QB in first round too risky this year

It is so subjective, picking a quarterback in the NFL draft, more so than any other position. It comes down to personal preference, to what you can live with and what you think you can teach.

A quarterback's success or failure is not predicated entirely on his athletic ability or his work ethic, either. There is so much more to it beyond what the player himself can control. Is his team's quarterbacks coach any good? Does his offensive coordinator really know how to teach the nuances of the position? What type of offense does his team run?

What does the team's offensive line look like? Can it keep him upright? Who are the receivers at his disposal? Does his team have an adequate running game to lift some of the pressure off of his shoulders? Is the defense good enough to keep the score close enough so he doesn't have to do too much?

Does he walk into a situation like Russell Wilson did two years ago, where the team is relatively stocked on both sides of the ball? Or does he go to a franchise in transition, where maybe the head coach is new and thus the program not established?

Context matters.

That said, here is what one NFL general manager who has hit on a franchise quarterback in the draft told me recently about this year's prospects: "I am glad we don't need a quarterback. I don't think any of them are worth a first-round pick."

For teams in need of a franchise quarterback, that is a huge problem.

One of the fascinating things about next week's draft will be to see just what happens with the quarterbacks. There isn't a no-brainer selection.

For those watching, that will make Thursday's first round fun. For those considering using a first-round pick on a player who might not project to his second contract with that team, that will make Thursday perilous.

I wouldn't do it.

Sure, if you can get Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel or Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Fresno State's Derek Carr or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater in the second round -- or later -- that would be good value. Or if you could get Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage or Alabama's AJ McCarron in the third round -- or later -- that would make sense.

But taking a quarterback in the first round this year seems like the precursor to someone, the general manager or the head coach or possibly both, getting fired. When you swing and miss on a franchise quarterback with a first-round pick, that's usually what happens.

It is not as if any of these guys is Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton. Those players deserved to be picked at or near the top of their draft classes. For Indianapolis, Washington and Carolina, those were no-brainer decisions.

For quarterback-needy teams in this draft -- and there are upward of nine, depending on how St. Louis views Sam Bradford -- that makes the process ridiculously scary.

For further context, I asked a trusted NFL source who has built his career on getting the most out of quarterbacks what he thought of this year's group.

"You can cut all the guys up pretty bad," the source said.

He said Manziel has "Brett Favre feet and a John Elway release, although he doesn't quite have the arm either of them had, and a Fran Tarkenton scrambling ability, but there are other [off-the-field] concerns."

He expected Bortles, who is built more like a prototypical NFL quarterback, to go first. About Bridgewater, the source said, "I didn't quite like him as much as some people."

He said Savage could "really throw the ball, but he can't get out of the way." He said Carr "can really play and throw the football and is reasonably athletic for the position," and, the source said, "I wouldn't be surprised if he goes off higher than people think."

He said he worries how Garappolo, who played at a small school, would react to playing in front of NFL-size crowds. "For any rookie that plays in front of 80,000 fans, there is a big jump," the source said. "For him, there's a double jump. You go back and look at small-school quarterbacks. In many cases, it takes three or four years."

On McCarron, the source said he is "better than people think."

All of that is to say there isn't a slam dunk among them, so why bother in the first round? Why not wait, be patient, get better value and then lower the expectation?

So much has to go right for a quarterback to succeed anyway, so much beyond even his control, that when the things that can be controlled are questions, that lowers the odds he will succeed at the next level.

There's a reason 50 percent of first-round picks, regardless of the position, are busts. It is hard to project how well a player will make the transition to the next level.

Given who's available at quarterback, I wouldn't bother picking one in the first round. Too much is at stake and there are too many questions about each of them to make you think the risk will be worth the reward.