In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars both made moves that they hope secure the long-term competitiveness of their franchises. The Titans drafted Washington quarterback Jake Locker at 8th overall, while the Jaguars later took Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. Both quarterbacks will play the waiting game for their first season. Their second years are when the opportunities will start, if they can win the job.
The interesting thing of note is that if Gabbert becomes great and Locker doesn’t, the Titans look bad. However, if the opposite is true and Locker is the great player down the road, while Gabbert’s reign is average at best, then the Jaguars seem like just another team that reached for a perceived need, not the team that skipped out on Dan Marino (looking at you Steelers).
Regardless, both players will get the Carson Palmer treatment–and I don’t mean being forced into retirement. When the Bengals drafted Palmer first overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, they had a plan. Palmer, much to the ire of his competitive nature, would sit his first season and then come out with a bang. Well, as well all know, this worked out great. Palmer was officially an elite-level quarterback….until the knee injury and he’s never been the same since.
Locker and Gabbert will both have this same opportunity. Neither franchise has a desire to rush the young QB’s out there, buying them valuable time to grow into the teams system and learn NFL-caliber defenses. The absolutely great news for each young qb is that they won’t turn into a Joey Harrington or David Carr-type of player. They aren’t being thrown into the lions den or bears den or what have you. Their lines aren’t great but are effective enough, both teams have great running games and in Lockers case he does get to throw to a star-caliber receiver (if Britt isn’t in jail by next year). Gabbert better hope the Jaguars receiving corps develops or that maybe the front office chases him down an elite-level wideout, though having tight end Marcedes Lewis (Pro Football Focus’ number 2 for 2010) does help tremendously.
Matthew Hasselbeck and David Garrard are both assured of starting the 2011 season, how long can they hold the youngsters off? Both seem willing to teach, and this leaves me curious how much they teach, you don’t wanna show your whole hand this early in the game, do you?