At one point on AP, I did the legwork and found that there was about a 50% bust-rate for quarterbacks drafted from 1995-2005.
Keeping this in mind, I went back and looked at the starting quarterbacks in the NFL last season and noted where they were drafted. Then I broke them down into three tiers - 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
The results weren't shocking but it was a reminder that, while drafting in the 1st round is the best way to secure an elite quarterback, it's not the only way.
Starting NFL Quarterbacks
Nearly half of the starting quarterbacks on NFL rosters are 1st round picks. But of those 15, I've only got 6 in my top tier. A quarterback drafted in the first round is expected to become that top tier, franchise player.
If I'm selecting a quarterback in the first round, I expect him to become a first tier quarterback, not the next Chad Pennington, who is solid player but not what you expect from the 18th overall pick in the draft.
1st Tier Quarterbacks (8)
Patriots - Tom Brady (2000 - 6th round - #199)
Colts - Peyton Manning (1998 - 1st round - #1)
Bengals - Carson Palmer (2003 - 1st round - #1)
Steelers - Ben Roethlisberger (2004 - 1st round - #11)
Eagles - Donovan McNabb (1998 - 1st round - #5)
Saints - Drew Brees (2001 - 2nd round - #32)
Chargers - Phillip Rivers (2004 - 1st round - #4)
Broncos - Jay Cutler (2006 - 1st round - #11)
75% of the top tier quarterbacks in the league were first round picks. This is an obvious indication that selecting a guy that high is worth it (assuming he's the right guy).
Of those six first round picks, all of them were plucked 11th or above. Take a quarterback and take him early.
2nd Tier Quarterbacks (14)
Seahawks - Matt Hasslebeck (1998 - 6th round - #187)
Cowboys - Tony Romo (2004 - Undrafted)
Jets - Brett Favre (1991 - 2nd round - #33) *I included Brett Favre as the Jets starting QB because that's easier than trying to figure out the merry-go-round of QBs Rex Ryan will choose from come opening day.
Browns - Brady Quinn (2005 - 1st round -- #22)
Rams - Marc Bulger (2000 - 6th round - #168)
Giants - Eli Manning (2004 - 1st round - #1)
Falcons - Matt Ryan (2008 - 1st round - #3)
Dolphins - Chad Pennington (2000 - 1st round - #18)
Panthers - Jake Delhomme (1999 - Undrafted)
Buccaneers - Jeff Garcia (1999 - Undrafted) *Same as the Jets QB situation. I'm not guessing who the Bucs will choose from their stable of QBs so I stuck with Garcia.
Titans - Kerry Collins (1995 - 1st round - #5)
Cardinals - Kurt Warner (1998 - Undrafted)
Packers - Aaron Rodgers (2005 - 1st round - #24)
Ravens - Joe Flacco (2008 - 1st round - #18)
Some of these quarterbacks (Rodgers, Flacco, Ryan) might develop into bona fide superstars. But my snapshot of the current quarterbacks doesn't include potential.
Of the 14 quarterbacks here, half were first round picks.
2nd tier quarterbacks can be good for your team. In the list above, there are three Super Bowl winners and three more that have participated in a Super Bowl.
So, being an average to above average quarterback can still win you a Super Bowl. You can still be competitive. But, you've gotta have the right pieces around you.
3rd Tier Quarterbacks (10)
Lions - Daunte Culpepper (1999 - First round - #11)
Texans - Matt Schaub (2004 - 3rd round - #90)
Redskins - Jason Campbell (2005 - 1st round - #25
Vikings - Tarvaris Jackson (2006 - 2nd round - #64)
Bills - Trent Edwards (2007 - 3rd round - #92)
Raiders - JaMarcus Russell (2007 - 1st round - #1)
Chiefs -TylerThigpen (2007 - 7th round - #217)
Bears - Kyle Orton (2005 - 4th round - #106)
Jaguars - David Garrard (2002 - 4th round - #108)
49ers - J.T. O’Sullivan (2002 - 6th round - #186)
Half of these quarterbacks were drafted in the 3rd-6th round - what many of us call "project" territory. Select a quarterback on the second day with the idea that he'll learn the system and play in 2-3 years.
For the starting quarterbacks in the NFL, this wasn't a great strategy.
(In defense of Daunte Culpepper, he did have a few great years with the Vikings but I didn't take into account past performance with this list. It's just a quick snapshot of QBs in the league).