The last week has certainly thrown our QB draft predictions through a loop.
The first shoe to drop was Michael Vick, who signed a new three-year contract “that’s really a one-year deal” according to USA Today worth up to $10 million last Monday. He was already under contract but his restructured deal all but ended speculation that he might be a cap casualty and hit the open market. This leaves just Alex Smith and Matt Flynn as starting-caliber QB’s who could be cut or traded by their current teams.
Then, over the weekend, Dorsey heavily criticized this year’s incoming quarterback draft class, citing “so many inconsistencies” and “too many technical flaws, scheme flaws” among this year’s crop.
Like Paddy, I struggle to understand the purpose of these statements except that maybe he’s hoping to find a trade partner who is enamored with either DT Star Lotulelei or LT Luke Joeckel (the consensus top prospects at the moment) and is willing to hopscotch up to the Chiefs’ spot to guarantee not missing out on one of them. Then again, it’s February and GM’s are usually the last person you can trust leading up to the draft. On the other hand, when you hold the first pick, you don’t really need to juke out anyone.
A few days before his statements came reports that the Chiefs were interested in trading for Eagles QB Nick Foles. It remains unclear if these reports or credible or just idle speculation that Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid would be interested in taking the quarterback he drafted last year and started in the final seven games of the season. One way or the other, with the Chiefs QB options narrowing, it is certainly worth considering whether the team should make a play for Foles and what he would be worth.
In my opinion, Foles is worth at least the Chiefs’ 3rd-round pick. Here’s why:
His overall stats for his rookie season were unimpressive: 1-7 record, 60.8% completion percentage for 6.41 yards per completion, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions. But, it’s important to see how he progressed. In his last four games last year he was 5 TD’s, 2 INTs for 1,152 yards (a 289.25 per-game average).
Consider also that he was never supposed to see the field in 2012. He was widely regarded as a guy who would need a lot of development to be ready to play in the NFL.
Furthermore, he was able to put in respectable performances for the Eagles during the home stretch of a season that was a slow motion implosion. Our very own Andy Reid was a lame duck in Week 3. The defense was a sieve, allowing a 27.8 per game (3rd-worst in the league). Two coaches were fired mid-season. The offensive line was a disaster, allowing a league-high 118 QB hits, and 48 sacks. Only four teams allowed more.
In some ways, none of this was new to him. He played college ball at Arizona, a middling team in the PAC-12 that played poor defense and only got to one bowl game during his stint there. Their head coach was fired after his junior season.
Nonetheless, Foles was a highly ranked prospect in the 2012 Draft because he possesses the prototypical qualities of a successful quarterback – 6’5” with a big arm and knack for dropping bombs in his receivers’ breadbaskets. In his final season for the Wildcats, he gained 4,334 yards with 28 TD’s and 14 INT’s. He was ranked CBS Sports’ 48th overall prospect and was expected to go in the mid-to-late 2nd round. (For a total breakdown of his college work, check out Ladner’s post on the subject from last year).
In fact, the only reason he fell so far was likely because last year’s draft class was so much richer than this year’s and there had already been a feeding frenzy on signal callers. Six quarterbacks were taken ahead of Foles — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson. All but one of those guys started this year and proved that they could be productive players. After Foles, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Lindley were selected and also ended up playing for their respective teams. So, while the Eagles may have gotten him for just a 3rd, that was a steal. Luckily for us, Pioli grabbed a backup lineman instead.
So what is he worth?
For the record, I should reiterate that I continue to believe that the Chiefs’ best course of action is to franchise LT Brandon Albert, re-sign WR Dwayne Bowe and grab the top quarterback prospect (Geno Smith) with our first overall pick. We can pick up some serviceable veterans and depth players to plug in the rest of our holes with free agency and the lower-rungs of the draft.
But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a case for grabbing Nick Foles.
With his youth, upside and NFL experience, I think Foles would easily be one of the top three quarterback prospects if he was magically inserted into the 2013 draft. His tape reminds me a lot of Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon and it’s possible that both of those guys will go in the first round. I can’t fathom either of them falling out of the 2nd.
So, Nick Foles’ former draft position doesn’t matter much when talking about draft compensation this year. In fact, given that he showed the ability to be productive at this level automatically means that he is worth more than the 88th overall pick, where he was chosen. Therefore, the Eagles are right to expect more in return.
If we’re talking about equitable compensation I think the conversation starts at the Chiefs’ 3rd-round pick, which, as Ladner pointed out, is really a late 2nd-round pick because the Saints and Browns have no 2nd-rounders this year. We will still probably get a late-3rd compensatory pick, so the sacrifice isn’t devastating. But, I don’t think the Chiefs should go as high as our #34 selection this year, simply because we need to get value with that pick this year (especially if we are going to “reach” at #1). But, I think it makes perfect sense to offer conditional 2014 picks and maybe even 2015 picks based on Foles’ performance.
A possible deal could look like this – a 3rd or 4th this year and a 6th next year that could increase to a 4th, 3rd, or even 2nd-round pick in 2014 if he starts for us and takes us to the playoffs. Generally, a pick next year is considered the equivalent of a pick in the current year minus one round. In other words, a 3rd-rounder next year is worth a 4th-rounder this year in terms of draft capital.
With this kind of a deal, worst case scenario is that we give up one of our top-100 picks this year and not much else for a starting-quality backup, who is better than any QB we currently have on the roster, who is 24 and who has a ton of upside. He totally outplayed Brandon Weeden last year, who was taken in the 1st round and is five years older.
If Foles starts for us and we do well with him in 2013, we won’t care that we lost our (late) 2nd or 3rd-round pick next year to get him.
Furthermore, Philadelphia may not be so determined to fetch such a high price. While they have said that they would need to be “blown away” by an offer, they have a new regime and are looking for a different type of quarterback. By re-signing Michael Vick and picking up QB Dennis Dixon, who Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly coached in Oregon, they are showing they want a guy who is mobile and can keep up with Kelly’s offense. Slow feet is one of Foles’ greatest weaknesses. He is the black sheep on the roster. So, while they see value in him, that doesn’t mean they’re in love.
While I know it would be groan-inducing for most Chiefs fans, trading for Foles may also be the team’s best way to get one of the most objectively talented prospects in the 2013 Draft plus a possible quarterback of the future. I’ve been on the record as saying that it would be a mistake for the Chiefs to bypass Geno for Lotulelei or Joeckel, but adding Foles to our shopping bag as a 3rd round pick changes things a bit.
If Dorsey truly is averse to grabbing the top QB in 2013, I think the best consolation prize we are going to find is Nick Foles.