Back in 2007, the NFL draft was full of quarterback prospects. Besides likely high-first round selections JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, there were four other prospects that were thought to have starting potential: Kevin Kolb, John Beck and Drew Stanton went in the second round and Trent Edwards went in the third.
Fast forward to 2011 and you’ll see that only one of those second and third round picks (Kolb) has even a smidgen of success. Edwards is currently out of the league, Beck is a back-up for his third team and Stanton hasn’t been able to progress past third string quarterback in Detroit.
Quarterbacks drafted high in the first round are potential franchise signal callers, typically possessing all of the necessary talents and intangibles to become elite. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out that way but the majority of upper echelon quarterbacks were taken towards the top of the first round.
When you take a chance on a quarterback in the second or third round, it’s almost as if you’re drafting someone you already hope to replace sometime soon. Quarterbacks that fall out of the top half of the first round typically have some flaw – inaccuracy, bad decision making, not athletic enough – that will keep them from being a front-line starter.
Since it’s too soon to comment on the 2011 class (and maybe the 2010 class, but at least we have a year-plus of data), below are the second and third round quarterbacks drafted from ’06 – ’10:
Leaving Armanti Edwards out since he was actually drafted as a WR, that is fourteen picks. Out of those, you have four starters: Kolb, Henne, Jackson and McCoy. Kolb has not lived up to his contract with Arizona, Henne and Jackson will be replaced as soon as possible and after a promising start, McCoy appears to be just another guy. Out of the other ten, you have four back-ups at best and six who aren’t even in the league anymore.
Let’s look at the list again, but this time we’ll focus on the team that drafted the player and what other quarterback moves they’ve made since the draft pick:
NY Jets: Clemens – Took Mark Sanchez #5 overall in 2009
Vikings: Jackson – Signed Brett Farve; drafted Christian Ponder in 1st round
Chargers: Whitehurst – Drafted as a back-up; nothing of note
Chiefs: Croyle – traded for Matt Cassel
Eagles: Kolb – Signed Michael Vick
Dolphins: Beck – Drafted Chad Henne
Lions: Stanton – Drafted Matthew Stafford #1 overall in 2009
Bills: Edwards – Nothing of note
Packers: Brohm- Drafted as a back-up
Dolphins: Henne – Nothing of note
Patriots: O’Connell – Drafted as a back-up; drafted Ryan Mallet in 3rd round in 2011
Dolphins: White – Nothing of note
Panthers: Clausen – Drafted Cam Newton #1 overall in 2011
Browns: McCoy – Nothing of note
I find it amusing that the Dolphins show up on this list three times; this off season, they will once again be looking for a quarterback. Other than teams that were drafting a back-up, all of the teams have either spent other resources to get a quarterback or still need to.
Of course, there is another side of drafting a QB in the 2nd/3rd round, and that is the players you pass up instead. Once more, here is our list above but this time the quarterbacks are paired with a player that went in the next 15 selections:
Clemens – WR Greg Jennings
Jackson – T Eric Winston
Whitehurst – TE Owen Daniels
Croyle – G Jahri Evans
Kolb – WR Sidney Rice
Beck – LB Lamarr Woodley
Stanton – LB David Harris
Edwards – RB Michael Bush
Brohm – CB Terrell Thomas
Henne – CB Thomas (Brohm and Henne were drafted with back-to-back picks)
O’Connell – WR Mario Manningham
White – OL Max Unger
Clausen – LB Sean Lee
McCoy – TE Jimmy Graham
How would the Jets look with Greg Jennings? Think the Dolphins might be better with Lamarr Woodley? The second and third rounds of the NFL draft are where good teams become great. They don’t do that by drafting quarterbacks.