I’d like to thank blog favorite Kip Earlywine for bringing this article to my attention. There’s an opinion amongst some that drafting a quarterback in the early rounds is something to avoid and that there are often better options later on. It’s certainly true that later round QB’s have battled the odds to have great success in the NFL – namely Tom Brady in New England. However, the DC Times posted this interesting research that shows first round quarterbacks might actually be better bets than previously thought. In looking to measure the success of a quarterback once drafted, the piece of uncredited work relates to Pro Bowl appearances as the determining factor. That’s a pretty fair assessment. Whilst some obviously go to the Pro Bowl on a one off or when other ‘bigger names’ have pulled out, it’s usually a sign of some degree of success for your drafted quarterback to make an all-star game. Indeed, the article itself acknowledges it isn’t a flawless sample.
So what did they find?
“There is a noticeable relationship between a quarterback’s draft position and his future success. Among all first-rounders, there is a 32% chance of making a single Pro Bowl. That number actually rises to 38% among first round quarterbacks. Thus, highly-drafted quarterbacks may be slightly more likely to find success than first-rounders at other positions.”
This isn’t just a first round issue either.
“Second-rounders of all positions have a 15.3% chance of making a single Pro Bowl. Among quarterbacks, that number soars to 32%. Thus, second round quarterbacks are as likely to make a Pro Bowl as first-rounders at all positions (and more likely after we eliminate the first round quarterbacks). The higher probability of quarterback Pro Bowls continues in the third round, where 13% of signal-callers reach a Pro Bowl, compared to just 6.4% of third-rounders in general. Also note the steep decline in Pro Bowl appearances among third and fourth round quarterbacks. Ultimately, there is a fairly strong correlation between draft round and Pro Bowl appearances. While the relationship exists for all positions, it is significantly stronger for quarterbacks than for players at other positions.”
It makes for interesting reading. Essentially if you use this advice as a small but useful sample – it is significantly harder to find Pro Bowl quarterbacks outside of the top two rounds. Hardly rocket science as you’d expect the most talented prospects to go early. But what it does suggest is rather than produce a never ending pot of gold, the Tom Brady’s, Matt Hasselbeck’s and Marc Bulger’s off this world are very much the exception to the rule.
The research ends by suggesting the second round, on their evidence, is perhaps the best time to select a quarterback. I would instead choose to end it by singling out the fact that quarterbacks taken in round one are above average amongst other positions with regard Pro Bowl appearances. There are a lot of other positions of greater risk. It might be a leap of faith to commit to a prospect to be the face of the franchise – to lead from the most important position. However – it may end up being a better investment than many other positions when all is said and done.