Quarterback-needy teams must drown out noise of NFL's silly season
For teams in need of a quarterback in the NFL Draft, one of the biggest challenges is to drown out the noise of the league's silly season.
Despite their shared name, there are few parallels between the form of football that dominates the American sporting landscape and the one that will captivate the world for the best part of two months in Russia.
However, one can be found in the conjecture and rumours surrounding the build-up to the NFL Draft, which are often so bemusing in their nature they are akin to the kind of speculation that surfaces during the transfer window's 'silly season'.
With a host of teams needing to address a need at quarterback and as many as six players at the position seen as potential first-rounders, this year has seen the NFL experience a particularly silly draft season.
The two prospects subjected to the most ludicrous pre-draft scrutiny leading up to the start of proceedings in Dallas on Thursday have been Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and his UCLA counterpart Josh Rosen.
Jackson, winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy award for the best player in college football in 2016, has proven himself to be a remarkably athletic dual-threat quarterback who threw for over 9,000 yards and 69 touchdowns while also running for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career.
Despite that outstanding form, some appear to believe Jackson should put himself through the extremely difficult challenge of trying to learn a new position at the highest level of the sport and switch to wide receiver, with some teams even reportedly asking him to work out at that spot.
Here’s Another Louisville Cardinal Great
Can’t Wait To What The Future Holds For @Lj_era8 #TBT #FTS #GoCards pic.twitter.com/YZ3phZd3Dq
— LouisvilleRecruiting (@ULFBRecruiting) April 19, 2018
The 6'3" Jackson has also received the critique that he is too short to play quarterback in the NFL, despite being three inches taller than former Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick, the player he is most compared to, and four inches taller than Seattle Seahawks signal-caller and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson.
Another top quarterback prospect, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, has had to face the same criticism, though he has two inches over Wilson and proved his pedigree by succeeding Jackson as Heisman Trophy winner last season.
No other period in the NFL calendar produces such baseless generalisations, and no draft narrative was more bewildering than the one to have recently engulfed Rosen.
Quotes from Jim Mora, Rosen's former coach at UCLA, in which he was described as a millennial who "needs to be challenged intellectually" and "always wants to know why" have somehow been construed as a negative assessment of his personality.
Josh Rosen doesnt care if he’s the 1st QB taken in the @NFL draft. And I love the reason why. pic.twitter.com/0Qu4Ha0dm6
— Lindsay Rhodes (@lindsay_rhodes) April 24, 2018
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, arguably the two greatest quarterbacks to play the game, have been said to share those characteristics with Rosen and yet there is talk he may slide down the draft board as a result of Mora's words, despite having the most complete skill set of any quarterback in the class.
Neither Jackson nor Rosen are expected to be selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first overall pick, though Mayfield is reportedly in the discussion, but the challenge for the quarterback-needy teams picking below them will be to not let such conjecture influence their gut feeling when it comes time to hand the selection card in.
Making the call to pick a quarterback is about having the courage in your convictions as a general manager. This year more than ever, personnel chiefs must drown out the noise of the NFL's own silly season.