NFL Draft Preparation – To QB or not to QB? 2

Part 2 of The Football Educator’s guest writer J.P. Fox’s search for the answer of  “when is it the right time to draft a quarterback?”

In the recent 2011 draft, three QB’s were selected within the top 12 and any of these guys may be on the hot seat going into 2013. Christian Ponder of the Vikings will definitely be the “safest” of the three. Ponder had a rough go in his rookie year but had a solid sophomore season and looks to be improving. There was talk that the Vikings may look to bring in somebody to compete with him but he played well in 2012.

Jake Locker was able to sit most of his rookie season behind veteran Matt Hasselbeck then showed very mixed results in 2012. Blaine Gabbert may not even be the Jaguars starting QB going into this coming season. Through 25 career games, Gabbert has put up a completion rate of only 54% and a very-below-average 70.2 QB rating. Gabbert was the highest of those three to be picked and seems to be in the most trouble this early in his career.

Face of the franchise

“Don’t mess it up!” That can sum up what is at stake when drafting a QB to be the next face of your franchise. Since the first time I watched an NFL Draft at 9 years old, I’ve seen teams strike gold on guys early in the draft and strike gold on guys late in the draft. Of course, at the same time, I’ve seen teams crown a first round pick, “the QB of the future” only for that player to fall flat on their face and never turn out to be anything close of what was expected of him at the NFL level.

Questions, questions, questions

It’s definitely understood why a team would crown a QB picked in the first round its QB of the future. But it’s lofty expectations for a player coming out of college and playing the most important position on a football team. When is it the right time? Why is it the right time? Who’s the guy and how did he fit with the team now and in the future? There are so many different scenarios regarding a teams’ current place in the standings and the situation at the QB position.

These questions and a ton more go into the evaluation process of when the right time would be for your franchise to draft its next QB. Drafting that “QB of the future” a year (or more) too early is a whole lot better than a carousel of quarterbacks holding down the position until “the guy” is found. The decision to draft a QB is one that can set a franchise up for success for years or set them back even longer.

Sifting through the scenarios

Example of both “early” and “late” scenarios in the same draft (coincidentally):

The Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005, twenty-fourth overall, when Brett Favre was still their starter. Rodgers was eased into the starting gig as Favre’s backup for three seasons and Rodgers has won a Super Bowl ring and an NFL MVP since. In that same draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards with the third overall pick. I connect the two because in 2005, the Browns had a shot to draft Rodgers at number three.

The QB’s on the Browns roster that 2005 season… Derek Anderson, Trent Dilfer, and Charlie Frye. The Browns didn’t draft their “QB of the future” until two years later when, in 2007, they drafted Brady Quinn. Quinn spent three unspectacular years in Cleveland, never once was considered the clear-cut “starting QB”, and was traded to the Denver Broncos before the 2010 season. The Packers took Rodgers early in the “QB of the future” process and the Browns had the revolving door of QB’s before, during, and after drafting Brady Quinn.

Where they come from

Looking over the landscape of the current starting QB’s in the NFL:

  • 23 QB’s in the NFL who are considered their teams starter right now were first round picks. Of those 23, 8 of them were the first overall pick in their respective draft.
  • Another 4 QB’s who are starters for their teams were second or third round picks.
  • 3 teams have starters who were one of the following: sixth round pick, seventh round pick, or undrafted free agent.
  • The Arizona Cardinals started four different QB’s this past season. Kevin Kolb was a second round pick but started only five games. John Skelton, a fifth round pick, Ryan Lindley, a sixth round pick, and Brian Hoyer, an undrafted free agent, combined to start 11 games.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs started Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn this past season. Matt Cassel was a seventh round pick and Quinn has been on three different teams since being drafted in the first round in 2007.
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