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Mike Holmgren on draft and needing a QB: 'You've got to take one'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The discussion about the quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft is keeps reaching new levels of fevered pitching. It's a large group, and each person is packed with questions about his long-term future.

So what do you if you need a quarterback but there's not a sure-fire thing out there? If you're Mike Holmgren, you draft one regardless.

"You've got to take one," Holmgren told Peter King of theMMQB.com on Monday. "You've got to, unfortunately."

Holmgren knows quarterbacks. He coached up Brett Favre with the Packers and he helped Matt Hasselbeck succeed in multiple spots (Green Bay and later with the Seahawks).

He related a story to King about the former quarterback, discussing how he almost benched Favre, who was "really struggling" for Mark Brunell. Holmgren met with the coaches and asked who they wanted to ride going forward, noting that it would be sink or swim with that guy.

"A lot of coaches" voted for Brunell, but Steve Mariucci (then QB coach with Green Bay) took Favre. And ultimately Holmgren did too.

"I went down, thought about it, called [Favre] in the next morning, told him he was the guy," Holmgren said. "I told him, ‘We're either going to the top of the mountain together or we're going to the dumpster together. But we're in this together.' That's what you have to do. I'm convinced of it. Absolutely convinced."

And so that's how this relates to 2014. Holmgren believes that you "pick one" guy and you go with that guy. And regardless of what's said about that particular quarterback, you stick with him.

“Somebody in that group can play, I feel sure of that,” Holmgren said of the 2014 quarterbacks class. “You list them, you evaluate them, you discuss them as a scouting and coaching group, and you pick one. Now—and this is very, very important—once he's with you, you never, ever let anyone believe he's not the right guy, not the quarterback of the future.

"In the building, obviously, that's a given. But in public too. Every time you talk about him, he's your guy."

It's a fascinating story and worthwhile advice. If you spend a first-round pick on a quarterback this season, there's no reason to question that player. At all. Ever. Give him the starting job and see what he can do.

But the story does miss one key point. After all, the mustachioed quarterback guru hasn't hit on 100 percent of his selections. Notably, he missed on a first-round pick in 2012, Brandon Weeden. Weeden was the hanger on in a group that featured Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. (Including Russell Wilson or Nick Foles in this group would be hindsight to an egregious degree.)

And he was the guy for Holmgren and the Browns. Unfortunately he was not the answer. Drafting Weeden could've cost Holmgren his job, although a change in ownership certainly precipitated the fall.

At the very least, Weeden is an excellent counterpoint for why you don't have to draft a quarterback just because you need one.

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