Panic! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a quarterback in the third round! What are they thinking? They have Josh Freeman, their franchise quarterback! And Mike Glennon isn't even all that good. He has accuracy issues. He has issues reading coverage. He has issues throwing under pressure. This is ridiculous, right?
There's something to be said for that view. But this selection also teaches us something about how the Buccaneers view the quarterback position, because Glennon has a few traits that make him an intriguing prospect. Glennon has a good arm and he can make every throw on the field. He doesn't have a true cannon like Joe Flacco or Cam Newton, but it's not far off. He shows the ability to stand in the pocket, take a hit and still deliver the football. At times he moves in the pocket to evade pressure. He played behind a bad offensive line at North Carolina State, which certainly didn't help.
But there are two things that are impossible to ignore, and they just stand out on tape. They are poor decision making and erratic accuracy. Glennon can make the prettiest throws and hit players on a dime -- but he'll follow those throws by just missing players high or behind. Those are issues you can't ignore. The fact that the Buccaneers took him in the third round tells me they think there's a chance they can fix those issues. And if they can, Glennon has the talent to be a very goof NFL quarterback.
But what does this mean for the Buccaneers now, and in the long term?
Josh Freeman drove this pick
So why would the Buccaneers pick a quarterback in the third round this season? The reason is quite simple: they don't know what the future will bring with Josh Freeman. The 2009 first-round pick has shown extended brilliance at times, most notably during a mid-game stretch last season, when he threw for 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions over six-game span, capped off by one of the most amazing comebacks I've ever seen from a Tampa Bay team when they traveled to Carolina.
But Freeman has shown some erratic traits as well, and those traits have to concern the Buccaneers. He showed some scattershot accuracy throughout the season and really throughout his career, completing just 55% of his passes last year. Yes, a large part of that is the offensive design -- but there's no denying that Freeman simply missed too many throws. Similarly, he seems to struggle recognizing coverages at times and makes a few too many ill-advised throws. Those are simple, undeniable facts -- and if we can recognize that, the Buccaneers can recognize it, too.
The question is: can Freeman fix those problems? I don't know the answer to that question. The Buccaneers don't know the answer to that question. Not even Josh Freeman himself knows the answer to that question. That's why Freeman is now entering the final year of his contract with no talks of an extension.
It is also why the Buccaneers took Mike Glennon in the third round today.
Glennon is not competition, but insurance
That's not to say that Josh Freeman has to fear for his job right now. That's patently ludicrous. When you watch the tape on Glennon (and I suggest you do -- use Draft Breakdown for an excellent collection) you will see a quarterback who is quite simply worse than Freeman in every aspect of his game. Glennon has traits that make you think he can become a good NFL quarterback down the line, but right now he is a less well-developed Josh Freeman with more question marks. He's not beating out Freeman, and I wouldn't even expect a legitimate training camp competition.
Greg Schiano heavily recruited Mike Glennon out of high school, which may help explain this pick. That, at least, what Glennon told the media after the pick, and Schiano confirmed it in his post-draft conference. That may point to Schiano being heavily involved here, but you can't really look at Josh Freeman's flaws and then decide that Glennon is going to fix that. He has the exact same issues, except he's worse and has a few more issues.
Glennon isn't beating out Freeman, so why is he here then? The answer is insurance. The Buccaneers do not want to enter the 2014 season with no quarterback capable of being a starter on their roster, and they have built a roster that is good enough to win a lot of games even with a poor quarterback -- which means they won't be in position to take one high in the 2014 NFL draft even if they have to. Glennon at least gives them a player they may be able to start in 2014, if he's developed.
Another factor is insurance against injury. That's partly why they pursued Carson Palmer this offseason: they wanted to find a quarterback who could at least make every throw in their offense so they can continue to run their offense as they had installed it if Freeman were to suffer an injury. The Buccaneers want continuity in their offense, Schiano noted, and they obviously felt that Orlovsky's weak arm would not allow them to continue to run their run-first, throw deep offense.
This is Josh Freeman's job to keep
The bottom line is simple: if Josh Freeman has a good 2013 season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will re-sign him, and he will be the Buccaneers' starting quarterback for a long time. In that case, Mike Glennon will sit and develop and become trade bait.
But if Josh Freeman does not have a good season and the Bucs do not re-sign him, then Glennon comes into play. Whether Glennon will be a good player by then remains to be seen, but at least the Bucs will have someone on the roster who they feel will be able to start. And that means they won't be forced to do something as silly as trade a second-round pick for Alex Smith, or make a desperate selection in the draft just to get someone in the building.