On Monday's radio show I broke down the quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 over the last decade. Not counting last week's draft, 19 quarterbacks have been taken in the top 10 over the last decade. How many have actually worked out and gone on to be a top 10 player at their position during their time with the team that drafted them? Not many.
In 2013, no QB was taken in the top 10. In the 14' Draft, the Jags took Blake Bortles at number three. I have defended Blake's time in Jacksonville because he was never given a talent group around him and went through numerous changes to the coaching staff, but he never became a top 10 QB during his time in Duval.
The 2015 NFL Draft saw Jameis Winston go first to the Bucs and Marcus Mariota go second to the Titans. Winston went 24-42 as the starter in Tampa and while he put up decent numbers in passing yards and touchdowns, he threw too many interceptions and the team opted to not give him a big second contract. Mariota was average during his time as the Titans starter but never became one of the league's best.
In 2016 the Rams took Jared Goff first overall. He was decent but Sean McVay wanted to trade him for Matthew Stafford. The Eagles took Carson Wentz second and he never became elite. His numbers in Philly were ok but the team moved on and Wentz may not be in the league in the coming years.
The Bears took Mitch Trubisky second in the 2017 Draft. He made one Pro Bowl but the team moved on and drafted Justin Fields. The Chiefs took Mahomes at 10 and that's worked out fairly well the last I checked.
The great Qb draft of 2018 saw Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen go in the top 10. Only Allen has become an elite quarterback among that group.
The Cardinals took Kyler Murray first in 2019 and the Giants selected Daniel Jones at six. Murray won a Rookie of the Year award and named to two Pro Bowls and got a huge second contract. But the jury may be out after an injury-filled 2022 season and the Cards might look to move on if the team has a poor season. The Giants waited before having to pay Daniel Jones and 2022 may have been his breakout season. But even I admit Jones, while improving, is not in the elite group yet.
I think the 2020 class of top 10 selected QBs have all hit in Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Tua. Yes, I think Tua is a hit so far. Is he top 10? He's close but I think he will be better in Mike McDaniel's offense in his second season.
The 2021 Draft had Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance go 1-2-3. Only Lawrence looks like a hit while the jury is out on the other two.
So with so few quarterbacks taken in the top ten over the last decade, why would the Bucs appear to be in "tanking mode" for Caleb Williams? Because they can.
On Monday's show I also talked about watching the draft and seeing four teams that appear to be content to stick with average quarterbacks and if the season goes south be in position to draft what some think is the "next" big thing at quarterback.
The 2024 NFL Draft may have two of those players in USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye.
First, the other teams who may be "Woeful for Williams" or "Down for Drake". The Washington Commanders didn't take a quarterback. The team went 8-8-1 last season and enter 2023 with Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett and Jake Fromm on their roster. Howell was once thought of as a big prospect and may just need time to play. The team is about to finally be sold and a new owner gets a honeymoon period since his name is not Daniel Snyder. Fans could live with a rebuild of sorts and start fresh with a new face of the franchise.
The Rams were awful on offense last season. Matthew Stafford is under contract for a few more seasons with a big contract. But McVay is now signed through 2026 along with his GM in Les Snead. C'mon, this one is obvious. If anyone could tank for Williams, it's the Rams. The team went all in on winning a Super Bowl a few years ago and mortgaged their draft picks for years. Another season in rebuilding, if it gets Williams, is worth it. Having Williams in LA already and then taking over the Rams is a Hollywood script for anyone.
The Falcons had owner Arthur Blank say the team was in the market for Lamar Jackson before he resigned with the Ravens and that the Falcons had a starter in Desmond Ridder. Ridder, like Howell, might just need to play. He got four starts last season and the team got him another offensive weapon in running back Bijon Robinson so maybe Ridder gets a chance to solidify the position. But in a division where no one will run away in 2023 from everyone else, the Falcons may let Ridder ride and if it doesn't work out, won't be that upset if they end up near the top of the draft for 2024.
That leads us to the Bucs. General Manager Jason Licht said in a recent interview the team is excited about having Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask heading into camp and might even add a veteran. The Bucs could have drafted Will Levis or even take a QB later but they chose not to. No one believes Mayfield or Trask is the future. Bucs' fans got their Super Bowl from Tom Bradty three seasons ago. Brady gave them playoff berths the following two years. If you told a Bucs fan this season is a rebuild of the roster to get in better cap shape and they may only win 4-5 games but land in the top two of the draft and be able to get a "can't miss" QB, would Bucs' fans really be that upset is 2023 goes that way? I doubt it.
It's harder to tank in the NFL than the NBA. Teams in the NBA make it obvious early in a season they have no interest in winning. It's not easy in the NFL where too many players on your roster are playing for their next contract. But just like the NBA you can build a roster to not be as competitive week-to-week as you could be. Baker Mayfield is fine if he starts all year. The Bucs have enough talent to win some games in a division that is wide open. But the team is also close enough to not be better at a few positions and the gap of going 8-9 versus 4-13 is that not far apart.
The 2019 Miami Dolphins tried to tank and did a great job starting 0-7 in Brian Flores first season. Heck, the team had healthy scratches in some weeks. But then Miami went 5-4 in their final nine games. The Dolphins missed out on Joe Burrow but still got Tua with the fifth pick, one spot ahead of Justin Herbert.
The Bucs are now on the clock, well sort of. But the pieces are in place to do what needs to be done to get through the 2023 season with a fan base that might call for a new coach if they win three or four games. But hey, if you get a top pick and get Caleb Williams- maybe after a second straight Heisman- throw a lot of money at Lincoln Riley to come with Williams to the Bay Area. Just throwing things out there.
So let the games begin or should I say the tanking where teams can be "Woeful for Williams" or "Down for Drake"...
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