This is the golden age of the quarterback.
Defensive backs aren’t allowed to be as physical with receivers and pass rushers aren’t allowed to attack the game’s most important position with reckless abandon.
Quarterbacks are allowed a cocoon of security as milestone passing numbers become as mundane as a morning slice of toast.
Three-hundred yard passing games have been replaced by epic 500-yard ones. Dan Fouts’ untouchable 609 passing attempts in 1981 has been replaced by Matthew Stafford’s spiral circus of 727 in 2012.
So all teams from high school to pro are now passing fancy.
Which begs the question, why isn’t this year’s NFL Draft quarterback class a little better?
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are far and away the best quarterbacks in the field. Yet, Winston has been compared to arguably the biggest quarterback bust in JaMarcus Russell and Mariota still has trouble taking his eyes off the main target.
After that, it’s a huge drop off. Guys like Brett Hundley, Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson appear poised to be career backups. And if a team rolls the dice late on a guy like Cody Fajardo, they better be prepared to have him off the 53-man roster.
So how did we get here? With quarterback gurus like George Whitfield now serving as the prerequisite to a major college and pro career, it’s really surprising that this draft has flopped so much.
It certainly isn’t 2012 when Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were all picked in the first round. Russell Wilson and Nick Foles were also picked in the third.
This isn’t the year to push all of your chips to the middle of the table with hopes of landing a franchise quarterback. Of course, all the tea leaves say that Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht will throw caution into the wind and take Winston anyway.
And if the Browns learned anything from the Johnny Manziel experiment, it should be that a quarterback’s off-the-field behavior is of paramount importance. He is the face of a franchise. He’s the guy that people — teammates, coaches and media — go to for answers when things are going off the tracks.
So if you thought Manziel came to Cleveland with a checkered past, Winston will be going to his first NFL stop with a past filled with questions. Things like being accused of sexual assault, stealing crab legs and yelling an obscene phrase while standing on a table. Not to mention his penchant for throwing interceptions and his lack of foot speed when the pocket breaks down.
Mariota, on the other hand, is a system quarterback that reminds me of Brady Quinn. Both guys came into the league with a lot of promise after turning college football sideways with tremendous success. However, the game never slowed down for Quinn and was relegated to a backup role.
And to prove how weak this quarterback class is, Quinn is thinking about putting down his Fox Sports microphone and putting on an NFL helmet. Granted, he will turn 31 next season and he owns a 4-16 career record, but even he could compete with what this class has to offer.
There has been a lot of sizzle with these quarterbacks. They certainly know how to market themselves.
But when it comes down to the meat-and-potatoes of playing the position, there are more questions than answers.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn