Many call the NFL a “copy cat” league. The reason for this theory would be that it’s a very reactionary league in many ways, whether it be an action of sensible evolution, necessary adaption or just a knee-jerk reaction to seeming trends.
Whichever one you file the 2013 NFL Draft‘s love affair with offensive linemen under — with five linemen landing in the top 10 — I believe it could be a reaction to teams seeing starting quarterbacks across the league getting beaten senseless and even lost for the season to injury in recent years.
Now, I believe first and foremost that the pure level of polish held by the likes of Luke Joeckel and upside held by Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson is the primary reason they were taken so high. But, I also believe the Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t have selected guard Jonathan Cooper at No. 7 if they didn’t see a team go 4-0 with Kevin Kolb before relying horrible backups after Kolb was brutalized to the bench by constant interior pressure.
Chris Johnson doesn’t provide an example of a quarterback, but is treated on par with one by the Tennessee Titans organization, who seemed perturbed by how their running back dances around the backfield when a nice running lane isn’t carved by the guards up front. In response, the team first nabbed high-priced free agent guard Andy Levitre and then drafted guard Chance Warmack at No. 10.
By the way, a guard hadn’t been selected in the top 10 since the 1990s before two were taken in the 2013 draft.
Then there’s Andy Reid bringing old nightmares to a new team. We all winced at the beating Michael Vick took last year when left tackle Jason Peters went down injured, and now Reid has made a bee-line for the best offensive tackle prospect he can find with the No. 1 overall pick.
These are just a few examples, but I believe last year left a lasting imprint on the horrors of not protecting your most important offensive player. Whether this will actually improve teams remains to be seen until September finally rolls around.