The Football Educator’s guest writer J.P. Fox searches for the answer of “when is it the right time to draft a quarterback?”
Asking the question of when is it the right time to draft a quarterback can be interpreted two ways:
1) When, regarding the current QB situation of the team and;
2) When, regarding the position or place in the draft.
What’s on your roster?
A team’s current QB situation is obviously the biggest indicator of when a team should begin to think about drafting the future guy. Who is the current QB? How old is he? What is his level of play recently? Is there already a backup QB on the team and what is his situation? Those are only four questions of many that need to be asked and answered heading into the offseason and the draft.
The state of the QB position is being evaluated year-round. It gets to a point for every franchise that it’s only logical to look near and far into the future for every single position. The QB position in particular is tricky. By my count, there’s about 10-12 of 32 teams in the league right now that do NOT need to think of their starting QB now or in the near future. That leaves 20-22 other teams with a QB that may have age concerns, his level of play may not be the same or up to par, and/or there isn’t a player in place that can step in and be the starting QB.
What have you done for me lately?
Some teams have very capable QB’s on their team right now but the question of “what have you done for me lately?” immediately comes to mind. Can this guy get it done? Can he win the big game? That’s what it’s all about: Does my team have a starting QB that can legitimately put us in contention for the Lombardi Trophy every year?
Regarding the time and place in the draft to finally pull the trigger on the player that the franchise will rely on as the QB of the future can be very tricky. Using a first round pick, not necessarily just a high first rounder, on a QB is probably the biggest risk a franchise can take. At the same time, a team can strike gold in rounds other than the first, of course. There are times when, with a top three, five, or ten pick that it’s obvious that the team absolutely needs to go the QB route. The last four first overall picks have been QB’s, all by teams that absolutely needed a quarterback.
Pressing needs or passing fancy?
Other times, the team may have a more pressing need than QB and can afford to wait until the second round to go the QB route, if needed. The Seattle Seahawks in this past 2012 draft “found” Russell Wilson in the third round. Wilson ended up starting all 16 regular games, finished fourth in the NFL in passer rating with a 100.0, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, and led the Seahawks to a playoff victory on the road. Wilson even won the job over two veterans, one of which was Matt Flynn, who signed a $19 million contract and was expected to be the Seahawks starter.
It’s an inexact science but the team that decides that jumping on a QB in the first round and making him the starter is taking a huge leap of faith. Many times, these players coming out of college may need at least a year to develop before they get thrown into the NFL fire. When a team has a quality veteran in place to “tutor” the incoming rookie and ease him into an eventual starting role down the road, it usually benefits that young QB and can eventually pay huge dividends.
Teams that usually sit their big first round investment at QB at first reap the benefits later on. Other times, a player starting from day one has been the way to go. Just this past season, the Colts with Andrew Luck, the Redskins with Robert Griffin, and the Seahawks with Russell Wilson all started their rookies from day one and all three teams went on to make the playoffs with spectacular play from their rookies.
Next up – Part 2 of NFL Draft Preparation – To QB or not to QB?