The importance of choosing the perfect first-round quarterback is overrated.
All of this talk about Mac Jones vs. Justin Fields vs. Trey Lance could all be much ado about nothing (which would drive my colleague Jon Helmkamp up a tree if he heard me say it.).
This stat from ESPN’s Get Up says it all.
Since 2010, Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback drafted in the first round that has both started and won a Super Bowl. Mahomes won Super Bowl LIV with the Chiefs in 2020.
That harsh reality makes you reevaluate what all of this hoopla around the quarterback position is really for. The QB is a very important part of the team’s success but does that mean you have to take a risk on one in the top ten if you don’t think they are it? Or give up a chance to create talent depth with three to four picks in later rounds just to get a QB in the 1st round?
I don’t think so.
While the quarterback can make everything look better on the field, they are nothing without talent surrounding them. We saw that in this past Super Bowl with Mahomes running for his life because of a deficient offensive line. We saw Carson Wentz turn from an MVP candidate to a scrub when the Eagles lost their talent. Same thing with Jared Goff in LA.
The fact of the matter is that we’ve seen very successful teams that have won Super Bowls be led by first-round picks who weren’t quarterbacks. We have also seen teams have success with guys behind center that weren’t drafted in the first 32 picks.
Does anyone remember Denver’s Von Miller winning MVP of Super Bowl 50 as a defensive player or maybe Seattle’s Malcolm Smith in Super Bowl XLVIII?
Russell Wilson has been to two Super Bowls and won one as the third selection in the 2012 draft. Fellow 2012 third-round pick Nick Foles beat the greatest quarterback of all-time in Super Bowl LII. The common denominator with both of those teams is that they were stacked outside of the QB position. The Legion of Boom was dominant in both Super Bowl trips, and the Eagles were indisputably the most talented team from top to bottom during the 2017 season.
Even if you look before 2010, the New England Patriots were winning pretty consistently with a sixth-round draft pick whom you may have heard of.
It might be time for teams to start focusing on building depth through the draft instead of grabbing a quarterback as a band-aid to cover up the team’s real problems.
According to ESPN’s draft pick evaluations, teams have traded up to get a first-round QB 25 times and the analytics have proven that the team that has traded up overpaid for the quarterback all 25 times. Just think about where those teams would be if they would have used those second and third-round picks they gave up to pick good defensive players or some more solid linemen. Their team might be way more stable for when a QB falls into their lap later.
The fascination with first-round QBs has become unhealthy for so many NFL teams. It might be time to abandon the “franchise savior” plan and start actually putting a football team together.