Friday, January 17, 2014

Talent is Talent

It's always fun watching the playoffs, and this weekend's games should be especially compelling. People who aren't into football as much as some of us are sometimes wonder why we take such an interest in the draft. Well, the simple answer is, that's how you build teams.

One example: With the 35th pick of the 2011 draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected quarterback Andy Dalton. With the very next pick, the San Francisco 49ers selected quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Do you think the Bengals would pick Dalton over Kaepernick today? The Bengals seem to have most of the pieces in place to still be playing this weekend — if Andy Dalton hadn't played so brutally in their home playoff loss to San Diego. The Bengals need a quarterback who can take advantage of all that talent around him and lift the team to the next level. In time, Dalton may do that. He hasn't done it yet.

Of course, it didn't help Dalton that his coaches (offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was just named head coach of the Redskins, and Marvin Lewis) had him. absurdly, throwing the ball 51 times in extremely windy, cold, rainy conditions; nor did it help Dalton that Giovanni Bernard fumbled the ball in the red zone.

Still, Dalton has yet to win a playoff game, and Kaepernick's been to the Super Bowl already and is on the verge of going again this year.  Do you think Cincinnati fans aren't wondering how Kaepernick would look throwing to A.J. Green, Mohammed Sanu,Tyler Eiffert, etc.?  But for the Bengals, Dalton was the safer choice, and look where it's got them. Home. Meanwhile, Kaepernick and the Niners will be getting busy against the Seahawks.

Where the chips fall
By the way, with the 31st in the 2011 draft, the Steelers selected defensive end Cameron Heyward, and he looks like an emerging force on the defensive line.

Like so many other Steeler fans, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are always on the lookout for that next developmental quarterback who can be groomed as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger, and step in and play well if and when called upon. And, no, Landry Jones does not appear to be that guy.

At the time, in April 2011, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls liked the idea of Kaepernick playing for the Steelers and had him pegged, potentially, as that guy, if the Steelers could somehow snag him (even as high as the second round). His draft stock had been rising, and we'd been paying attention. He was no secret. Before the draft started on April 28, 2011, here's what we wrote to close out our final draft-preview. The following paragraphs are an excerpt from that draft-day post:

We suspect the Steelers will target three positions in the first three rounds -- cornerback, defensive line and offensive line — but, of course, it all depends how the chips fall. There are any number of guys we'd love to see in a Steelers' uniform next year ... even Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.

In fact, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls would LOVE for the Steelers to somehow grab Kaepernick, but we don't see it happening. He is likely to be drafted early to mid-second round. Just a feeling the guy not only has a 
ton of legitimate NFL-quality talent, but he also seems to have his head screwed on straight, since he says things like ...

"I feel like I’m a good person. I'm not going to put myself in a bad position or the team in a bad position with things I do off the field. That's what you look for when you're looking for a leader. Is this person responsible and mature enough to realize no matter what as a quarterback you are face of that franchise and you need to carry yourself a certain way? Certain things you can’t get away with."

Sounds like Kaepernick gets it.

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