have always stood by the fact that investing early in the top QBs of the class is a terrible idea. Although many of them have the talent to be good QBs, the teams they usually go to are horrible for promoting growth in a young player that starts from Day 1. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, they fail quite hard until later in their career.
The main factors that should go into your decision of whether or not to buy usually rests with the team the guy plays for. In the case of Matthew Stafford, I advised to stay far away because of the team he played for. The offensive line was in shambles, the running game still need to prove its worth, and Calvin Johnson was all they had to help Stafford out. Sure enough, Stafford got banged around and ended up missing six games due to injury. In the case of Mark Sanchez, the Jets were in a MUCH different situation, and it showed. Although I didn’t think pumping dollars into Sanchez was a good idea either, at least he had better prospects of doing well off the bat.
In 2008, the situation was very similar to 2009 with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Matt Ryan was coming back to a Falcons team that had pieces in place, but no one to lead. Flacco had a super bowl contender in Baltimore, having been drafted late in the first round. Because the Falcons and Ravens had better teams to complement the talent of the QBs, they did much better than expected.
This year, there are quite a few players that are already tickling the collective nutsacks of prospectors looking to burn a few bucks. The top guy should be Sam Bradford, likely going to the Rams after a DISASTEROUS 2009 season. Bradford has size and talent, and is expected to be a good quarterback. The Rams’ lack of success could be as much attributed to injuries as anything, as many of their starters spent the year on the pine. Does this mean he is worth throwing a ton of money at when the products are released? Fuck no. Bradford is not going to have the year that Ryan had, and probably wont even have the underperforming year that Sanchez had on a playoff team. The Rams will go 3-13 at best, and that’s if Steven Jackson stays healthy. On the other hand, the Rams do have some talent that is building up to be good players. Jason Smith had a below average year, but is showing promise. Same with Donnie Avery and some of the other pieces of the Rams offense. This may help Bradford in the long run, but will limit his immediate potential.
As for Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, it is likely that they will have a similar experience. Clausen may end up in Washington at number 4 or Cleveland at number 7, with both teams being terrible in their offensive prowess. McCoy may end up as a 2nd round pick, as will Tebow, and both should spend their first years on the bench. In McCoy’s case, injuries likely put him out of the first round to begin with, though he has the talent to be a great QB. Tebow, well, if you throw money at his cards, you might as well burn that cash instead. As evidenced by his pro day film, he still has major problems with the exact issues he had before and may even end up as a Wildcat QB/TE when all is said and done. With the Wildcat becoming more of a tolerated offense, he is likely to spend more time on the bench than on the field during his career.
People may cite the success of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Tony Romo as reasons to get in on the ground floor, but I disagree. Prospecting has become so commonplace in football that prices are high from the beginning. In fact, the price Matt Ryan commanded originally didn’t grow THAT much over the course of his successful first season. Paying an extra 20-30 bucks, shouldn’t be that big of a deal once the guy proves his worth to his team.
Basically, your best targets will always be WRs and RBs. Top WRs are usually on the field from day one, with many being productive from the get go. Backs are the same, especially with 99% of the teams using a two back system. They command the value that they do because of that early production, though only the running backs will carry it on consistently. Funny enough, this year is so loaded with defensive talent, there could be a starvation rule in effect, with many collectors wondering what direction to go. It should be interesting to see where things end up.