In recent days, there have been plenty of friendly and not-so-friendly back-and-forth exchanges between me and my esteemed Syracuse colleague Mike Evans over the worthiness of where you select a quarterback in the NFL Draft.
I espouse the Glennon/Trubisky Doctrine, which states that if a team doesn’t feel that they have a long-term QB, they should acquire a veteran – no matter what the cost – and draft a quarterback they believe in as high as possible in the draft, even if that means moving up one measly spot in the draft to do so.
The QB position should be looked at as a budget item; a team should always fill that space, so who gets what money doesn’t really matter. When the Bears moved up one spot to guarantee Mitchell Trubisky as their pick, they solidified their plan for the next 10 years. They were able to dispatch of Mike Glennon and replace him with a vet who is not a threat to take over (Chase Daniel). A team should also keep a developmental QB around in case of extreme emergency (Tyler Bray).
The Bears are hardly the only team to use this model in recent years. It really came to light originally with the Eagles, when Philadelphia had Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz. They used vet backup Nick Foles as their emergency guy and it really, really worked out.
The Jets, Bills, Browns, Cardinals and Ravens all used this same approach. The Cardinals then took a bizarre left turn and fired their head coach after only a year. They have decided to explore the future with a college approach, but ultimately are fulfilling the Glennon/Trubisky Doctrine with Kyler Murray. The Dolphins have backed their way into the doctrine with Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they are hedging their bets and have already accepted losing to get Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or Justin Herbert.
Mike Evans asserts his Khaki Pants Agenda, stating that first-round quarterbacks are a crap shoot and that teams have just as good of a chance of winning with a QB drafted in rounds 2-4. He opens a bizarre wide window by stating that all rounds are created equal.
They certainly are not.
There is a HUGE difference between players drafted in the third round compared to the second round, never mind the fourth round. By lumping them all together, it’s easy to find more exceptions to the rule. The issue really becomes who gives a team the best chance to succeed.
Only 32 different QBs have actually won a Super Bowl, with the true unicorn of Tom Brady leading the way. Winning a championship is an absurd standard to define success. This would mean that Philip Rivers, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino are all terrible quarterbacks, while Trent Dilfer is superior. What is really true is that all four of those QBs are high quality because they gave their teams a chance to win and they did win playoff games.
So, I’m fine with just looking at QBs that fit that standard. Does a QB give his team a chance to win? Can he lead a team through a season and make enough right decisions to give his teammates a chance to excel, as well.
Peyton Manning was pretty much toast in terms of his abilities during his final season. Statistically, he was poor in 2015, but there were certain intangibles that allowed him to be the best option for the Broncos in the playoffs. Ultimately, there were decisions Manning made that allowed his team to win a Super Bowl, even if those decisions didn’t help his stat line.
So, why don’t we just keep it at that level? If you can lead your team to the playoffs and win in the playoff, you are a successful QB. This should open a much wider window for quarterbacks taken outside of the first round.
It’s not enough to just say, “Take a QB in the first round,” however, because of the epic failure of QBs taken in the 20s.
If you are a playoff team and you still need to draft a first-round QB, you’ve got issues. If a QB falls into the 20s, it means all the lousy teams that probably need a QB have passed on him. Why? Who knows? But that is a huge red flag.
However, three times in NFL history, teams have come back into the first round in the 30s to take a QB – Patrick Ramsey (2002), Teddy Bridgewater (2014) and Lamar Jackson (2018). In all three cases, their teams moved back into the first round to grab their guy, meaning they were in a unique set of circumstances where they wanted the advantage of the fifth-year option, at least in the Bridgewater and Jackson cases. In addition, the Ravens and Vikings both had previous first-round picks. They were doubling down and saw Teddy and Lamar as their future QBs.
These were smart moves. However, drafting a QB in the 20s is idiotic.
It’s the Bermuda Triangle of QBs. There are two significant exceptions to that rule – Marino and Aaron Rodgers. Both of these players were assessed as higher values and dropped for whatever reason. But, even those two still got picked up in the first round, not the second.
The second round for QBs is horrible. It says teams don’t believe enough in the dude to be the dude, but, well, maybe they can be the dude – but – well, I’m not sure, but – you know – maybe?
The second round for other positions is traditionally a treasure trove of talent, especially for wide receivers who ultimately can really help a starting quarterback. If teams are drafting a QB in the first round, then they must have a guy they like. Right?
Well, what about Jimmy Garoppolo? Wasn’t that a good pick for the Patriots?
He was a distraction and Brady couldn’t wait to get rid of him. Brian Hoyer is Tom Brady’s type of backup!
To add insult to injury, the pick after Jimmy G was, yep, Jarvis Landry, a receiving stud! If they had to do it all over again, do you think the Pats select Jimmy G? I doubt it.
Look at the Pats this year. They had a ton of picks and Brady is 117 years old. They went with total stud receiver in N’Keal Harry with pick No. 32 and then drafted a cornerback, a linebacker, a running back, an offensive tackle, a center/guard and then a QB in the fourth round (Jarret Stidham who is a much more accurate passer than Drew Lock and played in the SEC for Auburn).
Why didn’t the Pats simply take a QB in round 2? Simple. They realized through their mistake; they discovered that a backup or even a developmental QB won’t help Brady as much as four offensive weapons.
This is of course fascinating because the Broncos loved Stidham. Theoretically, what is the difference between Joe Flacco and Brady in terms of their future NFL length of career?
So just by using the metric that if a QB can win playoff games, a daunting number develops since 2008. Of the first-round QBs selected 1-19 during that time (29), they have accumulated 31 wins. Never mind the total amount of playoff appearances. If you counted that number it would be much higher because it would include Lamar Jackson among others. Whereas, the second-round QBs during that time (13) have gathered six playoff wins – thank goodness for Colin Kaeprnick (4).
Where does Flacco fit in? Well, he has 10 playoff wins all by himself.
Drafting a QB in the second round is just foolish. It historically doesn’t work because it creates a bizarre situation for the team and non-clarity to when exactly the young quarterback should be the man. Never mind the fact that a team loses the fifth-year option, so if the young quarterback is a guy a team want around, they have to make that decision a year earlier than if he was drafted in the first – buh bye Brock.
John Elway didn’t pick a bad player. Drew Lock could absolutely become… well… Colin Kaepernick.
Wouldn’t that be ironic?
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