Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is Kevin Kolb The Next Aaron Rodgers?


Aaron Rodgers broke through in a big way this season. Rodgers had been on the cusp of becoming a top tier signal caller in the NFL but cemented that status following an MVP performance and a win in Super Bowl XLV. Now, Rodgers must build on the tremendous foundation he and the Green Bay Packers have built but that leads to the question: who will be the next Rodgers?

With the Arizona Cardinals in desperate need of a new quarterback, coach Ken Whisenhunt and Co. are hoping whoever they end up with will be the next Rodgers. One name that appears to fit most of the criteria is Kevin Kolb.

Kolb is currently boxed in behind the resurgent Michael Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles. Like Rodgers, Kolb sat behind a long-time starting quarterback for multiple seasons before seeing extended action. In case you missed it, Rodgers had Brett Favre and Kolb had Donovan McNabb.

The Packers faith in Rodgers was obvious as soon as they parted ways with one of the greatest players in the history of the game. At the time many people in Green Bay felt Favre was disrespected throughout the process, but Rodgers' performance made the memory of football’s iron man quickly fade.

Meanwhile, the Eagles felt good enough about Kolb to trade McNabb to the Washington Redskins and hand the keys to Kolb entering the 2010 season. Sure, Kolb’s initial stint as a starter didn’t pan out like Rodgers, but the fact that Philadelphia cut ties with McNabb shows what Kolb could be capable of.

Michael Vick
With Vick lurking in the shadows, Kolb’s leash was shorter than Rodgers. A concussion led to Vick’s insertion into the starting lineup, preventing Kolb’s potential breakout season in the City of Brotherly Love.

Now with the Eagles committed to Vick – at least in the short term – Kolb’s future is up in the air. Many of the Cardinal faithful are hoping that future will involve him coming to Arizona.

It’s safe to say that the Cardinals' quarterbacks were the worst of the 32 teams in the NFL this season. Arizona’s rotation under center consisted of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and even Richard Bartel. Skelton provides the team with the biggest hope for the future but the four names listed above tell the story. Fresh blood at the position is an absolute necessity next season.

Along with Kolb, several other names have surfaced as potential suitors in the desert. Marc Bulger is a popular one. Carson Palmer wants nothing to do with the Cincinnati Bengals and is usually involved in the conversation. Kyle Orton, Matt Flynn and the list goes on and on. Numerous players would provide an upgrade over last season but Kolb would be the most promising of the bunch.

There have also been talks of taking another stab at a quarterback in the draft. Given how the Matt Leinart saga played out and the uncertainties of each prospect in this year's draft, that ending could be even more damaging than the first time around with Leinart.

After all, Leinart’s release just days prior to the start of the regular season led to the ongoing problems throughout the year. Will Whisenhunt and the front office feel comfortable with Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett experiencing success as a rookie? Let’s hope not.

That leads us back to Kolb, whose similarities with Rodgers can’t be denied. Both were allowed time to learn in quarterback friendly systems. Both learned behind a Pro Bowl caliber player. Both spent time with very stable organizations.

Kolb (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) and Rodgers (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) also boast comparable size and demonstrate similar skill-sets: a strong arm, a quick release and the ability to move in the pocket and make plays down the field.

Could Kolb develop into the next Rodgers? Absolutely. All he needs is a ticket out of Philadelphia. Arizona would be smart to provide that ticket, and despite the costly package the Eagles will be seeking, Kolb might just be worth every penny.

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