There's a popular theory in the league that the spread-offense fad in college football has created a shortage of pro-style passers at the quarterback position. I don't buy it. In my opinion, the problem isn't with the quarterbacks, it's with the scouts.
Lets' use Browns quarterback Derek Anderson as an example. He's thrown for 2,231 yards, 20 touchdowns and a 90.7 passer rating. The guy is 6-6, 230, moves gracefully within the pocket, possesses sound mechanics and a live arm. What's not to like?
Well, apparently the Ravens didn't like him. They drafted Anderson in the sixth round in 2005 but cut him. The Browns signed Anderson but thought so little of him that they traded into the first round last April to draft Brady Quinn to become the team's quarterback of the future. Now, it would appear, Anderson wears that distinction.
Shame on the Ravens. Instead of trying to catch old lightning in an old bottle by signing Steve McNair for one more shot at the big game, shouldn't the Ravens have been more sensitive to young talent on their own roster? Shouldn't they have seen Anderson's upside? If they had, they might be headed to the playoffs this season. Certainly, had they identified Anderson's ability, the Ravens' future wouldn't be as bleak as it is.
How about Tom Brady? He wasn't drafted until the sixth round.
Tony Romo? The Cowboys signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2003 for $10,000, then made the mistake of not knowing what they had on their roster and, as a result, going out and signing Drew Bledsoe for his one more stab at the big game. Now, Bledsoe is out of the game and Romo is the league's third-ranked passer.
Hey, don't blame the talent pool of quarterbacks. The talent is there. The scouts are just missing it.
Look at the teams that passed on Ben Roethlisberger. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers were drafted ahead of Roethlisberger. Manning and Rivers are currently the league's 20th and 21st-ranked passers; Roethlisberger is number two. Do those qualify as mistakes?
The whole league took a look at Jeff Garcia a couple of years ago and said no thanks. Somehow, Garcia convinced Eagles coach Andy Reid to carry an old west coast guy on his roster last season. Now, Garcia is the league's sixth-ranked passer.
Now look at Alex Smith and Vince Young, the first and third overall picks of their respective drafts. Smith and Young are currently last and next-to-last respectively in the league's passer rankings.
The draft is full of first-round mistakes. The Jaguars moved on from Byron Leftwich this year. Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman were selected in the first round in the same year and they appear to be headed nowhere in their careers, yet, Romo was passed up in that draft.
Matt Schaub was a third-round pick in 2004. He's 6-5, 237, and possesses pocket mobility and a live and accurate arm. In his first year as a starter, he's established himself as Houston's quarterback of the future. So what was wrong with him?
Frankly, I think this spread-offense complaint is an excuse. Quarterbacks are more impressive than ever. The league has never enjoyed the wealth of drama the position is currently providing. The talent is there and available talent will continue to present itself. The scouts have to do a better job of identifying it.