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Mike Holmgren: Draft a quarterback and stand by him

Mike Holmgren has a message for the quarterback-needy teams reportedly giving strong consideration to passing on a signal-caller in the first round of May's draft:

"You've got to take one."

"Somebody in that group can play; I feel sure of that," Holmgren told Peter King of on Monday. "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."

How often do we get an unfettered glimpse inside the mind of an NFL executive, a species that has introduced the highest level of institutional paranoia to the sports world?

Holmgren's admonition to clubs in search of a quarterback isn't unusual.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has said, "Until you find your quarterback, the search for him consumes you."

Bengals owner Mike Brown was so faithful to that philosophy that he rejected an eye-popping offer of all six New Orleans Saints' 1999 draft picks plus two more first-round picks and a second-rounder because he couldn't pass up the opportunity to draft Akili Smith.

It's Holmgren's candidness -- not his advice -- that is striking.

The man who hailed Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy as franchise saviors understands the downside of gambling on early-round quarterbacks.

"If it fails, you fail, and you lose your job," Holmgren said. "But that's part of it. You've got to be willing to pick a guy and be behind him. Coach your a-- off, fix what needs to be fixed, and you might not know what you have after one year or two years, but you'll know after three years. You've got to give him a real chance."

The next time your eyes tell you that a raw Blaine Gabbert or a declining Matt Schaub simply doesn't have it, don't feel obliged to parrot the carnival barking emanating from your team's front office and coaching staff.

Left without an obvious quarterback solution, Holmgren concedes NFL organizations will invent one.

The latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast" covers the Aldon Smith arrest and analyzes the offseason movers and shakers in the NFC East and NFC South.

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