How Important Is a First Round QB?

I just took a look at the QBs drafted in the first three rounds of the last 5 drafts (not including the most recent one) and tried to decide whether the pick worked in finding a starting QB for the franchise.  I divided the list into two groups, first round picks and 2nd/3rd round picks, and assigned each player one of three possible grades.  A ‘W’ indicates that the pick was a win and the team found the man to lead the offense.

An ‘L’ indicates that the pick was a loss, either because the player has clearly already failed and the team should be moving on by now, or because the player has been around long enough and still has not made a name for himself.

A ‘U’ indicates that I’m still undecided on the player.  This can occur either because the guy still is starting for the team and hasn’t yet lived up to the hype but still has hopes to (guys like Stafford and Bradford fit this mold), or because the guy just hasn’t been around long enough and hasn’t gotten his shot yet.  Remember that Rodgers had to wait behind Favre for a number of years before he took over, and still put up a losing record in his first season.  Mallett, for example, is sitting behind Brady so we shouldn’t be expecting him to have shown the world whether he is a guy who fans should be cheering for or booing off the field on game day.

The lists are in order of best-to-worst, (in my humble opinion) for how close each player has come to being the franchise QB for his team.

  • Andrew Luck W
  • Matt Ryan W
  • Joe Flacco W
  • Matt Stafford U
  • Cam Newton U
  • RG3 U
  • Ryan Tannehill U
  • Sam Bradford U
  • Jake Locker L
  • Brandon Weeden L
  • Christian Ponder L
  • Josh Freeman L
  • Blaine Gabbert L
  • Mark Sanchez L
  • Tim Tebow L

3/15 W 20% | 5/15 U 33% | 7/15 L 47%

  • Colin Kaepernick W
  • Russell Wilson W
  • Andy Dalton W
  • Nick Foles W
  • Ryan Mallett U
  • Jimmy Clausen U
  • Brock Osweiler U
  • Colt McCoy L
  • Chad Henne L
  • Pat White L
  • Brian Brohm L
  • Kevin O’Connell L

4/12 W 33% | 3/12 U 25% | 5/12 L 42%

Notice that these lists indicate that there really isn’t a whole lot of difference in the success of the two groups.  Surprisingly, the 2nd & 3rd rounders have a bit more success in being declared a ‘W’, but that very well could be due simply to random chance and sampling error.  Both groups resulted in being just over the half-way mark for players who fall in the ‘W’ and ‘U’ category, showing that at least in their first 5-years, a player is just as likely to be a bust as he is a success, regardless of whether he was a first round pick or a 2nd/3rd rounder.

So what does this mean for the Vikings?  Well we all know that the team should be drafting a QB early this year, with hopes that he will become the franchise QB.  But it shows that there is no need to get him as early as possible.  Mock drafts are projecting as many as 4-QBs to be selected by the time the Vikings’ first pick comes around, making it appear to be even more of a reach to go for our guy in the first round when there will be many highly qualified players in other positions still around that early in the draft who can help the team.  This convinces me that Spielman needs to be patient, find a guy who will work, even if it’s not a first rounder, and get the supporting talent needed with the entire draft to give the Vikings the best chance to win.

What say you, Vikings faithful?  Should the team draft the Best QB Available in the first round, wait until the 2nd/3rd and find a quality player that other teams overlooked, or just stick to the BPA philosophy throughout the entire drafting process?  Let us know below!

114 comments on “How Important Is a First Round QB?

  1. “Surprisingly, the 2nd & 3rd rounders have a bit more success in being declared a ‘W’, but that very well could be due simply to random chance and sampling error.”

    It could also be due to the fact this is your qualitative research based on subjective coding of Parody’s belief, values, and observations. (Not being a jerk, just adding to your research methods limitations.)

    • Yes – I thought of saying that as well, but felt that I was getting too wordy as it was. Since this isn’t a thesis, I figured I should be aiming to be more concise rather than making certain to meet some spurious word count requirement.

      • Ha ha ha. Spurious. I never liked word counts or page length requirements– the content should dictate the length. Don’t be too concise that your message is unclear, but don’t add cotton candy either.

        • I rarely had to try too hard with the cotton candy routine. Every now and then I would find myself needing to add some more wordiness to my personal opinion in order to meet the word/page requirement, but I also found myself trying to figure out how to turn 5 words into one when some professors started setting maximum lengths.

          I despised doing both. As you said, the content should dictate the length. Too many times while doing research, I came across papers that were obviously having trouble meeting one of these length requirements, so they would repeat an idea numerous times (to reinforce its importance, I’m sure) and I disliked reading these repetitions trying to determine if they added anything to the article more than anything else I had to do throughout my studies.

  2. And if I might add, how many of these first round QBs were really legitimately first rounders? Or is Ponder the only one ever chosen before his time? I wonder how many of these QBs were a reach, which I guess plays into the whole question Parody poses– we often do not know who is the best future evolving QBs in a draft– we may know the Andrew Luck or the like, but after the cream of the crop, some very good QBs will be in the second and third rounds. What concerns me, though, is if Spielman took Ponder in round one, who would he take in round two or three?

