Pass on the Passers
The Chiefs, Jaguars, Cardinals, Bills, and Jets are in need of a quarterback this off-season. All of them will pick in the top 10 in this year’s NFL draft, but none of them should select a quarterback in the first round. None of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft are more valuable than a late second or third round pick, and no team should take second or third round talent in the first round regardless of their needs. If a team needs a quarterback this season they can get one for a cheaper price.
Draft picks can be quantified with numerical values. Teams should target players that are as valuable as their draft slot instead of selecting their weaker positions. Last season happened to have an oddly high number of quarterbacks with high value so drafting them early made sense. This year is the opposite.
The mistake of selecting players of lower value just to fill a hole in the roster is especially prominent when a team needs a quarterback. There is always pressure to draft a quarterback to stir up fan excitement after a down year, but changing quarterbacks does not take a team from losers to champions. Teams win championships, not quarterbacks.
The common misconception that a team must have an elite quarterback in order to win a Super Bowl comes from the flawed logic that Super Bowl winning quarterbacks are “elite.” Middle of the road quarterbacks can win Super Bowls too. Statistics are not everything, but some of them are hard to ignore…
Joe Flacco has been put on a pedestal after his stellar post-season and Super Bowl win. Since football is such a “what have you done for me lately” sport, the larger sample size is often overlooked.
This season Joe Flacco was 19th in the NFL in completion percentage, 16th in yards per game, 15th in TD Passes, and 12th in passer rating. Even in crazy footballoutsiders.com Sabermetrics Land he is nothing but average. He was 17th in the NFL in Defense-adjusted yards over replacement. Flacco was also 17th in defense-adjusted value percentage with -1.4% (negative numbers in this statistic mean the player is below average) and was 26th in Total QBR.
Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls. In 05’-06’ when he won his first Super Bowl he was a “game managing” quarterback. He had a 62.7 completion % with per game averages of 198.8 yards 1.4 TD and .75 INTs. His stats were worse in his second Championship campaign, ’08-’09. He “lead” the Steelers to a 12-win Super Bowl season by completing 60% of his passes with per game averages of 206.3 yards (19th in NFL), 1.1TD (15th), .9 INT (4th worst) and a passer rating of 80.1 (26th.)
But he must have turned it on for those Super Bowl wins, right? His combined statistics in two Super Bowl wins: 30/51 383 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.
Geno Smith, Matt Barkly, Mike Glennon, and Ryan Nassib could be lucky enough to get selected in the first round due to this year’s weak class. None of them have the tools to be picked earlier than the late second or third round.
Essentially, drafting a quarterback in the first round this year is like trading a first round pick for a third. There are other quarterback fixes available that don’t cost a first round pick.
The obvious targets are 49ers’ back up Alex Smith and Seahawks’ Matt Flynn. Additionally there are some other intriguing back-ups that are better options than drafting any of these quarterbacks in the first two rounds.
Matt Moore- Showed flashes of brilliance in 2009 with Carolina (1,053 yrd, 8 TD, 2 INT 98.5 rating in 7 games) and in 2011 with Miami (2,497 yards, 16 TD, 9 INT, 87.1 rating in 13 games.)
Kyle Orton- Got run out of Denver in favor of Tim Tebow but put up good numbers (7,455 yards, 41 TD, 21 INT, 87.2 Rating) in two seasons when he was the Broncos’ starter.
Kirk Cousins- Was drafted last year by Washington because they had him valued much higher then the 4th round where they got him (good example of taking value over need.) Now Washington can get a 2nd round pick for him after what he showed last year if they are willing to trade him with RG3’s knee issue. If they do they will be trading last year’s 4th round pick for this year’s 2nd.
Shaun Hill- A career back-up who has always stepped in and played well whenever called upon (41 TD, 23 INT 85.9 rating in 10 year career)
Jason Campbell- He is nothing fancy, just a proven NFL quarterback who could put together a good season with the right pieces around him.
Ryan Mallett- The once highly touted quarterback had some off the field issues in college but has kept himself out of trouble as a back up in New England.
Bottom line, first round picks should be used on future Pro Bowlers. None of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft have that kind of potential. Teams should use their first round picks on other positions and look to get a serviceable quarterback from another team or free agency.