Category Archives: 2017 NFL Draft

Why in July opened the NFL general manager?

There is a reason most NFL teams go shopping for general managers in January, and it’s not simply a case of Doing Things the Way They’ve Always Been Done.

The “busy season” for an NFL general manager ranges from February through June, the time of year when rosters are built via free agency and the draft. It’s also the period when many scouting contracts expire, allowing the new hire to tweak, add and subtract as necessary before the start of training camp. When summer practice begins, most general managers slip into the background and begin the less visible work of managing college scouting in preparation for the following spring’s draft.

So when a team steps outside this structure, as the Carolina Panthers did Monday in firing Dave Gettleman, it minimizes any short-term impact the move might otherwise bring. Gettleman’s successor can’t have much impact on the Panthers’ 2017 fortunes. Neither will Brett Veach, whom the Kansas City Chiefs elevated earlier this month to replace the fired John Dorsey. These moves must be considered with an extra-long-range lens in mind.
At best, the new general managers in Kansas City and Carolina will get a six-month head start on next offseason. They’ll also have more time to develop a long-range plan for the franchise than if they were hired in January. But in both cases, the front-office work for the 2017 season is all but complete.

This is not to say that teams should limit themselves to the traditional January window in all instances. Summer is a time of relative serenity in the NFL. If a strong-minded owner has soured so deeply on a front-office leader at this time of year, there is a good chance those feelings aren’t going to change as the emotions of the regular season approach and consume. There is no rule requiring the team to wait another six months before making the inevitable move.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether Gettleman deserved to be fired, much less at a time when his imprint is indelibly stamped on a team that opens training camp in less than two weeks. It’s also fair to scrutinize Panthers owner Jerry Richardson or the Chiefs’ Clark Hunt, both of whom authorized a man to build his team and then fired him before the results could begin to be measured.

NFL decision-making is dominated so thoroughly by habitual thinking that it’s natural to be shocked by a midsummer general manager firing. But these moves are sensible if considered in an appropriate and (very) long-term context.

Neither the Panthers nor the Chiefs will benefit in a tangible way this season after replacing their GMs over the summer. They will, however, avoid a festering of disagreement that already was percolating.

Draft buzz: Will QB-needy teams suffer 2011 relapse?

This year’s class of draft-eligible quarterbacks has been savaged from the start by evaluators.

“I really don’t like any of them,” one team executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Maybe two will go in the first round because of need but they all have holes. … It’s one of the worst groups I’ve watched in a long time.”

Plenty of draftniks agree, but will anything stop quarterback-needy teams from desperately reaching in the draft?

Reports have circulated for weeks that the Browns — as NFL Network’s Michael Silver put it — have “differing viewpoints within the building” on how to use the No. 1 overall pick, with some still considering North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky over “no-brainer” pass-rushing terror Myles Garrett.

Even the 49ers are considering a passer at No. 2, with NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reporting that “those who know coach Kyle Shanahan well insist … Trubisky would best fit what he does on offense.”

All this fuss over a quarterback who was described by one scout as having a “ceiling to be a solid starter like Alex Smith.”

Beyond Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes has reportedly caught the eye of the Cardinals and Chiefs amid whispers that Texans coach Bill O’Brien “absolutely loves” the strong-armed signal-caller.

“I may be crazy but when I watch (Mahomes’) tape, just as a scout, I get excited,” one personnel man told McGinn before another warned: “He has the best arm of the group, but he plays crazy. I don’t even think ‘gunslinger’ is the right word. He’s reckless. … Mahomes might have 20 plays in a game where you go, ‘What are you doing?’”

None of these quarterbacks suggest the second coming of Joe Montana, but teams with burning needs will ensure, once again, that unpolished arms go long before they should in the draft.

It’s fair to wonder if this is 2011 all over again — minus the presence of a Cam Newton-level headliner. That class was equally bereft of plug-and-play starting passers, but that didn’t stop the likes of Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all finding homes by the twelfth pick of the draft.

With the Browns, Niners, Jets, Bills, Cardinals and Chiefs all potentially seeking quarterback talent, will the NFL overvalue this year’s crop of quarterbacks in a way that would make even Gabbert turn red?

It sure feels like it.

