The NFL Draft begins in just a few hours. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate that the NFL has pushed it back into May. We can only over analyze these college kids so much, and I truly can’t stand when some people think they have it all figured out, knowing who exactly will be a hit and who will be a miss.
Let me clue you in: WE HAVE NO IDEA.
Ryan Leaf as a shoe-in to be a star. Tom Brady was gonna be a career back-up.
In 2010, Baltimore’s Mel Kiper said, “If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done.”
See, we do not know anything until they hit the NFL field and play in meaningful games back-to-back.
But the NFL Draft is very important…we just can’t judge a draft until years later. Just take a look at 2007 as an example. Life for the Baltimore Ravens and Ravens fans would be very different today if not for a last minute move by the Cleveland Browns in 2007. But at the time, it looked like a huge disappointment for the Ravens.
According to quarterback Brady Quinn, and since confirmed by former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah, the Ravens were planning on trading up to the 22nd pick to grab Quinn in the 2007 NFL Draft. You may remember that Quinn was one of those players famous for sitting in the Draft Green Room waiting to get drafted as he dropped down in the draft.
As pick 22 approached, the Ravens staff were shocked to see Quinn still available. According to Jeremiah, Ravens officials said, “Are we going to take Brady Quinn? We can’t believe he’s still on the board!”
In 2007, Quinn looked like a good quarterback. At the University of Notre Dame, Quinn set 36 records during his four seasons with the team. He won 29 games as a starter and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award after the 2006 season for being the best college quarterback in the nation, and the Maxwell Awards for being the best college football player. He definitely appeared to be a player that could really help a team in need of a quarterback…a team like the Ravens.
So leading up to the 22nd pick in 2007, Quinn said he was on the phone with Ravens brass the entire time. He hadn’t worked out or even interviewed with the team, because they never expected him to drop that far. They were lining up to trade up to the 22nd pick and draft Quinn. But just then, the Browns traded with the Cowboys for the 22nd pick and the Browns selected Quinn. The Ravens went on to select guard Ben Grubbs with their pick.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Ravens went on to a terrible 2007 season with a 5-11 record and rotating between Steve McNair, Kyle Boller, and Troy Smith as quarterback. After that season, Brian Billick was fired as head coach. The Ravens then hired John Harbaugh, and drafted Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in the 2008 draft.
That’s what may have been in 2007, so let’s think about what might have been if the Ravens had drafted Quinn in 2007. One thing is for sure…they would never have drafted Joe Flacco, who has a 9-4 record in the playoffs, a Super Bowl Championship, and is the all-time passing leader in yards in Ravens history.
Now, you can’t say for sure that Quinn would have had the same exact fate here that he did in Cleveland, but it’s more likely that Quinn is another Boller than he is Flacco. Billick was supposed to be an offensive genius and a quarterback guru, but he was anything but. It’s likely, that Quinn becomes just another name in the long list of quarterback failures under Billick.
But, the Ravens would have given Quinn more than one season to figure things out, as they did with Boller. So they would not have drafted Flacco or a top quarterback in the 2008 draft. Which also means that John Harbaugh likely would not have been as successful as he has been.
It’s safe to say the Browns did the Ravens a major favor in 2007 by drafting Quinn. That move, which was disappointing to Ravens officials in the moment, turned out to be a blessing in disguise…a Super Bowl blessing.
But we didn’t know how it would turn out until years later. It was at least four years later until we truly saw how the 2007 and 2008 draft would play out.
So as you watch the draft unfold tonight, try not to get too high or too low. Do not let anyone tell you with certainty how good or bad of a pick a team just made.
It will be years until we really figure that out.