Los Angeles – Being selected at the top of the NFL draft is a “blessing and a curse,” said Carson Palmer, a former No. 1 overall pick, as quarterbacks who have known nothing but winning and adoration often join organizations unlikely to contend for a Super Bowl right away.
Palmer, who was drafted by the struggling Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, said quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence, widely expected to go No. 1 this year, will need to get used to the unfamiliar feeling of failure and the finger-pointing that comes with it.
“Just learn,” Palmer said when asked what advice he had for Lawrence ahead of Thursday’s quarterback-rich draft, which also includes Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones.
“He’s never lost, right? He’s never been on a bad team. He probably won every game in high school and he damn near won every game in college. That’s not going to be the case in 2021 and probably not in 2022, and maybe not in 2023, so that’s a whole new world that he’s jumping into. It’s super important to learn in these first couple years because it is going to be a grind.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who were a dismal 1-15 last season, are expected to select Lawrence with the first pick.
Lawrence, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, recently drew criticism for saying he doesn’t “need” football in his life and doesn’t have a “huge chip” on his shoulder to prove his doubters wrong.
Palmer had no issue with Lawrence’s comments, but said his attitude might change in a hurry.
“There might be a chip on both shoulders after this year,” he said. “But you’ve got to take that in and find a way to create a positive out of it.”
Palmer said the 2011 shortening of rookie contacts from six years, with a seventh-year option, to just four years with a fifth-year option, has led teams to hand their young quarterbacks the keys to the franchise right away.
“Back when I was sitting on the bench, the Bengals still had five years to watch me grow before they had to make a decision on whether they were going to sign me to a long-term contract,” said Palmer, who did not start a single game his rookie season.
“You don’t have that anymore. Now you only have four years, so if you sit Year 1, the organization only has three seasons of game film to watch and decide if you are worth hanging their hat on for the next 10 years and be the face of the franchise.”
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