Ricky Stanzi: Destination NFL (part 2)

20 11 2010
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Ball State, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 45-0. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Now, the optimum destination for Ricky Stanzi would be a team with a veteran quarterback on the downside of his career. This will give Stanzi a few years to learn the NFL as a backup before taking the reins of an NFL franchise. It is the formula that has worked tremendously for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Tom Brady in New England, Kurt Warner in St. Louis and even Steve Young in San Francisco. Warner and Young were not drafted by the teams mentioned, but that is not the point.

The clear number one destination for Stanzi would have to be the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning is on his way out in a few years, has set or will set just about every passing record known to man, and has a Super Bowl ring. The Colts have also not had a credible backup behind Manning and have been playing with fire for years. One bad hit to Manning and the Colts go from Super Bowl contenders to Average Joes in a flash. Stanzi would have time to grow and learn in the system, and already looks the part directing the offense on Saturdays for the Hawkeyes. The Colts would trade a little bit of Manning’s arm for a more mobile quarterback who could evade the rush and still get the ball downfield. Plus, the Colts are already poised as the professional affiliate of the Iowa Hawkeyes with four Hawkeyes currently on roster (Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, Pat Angerer and Mitch King) and even had former Iowa fan-favorite Ed Hinkle on the roster briefly a few years ago. Stanzi would also be a huge lift to the Colts’ budget once Manning gone, freeing up more money for more offensive weapons.

A close second, would have to be the Washington Redskins. The Redskins currently have Donovan McNabb, who may not be the best when it comes to grooming his replacements (just ask Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb), but a year or two as a backup under Mike Shanahan would set Stanzi up to be the successor in Washington and be Shanahan’s guy for the future. McNabb may have just signed a five-year extension in Washington, but the terms of the contract make it very easy for them to dump him early without too much heartburn. And Shanahan is a proven quarterback-friendly coach. He is behind Super Bowl quarterbacks Steve Young and John Elway, as well as other productive quarterbacks Jake Plummer (the good Denver version), Jay Cutler, and Steve Beuerlein. Stanzi has comparable arm strength to McNabb and any questions about Stanzi’s overall arm strength can be nullified with a system that Shanahan has thrived in for years; medium to short passes to receivers who can make things happen, and then short passes to the tight end and running backs. And Stanzi would be perfect for the Redskins with their third-round pick, their second pick of the draft after trading their second round pick for McNabb.

The Seattle Seahawks also provide a good situation for Stanzi. Matt Hasselbeck’s days are numbered and the Seahawks clearly overpaid for Charlie Whitehurst as his backup. Pete Carroll will also like to draft a guy he can groom for his specific offensive scheme. Stanzi will have at least two more years before being the full-time starter and Hasselbeck is prone to injury, so he could get some early familiarization work in before being given the keys to the car. Carroll also has a solid history with top quarterbacks; Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart and Drew Bledsoe. The Seahawks have some young offensive talent that could form a nucleus for the next few years as Carroll works on building his version of the Seattle Seahawks after the departure of Mike Holmgren. Although I cannot possibly picture Stanzi wearing that safety-green jersey in Seattle.

Cincinnati is the last stop in the tour of optimal locations for Stanzi. The Bengals are on the fringe of this list because it is uncertain how much longer Carson Palmer can hold up under the abuse he takes in the Cincinnati. The most likely scenario here is some sort of injury-shortened career for Palmer, and the Bengals will need to come up with a solid backup plan now, not after it’s too late. And Caron’s brother, Jordan, is not the future of the Bengals. Remember, he is Caron Palmer’s brother, not Caron Palmer himself. I’m not sure the current cast of players (Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Cedric Benson) are the best guys to start your career with, but if it meant starting slowly and not forced into a bad situation as a rookie, it might be worth it for Stanzi because Benson, T.O. and Ochocinco may not be there by the time he takes over as the starter.

There are also some teams out there with immediate quarterback needs that may have no other choice but to consider going with a rookie quarterback next season. These options put Stanzi in a very bad position. Even Peyton Manning struggled as a rookie quarterback thrust into the starting role to open his rookie season. More recent examples include Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford. Both have done OK, but Stafford has struggled to stay healthy. And being a rookie starting quarterback usually means the team isn’t very good and is desperate.

With the announcement that Brett Favre is not returning for the 2011 season (and I actually may believe him this time), the Minnesota Vikings may be the front-runners in the “Immediate Need” category. Brad Childress will most likely be gone as well, which will leave a talented supporting offensive cast in the hands of new head coach and Tavaris Jackson. That is unless the new head coach wants to instill his new system with a quarterback he chooses. Stanzi will be a tempting choice with his proven leadership skills after three years as a starter for successful Iowa Hawkeyes team.

