Recent drafts show not much middle ground for first-round quarterbacks

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Recent drafts have shown a trend about when teams pick quarterbacks: Often early in the first round and late in the first round, but not much in the middle of the first round or the second round.

That quarterback is the NFL’s most important position goes without saying, and that good quarterbacks on their rookie contracts are the league’s most valuable asset is well established. That’s why so many quarterbacks go high in the first round, including four in the Top 10 picks last year.

But in the middle of the first round, something interesting happens: Teams don’t really take quarterbacks in that range. In the last 10 drafts, the only quarterbacks to go in the 13 to 20 range of the first round are EJ Manuel (16th overall in 2013) and Josh Freeman (17th overall in 2009).

Teams do take quarterbacks late in the first round, however, often trading back into the late first round for players like Lamar Jackson (32nd overall last year), Paxton Lynch (26th overall in 2016) and Teddy Bridgewater (32nd overall in 2014). The advantage to taking a quarterback late in the first round instead of early in the second round is that players chosen in the first round get fifth-year options on their rookie contracts, while players chosen in the second round become free agents after four years.

So NFL teams either take a quarterback high in the first round or move back into the first round for a quarterback who falls. The teens are a dead zone for quarterbacks.

Also a dead zone for quarterbacks is the second round: In the last two drafts only one quarterback, DeShone Kizer in 2017, has been chosen in the second round. Over the last 10 drafts only 10 quarterbacks have gone in the second round, while 30 quarterbacks have gone in the first round. If a team thinks a quarterback is good enough to draft in the second round, that team will probably trade up and draft him late in the first round.

12 responses to “Recent drafts show not much middle ground for first-round quarterbacks

  1. A point not made in this article is that the first round also gives an extra fifth year option that gives more contractual leverage for the team if they believe the QB will be theirs of the future. It makes a lot more sense for teams to give up a late round pick to trade back into the end of the first round for that extra year of control at a relatively low cost.

  2. Then just wait until the third, fourth or even fifth round. Save money on a probable bust.

  3. linollieum says:

    April 16, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    A point not made in this article is that the first round also gives an extra fifth year option that gives more contractual leverage for the team if they believe the QB will be theirs of the future. It makes a lot more sense for teams to give up a late round pick to trade back into the end of the first round for that extra year of control at a relatively low cost.

    _________________________

    Next time read the whole article.

  4. It’s only every several years that in the draft that there is an Andrew Luck or a Patrick Mahomes that prove worthy of the honor…

    Most are qbs that are overrated and inflated to make the draft more interesting because of the importance of the position when those qbs are NOT the best player available… Jameis Winston, Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford, JaMarcus Russell, Vince young… All those teams would like have been better off drafting the best player available instead of losing those picks for nothing!

  5. Common sense. The guys that are considered “elite”, or “can’t miss” are going to go at the top of the draft. QB is too important of a position, nobody thinks you can win without a very good QB. So a lot of guys go in the top 5-7 picks that probably shouldn’t. Because if they ARE elite 5 years from now, you don’t want to be the team that still 5-11 and picked a LB instead of what turned out to be a stud QB

    On the 2nd end of that, you have the guys that are looked at as flawed. But with top end potential. So teams want those guys in the 1st, not the early 2nd, for the extra year on their rookie contract. If you pick a guy and he DOES become a pro-bowl QB, he’s going to get a huge contract eventually. Simple economics says it’s better for the team to start paying that in 5 years instead of 4. Heck, even if they are just OK, you’d rather get the extra year. There are plenty of OK QB’s making 20mil + these days not because they should, but because teams would rather have the known OK QB than the question mark with the OK guy gone

    As far as the middle of the round, the guys that are looked at as “elite” are gone, and unless you have an immediate need at the position, are too risky to take there since they have some sort of flaw. You also don’t want to be the team that took the QB that everyone said was injury prone, then 3 years later be 5-11 because you took him anyway, and he’s injury prone. Meanwhile you could of had 2-3 perennial pro-bowlers

  6. The 5th year option is kinda irrelevant when it comes to QBs.. most teams don’t even try to hold a QB to the 5th year option of their rookie deal. If a QB has proven himself as the franchise guy. The last thing teams want to do is piss him off. If a team plays low ball and tries to hold their star QB up by forcing him to play under the option.. itl cost that team more in the long run when that same player refuses to give a home town discount.

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