NFL Draft first round quarterbacks versus the rest of the draft

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield /

The biggest question that most fans have is whether or not a quarterback should be drafted in round one or if a suitable option can be found in later rounds. Can those mid-round quarterbacks lead a franchise?

Everyone believes that it is easy and far cheaper to draft a quarterback in round four, five, or six. That is after all where the Patriots found Tom Brady. The fact is that most quarterbacks do not find that kind of success or even half of that success in the NFL.

Since 2001, 47 quarterbacks have drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. 42 quarterbacks have been taken in that same timeframe in rounds two and three. Finally 122 quarterbacks have been drafted in rounds four through seven. That is a lot of quarterbacks to fill the rosters of 32 teams. Each hoping they find a franchise gem in the process.

So what is the value of a first round pick versus the rest of the draft? For starters there is more failure with first round selections given the lower amount of drafted players compared to the 122 through 4-7. If we are speaking purely player per volume.

In the first rounds since 2001, only 19 quarterbacks are still starting in the NFL. Carson Palmer retired this year and Patrick Mahomes will get his first season of starting duty with Kansas City. This 19 includes Ryan Tannehill.

Of those 19 quarterbacks only 15 are considered franchise quarterbacks or franchise potential. Those 15 include Mahomes who is an unknown and does not include Tannehill given the fact he has not proven enough yet. It also includes Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Cam Newton, and Aaron Rodgers who are the only legit franchise quarterbacks in the NFL taken in round one currently active. Players like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are still early questions but look solid.

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Those numbers drop considerably when you move to the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are the only two quarterbacks since 2001 who are franchise QB’s. The 49’ers are hoping that Jimmy Garropollo will be a franchise quarterback but that is still early to tell.  The same can be said about Derek Carr as well. Tremendous upside but the jury is still out for now.

Players like Nick Foles who just won a Super Bowl, Mike Glennon who will be a free agent for the second year in a row, and Andy Dalton are good QB’s but are they franchise players? Dalton looked like he was heading down that road but he hasn’t taken the next step.

The numbers drop even further when you look at rounds four through seven. Three quarterbacks stand out as mentions. Kirk Cousins taken in the 4th round, Dak Prescott taken in round four, and Tyrod Taylor taken in round six. Taylor is expected to be replaced this year or next.

Miami’s chances of finding a franchise type quarterback will drop outside of round one. In fact it will drop outside of the top 15. Since 2001, only two first round quarterbacks drafted outside of the top 11 have made a lasting impact on the NFL. Joe Flacco at 18 and Aaron Rodgers at 24. Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger were both drafted in the 11th spot.

If the Dolphins are planning to move on from Tannehill in the next year or two, or, if they are looking to find a quarterback ready to play sooner rather than later in the event of injury or poor play, then the top of the first round is the Dolphins best shot to find that player. Mid-rounds are good to find back-ups. Career back-ups unless you get really lucky.