Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 NFL Draft - Drafting a QB 1st round

A couple years ago, I decided to post a quick analysis of the last 20 years of 1st round QBs drafted.  Significant only to me, it was my first post ever.  For kicks, I've decided to update it now (1990-2010 - I included 1990 since 1996 saw no QBs drafted, so that I have a 20 draft sample size), make any changes in player designations, and discuss how I feel about this year's QB draft class.

Loose guidelines for designations, but ultimately up to my discretion.
Bust - out of the league in 6 years or less; or has been unable to start for same team during that time.
Journeyman - bounces around in the league either as a temporary starter or backup for 6 or more years.
Starter - been a productive starter for 6 or more years, or is currently starting for an NFL team.
AllStar - one who perennially makes the Pro Bowl.  C - Superbowl champion as starter.

1 Jeff George - J
7 Andre Ware - B (4 years, 6 starts)

16 Dan McGwire - B (5 years, 5 starts)
24 Todd Marinovich - B (2 years, 8 starts)
(Favre went 2nd round)

6 David Klingler - B (6 years, 24 starts)
25 Tommy Maddox - J

1 Drew Bledsoe - S
2 Rick Mirer - B (8 years, 68 starts)

3 Heath Shuler - B (4 years, 21 starts)
6 Trent Dilfer - S (carried to Superbowl win)

3 Steve McNair - AS
5 Kerry Collins - S

1996 none

26 Jim Druckenmiller - B (2 years, 1 start)

1 Peyton Manning - ASC
2 Ryan Leaf - B (3 years, 21 starts)

1 Tim Couch - B (5 years, 59 starts)
2 Donovan McNabb - AS
3 Akili Smith - B (5 years, 17 starts)
11 Daunte Culpepper - S
12 Cade McNown - B (2 years, 15 starts)

18 Chad Pennington - J
(Tom Brady went 6th round)

1 Michael Vick - S
(Drew Brees went 2nd round)

1 David Carr - J
3 Joey Harrington - B (6 years, 76 starts)
32 Patrick Ramsey - B (7 years, 24 starts)

1 Carson Palmer - S
7 Byron Leftwich - J
19 Kyle Boller - J
22 Rex Grossman - J

1 Eli Manning - ASC
4 Philip Rivers - AS
11 Ben Roethlisberger - ASC
22 JP Losman - B (6 years, 33 starts)

1 Alex Smith - B (5 years, 50 starts)
24 Aaron Rodgers - ASC
25 Jason Campbell - J

3 Vince Young - B (5 years, 47 starts)
10 Matt Leinart - B (4 years, 17 starts)
11 Jay Cutler - S

1 JaMarcus Russell - B (3 years, 25 starts)
22 Brady Quinn - B (3 years, 12 starts)

3 Matt Ryan - S
18 Joe Flacco - S

1 Matt Stafford - S
5 Mark Sanchez - S
17 Josh Freeman - S

1 Sam Bradford - S
25 Tim Tebow - INC

Results from 48 total:
7 Allstars (4 Superbowl champions among them) 
13 Starters
8 Journeymen
19 Busts


- Of the 48 total QBs drafted from 1990 to 2010, I would say only 20 were profitable picks while 27 have not become the franchise quarterback they were drafted to be.  That's under a 42% (20 of 48) success rate.  I am not even considering the 6 "starters" from the '08-'10 drafts of which some will, as percentages and history dictate, find themselves re-designated as Journeyman or Busts over time.

- Since 1990, 12 quarterbacks have been chosen with the number 1 pick overall.  7 seem to be strong picks but in reality, Stafford and Bradford will still need a few seasons to prove themselves.  These 5 either didn't or haven't come through - George, Couch, Carr, Smith and Russell.  Alex Smith is the only one who started last year and has a chance to be the 49ers starter again.  Incidentally, David Carr is the backup in SF and is the only QB currently under contract.  So that's a 58% success rate (7 of 12) when drafting QBs #1 overall.  The Manning brothers were the only ones to come through as franchise QBs and win the Superbowl.  That's 2 of 12 (17%).  And I don't think there are any other Manning brothers coming through the pipeline.

Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010, signed a 6 year contract worth $78 million, with $50 million guaranteed.  Unless the current lockout puts a stop to the madness of giving the largest contract to the most unproven player on your team, any quarterback drafted #1 this year (likely Cam Newton to the Panthers) will earn more than that in guaranteed dollars.  What a huge risk.

My thoughts on this year's QB draft class.

Cam Newton - He did some things in college that we had never seen before - even better than Vince Young and Tim Tebow.  There's no question about his athleticism.  His throwing motion is light years better than Young and of course Tebow.  But as I watched the Gruden show with Newton, I think we all realized how far he has to go in running a pro offense.  It took forever for him to explain a simple play on the board where he only talked about one route.  The gist: the slant WR's responsibility was to shield the corner and the QB's responsibility was to look-off the safety.  Yay.  It was embarrassing to watch.  Were there no progressions at Auburn?  probably not.  Is anyone confident he can read an NFL defense?  No.  The simplicity of Auburn's spread, which relied upon his superior athleticism, does not demonstrate that he can learn and master an NFL offense.  Raw athletes like Young, Tebow and Newton win BCS titles, guys like Manning, Brady and Brees win Superbowls.  Coupling that steep learning curve with Kiper's report that he doesn't like to take hits, his ncaa violations baggage and his personal desire for iconic stardom (DIVA!), I wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole, especially for $50+ million guaranteed.  Not sure what Carolina's thinking.

Blaine Gabbert - Nice, thoughtful, smart, prototypical QB physicality.  Apparently he has a good memory.  But does he have the instincts to execute a pro offense after spending his entire time at Mizzou in the spread shotgun?  Can he throw downfield?  Was he even a winner, difference-maker in college?  He was just OK.  I hadn't even heard of him until a couple months ago when Kiper's mug started showing up on TV.  I just can't shake this feeling that he's just the one guy who most looks the part in a down QB class.  He will need the right situation (franchise) and a patient fan base.

Jake Locker - I didn't like what I saw the entire year in the Pac 10.  The one issue that bothers me with Locker is that he is not very accurate at all, never better than 58% completion rate.  To me, accuracy is so much more important than arm strength (JaMarcus Russell), height (Matt Leinart), wonderlic scores (Alex Smith) or 40 times (Vince Young).  The best NFL quarterbacks come in different sizes and shapes, but they're all accurate.  However, I do like his leadership skills, his toughness and his moxie.  I wouldn't pick him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it.

Ryan Mallett - He ran a pro offense and he has the size and strength to make all the throws.  But, I am not entrusting the most important position on my football team to someone who's been involved with drugs and public intoxication.  For someone that's prepared to be THE on field decision maker, this is a pattern of horrible decisions.  I don't care how big or strong his arm is (Russell).  How do you know how he'll make decisions when the pressure and the spotlight becomes overwhelming (on and off the field)?

Andy Dalton - A lot of people seem to be high on him.  There's a lot of reason why.  He's accurate.  He's a winner.  He's a true team leader.  He's shown the ability to read the defense and make progressions.  Ideally, the 49ers will grab Patrick Peterson first round and Dalton 2nd.  I'd rather invest heavily in the sure thing in Peterson early on and grab the "short" 6'2 Dalton later hoping he'll turn out to be Drew Brees.

But first round?  No thanks, no QB for me.  At least not this year.

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