Dallas Cowboys: Curtis Painter

IRVING, Texas -- Because Tony Romo is 34 and because he is coming off his second back surgery in less than a year, just about everybody believes it is time for the Dallas Cowboys to find his replacement.

ESPN NFL draft Insider Todd McShay said it. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said it. A lot of fans have said it. A lot of others have said it.

If the Cowboys draft a quarterback, then it must be early in the draft. At least, that’s the general philosophy of Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery when it comes to taking quarterbacks.

"I just did a little study. It's very interesting," Emery said in this ESPNChicago story. "That developmental theory doesn't hold a whole lot of water. There's entire classes of quarterbacks, since '06, I went back and looked at from Jay [Cutler's] on -- when people say developmental quarterbacks, OK, so who has gotten developed? There isn't a single quarterback after the third round since 2006 that has been a long-term starter. So you're either developing thirds, and most of them have been wiped out of the league. So to get a quality quarterback, you've got to draft them high. That 2012 class is a blip on the radar that's unusual, highly unusual.

"Most of the starters in this league come from the first and second round. So that's where you need to take a quarterback. So when you talk about quarterback every year, they have to be somebody that you truly believe will beat out the second and third quarterback that you perceive on your roster. And if not, history shows that you shouldn't make that pick."

From 2006 to 2013, there were 59 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 3-7. Only two are top-end starters: Russell Wilson (third round, 2012, Seattle Seahawks) and Nick Foles(third round, 2012, Philadelphia Eagles). And Foles might have more to prove, but he was Pro Bowl-worthy in 2013.

The best of the rest: Bruce Gradkowski (sixth round, 2006); Matt Flynn (seventh round, 2008); Curtis Painter (sixth round, 2009); Ryan Mallett (third round, 2011); Kirk Cousins (fourth round, 2012). Other considerations: Colt McCoy (third round, 2010); T.J. Yates (fifth round, 2011); Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, 2011).

The odds are stacked against a team looking to develop a quarterback. Teams are not a lock to carry a third quarterback on the 53-man roster these days. The Cowboys have not done it since 2011, when they had Stephen McGee (fourth round, 2009). There just aren’t enough snaps to go around in a season for a quarterback to develop. The pressure on coaches to win means they want guys who can help carry games if a starter goes down, part of the reason why the Cowboys have gone with Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton as Romo's backups.

Maybe the Cowboys will draft a quarterback in the middle to late rounds this week. The odds of him turning into Wilson, Foles or Tom Brady (sixth round, 2000) are remote. He’s more likely to be Andre Woodson (sixth round, 2008), Mike Teel (sixth round, 2009), Jonathan Crompton (fifth round, 2010) or Nate Enderle (fifth round, 2011).

NFC East: Will the Cowboys draft a QB?

March, 2, 2013
3/02/13
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» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week’s topic: How each NFC East team needs to address the quarterback position.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys would like to sign starting quarterback Tony Romo to a long-term contract extension. Romo's deal expires at the end of 2013, and the Cowboys know there won't be any quarterbacks on next offseason's market who are as good as Romo is. They also would benefit from reducing his 2013 salary-cap number (about $16.8 million), and an extension beyond this year would allow them to do that by spreading signing bonus money out over future seasons. Romo will be 33 in April, and the backup quarterback is Kyle Orton, who's not a long-term solution. So there is a chance the Cowboys could try to find a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft and start grooming him.

New York Giants: The Giants have one of the most stable quarterback situations in the entire league, as Eli Manning has not missed a game since becoming the starter during his 2004 rookie season. The Giants' plan for each season is founded in large part on Manning's durability and reliability. If he were to get hurt, they'd be more or less lost. Their preferred backup, David Carr, is an unrestricted free agent, and right now the only other quarterback on the roster is Curtis Painter (who coincidentally used to back up Manning's brother in Indianapolis). The Giants could stand to improve their backup quarterback situation, but unlike the Cowboys, they don't like to spend to do so.

Philadelphia Eagles: On the other end of the spectrum, once they add Arena Leaguer G.J. Kinne to the mix as they're reported to be doing, the Eagles will have five quarterbacks on their roster. The favorite to start is Michael Vick, though second-year man Nick Foles and career backup Dennis Dixon could factor into a training-camp competition. (Trent Edwards is likely the odd man out.) If Vick is to be the starter, the backup quarterback position becomes very important, as Vick obviously has a history of injuries. So the Eagles must figure out whether Foles or Dixon (or I guess Kinne) is the best option. The Eagles also could draft a quarterback with the No. 4 pick in April if they fall in love with someone like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. New coach Chip Kelly is keeping his options open, which is a smart way to go in a market that presents him with few outstanding options.

Washington Redskins: All of the focus in Washington is on the recovery of starter Robert Griffin III from reconstructive knee surgery. In spite of his new adidas ad campaign that proclaims him "All in for Week 1," there is no way to project whether Griffin will be ready for the start of the season. If he's not, the starter's role will fall to Kirk Cousins, last year's fourth-round pick, who relieved Griffin three times and started one game for the Redskins in 2012. Look for Mike Shanahan to add a quarterback or two to the bench mix before training camp and the preseason arrive, as the Redskins will need depth while Griffin heals. Veteran Rex Grossman is someone the Redskins like having around and could factor into that depth mix if he doesn't find work somewhere else.

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