key traits in a QB.  If the Rams and Browns both pass on Goff, whoever trades up or drafts him will get a guy with a huge chip on his shoulder and mark my words, Goff would become another Aaron Rodgers.  The bottom line is this, there is absolutely no debate for me who the top QB in this draft is because I’ve seen this story play out in the 2005 NFL Draft. 

As the saying goes, “History always finds a way to repeat itself”, and we’re seeing it repeat in front of our eyes.

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