  3. Parody I really enjoy reading your articles. Drafting a QB is certainly a crap shoot. I think a first round bust is prevalent because, well, it’s a first round pick.
    I wish we could see what Ryan Mallett has without giving up the farm. I was hoping the Vikings would of took him instead of Ponder and now I’d really like to see what he’s got.
    And I somehow have this feeling by the time draft day rolls around we’re gonna have two first round picks.
    Skol Parody!

  4. Posted on last one but still need to have it out there:

    I guess Bevell was hand cuffed by Chilly while in Minnesota (according to Darren Sharper) makes sense really seeing as brain child Chilly was a control freak, ask Farve. Supposedly he was the guy who wanted to pick Russel Wilson and start him over Flynn. Is this an indication that he could find a Franchise QB for us not sure but hopefully it does if he is hired.

    • I have trouble marking either of them in the W column. RG3 because he was too reckless in his rookie season and aggravated an injury which appears to have hampered his play this year. Stafford because he has only had one season with a positive W/L record. I keep wondering if he is really any better than Culpepper was. Culpepper looked awesome when he had Moss to chuck it to. Stafford is putting up great numbers while he has Megatron downfield, but still is unable to get wins.

      • Stafford is on a team with a lot of behavior issues — the whole team loses those games. Stafford plays his part — he can play well. RG3 was mismanaged and abused by greedy coaching– he also can play well. Culpepper– don’t get me started– and his celebration rolling of the arms– good grief.

        • Teammates and coaching are circumstances that every player has to deal with. Under different circumstances, Ponder may have silenced all the doubters. Without watching Favre for 3/4 years, Rogers may never have figured it out enough to be what he is today. With a better mentor, Jamarcus Russell may have turned into the All-Pro that the Raiders drafted him to be.

          The point is that the circumstances are a part of what makes them a success or failure. What has happened cannot be changed, and so in my opinion must not be overlooked in determining whether the player was a bust.

  5. BPA does not always work with QBs, because many different front offices have a variety of criteria that QBs must fit to be deemed the best.

    Some say Bridgewater is the best others MEziel and recently Bortles is rolling but you have to like one or taking a guy just for the sake of taking a guy sets you back ask SD how Lief worked out after settling for him when Manning was picked.

  6. I admit I haven’t followed college football much (none this past year), so I will rely on fellow bloggers assesments. I hear Bridgewater a lot– makes me think he will be gone in the first three or four picks.

  7. Well done Parody!
    One could quibble up or down on some of your assessments, but they are more or less accurate, in my opinion.

    However, I have heard it said, fairly often, that it takes 3 years to confirm the W or L of an NFL QB. With some of the freaks of nature, like Peyton and Luck, it probably only takes one year (or even less). However, they are extremely rare. I also doubt that more years are going to change your results very much, so I question the 3 year rule.

    As far as the BPA strategy during the draft – I disagree somewhat. If you go BPA while ignoring a desperate need for your team (for example CB), you leave your team so vulnerable that you can’t win, even if the rest of your team is very good – call it a fatal flaw. It will get exploited so much that you can’t recover.

    I am as worried about the defense as I am about the QB. We need both areas solved.

  8. Nice blog Parody!!

    Question of the day:

    If we stay where we are in the draft (not move up) and all the top teir QB’s are taken before us, do we trade down to a point where we could get chocolate thunder and trade our second round pick to the Patriots for Ryan Mallet?

    We could have had him in the third round instead of picking up Ponder. He will be in the last year of his contract I think and it would be a bit of a gamble. I have read an article saying that the Pats would trade him for a second round pick.

    HMMMMMM…any thoughts?

      • Mallett had character issues heading into the draft, which is a primary reason he lasted into the third round. Having been hidden underneath Brady the past few years, he hasn’t made a peep – is that a good thing or a bad thing?

        The Pats always seem to get the better end of the bargain when trades occur, so I have to assume that Mallett is not worth as much as they’re asking. I’d wave a 5th round pick at the Patriots for him and see if they’re willing to deal. Anything more than that for a guy who has no game tape to justify the trade is crazy.

        • Yes, Belichick always trades to better his team — and looking at his record, if he is departing with a player, that player has some kind of issue– whether physical, mental, etc. Remember the Jake the Snake moniker for Plummer? Just sayin’.

    • Have the Pats ever showcased what Mallett can do? With Cassell, they gave him the better portion of a year while Brady was injured and got a 1st round pick for the guy. Now he’s showing that he’s nothing more than a quality backup. So if they think Mallett is only worth a 2nd rounder, he may be nothing more than a depth player on someone else’s roster.

      Remember that players under Belicheck’s system look much better than they generally would under any other coach’s system.

  9. I wouldnt mind getting Ryan Mallet. but with Erin Henderson leaving and LB already one of our weak spots Id like to get the best LB on the board where we are … also I want Dan Quinn as our coach because he has the #1 Defense and runs a 3-4 hybrid so we will need the pass rushing OLB

  10. First off, great article, Parody. I hate to start talking draft this early, but it’s the main topic on here. I’m against trading up in this draft, we need every pick we can get. I think we should take a QB in round 1 and another with one of our 3rd rounders or in the 4th. Go into the season with Cassel and two rooks. The rest of the draft have to focus on LB, CB, NT, LG. Trust in Spielman.

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