With just two days to go before the April 27-29 draft in Philadelphia, we’ll be tracking all of the latest buzz. Check back each day for more updated nuggets like the ones below:

1. Speaking of chasing quarterbacks, Cleveland is already laying the foundation for a potential trade up in the first round. Is Trubisky the target?

“The Browns have been doing their due diligence and investigating the possibility,” Silver reported Tuesday. “I’ve now learned that at least three teams in the top eight have been contacted by the Browns and discussions have taken place about the prospect of moving up.”

If the Browns have their eyes set on Trubisky, it makes sense to get ahead of the Jets (at No. 6) and Bills (at No. 10), but that might not be enough — and here’s why:

2. NFL Network’s Steve Wyche echoed Rapoport on Tuesday, saying that “(Cleveland) better call the San Francisco 49ers because the possibility is (that San Francisco) could take a quarterback at No. 2, and all signs indicate it would be Mitchell Trubisky.”

Wyche emphasized that the Niners “would like to keep the No. 2 pick, but if the offer is enticing to move back, they will. And if the Browns are trying to come up from (No.) 12, that is a lot of draft capital to move up to No. 2.”

3. The Titans enter the draft in enviable position, holding a pair of first-round picks (No. 5 and No. 18) that could generate demand come Thursday night. General manager Jon Robinson has shown a penchant for trading selections and acknowledged Tuesday that Tennessee could wheel and deal again, calling it no more than “50/50″ that the Titans stay where they are.

4. The Vikings, meanwhile, are taking a more conservative approach, with general manager Rick Spielman revealing that a trade back into the first round is “unlikely” for Minnesota. The Vikings don’t pick until No. 48.

5. With New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo essentially off the trade block, will Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron be dangled as bait for quarterback-seeking franchises? Don’t bank on it. Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Bengals would likely “require a first-round pick — at least” in exchange for Andy Dalton’s understudy. That isn’t about to happen, leaving McCarron resigned to spending another year as a backup. “I’m a huge competitor. I’ve always been that way. I want to play,” McCarron said. “But it’s something I can’t control … I’m at peace with it.”

6. At least one veteran passer, though, remains available. Jay Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, clarified Tuesday that the former Bears quarterback has no plans to retire. “Jay wants to play football,” Cook told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “He never has mentioned retirement to me. Jay Cutler, as far as I know, is ready to play and wants to play, and his skill set is as good as any quarterback in the league.” Cutler is the opposite of a long-term answer, but the timing of this agent-driven missive is no coincidence.

7. It’s anyone’s guess where Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon winds up, but it won’t be with the Jets or Giants. After Gang Green general manager Mike Maccagnan came out strong this week on the subject of domestic violence, NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported Tuesday that Mixon “will not be a New York Jet when this draft is over.”

Jones then said Mixon — who was involved in an ugly domestic violence incident at Oklahoma — “will not be a New York Giant, either,” noting that it would be “impossible for me to imagine” Giants ownership adding a player “who, on video, has punched a woman.”

NFL GM: Two QBs will be chosen among top nine picks

The best-player-available draft strategy is the one general managers swear by, but they all need a quarterback they can swear by, as well. And according to one NFL general manager, two of the 2017 NFL Draft’s top quarterbacks will come off the board very early in the first round.

“I had a general manager tell me that two quarterbacks will be taken before the Buffalo Bills pick at No. 10,” said NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly. “Two quarterbacks in the top nine. That’d be a shocker.”

It would, indeed. Particularly to NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock, who has classified the 2017 quarterback class as one that generally needs development before stepping into a starting role on Sundays. Casserly, the former Washington Redskins GM, recently polled 22 NFL clubs on the top quarterback in the draft, and most responses identified either Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.

So which NFL clubs might be a threat to take a quarterback off the board that early? The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets are the clubs with the clearest need at the position, but the Browns hold the No. 1 pick and are widely expected to select Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett. The No. 2 pick would be an awfully rich investment by the 49ers, leaving the Jets as the most likely taker. The Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars don’t quite know what they have in Mike Glennon and Blake Bortles, respectively; Glennon hasn’t started a game since 2014, while Bortles regressed last season and is now under a new coaching staff. Beyond that, the Los Angeles Chargers could be in the market for an understudy to aging veteran Philip Rivers.

In other words, there aren’t two obvious destinations for quarterbacks in the first nine selections, particularly given the questionable value. But finding a franchise quarterback is how NFL fortunes get turned around. And the market for them is never too cold.