How Far Will Mark Sanchez Slide?
Total Pro Sports – Many considered USC’s Mark Sanchez the third overall selection of Kansas City in the upcoming draft, but the Chiefs’ acquisition of Matt Cassel throws this totally out of the window. When GM Scott Pioli moved for fellow Patriot alum Cassel, he condemned the third overall selection to be defensive – likely Aaron Curry or Brian Orakpo – and Sanchez began to slip. Gone was top 3 money, but what are the chances of top 10 money also disappearing?
How far does the USC number six fall?
Assume Sanchez clears the top 3 – the Rams have too many holes to fill to consider a luxury like him.
Seattle Seahawks – Seattle front office will consider Eugene Monroe or Mark Sanchez after introducing Houshmandzadeh. However, speed receivers are pretty common; a physical, elite route running prospect like Michael Crabtree on the other hand, is a rare occurrence. They can wait a year before drafting Matt Hasselbeck’s successor.
The next three teams have too much money in quarterbacks to consider Sanchez.
Jacksonville Jaguars – At the tail end of 2007 David Garrard came alive making plays with his hands and feet, including a memorable 4th down scamper against the Steelers in the playoffs. He isn’t prototypical height and can struggle maintaining his weight, but he is solid. Can solid win a Superbowl? I’m not so sure. The Jags should and will lean on their run game and tight defence, but unfortunately last year their secondary fell apart and offensive line oscillated between injured and ineffective. This piled the pressure on Garrard who never really got going, meaning Jag management could bring Sanchez under their wing. The criticism against him is his lack of experience, but the Jags wouldn’t make him a rookie or even second year starter. They’d sit and wait – ala Aaron Rodgers – and use him when ready. However, with the abysmal Drayton Florence cut Vontae Davis becomes their top target and an immediate upgrade. Could the dwindling Jacksonvile fan base stomach another season of wasted potential, just for the promise of Mark Sanchez’s emergence in a few years time? Possibly not.
San Francisco 49ers – Many see a done deal. New regime means new quarterback, and that is effectively what San Francisco has in Mike Singletary. They don’t have a quarterback in place – note to league: be very careful when drafting QBs who don’t run a pro style offense in college, ask Alex Smith if you’re unsure as to why – so is Sanchez a 49er? Well, probably but allow me to play devil’s advocate. The number one killer of rookie quarterbacks is a terrible line. The reason veterans like Warner or Manning don’t get sacked even if their line isn’t performing is because they can pick up the blitz, make their reads quickly and get rid of the ball if nothing is on, all attributes that come with experience. What does Sanchez not have? NFL or collegiate experience. Singletary will take a last look at Shaun Hill and Alex Smith, because throwing a rookie QB behind a line that gave up more sacks than any other in 2008 is suicide.
Following the draft order from here on is futile, because if Sanchez falls past the top 10 all bets are off. A bidding war begins and the aim is pretty simple: jump ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If San Diego are looking inside linebacker, then Rey Maualuga will be just as likely to be sitting at 22 as he will be at their original 16. There isn’t a safety worth a look at 15 for Houston and with their linebacker and corner problems being solved in-house, dropping back for a Sean Smith or Knowshon Moreno is a nice option for them.
The Saints are in the same markets as Houston so if the Texans swap with Tampa at 19, does New Orleans undercut the Bucs by dealing to the Jets at 17? Devious but impossible to predict. How about Denver as dark horses for Sanchez? Reports now point towards Cutler wanting out as soon as QB coach Jeremy Bates left for USC, and that his ‘shock’ at talks of a move to Tampa are amateur dramatics on his part. If he is traded then providing he escapes the top 10, Denver has to take Sanchez. The three obvious contenders are Tampa, Minnesota and the Jets, and in my opinion their need for a QB is in that order. The Jets would settle to see Brett Ratliff and Chris Clemens battle it out so may accept their boos and pick defensively, and whilst the Vikings’ Sage Rosenfels trade is weird it must mean something.
Finally, if Denver are dark horses then what does that make Indianapolis? If you are going to have a young QB learn from a veteran, is there anyone better to teach the game than Peyton Manning? It would be a huge ask to move that far up, but Jim Sorgi won’t be able to do what Cassel did if Manning goes down and at some point you have to start looking to the future. Mark Sanchez as a Colt is unlikely, but a very nice fit for the talented USC signal caller.
Whilst this may be pure speculation and doesn’t factor in the impressive Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez’s draft day fate will be one of the most intriguing stories come April 25th.