Gene Frenette: First-round QBs an iffy proposition, but likely not Trevor Lawrence

Gene Frenette, The Florida Times-Union on

Published in Football

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Less than two weeks before the NFL draft, five projected first-round quarterbacks currently run the gamut from iffy, to promising, to close as it gets to a sure thing.

History tells us there will be more fool’s gold in these packages than in a Bernie Madoff investment portfolio. Still, NFL front-office personnel and scouts find them irresistible to take because the position is too important to ignore.

So they press, and they reach, and they buy in to marriages that too often last about as long as a Gregg Williams employment stop.

Oh, sometimes the union is a long-term fit, occasionally even Hall of Fame-good. But the reality is the odds of success are against that first-round quarterback living up to his value. Yet before the draft, and usually for at least a year or two after, hope always wins out.

The same holds true with three teams picking at the top of the April 29 draft – the Jaguars, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. All are locked in on taking quarterbacks, the order presumably being Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson and a virtual toss-up between Mac Jones (Alabama) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) in the 49ers’ No. 3 spot.

For the first time in NFL history, there’s legitimate buzz of five quarterbacks, the other being a more unknown quantity in Trey Lance of North Dakota State, possibly being selected among the top 10 picks.


Tough finding right QB

The moment all of them are chosen, you can count on fan bases in those respective NFL cities wildly embracing their arrival, or at least being optimistic they’re an upgrade from the current starting quarterback.

Chances are, most of them will be wrong. Such is the hazard and inexact science of NFL decision-makers trying to figure out who can effectively play the most complicated position in sports.

It’s a losing numbers game. Since NFL free agency began in 1993, only 24 of 70 quarterbacks chosen in the first round had worthy careers with the team selecting them or appear on their way to doing so. For another four, it’s too early still to be determined.


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