The Quest for a Franchise Quarterback

Ken SheehanAnalyst IApril 10, 2008

With the NFL draft coming up, there’s a lot of talk about first round quarterbacks, just like there is every year.

With several teams in need of a quality quarterback, there is a lot of talk about who’s going to go in the first round, but the question is are these first rounders worth the risk?

Ask any team in need and they’ll almost certainly reply with a “yes.”

When you are a team in need some of these young quarterbacks, you look to a young quarterback to be the answer to your problems. Why else would a quarterback been taken with the first overall eight out of the last 10 drafts?

These first quarterbacks are taken high in the draft and showered with countless millions because organizations are convinced that they’ll be the answer to their team’s success.

With a young gun to take over under center, a franchise has the looks of nowhere to go but up. But we find that’s not always true.

Since the year 2000, teams have drafted 21 quarterbacks everywhere from the first to  25th overall pick.  

Of the quarter backs taken between 2000 and 2004, it’s too soon to tell on the younger guys, but I’d say at least nine of them have been relative flops.

In 2003 alone, four quarterbacks were taken in the first round and only one has gone on to have any success.

Rex Grossman and Kyle Boller have lost their starting jobs to other players. Byron Leftwich isn’t even with the team that drafted him anymore, and hasn’t seemed to have had any more success with Atlanta than he did with Jacksonville.

Prior to between 2000 and 2002, we saw names like David Carr, Patrick Ramsey, and Joey Harrington get called in the first round and not one of them is playing for the team that drafted them.

Even Chad Pennington and Michael Vick have never quite been what teams expected of them.

So why take that risk? Why draft so high if they don’t seem to pan out?

Well, you do it because of players like Carson Palmer, who was taken first overall in 2003. Or the first pick in 2004, Eli Manning, who just won a Super Bowl.

You take that risk because the league today is very quarterback driven.

You look at the best teams in the league and their offense is lead by players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Even teams like the Jaguars who have a run-heavy system struggled against the division rival Colts until David Garrard blossomed into their starter.

Those teams without quality quarterbacks never seemed to take off and after their one Super Bowl, the Ravens have struggled to play at that level again.

When he played early in his career, Chad Pennington made the Jets a very dangerous team. When he was hurt, they could never seem to get off the ground.

The quest for the franchise quarterback will always lead teams to risk that high pick and big money on a first round guy.

Even if he struggles early on, the team can take comfort in the fact that every quarterback has his adjustment time. And with the way college football is run today with the pro style offense being used more and more, these players are better able to come into the league than ever before.

When you combine their talent with the spotlight they’ve been under in big programs and their comfort throwing the ball at more complicated defenses, it makes them more polished and pro ready.

So regardless of success or failure, there will always be the big money picks in the NFL Draft.