Why do we love the draft? Because each year, we see young men with promise, who dominated the game in college, and we dream and hope that our team will be get the positioning, luck, or lucky bounce in the trade to grab that missing piece. Because we love hearing the pundits say "He's like a taller, more athletic Terrell Owens without all the diva attitude," or "He runs through lines like a team of Brian Urlachers, he's just unstoppable!" They compare dominance in college, 40-yard times, and other obscure statistical numbers, plugged into adjustments, skewed for supposedly more correct results, and then extrapolate from there. What's the problem with this equation? As fans, we're so very desperate for that last little bit to put us over the top that we're dumb and hopeful enough to believe it.
Yes, because we're trying to predict what a player will do in the pros based on their prep and college career. Even though we know that once they're thrust into the big show, the inexact science that is the draft will show how truly imprecise it is. Because a million factors such as ego, work habits, injury, schemes, and overall team effectiveness will truly dictate how this guy does in the pros. Because talent and potential are not only the most appealing words in the english language, but also the bane of many athlete's existence. And no position is more succeptible to this curse than Quarterback. Don't believe me? Try to list off five college stud QB's that were duds in the pros (Jamarcus Russell, Akili Smith, Troy Smith, Joey Harrington, Ryan Leaf, just off the top of my head). It's not too hard. And one of those guys won the Heisman, with two others finishing as close finalists in the voting.
With very rare exceptions (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco being the most notable), rookie QB's flop. They need at least a year on the bench, and another year or two under center to truly get the reps and the mojo acquired to compete. Yes, Sam Bradford has looked good this year, but he's also only posted an average QB rating, and the next two seasons will really determine how good he is.
The harsh truth of the matter is that the 49ers are very much a win-now team. Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker are both in their prime. Frank Gore may only have a couple of years of phenomenal rushing left in the tank, and Brian Westbrook definitely is in that category. Michael Crabtree is theoretically at the stage where he should come into his own with a good QB, and the defensive pieces we want to keep are not getting any younger. This was supposed to be our year, but incomplete coaching and terribly inconsistent QB play by two guys who would be backups on any other team killed us (think back to the Philadelphia game). What we need is a seasoned veteran who can drop in, throw the ball long and accurate, protect and not fumble every third drive, and show some consistency. Year after year I hoped Alex Smith might one day become that guy and justify us passing over Aaron Rodgers, but he never has, so let's face it, he's a bust and he's gone
People keep floating the name of Donovan McNabb. I don't like that idea. Aside from always being underwhelming in the big moments, he proved this year in Washington that Andy Reid is downright prescient at jettisoning players before they truly start stinking it up. A young Carson Palmer might be a good option, and he does still show flashes of brilliance, but one has to wonder if those are just flashes or how he would truly play without the diva-tastic duo he has as a recieving duo clamoring for the ball every down.
At this point, I'd have to think that if you're the 49ers, Kevin Kolb makes the most sense. He's proven, he can withstand a rabid fanbase like Philly, and with Michael Vick experiencing a renaissance like no other, you know his agent will be lobbying for a place he can go where he can really play instead of just taking garbage snaps. The man is a competitor and has been waiting for his chance to play for far too long. And for the Niners, who've been waiting for a real QB for years, it's about time we stop rolling the dice and get willing to pay for someone of quality.
So any thoughts out there? Who do you think we should snag for next year?