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Tennessee Titans: The Case Against A Mid Round Quarterback

Don't count on getting your franchise quarterback after the first round.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

There is beginning to be an idea that you can wait on drafting a quarterback.  Sure, we all know the recent success of 3rd round pick Russell Wilson and other non first round QB's such as Colin Kaepernick.  And we all know Tom Brady was a sixth round gem and Tony Romo wasn't even drafted.

Combine this with the relatively high bust rate of first round picks.  So much invested at a premium spot in the draft and for what, 3-5 years of purgatory?  The recent busts of Brandon Weeden, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder surely leave a bad taste in the mouth QB desperate franchises like the Titans.

So why not wait a bit?  Don't invest so much.  Don't risk such a premium pick.  Get a guy that you can develop a little later in the draft.

It sounds great, but it's a real long shot in reality.

Here's a list of the starters of each NFL team at the end of 2014 from Wikipedia:

Qb List

Now, there's a couple of adjustments that need to be made.  Give the Cardinals back Carson Palmer (a first round pick).  You also have to put Nick Foles (a 3rd rounder) and Sam Bradford (a 1st rounder) back on the list as they should be starters heading into 2015.  For now you can swap Charlie Whitehurst for Mettenberger as well, though it won't change the point.

The nice point of this list is that you can see which pick overall the QB was taken with in the draft.  Notice anything?  Other than the guys mentioned in the first paragraph, all your franchise quarterbacks were taken in the first round.

Here's some more lists for you.

These are the 2nd round and later QB's from the last five drafts from Pro Football Reference. I'll spare you posting the next 5 years but it only gets worse.  Out of the last 10 years there have been a total of 96 quarterbacks taken outside of the first round.  The only notable names in the 5 years you can't see are Matt Cassel (7th round), Ryan Fitzpatrick (7th) and Kyle Orton (4th).

So if you count Brady, Wilson, Kaepernick, Foles, Romo, and even Dalton, (and people would argue about 3 of those)  That's 5 of the 20ish "franchise" quarterbacks in the league that came from non 1st round picks.  But those 5 came from 96 attempts.  That's a pretty darn low hit rate.

On the flip side here's a list of first round QB's over the last 10 drafts. 27 players in total.  Everyone will argue where you draw the line, but I count at least 10 franchise QB's or quarterbacks that you can win with.  And that's not counting the new guys like Bortles or Bridgwater and leaving out RGIII and Sanchez as well.  If 3 of those guys pan out you're up to 13/27, almost a 50% hit rate.

Bottom Line

I wouldn't be against taking a later round pick and hopefully developing them into a career backup like Charlie Whitehurst, but I wouldn't bank on lucking out on the next Russell Wilson.  As much as running backs are beginning to be held off and found to be productive in the later rounds, the case doesn't look the same for QB's. In the past 10 years you have somewhere between a 37%-50% chance of landing a long term QB in the first round vs. a 5% chance for the rest of the draft.

Sooooo......this means the Titans should draft Marcus Mariota....right?