Ugh, JaMarcus Russell!
Any conversation about first round NFL quarterbacks always includes a snide comment about the Raiders first overall selection in 2007. After all, he is a great example of the hit-or-miss nature of a first round quarterback, right? Well, I wanted to see exactly how erratic the first round has been. Feeling that I wasn’t being thorough, I also decided to look in to the success or failure rate of a quarterback in all seven rounds of the NFL Draft.
Selecting the number of seasons to explore was going to be rather arbitrary but I wanted to make sure that I included a decent sample size. This generation of quarterbacks arguably begins in 1998 with the drafting of Peyton Manning and that season became the starting point of my research. Considering that I was to rate the players based on their performance, they needed time to prove their worth. The end point of my research was then set at 2010 since I wanted to provide the drafted players at least three seasons to attain their boom or bust status.
Data was collected for players drafted from 1998 to 2010 on five different criteria… Seasons played, Games started, Seasons as a #1 QB (8 or more starts), 1st team All-Pro selections and Superbowl wins. Simply put, if your team has any aspirations of competing for a Superbowl, they need to get a quarterback in the first round. However, there were two obvious outliers. Drew Brees was the first selection of the second round in 2001 so he is barely out of the first round but remains a second round pick nonetheless. Tom Brady was the 199th overall selection in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. Brees and Brady really skew the numbers but not enough to detract from the first round’s dominance.
During the 2012 season, two more quarterbacks that were drafted outside of the first round really made an impression on the league. Both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are mobile quarterbacks who are deadly from the pocket as well. Along with players like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, they may be creating a new prototype for the position. It is obviously very early and too soon to call, but Wilson and Kaepernick could represent the non-first rounders like Brees and Brady have done for so many seasons.
The 2013 crop of rookie quarterbacks has been much maligned, and perhaps rightfully so. In many drafts, the top quarterback is almost certainly one of the first players taken. However, the first quarterback in this year’s draft may have to wait until the back end of the first round. It is also possible that only two or three quarterbacks are even taken on day one. There will always be surprises in the later rounds and the occasional JaMarcus Russell in the first. But if your team needs a franchise quarterback, the overwhelming evidence indicates that your team needs to draft one in the first round.
This year’s class of rookie quarterbacks: