The 2017 NFL Draft is just three weeks away, and by all accounts, Myles Garrett will be selected No. 1 overall. There has been speculation about the Cleveland Browns’ need for a quarterback, but more than likely they wait until at least pick No. 12 to make that pick.
The San Francisco 49ers have held the No. 1 overall pick once in the modern era (dating back to to the 1967 AFL-NFL merger). In 2005, they used the pick to select quarterback Alex Smith. Prior to 1967, the 49ers had the No. 1 pick in 1964 (WR Dave Parks) and in 1953 (TE Harry Babcock).
NFL.com writer Elliot Harrison recently put together a ranking of No. 1 overall picks in the modern era. There is no clarification on what makes for a higher ranking or a lower ranking, but Harrison came up with some interesting rankings.
Alex Smith finished right in the middle, ranked No. 25. It is sort of fitting for a guy whose career struggled for most of his first six years, but then saw a surge over the second six years. He has never been a regularly dominant player, but he is a guy who will not shoot the team in the foot. With the right talent around him, Smith is a capable option. Here’s what Harrison had to say:
Alex Smith might not be the premier quarterback in pro football or even in the top 10, but he has become a player who gives team a chance to win while rarely being the reason his team loses. That might not make the fans of said teams jump up for joy, but Smith has been a quality starter of late, benefitting from having stability at offensive coordinator in Kansas City. That was problematic early in his career in San Francisco -- like, "he had a new one in six of his first seven seasons" problematic.
Harrison rated recent rookies lower, simply because they have not played all that much. Jameis Winston ranked No. 35 while Jadeveon Clowney ranked No. 39. Based on how their careers have started, they will climb higher in these rankings.
What was a little more interesting was the decision to rank Andrew Luck No. 26, one spot behind Alex Smith. Luck has dealt with some injuries the past two years, but is a very good quarterback. He throws more interceptions than Smith, but he is also capable of carrying a team for longer stretches.
Smith is a guy who can help your team, but you can’t count on big games from him week-in and week-out. There’s nothing wrong with that in part because you know exactly what you get from Smith. One could argue the value of that, but is it enough to rank him ahead of Luck? In some situations, yes, but on the whole, I think Luck has proven himself to be a better quarterback than Smith. But hey, that’s the fun of random debates like this.