Hello, AP. Long time listener, sometime caller. I thought I'd try a fun game where I make some absurd statements and you tell me what isn't true or accurate about them, call me an idiot, or spread lies about my mom....please don't do that last one, my mom's a nice lady.
Here's the deal. I really, REALLY want to draft a QB. Before the Alex Smith trade, after the Alex Smith trade. Before the Matt Cassel trade, after the Matt Cassel trade. There was even a part of me that didn't want to give up on Brodie Croyle (click to see his wife). This is partly because he could wing the football and partly because we hadn't used a higher draft pick on a QB since the tainted tea leaves advised us to use a 2nd round pick on Matt Blundin in 1992.
When it comes to shoveling in the shit that this franchise puts in front of me, I'm basically the glutton from Seven (you're not going to make me say Se7en, are you?). It was my NEEEEEEED to draft a QB that had me down on giving up two high picks for Alex Smith. The thought that we could be giving up TWO 2nd round QBs for one, 29 year old, roll of the dice.
My friends and I have actually always championed Alex Smith in football discussions. We would use the Niners on Madden just to scramble with Alex Smith and shout "HE RUNS LIKE A GAZELLE" (if anyone knows who described him this way years ago, I'd be eternally grateful. It's something we heard in an interview once and it never left). However, I'm trying to come to terms with the difference between hoping a guy works out for another team and him coming to MY team when he's pushing 30. I have faith in Alex Smith, and I hope he can take us to some sort of promised land. That doesn't mean I don't still have a fire in my belly...a hair up my ass....a tingling in my groin (ahem)...about wanting a shiny NEW QB for us to hold and love and squeeze.
Going into this specific draft, the problem was that everyone was round about the same. The whole QB class was, essentially, a collection of peaks and valleys in their skill sets. You could have combined any two of them to make a super QB, but there was no clear-cut correct answer. Before the trade, I posted here that, for that reason, we should draft any two of them. They could compete and grow together. One would HOPEFULLY work out. It wasn't long after that post we acquired Alex Smith and my plan changed to "well, as long as Reid gets one of the Gruden QB camp guys to take on as a project".
After the draft, I went back into full Chicken Little mode. "YOU'RE GOING TO FUCKING TELL ME THAT WE DRAFTED A FULLBACK WHEN WE COULD HAVE DRAFTED TYLER BRAY?!?!?!?!" If you were in my phone, you received texts about it. I was pissed. I decided that putting all of your eggs in a QB with a concussion history's basket was, once again, the worst move ever and the new regime was a collective boob. A uniboob with a dunce cap.
I can now say, that if prepared right, crow can be a delicacy. The signing of Tyler Bray changed my entire low opinion of the draft. We filled nearly every hole our roster had AND still got one of the Jon Gruden QB Camp guys.
It's often overlooked how much NFL players are like pornstars. There is a small window in time you can get paid to perform at a high level.
Although they usually come with added maturity and work ethic, red shirt seniors, to me, come with the pretty hefty baggage of being a couple years older. They have to adjust to life in the NFL, learn a new system, learn the intricacies of playing superior talent, etc. The older you are when you enter the league, the older you are when it all clicks for you.
The reason Alex Smith seems like he's been around forever is...he kind of has. A good example of this fact is that Alex Smith is coming into his ninth season in the NFL. Russell Wilson is coming into his second. Despite this fact, Alex Smith is ONLY 4 years 6 months and 22 days older than Wilson. Again, Alex is younger than Weeden and he has already been labeled a bust, a success, a player that has reached his ceiling, AND been shipped off in favor of a young whippersnapper (fun fact: Colin Kaepernick is already turning 26 in November. SOOOOOO much time to learn for that one).
So what does this have to do with Tyler Bray? Possibly, the most gifted thrower in the 2013 NFL draft?
Let's skim over the highlights. Tyler Bray is 6'6" 230-ish. He is POSSIBLY a shit head, doesn't move real well outside of the pocket, BUT he can throw a marble through a brick wall, around a corner into a shot glass. Of all the QBs on Gruden's QB camp, he was the most headstrong. Although, that might scream UNCOACHABLE to some of you, I took the stance that with a little coaching, we have a gunslinger on our hands. If Tyler Bray can land somewhere between Favre and Cutler (and not between Grossman and Leaf), we have a potential star in our future.
I know what you're thinking..."this asshole can't just say 'we got a rookie QB, he must be Brett Favre'. Where does he get off?"...and you're kind of right. So, to answer the latter first. I get off whenever, wherever I can. Now, the meat and potatoes of your hypothetical statement. I've kept one thing back from this entire rambling piece. His age. Now that there are people who get paid to study every fraction of every statistic, and make up new ones, people often overlook how important it is to take someone with time to grow a little. A person's age is the easiest stat of them all to track (unless we're talking baseball and fake documents).
Tyler Bray was the youngest QB in the draft. He doesn't even turn 22 until December. In a world where Alex Smith is younger than Brandon Weeden and Ricky Sanzi is almost 26, we have a 21 year old quarterback on our roster. All of those character flaws? You know...like he was drunk on a jetski? HE WAS A FREAKING KID!!! I'm 31. I've done dumber shit this summer than throwing empty beer bottles off a balcony. The character concerns mean ABSOLUTELY nothing to me (keep in mind, I also celebrated Kyle Orton's propensity to get HAMMERED). The amount a kid grows up between 21-23 is pretty substantial. He'll mature, and he'll mature under Andy Reid's watch. So, rather than stay at Tennessee and play for, technically, his fourth Head Coach (sound familiar?), he gets on the job training from a guy that once got a second round pick for AJ Feely.
A quick scan of the quarterbacks drafted shows that Tyler Wilson turns 24 next month. Manuel and Nassib turn 24 in March. Glennon and Dysert turn 24 in December and February, respectively. Landry Jones turns 25 in April. Barkley and Geno are a little younger than those guys, but with the lack of polish in this draft class, I'm glad we ended up with the youngest of all of them.
To put it in the simplest of terms, in two years, Tyler Bray will have two years under his NFL head coach--his supposed, QB guru NFL head coach--and he will be the same age as a red shirt senior entering the 2015 draft. That's at least a LITTLE exciting, right? Whether he works out or not, we stole one of the best arms in a draft that was lousy with fair, older quarterback prospects.
Let's face it, Aaliyah's album was only called Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number because R Kelly was having sex with her when she was underage. Age is important.