Shoud we watch players play before deciding if they’re good?

I was just listening to the outstanding Burwell & Co. show on 101 ESPN, and was distressed to hear the conversation Mr. Burwell and Brian Feldman had about Brady Quinn. Both are stridently against trading a mid-round draft pick for the former Notre Dame quarterback, because they’ve made a judgement on the quality of his play.

Well, let’s lay a couple of things out here.

1. Brady Quinn has played in seven NFL games. Six of them were starts. And, many people have made a judgement about Quinn based on those seven games. Back in 2002-2003, many of the same people judging Quinn made judgements about Kurt Warner’s ability to play quarterback in the NFL. Based on starts against Denver, the Giants, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia, plus another against the Giants, those observers judged that Warner couldn’t play. How’s that working out?

2. Eric Mangini is making the calls in Cleveland. Are you telling me that you regard Eric Mangini as a quarterback guru? I heard “he can’t even get on the field for a horrible coach.” Isn’t that MORE of a reason to see what the guy is? If he’s poorly coached and mis-evaluated in one place, shouldn’t that spark some interest of smart teams?

3. Seven different quarterbacks have at least sixteen TD passes in the NFL this year. Of those, Drew Brees was a second round pick that San Diego determined wasn’t worth placing even a transition tag on in free agency. The Falcons determined that Michael Vick was a better option than Matt Schaub. Tom Brady was a sixth round pick. Jerry Glanville didn’t like Brett Favre in Atlanta and traded him, and Ted Thompson didn’t think he could play any more in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t regarded highly enough by 23 teams to be selected in the first round, and San Francisco thought Alex Smith was better. And of course, we know the Warner story. The only member of the group universally regarded as a superstar from the beginning is Peyton Manning.

So the morals of the story are this. A) Don’t judge a quarterback on a limited body of work. It can come back to haunt you. B) Don’t trust the evaluation of coaches. Wait till you see a guy in a game. Even Dick Vermeil started Steve Bono ahead of Warner in 1998. C) Few quarterbacks are great right off the bat. Most, in fact, are either overlooked or find their way after their first team.

I would suggest the Rams DO trade the mid-round pick for Quinn, and see what’s there. Unless, of course, the Rams have a shot at the next Justin King, Dustin Fry, Victor Adeyanju, Jerome Carter or Brandon Chillar. You certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on those types of players to take a look at a potential franchise quarterback.