How many times have you seen an NFL quarterback get drafted first overall to a terrible team and have a lackluster beginning portion of his career because of it? Recent examples include David Carr of the Houston Texans, Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers, and Jamarcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders. Granted, actual physical and mental ability to perform in the NFL certainly has something to do with it, but i don't understand this lauded affection quarterbacks have for the first overall draft pick.
Is getting drafted in an early round and being thrust into a starting position without any professional knowledge or experience the most efficient route of success for a quarterback? Do teams and fans honestly expect a kid who is fresh out of college to rally a team behind him and lead them to victory immediately?
Sure there have been exceptions, Ben Roethlisberger's recent Super Bowl run comes to mind, but history has shown us that there is a much more efficient way for quarterbacks to be successful in the NFL.
Take Brett Favre for example. Favre began his career by sitting on the bench for one year in 1990 in Atlanta and the following year in Green Bay. During this time, Favre retained in-game experience, knowledge of how NFL offenses are run, and advice from players and coaches. When he was finally a full time starter in 1993, Favre led the Packers to a 9-7 season and their first playoff birth in ten years. In the span of the next five seasons, Favre led the Packers to the playoffs all five years, won three consecutive MVP awards, and won a Super Bowl championship.
Speaking of Brett Favre, another example comes to mind. Aaron Rodgers was projected to be a possible number one overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. The pick instead went to the aforementioned Alex Smith, who started immediately and has since led the 49ers to five seasons of futility. In contrast to Smith, Rodgers started his career by playing three seasons as a backup to Brett Favre. Like Favre himself, these three seasons allowed Rodgers to gain knowledge and experience of how the NFL works. In 2009, Rodgers second full season as a starter, he threw for over 4,000 yards passing and had a QB rating of 103.2. Coming into this season, Rodgers is one of the favorites to win the MVP award and the Packers are the favorite in the NFC to go to the Super bowl.
My point is that the best case scenario for a quarterback in the NFL is to not start right away and try to win a Super Bowl your first year, but to stay behind the scenes the first couple years, learn some things, practice a lot, and prepare yourself for when your time comes. This scenario just so happens to describe the situation in which current Eagles starter Kevin Kolb found himself in.
Kolb was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft. Even then, when the Eagles had perennial starter Donovan McNabb on the team, fans wondered if there would be a quarterback controversy. Head coach Andy Reid, a former quarterbacks coach for Mike Holmgren in Green Bay, squashed any ideas of Kolb starting his first or second year. It seems Reid may share the same ideas that i have and may have wanted to develop Kolb before he became the Eagles' starter. So Kolb, like Rodgers and Favre before him, played behind Donovan McNabb for two years and learned what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
When Kolb did perform in an actual game, he thrived. In his first NFL start, Kolb threw for 391 yards and a touchdown against the eventual Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints in a 48-22 loss. His next start, he threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-14 win against the Kansas City Chiefs. First two starts: two 300 yard games. No other quarterback in the history of the NFL has accomplished that feat.
So with Kolb's performance so far, and the history supporting his progression, i think it's safe to say that we can expect good, if not great things from him this year. His development combined with a surplus of talent at wide receiver and a pass heavy offensive system makes Kevin Kolb a reliable Eagles quarterback of the future.