"Developmental quarterback"--- it's a label that's been the curse of many a pro career...
Mike Kafka, (6-3, 220, Northwestern, 4th round, #122 pick overall), now 23 years old, with only 19 collegiate starts under his belt... The entire 2011 Eagles draft is skewed for me by this unaswered question: is Kafka ready to take over if Vick goes down?
What a predicament!... Eagles have two "starting" quarterbacks, but one of 'em wants OUT--- and a backup who's untested, and barely old enough to order a beer at Chicky and Pete's...
This is really screwing up my Eagles MACH 10 Draft strategy. Given the current situation with Kevin Kolb's desire to move on to start elsewhere, I have to believe the Eagles are looking seriously to fill a pick anywhere between the 2nd and 5th rounds with a quarterback...and a guy they feel could become the heir apparent to Vick if Kolb leaves town.
Man, who wants to talk "developmental quarterbacks" when putting together their mock strategies? Linemen, linebackers, corners and safeties are where the action and excitement is!
But here we are, faced with the practical reality of planning for the franchise QB of the future for the Eagles...or perhaps just a developmental project to trade later... and an issue that's rarely if ever addressed in mock draft media these days.
It's a big deal to me...UNLESS this Kafka kid is coming along way faster and better than it appears on the surface. Maybe I'm missing something...maybe the kid is the next Joe Flacco, who knows...but so far his career has more of the look of a Koy Detmer or an A.J. Feeley ---noted developmental QB's of Eagles past.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, either...As Daily News columnist John Smallwood once pointed out, “If Mike Kafka really wants to understand the benefits of being the backup quarterback for the Eagles, he should call Koy Detmer..."
Detmer was drafted in 1997 by the Eagles and lasted with the team through the 2006 preseason. Despite having a primary role as the holder for placekicker David Akers, Detmer earned about $10 million and qualified for the NFL pension in a decade-long career that featured eight starts, 10 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
But Smallwood pointed out almost a year ago, sometimes you draft a "developmental" quarterback not so much in expectation of his becoming your franchise QB, but of becoming someone else's...in other words, giving the young QB enough learning and reps throughout training camp and weekly practice that his individual trade value increases as a future asset. A great example of this is what the Eagles did with A.J. Feeley:
Feeley is the optimal result of the Eagles’ plan when they draft a developmental quarterback.
With Donovan McNabb just entering his tenure as the Eagles’ starter and Detmer established as his backup, the Birds selected Feeley in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. They didn’t draft him to be McNabb’s heir or even his long-term backup.
They picked Feeley to develop him, hoping that he eventually would show enough to earn them more value in a trade.
During the 2002 season, both McNabb and Detmer got hurt and Feeley ended up starting the final five games. The Birds won four and advanced to the playoffs.
Feeley didn’t play a snap in 2003, but the memory of what he had done in 2002 was enough for the Miami Dolphins to trade their 2004 second-round pick to the Eagles for him.
Obviously, it worked for the Eagles, because they turned a fifth-round pick into a second-rounder.
So now all these "developmental quarterback" metrics are dancing in my Bird-brain thanks to the current mess with Free Agent signings temporarily suspended for who knows how long...and a big question mark on Kafka's real role or potential within the Eagles' offense.
Marty Mornhinweg has showered Kafka with the highest of praise....but is that really a good thing, some cynical fans might ask? And is that just part of the "development for future trade value" marketing game?
"Regarding Kafka’s playbook grasp and decisive trigger...within that realm, I think he could be – I’m trying to think back – the best rookie that I’ve ever had in 15, 16, 17 years or something like that,” Mornhinweg said. “So, he’s really sharp. Now, he’s sharp book-wise, but he’s also very intelligent in a football sense. He’s really picked it up very quickly."
“He’s had just terrific minicamps. He started hot and stayed hot... Now, I will say this – he’s got a long way to go. There are so many things he hasn’t seen yet. We’ll see how he progresses.."
Mike Mayock called Kafka the "sleeper" of the 2010 quarterback class, projecting him to be drafted in the sixth round. Mayock also said, "He's a really smart kid. Has a better arm than people think. He's a kid who could surprise people at the end of the day. Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski concurred, saying that Kafka "knows how to play the quarterback position. There's a real feel for hitting the open receiver, good anticipation. I can see him being one of those sleeper type guys ...He throws a lot of picks, but at least he's willing to pull the trigger. You don't see that from a lot of young kids."
We would know a lot more about Kafka's real fit into the Eagles' offensive plans had he actually taken a snap in a regular season game last season. He was activated for 5 games as QB#2 in 2010, games in which either Vick or Kolb were injured, and the final regular-season game in which Vick was rested. But the call off the sideline never happened.
All I know for sure is--- I better start scouting for some mid-round college quarterback "sleepers" in my MACH 10 quest... for it appears to me the Eagles will be seriously looking for another development project at that position.