Despite what rhetoric the head coach may throw out, the Kansas City Chiefs cannot be satisfied with Matt Cassell as their top quarterback option. Charlie Weiss has been credited with turning Tom Brady into a future Hall of Famer, and would have several of the same building blocks available in Stanzi. With one of the most successful running back tandems in the NFL, a pretty good offensive line, and one of the best young tight ends (Toni Moeaki) in the league – who he spent two years throwing to in Iowa City, the Chiefs could use an infusion of skill and confidence at the quarterback position. The Chiefs found a gem in the third round when they drafted a player from Iowa (in Moeaki), and could easily find another in Stanzi this year.

Despite having the worst record in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills are not as desperate for a quarterback as some may think. They have getting some pretty solid quarterback play from Ryan Fitzpatrick this year. He has turned Steve Johnson from a nobody to a fantasy football stud and has been more comfortable at the helm of the offense now that Terrell Owens has left. They still may look to overhaul the offense, but as tempting as it would be for him to be a starter with a big paycheck in Buffalo, I could never wish such torment on anyone. I can’t imagine a more less desirable situation to be in.

A week ago, I would have put the San Francisco 49ers a little higher on the “Immediate Need” list. But with their new-found success with former Heisman Trophy-winner Troy Smith, they may not be as desperate as they were when Alex Smith and Mike Singletary were arguing on the sidelines during the Kansas City Chiefs game (week 3). The 49ers also don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to give Nate Davis, the fan-favorite successor to the Niners quarterback throne, his shot at being the starting quarterback. The traditional 49ers West Coast offense, with short, accurate timing patters, check downs to running backs and tight ends, and a mobile quarterback shifting the pocket fit Stanzi’s skill-set perfectly. And with an All-Pro running back (Frank Gore), top-tier tight end (Vernon Davis) and one of the hottest young wide receivers in the NFL (Michael Crabtree), Stanzi could find immediate success behind a developing young offensive line. But the 49ers would first have to admit the Alex Smith experiment is over before truly making a step toward drafting Stanzi.

Though, personally, I think Indianapolis or Washington are the best overall scenarios for Stanzi in the NFL, I think Minnesota, Kansas City or San Francisco would be great opportunities for Stanzi to demonstrate his abilities early as an NFL quarterback.

I guess we will just have to wait until late April to find out for sure.

If you missed it, I detailed the teams with outside chances of drafting Stanzi on Thursday.

Part 3, breaking down the numbers, justifying Stanzi as a legitimate NFL quarterback, is coming next week. In the meantime, I’ll let K.C. Joyner or ESPN start the conversation with his comparison of Stanzi deserving Heisman consideration, which also does a lot to justify Stanzi as an NFL-caliber quarterback.

Stay frosty. Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Carroll fuels Tebow draft conspiracy

24 03 2010

I felt like Mel Gibson in a taxi cab watching Julia Roberts on a treadmill through binoculars. The conspiracy was coming true. I didn’t know whether to be happy it was coming together like I said, or upset that it was coming together like I said.

When I saw that Pete Carroll, new Seattle Seahawks coach, comment “I can’t believe a quarterback of his stature won’t be (taken in the first round),” I also heard the sound of the first dominoes of the conspiracy falling. (courtesy of Jason La Canfora’s NFL.com blog)

First the NFL invites Tebow to be present at the NFL draft, when no one is predicting him even close to the first round. Draft invitations are only extended to potential high first round picks, never to guys who aren’t even on mock drafts in the first round. It makes no sense.

Until you hear Carroll’s comments today. Then it starts to clear up. The NFL gets in the ear of “the new guy” and “suggest” he make a well placed comment about Tebow being first-round talent. Carroll is the first and only person to suggest such an outrageous thing. Other teams know Seattle is in need of a quarterback replacement (with Matt Hasselback’s imminent departure) and no one believes Charlie Whitehurst is really going to be their long-term solution at quarterback.

I challenge anyone to find me a legitimate mock draft (ESPN, NFL.com, FoxSports, CNNSI, Yahoo, Sporting News, etc – not some crazy hack) that has Tebow in the first round dated between January 1 – March 24, 2010. It doesn’t exist.

Now you get the other teams worried that Seattle aren’t going to waste a pick on him in the first round, but they may be hungry to move up and take him early in the second round, or possibly another team like Washington or Tampa Bay might snag him early in the second round.

Let the panic spread!!!

The next thing you know, Tebow is on everyone’s big board. Not because of his talent, but because they want to be the team to take Tebow, and the race is on to see who actually picks him first. It’s more like a game of chicken than a race – to see who the first guy to flinch and take him might be. Now, Tebow is drafted in the 20s of the first round by a team that has no need for him. Why? Hysteria. Tim Tebow fueled hysteria.

Here is my disclaimer: I believe Tim Tebow has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks taken in this draft. I think Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Max Hall, Tony Pike and Tebow are solid NFL-caliber quarterbacks. I guarantee Tebow will prove to be better than Jimmy Clausen. Take that to the bank. But he is not ready yet. He even admitted it. He is not worth the money and the value of a first round pick. Plain and simple.

The only way Tebow is drafted in the first round is through the snowball of hype Pete Carroll just created. And I promise you that someone in the NFL offices had a hand in the remarks made today. Otherwise explain Pete Carroll’s remarks.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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