How much is a franchise QB worth?
For the 20 or so teams in the NFL without a true franchise-quality QB, the answer is: a heck of a lot.
In 2012, the Washington Redskins were willing to invest three first-round picks and a second-rounder for Robert Griffin. Other teams are willing to massively overdraft prospects in the hopes of finding that elusive franchise guy, only to end up with guys like Jake, Locker, Blaine Gabbert, or Christian Ponder.
So when you're a team like the Cowboys, and sitting pretty with the No. 4 overall pick with the chance to get a potential franchise guy, do you pass up that chance?
The Cowboys are in a bit of a pickle. They are convinced (or at least are saying they are) that Tony Romo has a few successful years left and that they will win big with a vintage Romo.
"He may play three of four more years," vice-president Stephen Jones said. "If that were the case that is great because that means he is playing lights out for three or four more years. That means we are successful."
But if that happens, they won't be drafting anywhere close to the top five for the next three or four years. So do they pass up the chance to draft a franchise QB this year, even if it means sitting him for three or four years behind Romo, and even if it means missing out on a potentially elite defender?
As of now, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says a franchise quarterback trumps all.
"I mean you have to look at it," Jones said. "You’re not naive to it but if you have the opportunity in this league, in our situation, to get a potential franchise quarterback, then you have to make the investment. You have to have the patience. You sacrifice maybe that opportunity that maybe is impactful right now."
That leaves us with just one question: Is there a franchise QB in this draft?
We won't know how the Cowboys will answer that question until the first day of the draft. But we know that some pretty lofty comparisons are being drawn by draft analysts about the top two QBs in the draft, one of which will very likely be available for the Cowboys at No. 4. Mike Mayock for example favorably compared Carson Wentz to Colts quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
"When I look at him, I see a kid that’s as athletic or more athletic than Andrew Luck," Mayock said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He’s bigger than Andrew Luck. He’s got arm strength comparable to Andrew Luck. He just doesn’t have the experience that Andrew Luck had at a high level that Andrew had coming out of college. So I see a ceiling for this kid similar to Andrew Luck. That’s why I believe in this kid so much. But it’s going to take a little bit of time."
Mayock's assessment may or may not be accurate, and there are people who will argue that Jared Goff is an even better prospect than Wentz. But at the end, it all boils down to this: are Wentz and/or Goff franchise-level QBs?
Or phrased differently: If the Cowboys believe either of them (or perhaps even both) are the next Andrew Luck, the next Russell Wilson, or the next Aaron Rodgers, can they really afford to pass on the chance to draft a guy like that?
The Cowboys say they're willing to draft one if they think he is a franchise quarterback. Would you want them to?