With the Kansas City Chiefs landing Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers, the trickle-down effect will likely result in a significant slide for at least one of the top quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Among teams with picks in the top 10, the Arizona Cardinals (No. 7 overall selection), Buffalo Bills (No. 8) and the New York Jets (No. 9) are the most likely to target a quarterback. However, it’s unlikely all three will go that route with other needs to address and a wide array of opinions on whether either Geno Smith of West Virginia or Matt Barkley of Southern Cal is a future NFL star.
There isn’t much in the way of starting caliber quarterbacks on the free-agent market, but a veteran such as Seattle Seahawks backup Matt Flynn could be in play, taking another team out of the mix in the top 10. The Jets are believed to be interested in a quarterback with their selection, but would they really bring in Matt Barkley — Mark Sanchez’s successor at USC — if Geno Smith is off the board by the time they’re on the clock?
If Barkley and/or Smith get past the Jets, they very well might be waiting overnight before hearing their names called. Every team between No. 10 and 32 has either an established starter or young quarterback it is developing, and it’s doubtful many — if any — will view Barkley or Smith as a better long-term option.
The best route to becoming a first-round pick at that point for either of the top two quarterbacks would be a team trading into the second half of the first round. Barring that, it’s easy to see one or both quarterbacks sliding into the second round.
After the smashing success of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III at the top of the draft last year, is it really feasible we could see the first round pass without a quarterback selected in 2013? NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang projects Smith to Buffalo and Barkley to the Jets in his current mock draft, while Dane Brugler has Smith going to Arizona and Barkley dropping to Day Two.
Here’s the rub: this year’s quarterback class is underwhelming at best. If teams selecting in the top 10 don’t see star power in Barkley or Smith, why not wait to see if one plummets into the later stages of the first round or even into the second? Or pick a favorite out the slew of second-tier quarterbacks — N.C. State’s Mike Glennon, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, Florida State’s EJ Manuel and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray — and hope their upside develops into an NFL starter down the road.
Use that top 10 pick to address another key area of need on a prospect with a bigger upside and wait to add a quarterback in the second or third round rather than forcing the issue.