The NFL is a passing league and that means, more than ever, teams need an elite quarterback to have any hope for lasting success. If one needs an elite quarterback, it almost certainly has to come through the draft.
Sure, teams could trade for a quarterback or sign a free agent, but take a look at the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Of the top 25 QBs (ranked by passer rating), all but six are with the team with which they took their first snap. So, it's possible to strike gold, but the draft—regardless of where you draft—is where quarterbacks are normally found.
To put an even finer point on it: good NFL quarterbacks are, more-and-more, entering the NFL through the upper rounds of the draft.
"But...but..." the critics cry, "what about Tom Brady?"
As always, anecdotal evidence is flimsy as best. For every Brady, there are dozens of late-round QBs who've failed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for nearly every high-round bust, there is an franchise quarterback.
Sporting News' Thomas Emerick took a look at the numbers before the 2012 draft:
Of the 32 quarterbacks chosen in the first round since 2000, 12 have won a postseason game (37.5 percent) as starter: Roethlisberger, E. Manning, Flacco, Rodgers, Sanchez, Rivers, Vick, Pennington, Grossman, Cutler, Smith and Tebow.
Of the 122 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 2-7 during this period, five have won a playoff game (0.04 percent).
So, drafting a quarterback in the first isn't a sure thing—no draft pick is—but it is where most franchise quarterbacks have come from.
Which teams could be looking for their new franchise quarterback this April?