Several teams are in need of a quarterback, a leader with the heart of a champion, not to mention the skills to deliver wins immediately. The Arizona Cardinals took one hell of a gamble by not drafting a quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft. The drafting of Patrick Peterson (cornerback and return specialist) was not a shock, but the organization must have an “Ace of Clubs” close to their vest.
The bidding war for Kevin Kolb, the backup quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, has been apparently driven up by two organizations, Seattle and Arizona. It was reported that the Eagles would receive two second-round picks in compensation for the young gunslinger.
With Seattle supposedly settling on Matt Hasselbeck returning or handing the keys to their well-paid backup, Charlie Whitehurst (who proved he can win big games in pressure situations as a starter by defeating the Rams to win the 2010 NFC West division), the Eagles have lost some of their negotiating leverage. With the Seahawks’ rumors of interest agitating downward, the speculation is that coach Andy Reid will ask for a 2012 draft pick and a player, reported to be starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Eagles would receive both value and need for an elite player of his caliber. It’s all conjecture until the lockout is over and the league year has started.
Looking at more film on Kolb last week and researching his profile, splits and career statistics, I didn’t find the data, averages and stats to be overly impressive. The soon-to-be 27-year-old quarterback played his college ball at the University of Houston, and finished with outrageous statistics. Kolb was a second-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2007. He has all the height, weight, arm strength and athletic skills along with several other attributes to develop into a good starter.
When NFL organizations start their search for free agents to fill hot spots, they first look at character. The goal here is to bring in good citizens in the community that won’t poison the locker room and have no league suspensions (arrests for either drugs, domestic violence, etc). Kolb has no off-the-field issues. Secondly, play time is a huge part of the equation. Production over time is the key; the direct reflection of one’s past is a good indication of their future, barring injury. How many starts vs. non-starts, games missed because of injuries. And lastly injury history is considered (major surgeries, and chronic joint or muscular issues, etc.).
Kolb has done what a lot of quarterbacks should do, but sometimes they are pressed into duty early and in some cases too early. He held a clipboard and watched behind Donovan McNabb and now Michael Vick. When given the opportunity, he has shown flashes of being an elite quarterback. Like Matt Schaub with the Houston Texans, once given his opportunity after sitting behind, again Michael Vick in Atlanta, it took several years as a starter while battling injuries and really learning the game through on-field experience for him to blossom.
Kolb’s best performance came in 2010 against Atlanta, passing for 326 yards, three touchdowns, an interception, and a 133.6 passer rating. You could see why there is big-time excitement about this player. But then you watch the Tennessee and Dallas games, and you see a young quarterback struggling, forcing balls into tight windows, with misreads. Because of his lack of playing time with the other starters, anticipation and timing were off, resulting in incompletions and interceptions. He is most comfortable as a pocket passer. He has the skills to rip a defense apart with good field vision, instincts to step up, avoid pressure and throws well on the run. He flashed ability to run downfield, but is not a threat beyond the line of scrimmage. While I can’t comment on his true leadership qualities at the professional level, he had the total package coming out of Houston.
When comparing his 2010 statistics, he was below the league average in several categories:
Yards: Kolb 1,197, league average 1,491, league leader 4,710
Touchdowns: Kolb 7, league average 9, league leader 36
Passeer Rating: Kolb 76.1, league average 85.9, league leader 111.0
When you look at the split statistics, Kolb can play both indoors and outdoors with no real change in his performance. This includes warm weather, frigid temperatures or high wind and rain, during day games or at night. His passer rating and production as a starter both home and away was adequate overall. When I looked at his performance when comparing starts and production, he fared better against NFC teams only because of limited exposure. Most of his playing time was against NFC teams (eight) and he seemed to struggle against AFC teams (two).
When comparing quarters, he is a quarterback that starts the game off well with a higher passer rating in the first quarter in comparison to the last three quarters. And coming out of the halftime break, his passer rating is higher than the second and fourth quarters but still lower than the first quarter. Based solely off statistics, he is better quarterback in the first half when comparing data of all four quarters.
When analyzing passing percentage and directional throws, this can be very misleading. You have to take into consideration dropped balls, batted balls and the offensive philosophy. When throwing balls outside the numbers, “wide left,” his passing percentage was very good (70.4), “right” 67.3, “middle” 59.1, “left” 58.3 and “wide right” 51.0. His overall production was slightly higher when throwing to his left (left and wide left); 542 yards, compared to right (right and wide right); 520 yards. He has the confidence to sling it around the yard.
He had limited data in the “red zone,” with only 10 passing attempts when aligned (first, second, third and goal). He played better with a lead, a passing percentage of 63.6 compared to 60.3 when playing from behind.
The bottom line on Kolb is that he has flashed very good skills with a strong arm and has yet to be developed as a full-time starter. I’m concerned with his playing time and the ability to lead his team through a 16-game season. I also have questions about how he manages the game in comeback situations.
He has all the tools to develop into a good starter in the NFL, but when I compare him to say, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford, I would rank them Bradford, Freeman and Kolb. Time will tell and the question for Arizona is whether or not they are rolling the dice on this unproven commodity in Kolb as a full-time starter. Is there enough data to prove that the value outweighs the risk (second-round draft pick and a productive starter)?