The 2012 NFL Draft already has to go down as one of the best ever. If not for being top-heavy, then at least for being deep. We can see that in extensions handed out already (Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Fletcher Cox), the ones to come soon (Andrew Luck), the franchise tags (Josh Norman, Kirk Cousins, Alshon Jeffery, Trumaine Johnson, Cordy Glenn), and the current free agent market (Doug Martin, Janoris Jenkins, Bruce Irvin, JR Sweezy, Jaye Howard, Kelechi Osemele, Malik Jackson, etc.).
Most draft classes aren't don't have anything close to the volume of talent that 2012 had, but that doesn't mean there aren't disappointments.
Right at the top you have Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Mark Barron, and Morris Claiborne. There were also strange decisions, like the Browns trading up one spot for Richardson despite the Vikings having no need for him (and Cleveland having all kinds of needs beyond RB), or the Jaguars taking punter Bryan Anger five spots ahead of Wilson in the third round. That was of course to the benefit of the Seahawks, and right now Seattle remains as the only team from the 2012 draft who took a quarterback that should feel comfortable about their future with that quarterback.
Will it be a mistake when the Colts give Luck the biggest contract in NFL history? Can Ryan Tannehill make it to the end of his contract extension? What is Cousins worth? Why did the Rams trade for Nick Foles and then give him an extension? If Luck is the second-best QB from the 2012 class, what does that make Cousins and Tannehill? You know, the guy who was way better in 2015 and the guy who has posted fairly similar career numbers to Luck?
I am 100-percent comfortable that Wilson, who has been rock solid for four years, will be a great quarterback for the Seahawks over the next four years. I think Luck will be fine, Tannehill could be fine, and Cousins may have a solid career, but I'm less sure about those three. There are certainly questions with RGIII, though he might also have the highest ceiling remaining of the non-Wilson 2012 QB class. We probably don't have to wonder much about Foles and whether or not he'll ever be good again.
Also, Brandon Weeden was a first round draft pick. Remember that?
However, one of these quarterbacks is not quite like the others: Brock Osweiler.
The 57th overall pick in the draft, Osweiler has only 305 career pass attempts. Only Ryan Lindley, Chandler Harnish, and BJ Coleman are QBs in the class who have fewer. In those 305 attempts, Osweiler has a passer rating of 86.4, 7.0 yards per attempt, and went 5-2 as a starter in Denver last season. The Broncos did not feel comfortable giving him a franchise tag that would essentially pay him all the money they are saving by Peyton Manning retiring. Money they need to pay Von Miller (franchised), Derek Wolfe (extended), as well as potentially Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, and Ronnie Hillman (all taken in 2012, all free agents.)
But if Denver thought that Osweiler had even a decent shot at being a franchise quarterback, he would have taken precedent over all of them. Including Miller.
Instead, Osweiler's agent is now free to talk to other teams and it appears that at least the Houston Texans are ready to pay up. At the very least, they will drive up Osweiler's price, which apparently stood at around three years and $45 million (which could mean anything, but probably wouldn't be less than $15-$20 million guaranteed) before Monday. That could only change once teams like the Jets, Rams, or Browns potentially get involved too.
Who knows, but a week from now, it's possible that Brock Osweiler signs a contract with some team to be their starter in 2016 (and beyond) for as much as $30 million guaranteed. Maybe more. Which ....
Wait, why? Why is Osweiler being paid like a starter? Anyone wanna give me the reason? There is only one right answer:
Because he was a second round pick that didn't do enough to prove he couldn't be a starter. That's the only reason. Not because he did something positive but because he didn't do enough that was negative. Brock Osweiler is about to be paid because he was the 57th overall pick.
Is that even good?
It seems good, but history has proven that being a second round quarterback doesn't mean much, especially when you go in the latter half of the second round. Since 1970, 48 quarterbacks have gone in the "second round" (it changes when the number of teams change, such as when Drew Brees was the 32nd overall pick in 2001, one year before that would have been the first round).
Out of those 48, 10 have made the Pro Bowl. 10 have made spent five or more seasons as a full-time "starter." (Not all 10 of those overlap.) Among those? Kordell Stewart, Neil Lomax, Tony Banks, Jake Plummer, and Ron Jaworski. Really there are two elite QBs that have gone in the second round over the last 45 years: Brees and Brett Favre.
Brees went 32nd and Favre went 33rd.
Again, Osweiler went 57th. How many second round QBs that went after the 40th overall pick ended up making the Pro Bowl? Only Plummer (42nd overall, one Pro Bowl) and Stewart (60th overall, one Pro Bowl.)
Instead, it seems like the middle-to-second half of the second round is more of a dead man's land for quarterbacks. You weren't good enough to make the fringe of the first round, but not bad enough to let slip into the middle rounds. You possessed a good quality but not enough good qualities to make yourself a "must have" QB project for those desperate teams at the top of round two. All of these QBs I have as examples and pretty much no success story.
What makes Osweiler different?
That's a good question that doesn't seem to have a good answer.
His 5-2 record as a starter last year is mostly meaningless for two reasons: The Broncos had the best defense in the NFL and he still got benched for Manning, the worst QB in the league at that point. Osweiler threw a pick in five of the eight games where he got significant action, including two in his last start against the Chargers in which Manning came in to close it out for a fourth quarter comeback victory.
If you look at his 4-2 record as a starter in which he also finished the game, the point differential was +15; average margin of victory was 2.5 points. Osweiler "beat" the Patriots? Watch again. Osweiler was horrible. Tom Brady was amazing. Down 21-7 in the fourth quarter, Osweiler had a quick three-and-out and Chris Harper muffed the punt. C.J. Anderson scored on a 15-yard touchdown run. Brady completed a 51-yard pass to Keshawn Martin but Tre Jackson was called for holding. Osweiler completed only three short passes on the next drive, which ended in a field goal. They got the ball back again and Osweiler quickly went 0-for-3 to force another punt. Only on the final drive did he finally complete a couple deep passes, but again penalties kept the door open for the Broncos to take a lead. Brady magically forced OT, but the Broncos defense forced a punt and Anderson ran it in from 48 yards out to win the game.
This is not anything close to an example like "Wilson has a great defense so he shouldn't get credit for wins." They both have great defenses, but Wilson has clearly bailed out the defense many times before too. Osweiler has not.
So why are there multiple teams bidding for his services as a starter? Because he was drafted ahead of Wilson and has not yet proven incapable of starting. Which means he should probably be courted by teams like the Cowboys and Cardinals, not Texans and Broncos. He should go somewhere to be a backup for a team that has an aging veteran, just like he was before, where he might be given the opportunity to start at some point, not given a starter's salary immediately with the hope that he'll become the first ever late-second-round QB to be great.
There is no good reason to pay Osweiler more than what Tyrod Taylor was paid by the Bills last year (two years, a few million after incentives, and by the way the Broncos offered Taylor more money to come play for them last year but he wanted a chance to start), but when it comes to QBs it seems like "good reasons" often go out the window.
Luckily, the Seahawks don't seem to have that problem.