Why the 2008 Big 12 quarterbacks have struggled in the pros

By S.E. Esquivel
Few Big 12 fans would have thought that the 2008 quarterbacks wouldn’t be leading their NFL teams to great accomplishments.
After all, two Heisman Trophy winners were drafted first and second in different draft years, while a third was drafted in the first round, and a backup was drafted in the first round in yet another draft. Two Heisman finalists also were drafted in later rounds.
So why haven’t these quarterbacks won multiple championships and rewrote several records like they did in college? Before we answer that, let’s review who were the quarterbacks:
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, drafted No. 1 by the St. Louis Rams in 2009
Robert Griffin, III, 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, drafted No. 2 by the Washington Redskins in 2012
Josh Freeman, Kansas State, drafted No. 17 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009
Colt McCoy, Texas, 2009 Heisman Trophy finalist, drafted No. 85 by the Cleveland Browns in 2010
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, drafted No. 250 by the New England Patriots in 2010
Chase Daniel, Missouri, 2007 Heisman Trophy finalist, undrafted free agent signed with the Washington Redskins in 2009
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 2009
Jerod Johnson, Texas A&M, undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011
Cody Hawkins, Colorado, accepted an offer to play for the Stockholm Mean Machines of the Sweden Super Series
Todd Reesing, Kansas
Austen Arnaud, Iowa State
Joe Ganz, Nebraska
High expectations – The thinking is that players who are drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft should start from day one. But quarterback is the toughest position in all of sports to master. That’s why so few quarterbacks, even in the league, go from being great to being elite. Whether it’s fair or not, the thinking is an elite quarterback can win every time they suit up.
Coaching and scheme changes – Mike Shanahan drafted Robert Griffin, III and even convinced Daniel Snyder to move up to No. 2 to get the Baylor Bear and mortgage the future. NFL championship teams build through the draft. But when Griffin was hurt and the team wasn’t winning, coaching changes were made and other offensive schemes were installed. Griffin struggled in many ways in Washington – scheme, locker room and other phases that help make teams successful. And even if a team has a successful year, offensive coordinators accept head coaching jobs. So quarterbacks may learn multiple schemes because he has a different coordinator each year.
Other offensive weapons – While having a great quarterback is the foundation of any team, he has to have others around him who can block, run and catch. Bradford and McCoy didn’t get enough offensive line help. Others didn’t have much of anything.
Buried on the depth chart – Daniel has been a career backup, playing behind such stars as Drew Brees and Alex Smith. Simply, those starters aren’t going to let anyone take their jobs.
Trades and free agency – If the quarterback isn’t performing and costing massive amounts of money, front offices have options on what to do. Players are traded where they’re expected to perform at the high level that was similar to their college days. Or players are released for not performing well, for being a cancer in a locker room, or even for a family member making the organization look bad.
The beauty behind free agency is players can command top dollars and every fan thinks his team has a chance of winning it all. The downside to free agency is few dynasties exist in the league.

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