August 26, 2008 (Updated: September 3, 2010) So You Want a Quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd Round?
President, Draft Countdown
You will often hear NFL fans and draftniks say they hope their team waits until the second or third round to draft a quarterback because taking one in the first round is just too risky. There is no denying that selecting a quarterback early in the draft is a dangerous proposition and with the way contracts for top ten picks have been spiraling out of control the financial ramifications just make it all that more daunting. However, with great risk also comes great reward. The first round waters are treacherous when it comes to signal callers but history has shown that waiting to address the game's most crucial position probably isn’t such a good idea either.
Below you will find a comprehensive list of every quarterback taken in either the second or third round of the NFL Draft in the last nineteen years, from 1992-2010.
As you can see there were a total of 41 quarterbacks taken in either the second or third round during that time frame. There were some who started quite a few games and had varying degrees of success (i.e. Kordell Stewart, Jake Plummer, Brian Griese) and others who managed to bounce around the league for a quite a while (i.e. Todd Collins, Charlie Batch, Josh McCown, Chris Simms, Charlie Frye) but overall the group leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, so far Drew Brees is the only one who developed into a great quarterback for the team that drafted him and he was the 32nd overall pick, which would be a first rounder today. Also, Brees was so disappointing his first few years in the league that the Chargers used a Top 5 pick on Philip Rivers before he hit his stride. Then they let him leave as a free agent.
So to recap that is 1 out of 41, which equates to about a 2.5% success rate.
Granted in recent years there have been some promising signs for a few players. Matt Schaub really came in his own for the Houston Texans, although they aren’t the team that drafted him, and it looks as though both Kevin Kolb and Chad Henne could turn out to be the real deals for Philly and Miami. However, even if you add those names to the positive side of the ledger the odds of hitting on a signal caller in round two or three are still extremely long.
For every Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan there are probably three or four Ryan Leaf’s, Tim Couch’s or David Carr’s but wouldn’t you rather at least roll the dice on the 20% chance that you’ll get an elite, franchise signal caller you can build a team around instead of someone who in a best-case scenario might only be the next Jake Plummer?
Some argue that the best course of action is to wait until the mid or late rounds to select a passer and one could certainly cite plenty of compelling examples to support that theory since many of the league’s current starting quarterbacks were chosen beyond the third round, or in some cases not even drafted at all. However, only a few of those guys are actually playing for the team that originally drafted or signed them so while it’s true you may be able to find a future starting quarterback late in the draft it will most likely be for someone else. Tom Brady and Tony Romo are the exceptions, certainly not the rule. Otherwise everyone would take that approach.
Perhaps Kolb, Henne, Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy will buck the odds and become above average starting quarterbacks in the NFL over the next few years but even if that happens the success rate for signal callers selected in the second or third round is still going to be abysmal. The bottom line is that it’s a crapshoot to take a quarterback in the first round but recent history has shown us that it doesn’t get any easier to find one later on and if you do opt to wait chances are you’ll get what you pay for. Sure you might waste a high draft pick and a ton of money on the next Akili Smith but at least the potential for finding the next Donovan McNabb is there as well. That just doesn’t appear to be the case in round two or three these days.
There are no guarantees when it comes to the NFL Draft and that's especially true when it comes to first round quarterbacks. At least until the next generation of Manning’s come along. However, you must be in it to win it and simply avoiding top quarterback prospects because you’re afraid to make a mistake is no way to run a team either. There will always be a high degree of risk associated with first round signal callers but if you want a stud passer the best course of action is to just take the plunge and hope you wind up with Ben Roethlisberger, not JaMarcus Russell.
Or you could just wait a couple of decades for Archie Manning’s grandkids…
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