Should Floundering Teams Shoot the Moon for a Franchise QB?


This post is one in a series of posts that expand on my We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us. In that post I attempted to establish the criteria for a "floundering team": a team with a .250 winning percentage or below for two consecutive years.

Historical Draft Reactions of Three Floundering Teams - A Chiefs Perspective was a follow up post that asserted that games are won in the trenches. This post examined teams that met the "floundering team" criteria and how they reacted in the next three NFL drafts. One of the teams that met the "floundering" criteria was the Oakland Raiders. In 2007, after reaching the floundering stage, the Raiders selected JaMarcus Russell (QB) in the first round.

Which begs the question: If games are won in the trenches...should teams that have reached the "floundering" stage attempt to take a franchise quarterback before developing an offensive line?

This post will examine all the quarterbacks selected with the first five pics of the NFL draft since 2000. How successful where these quarterbacks? Did they all turn out to be the franchise quarterback that each team hoped they would? Did all of them have the support of a good line and a good run game?

QB's That Made the Transition
Year Drafted Player Offensive Rushing Rank Sacks
2008 # pick Matt Ryan 2nd 17
2004 # pick Eli Manning 8th 13
2003 # pick
Carson Palmer
17th 25

Stats are from the first full year of playing.

Observations from the above chart:

  • The sample size is small. I usually only go back to the year 2000 to look at teams due to my belief that the NFL landscape changes frequently. Going back further might confound the data by tapping into an NFL culture that is no longer viable.
  • Two of the teams that selected these more "successful" quarterbacks were, what I consider, "good" (relative term since they were picking in the top 5) teams at the time. The Falcons take Matt Ryan and Giants get Eli Manning (swapped QBs).
  • Not much you can tell when looking at only 3 quarterbacks that made the transition...but the point might be that only three quarterbacks made the transition. Two of the three, Manning and Ryan, each had a good run game and low sack totals. Palmer had a middle of the road run game with a high sack total (and has been prone to injury).
  • Therefore, we can say that all of the QBs in this group had at least one positive area that involved the offensive line the first year.
  • All the QBs had good run games.

QB's That Did Not Make the Transition
Year Drafted Player Offensive Rushing Rank Sacks
#1 pick JaMarcus Russell
10th 31
# pick Vince Young
# pick
Alex Smith
# pick
David Carr
# pick
Joey Harrington

Stats are from the first full year of playing.

Observations from the above chart:

  • Every one of these quarterbacks had at least one bad area that involves the offensive line their first year in the league.
  • All but one of the quarterbacks had high sack totals.

Since the 2000 NFL Draft a team selecting a quarterback in the first five pics had a 37% success rate of actually getting the franchise quarterback they wanted. These are not just some quarterbacks that teams are taking as a flyer. These are quarterbacks that everyone in the NFL thinks has skills. The best of the best in college.

So what's the problem?

The problem is that quarterbacks are delicate commodities. They need to grow, develop, and get confidence. They need, like the first group of successful QBs, a good running game to help them along. They cannot get pounded every game like the second group and have the psyche knocked out of them.

Why does it seem like bad teams always pick quarterbacks that don't pan out. They don't seem to make bad choices at the time because everyone in the NFL thinks the QBs they select are the best of the crop. Yea, I know. Patton Manning made it. I guess there will always be those quarterbacks that will end up being what they were always destined to be.

Bad teams end up with bad quarterbacks more often because they take the quarterback before developing their offensive lines. They shoot the moon before they get a good run game. As a result, they fail 63% of the time (which includes the success of the good teams)...and that just sets them back more.

So don't take a quarterback in the top five pics before developing your offensive line. And if you have to...don't start him for a couple of years.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.