Commentary

Heir Supply: Replacing vets

Assuming these guys can't play forever, teams need to consider who's next

Updated: February 11, 2011, 1:15 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Matt HasselbeckOtto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesMatt Hasselbeck shows flashes of greatness, but the Seahawks must find his replacement soon.

Watching Cam Newton on Thursday made me think about the Super Bowl. Although he and Aaron Rodgers are completely different players, it'll be fascinating to see whether the team that takes Newton on draft day will ask him to be patient, as the Green Bay Packers did with Rodgers. Can a team do what's almost certainly best for Newton's development and ask him to wait, as the San Diego Chargers did with Philip Rivers?

Well, there's a common component. Rodgers had to wait behind Brett Favre, Rivers behind Drew Brees. If a really good veteran is in place, the wait is part tutorial, part practical. With that in mind, I scanned the league to take a look at some positions where the players are performing well but a long-term solution has to be considered. In some cases, a team isn't certain that its veteran will be back. In others, the veteran may have just one good season left. Regardless, they all deserve an heir, and their teams must keep it in mind.

(Note: Because of the way the NFL is -- cuts happen all the time and prominent players call it quits -- you could list 10 players at some positions. I picked based on how prominent each one is on his franchise.)

Quarterback

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals

I don't think anybody considers Hasselbeck a Hall of Famer, but he has given Seattle 10 pretty good years. He still flashes top skills, but the Seahawks have to consider that if he comes back, it may be for just a year or two. Palmer, meanwhile, is practically out the door in Cincinnati, so his situation would be more of a straight replacement. If the Bengals can miraculously coax him back, they still must consider a long-term solution.

Draft strategy: I can see both the Seahawks and Bengals going for a quarterback in Round 1. Cincy's issue, of course, is that it may need someone to step in immediately. Could Newton be the pick?

[+] EnlargeMichael Turner
Kim Klement/US PresswireMichael Turner gets a ton of carries -- and all the wear and tear that comes with them.

Running back


To find out where Mel Kiper sees needs for heir apparents at the remaining positions, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst