By Jim Weber
How does the old saying go? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”
Well, NFL front offices look poised to make the same mistake in back-to-back years by making NC State quarterback Mike Glennon a first round pick in the NFL draft.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently had Glennon as the top quarterback in the Class of 2013, there is talk about a team in the Top 10 reaching for Glennon (Arizona at No. 7, Buffalo at No. 8) and the National Football Post’s Russell Lande the is comparing Glennon to Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan.
I have another comparison for you: Ryan Tannehill. Like Glennon, the current Miami Dolphins quarterback flew up draft boards because he looked the part of an NFL franchise quarterback and has a very good arm. The problem? Like Tannehill, Glennon has struggled too often at the college level, makes a lot poor decisions and especially struggles under pressure.
How’d that turn out for the Dolphins?
It’s only been one year, but the Ryan Tannehill Era in Miami looks shaky at best. Yes, the former Aggie tossed for nearly 3,300 yards because the Dolphins threw the ball so much. But Tannehill also completed a pedestrian 58.3% of his passes and ended the year with more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12).
And the results are even more discouraging considering that fellow Top 10 picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III lived up to all the hype as rookies and Russell Wilson, Glennon’s former teammate who nearly led the Seattle Seahawks to the NFC Championship Game and made the Pro Bowl, was selected 67 spots after Tannehill.
This year’s quarterback draft class is much weaker than last year’s, but that doesn’t excuse a team from taking a gamble on Glennon in the first round and shoving him into a starting role before he is ready.
Yes, he’s got the ideal size (6-foot-6, 232 pounds) and arm strength to be an NFL quarterback. And there were certain games last fall when Glennon surely had NFL scouts drooling, like his outing vs. North Carolina (467 yards, 5 TDs) and Clemson performance (497 yards, 5 TDs).
But Glennon’s senior season as a whole was a disappointment.
Let’s start with his completion percentage. It was a paltry 58.5% last season. Even Tannehill was over 60% before entering the NFL. Take away Glennon’s two games against The Citadel and South Alabama and Glennon was a 56.7% passer. Yes, Glennon didn’t have much to work with. NC State had inexperienced receivers that dropped a lot of balls, injuries along the offensive line and a poor running game.
But Glennon didn’t face many good defenses either and the two SEC schools Glennon faced feasted on him as part of a 17-interception season. Looking at the tape from the Tennessee and Vanderbilt games is disconcerting, to say the least. It shows bad decision making, poor reads and bad fundamentals under pressure.
Take the UT game. Three of the four interceptions were alarming. The first interception is a blatant lack of reading the Vols’ zone defense:
The second is the combination of a terrible decision to throw into double coverage and an under-thrown ball:
And the third one is just behind his receiver on an out route because Glennon didn’t step into the throw (granted, this is a great play by Tennessee’s Eric Gordon):
The bowl game vs. Vandy was just as ugly. Glennon’s first interception to safety Kenny Ladley and third one in the end zone to cornerback Trey Wilson were both sorely underthrown. The middle pick was once again under-thrown and into double coverage, again displaying Glennon’s habit of bad decisions and mechanics when he’s under pressure:
Of course, a lot Glennon’s senior season mishaps will be forgotten once he predictability blows away scouts at the NFL combine and individual workouts like Tannehill with his size and arm. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Glennon ends up being the first quarterback off the board and a Top 10 overall pick in the same way Tannehill did because of their huge upside.
That would be a big mistake.
As I said with Tannehill, Glennon has the ability to succeed at the next level and will if he is handled with care by the team that drafts him. Someone with an aging franchise quarterback should draft Glennon like the New England Patriots selected Ryan Mallett in the third round of the 2011 third round to sit behind Tom Brady. Sitting behind a proven winner and honing his raw skills could one day turn Glennon into a successful quarterback with a long career in the league.
But if someone decides to roll the dice on all Glennon’s upside and throw him into the fire as a starter on Day One when he isn’t ready, I don’t see how it will end well for either party.
Based on Tannehill’s rookie season, a franchise making the exact same mistake by drafting Glennon in the first round and expecting a different result would be officially insane.