In a May article from turnonthejets.com, Joe Caporoso claimed that one of the biggest mistakes the Jets made with quarterback Mark Sanchez was not keeping his environment consistent. For years people have called out organizations for changing offensive coordinators during the development of young quarterbacks. Alex Smith and Sam Bradford spent the early years of their promising careers learning system after system and never finding consistent success.
So if it’s so clear that consistency is a key component to the development and sustained success for a young quarterback coming into the “win now” NFL, why doesn’t that start from the moment they step foot on the practice field?
In 2012, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck with the first overall pick of the draft. It was clear to everyone involved that the Colts were betting their future on the neck-bearded Stanford quarterback, but what they did next is far too unique. With the 34th overall pick, the Colts drafted Stanford tight end and Luck’s favorite target, Coby Fleener.
I think that in the future of an NFL where quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton have set an expectation as immediate starters, teams should be following the Colts’ lead and adding a layer of comfort to a quarterback’s rookie season by drafting his favorite receiver along with him.
In 2013, the Jets drafted Geno Smith in the second round, and in the third round (20 picks after the Jets selected guard Brian Winters) Smith’s best friend and fellow West Virginia Mountaineer Stedman Bailey was taken by the St. Louis Rams. I can’t help but wonder what that level of comfort and trust could’ve brought to a depleted receiver corps in Smith’s rookie season.
It’s never been a secret that head coaches in the NFL don’t get the opportunity to draft more than one franchise quarterback, and franchise quarterbacks are few and far between. Allowing existing relationships to grow in the next level like Luck and Fleener’s has a positive upside for both players and the team that drafts them, so it should be the norm in the NFL.
If Browns general manager Mike Lombardi is as dead-set on drafting Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel as reports are suggesting that he is, maybe he should consider trying to use his other powerful draft picks to make a run at Manziel’s counterpart, wide receiver Mike Evans.
In a game of uncertainties, you can always expect a quarterback-receiver relationship that was already successful to continue to be successful, and that shouldn’t extend to just players that are already in the league.