With the demand for a franchise quarterback in full loom, teams are willing to spend nearly a hundred million dollars on a 22-year old with zero NFL experience. Is the money really worth the risk? I would argue that it just might be.
Some NFL scouts, head coaches and general managers have expressed philosophies for and against drafting high for a quarterback.
The argument for drafting high could be made by Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. He makes a good point in that "[i]f you don't have a quarterback, you need to be so strong at every other position."
For the argument against, look no further than the Carolina Panthers. They drafted three quarterbacks in 2010, and will most likely end up drafting at least one more in 2011.
I doubt anyone would disagree with coach Schwartz, but does this mean you need to spend a ton of money and your first-round draft pick on a player? Let us take a quick look through the recent past for any tendencies in hopes the picture might become clearer.
I compiled a list of every quarterback taken through the Draft since 2000. Each quarterback was deemed one of three options: a) a bust; b) a non-bust, or worth the selection; or c) "to be determined".
Players were deemed a "bust" by general consensus. If comparing a player taken in Round 1 versus a player taken in Round 5, the player taken in the latter round would have considerably lower expectations. Therefore, the latter player would not need to perform as well to be considered a "non-bust", but perform well nonetheless to avoid the shameful tag.
The overall results are not that surprising. Most quarterbacks drafted do not make the grade and are deemed as busts. This is the case with most draftees, regardless of position, seeing as an incoming 250+ players cannot all make NFL rosters.
But the results round-by-round are somewhat surprising. Players that are taken in the first round who fail to perform at a high level are scrutinized heavily. Yet the percentage of quarterbacks taken in Round 1 favors those that retain their job. Every other round features a percentage in favor of a quarterback becoming a bust.
For example, lets take a closer look at quarterbacks taken in Round 1. Since 2000, there have been a total of 27 selections exhausted on quarterbacks. Of that number, 13 are considered non-busts, performing well and winning games. Of the remaining 14 players, 10 can be considered busts. Sure, most of those 10 players have seen their fair share of snaps, but what have they brought to their respective franchises? They certainly are not considered good investments.
Based on the past two years, it is looking like at least three of those four will also be tagged as non-busts, or good investments. That will run the percentage of a quarterback taken in Round 1 becoming a bust down to (11 busts)/(27 quarterbacks) = 41%. The next closest percentage by round is the fourth, though the sample size is rather small.
It may appear that drafting a quarterback with a first-round pick cannot possibly be the best answer to the question of finding a franchise player, but numbers do not lie. If you are to find the answer through the Draft, it would behoove you to do so in Round 1.