Experts Have A History Of Bad Draft Evaluations For Black QBs

Talent evaluation isnt always about looking at a particular players attributes and taking an informed, objective decision about how a players relative gifts and weaknesses translate within a particular set of circumstances.  Every year, time and time again, we find that individuals who are paid a top-dollar salary by the major cable news networks fail miserably at doing what theyre supposedly the masters at doing. That is, evaluating talent.  Every year, individuals use their acquired knowledge to play a guessing game that could potentially net someone tens of millions of dollars. 

Most recently, former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson has been fighting off the negative comments regarding how his skills would translate to the NFL.  For Black quarterbacks, there will always be those who doubt their acumen on some level.  Back in the day, the prevailing folklore surrounding black quarterbacks was that they werent smart enough to play the position.  

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Although such race-based assumptions were once common, folks arent going to jump out of a window to say that a particular individual cannot play quarterback in the National Football League strictly based on his race today. At least not outwardly. However, thats when the dog-whistling comes in.  

A real dog-whistle is a device that gives off a noise at such a high-frequency that only a dog can hear it. However, as far as humans are concerned, the word is also used to describe a phenomenon where a word, phrase or philosophy has a double-meaning; a benign one, and a sinister one.

Folks like Mel Kiper Jr and Bill Polian come under fire year after year for their horrible pre-draft prognostication. Theyve missed on players from all over the racial spectrum, even giving major props to some black quarterbacks that eventually stunk up the entire league. 

So, its not as cut and dry regarding their ilk.  JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith and Andre Ware were all given very high grades by Mel Kiper Jr, and each failed miserable.  A very small amount of research will show that Kiper gives props, sometimes unjustly so, to black QBs all the damn time. But, rarely to anyone considered a running quarterback.

NFL GMs love a quintennial quarterback, or one who at least embodies as many attributes of the quintessential quarterback as possible. That means they want him to stay in the pocket, go through all the progressions, throw the ball damn near 70 yards off the back foot with pinpoint accuracy, know when to roll out of the pocket, and have unflappable confidence. While very few quarterbacks posses even half of the aforementioned gifts, GMs would like their guy to have as many of them as possible.

Polian and Kiper have largely followed the same type of script; quarterbacks with a more traditional type of game are given preference in their books.  Here are five Kiper quotes, made prior to the drafts of the aforementioned black QB prospects, that will make your head spin.

Kiper said of QB JaMarcus Russell… – “Three years from now you could be looking at a guy that’s certainly one of the elite top 5 quarterbacks in the league.” He even compared him to John Elway.

Kiper said of QB Akili Smith- “Akili Smith will be a great NFL player and would finally provide the Cincinnati Bengals with the passer they’d lacked since Boomer Esiason.”

Kiper said of QB Andre Ware. – “He will be an excellent NFL quarterback.”

Yes, each of the aforementioned quarterbacks in black. No, none was a run-first type of signal caller. Now, with Lamar Jackson, we have an individual that steadily improved throughout the course of his time at Louisville, winning the 2016 Heisman Trophy. This year, he passed for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior. Last year, as a sophomore, he tallied 3,543 yards and threw 30 touchdown passes.

So why is he not even ranked as a first rounder by Kiper or Polian? 

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While its impossible to be certain, I believe Jacksons sweet feet have a great deal to do with their collective doubt of his abilities. Jackson ran for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.  With the success of QB Nick Foles as Super Bowl LII MVP, its clear that great coaching can overcome any perceived deficiency. Foles was horrible at reading defenses, so head coach Doug Pederson placed him a better position to win by suiting the offense to fit his strengths.

With individuals such as Polian and Kiper, who bow at the feet of ancient football wisdom that promotes relative statues over free radicals behind center, race appears less and less to be the reason for some of their boneheaded picks, while ineptitude appears far more likely than not as each bad prognostication comes to light.

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