With the success of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys during the 2016 season much has been made of the Mississippi State product’s production after being selected in the fourth round of 2016 NFL Draft. Prescott’s production has led to constant speculation about the future of Tony Romo’s playing career.
Teams have found successes and projects in terms of a team and a quarterback pairing over the last five drafts:
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: Carr, was selected by Oakland in the second round of the 2014 Draft out of Fresno State University. This season the Raiders secured their first winning season since 2002 with a 12-4 record. Around Carr general manager Reggie McKenzie drafted wide receiver Amari Cooper and signed Micheal Crabtree in free agency to provide depth and experienced players for his young team. Carr’s MVP caliber season ended when he injured his right fibula in Week 16. Barring a major setback in his recovery from injury, the Raiders do have their quarterback for the foreseeable future in Carr.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winston had drama follow him into the NFL from his time at Florida State. Despite having play-makers around him in Doug Martin and Mike Evans and a stout defense led by Gerald McCoy, his rookie season was a learning experience. Winston’s progression forward during the 2016 season showed the league that Tampa did not make a mistake by selecting Winston No. 1 overall in 2015 and brought Tampa Bay back to a state of relevance.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: Taylor, who is best known for his college career at Virginia Tech, has shown promise during his time as Buffalo’s starting quarterback while providing stability to the position for the first time since Jim Kelly in the mid-90’s when the franchise appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls. Taylor’s mobility allowed the LeSean McCoy to have reduced focus on him. Taylor has developed as passer faster than expected in his time as the Bills’ starter.
Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns: Griffin, who won the 2011 Heisman Trophy while at Baylor and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2012 Draft. Griffin III had a terrific rookie campaign and was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, his career has been hampered by multiple injuries to his right leg. After signing with Cleveland, the Griffin was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Injuries have been the main downfall of this former No. 2 overall pick. His time with the Redskins was hindered by the team using the read option offensive scheme, which exposed Griffin to injury and it did not make much sense for the coaches to have the young franchise quarterback learn a new offensive scheme, when he had only used the spread offense in high school and college.
Geno Smith, New York Jets: Smith had a decorated career at West Virginia University before being selected by the New York Jets during the 2013 NFL Draft. However, Smith struggled during his time with Jets due to a roster that has been plagued by an injury to wide receiver Eric Decker and an inconsistent running game.
These factors show fans that Smith’s current situation is not all his fault. I see the fault as a 50-50 split between former general manager John Idzik Jr, who constructed rosters during his time with the team that had talent on the field in wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker but were troubled off it with Smith breaking his hand during an argument with former teammate IK Enemkpali. Smith has not met expectations of the front office. For Smith to remain in favor of the Jets’ front office he must remain healthy and be semi-productive when he is on the field.
All in all, a a front office finding their franchise quarterback is a difficult task to accomplish. This being said teams have found both exactly what they were looking for (Carr and Winston) and projects (Smith and Taylor). These struggles show how difficult it is to work in and be a part of NFL front office.