Growing up as a Bears fan (which, I should point out, you don’t choose), I bought in time and time again that Chicago was developing the quarterback of the future. But while I cheered for Kordell Stewart, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, and Jonathan Quinn (all in the 2003/2004 season), I had to sit and watch the other teams in the NFC North have success with Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper and even Jon Kitna. It certainly didn’t seem fair to me.
But there was a reason for the Bears’ continued quarterback futility. The simple NFL truth: the late round quarterback turning into your team’s next stud is a myth. Sure, Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick, and Tony Romo wasn’t even drafted, but those are outliers, once in a generation diamonds in the rough. If teams are looking for a starter at running back or offensive guard, there is nothing wrong with using a fifth round pick to get it. But if they want a franchise quarterback, they’d better be prepared to pay dearly for one.
I’m not just talking about salary, I’m talking draft picks. If a team wants a playoff caliber starting quarterback, history tells us they need to spend either a first or second round of the draft. That means your team drafts the player early, or trades a high draft pick to get him. Don’t believe me? Let’s head to the chart.
2010-2011 NFL Playoff teams
|Team||Quarterback||Where drafted (pick traded for)|
|Atlanta Falcons||Matt Ryan||Drafted 2008: 1st round (#3)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Joe Flacco||Drafted 2008: 1st round (#18)|
|Chicago Bears||Jay Cutler||Traded from Denver for two 1st round picks|
|Green Bay Packers||Aaron Rodgers||Drafted 2005: 1st round (#24)|
|Indianapolis Colts||Peyton Manning||Drafted 1998: 1st round (#1)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Matt Cassel||Traded from New England for 2nd round pick|
|New England Patriots||Tom Brady||Drafted 2000: 6th round (#199)|
|New Orleans Saints||Drew Brees||Drafted 2001: 2nd round (#32)|
|New York Jets||Mark Sanchez||Drafted 2009: 1st round (#5)|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Michael Vick||Drafted 2001: 1st round (#1)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger||Drafted 2004: 1st round (#11)|
|Seattle Seahawks||Matt Hasselbeck||Traded from Green Bay for 1st and 3rd round pick|
Only one quarterback was not drafted, or traded for, a first or second round pick. Only one! In the past ten years, there have been 94 quarterback chosen between rounds 3 through 7. No doubt a huge number. Of those 94, only four quarterbacks ended the season as their team’s starter. Just four-percent of those quarterbacks; surely not awe-inspiring numbers.
But wait, it gets worse. Let’s take a look at the records of the teams that started those four QBs:
|Team||Quarterback||Round Drafted||Team’s final record|
|Arizona Cardinals||John Skelton||5th (#155)||5-11|
|Buffalo Bills||Ryan Fitzpatrick||7th (#250)||4-12|
|Cleveland Browns||Colt McCoy||3rd (#85)||5-11|
|Minnesota Vikings||Joe Webb||6th (#199)||6-10|
With 3rd through 7th round draft picks, the four teams finished a combined 20-44, nowhere near competing for a postseason berth. Does a team’s record have everything to do with the play of the quarterback? No, of course not. There are 53 players on an NFL roster. But the numbers show if your team doesn’t have elite talent at sports most important position, they’re more likely to be watching the Super Bowl than playing in it.
So does this mean a team like Minnesota or San Francisco, teams that need quarterback help, look to draft Cam Newton or Jake Locker? Not exactly. As important as it is to select a top talent early, it’s just as important to select the right guy. As it’s been proven before, for every Donovan McNabb, there is a Tim Couch – a quarterback who sets a franchise back years while they wait for him to ‘develop.’
So what do the statistics tell us? With all due respect to guys like Delaware’s Pat Devlin, North Carolina’s T.J. Yates or Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien, they’re most likely not going to develop into the next big thing. Teams looking for their next franchise-saving quarterback better be willing to invest a top pick. Fans just have to hope they pick the right guy.
Posted under Uncategorized
This post was written by Stephen on March 7, 2011