QB or not QB, that is always the question in the NFL draft
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. At least that’s the refrain that gets recited in any discussion about long-term success in the league.
The NFL is also a copycat league in which any innovation is certain to be replicated if not outright Xeroxed.
So why aren’t more teams looking to copy the kind of success that Minnesota and Philadelphia found with quarterbacks found on the NFL’s discard pile?
Because no sooner had Nick Foles gotten to proclaim that he was headed to Disneyland as a Super Bowl champion than the entire league shifted its focus to which quarterbacks would be chosen where in the first round of the NFL Draft.
You’re going to be hearing a lot about Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield over the next few months. Three of those quarterbacks could be among the first five players chosen in the NFL Draft come May. All four could be gone in the first 10 picks by some estimations.
And when those quarterbacks do get chosen, there will be plenty of people nodding along and saying that you have to have a quarterback in this league.
That’s true. You do have to have a quarterback, but there are a number of different ways to find that quarterback. New England found the greatest quarterback of all-time in the sixth round of the 2000 draft when the Patriots picked Tom Brady. The Seahawks found Russell Wilson in the third round in 2012.
Or you can find a guy who has been around the block a few times. Of the 12 quarterbacks who started a playoff game in the NFL this season, five were playing for at least their second team.
Keenum is an undrafted quarterback on his third team and playing for $2 million. Foles has played for three franchises in this league and is on his second tour with the Eagles.
And yet the desire to find the “Franchise Quarterback” will consistently push teams toward drafting a quarterback early as opposed to finding a low-cost, low-risk veteran who might fit the system.
It’s the Dave Kingman approach to finding quarterbacks. The desire for the home run leads you to overlook an ungodly number of strikeouts. The difference here is that in baseball, a strikeout costs you just one of 27 outs in a given game. In the NFL, striking out on a quarterback who’s drafted in the first round will cost you millions and (more importantly) years in development and planning.
And yet multiple teams will talk themselves into taking that gamble this year instead of copying the low-risk approach that proved so successful for the Eagles and the Vikings.