A Thought on QB Development

Dantés

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As I was thinking about the playoff field this year, and the QB's who lead these teams, a thought occurred to me-- certainly not an original one, but one I found striking nonetheless.

Here are the quarterbacks in the playoffs this year, and their draft position:
  1. Aaron Rodgers, 1.23
  2. Patrick Mahomes, 1.10
  3. Josh Allen, 1.7
  4. Tom Brady, 6.199
  5. Ryan Tannehill, 1.8
  6. Lamar Jackson, 1.32
  7. Russell Wilson, 3.75
  8. Philip Rivers, 1.4
  9. Drew Brees, 2.32
  10. Baker Mayfield, 1.1
  11. Ben Roethlisberger, 1.11
  12. Jared Goff, 1.1
  13. Taylor Heinicke, UDFA
  14. Mitchell Trubisky, 1.2
Additionally, here are all the other QB's taken in the top 5 in the past 10 seasons:
  • Joe Burrow (1st)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (5th)
  • Kyler Murray (1st)
  • Sam Darnold (3rd)
  • Carson Wentz (2nd)
  • Jameis Winston (1st)
  • Marcus Mariota (2nd)
  • Blake Bortles (3rd)
  • Andrew Luck (1st)
  • Robert Griffin III (2nd)
  • Cam Newton (1st)
And here are the other really good QB's who didn't make the playoffs:
  • Deshaun Watson: 1.12
  • Justin Herbert: 1.6
  • Matt Ryan: 1.3
  • Matthew Stafford: 1.1
  • Dak Prescott: 4.135
  • Kirk Cousins, 4.102
  • Derek Carr, 2.36
Consider finally the top guys in QB rating this season:
  • Rodgers was the 2nd QB taken and went in the 20's.
  • Watson was the 3rd QB taken and went 12th.
  • Mahomes was the 2nd QB taken and went 10th.
  • Allen was the 3rd QB taken and went 7th.
  • Tannehill was the 3rd QB taken and went 8th.
  • Brees was the 2nd QB taken and went 32nd.
  • Wilson the 6th QB taken and went 75th.
  • Cousins was the 8th QB taken and went 102nd.
  • Brady was the 7th QB taken and went 199th.
  • Carr was the 4th QB taken and went 36th.
  • Jackson was the 5th QB taken and went 32nd.
  • Herbert was the 3rd QB taken and went 6th.
Not a single one of them was the first QB taken in his class. Many of them were not the 2nd QB taken in their classes.

It seems to me that the league looks for the most finished products at the very top of the draft, rather than for traits that can be developed. Smart teams then capitalize by taking guys who are more talented, but less complete, and developing them. Bottom line-- I think the league looks at drafting QB's the wrong way.

Who are the guys that have surprised the most in recent years? Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Watson. What do those guys have in common? Fantastic talent.
 
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tynimiller

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EXCELLENT post. Often times folks get mad at my personal QB rankings because I find myself falling for the high ceiling high talent type guys over the "finished" or closer to finished type guys.
 

tynimiller

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It's also IMO a correlation of rarely does a QB taking VERY high walk into a great situation for success. One could argue that the ingredients for a successful QB drafted is do so when you're not in dire need and not a top ten pick most likely.
 

PikeBadger

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It's also IMO a correlation of rarely does a QB taking VERY high walk into a great situation for success. One could argue that the ingredients for a successful QB drafted is do so when you're not in dire need and not a top ten pick most likely.
Jordan Love. :whistling:
 

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Great post tynimiller, regarding where these guys go. It's not easy to be Joe Burrow and walk into the putrid mess in Cincinnati. Go to a top-15 team picked in the lower half of the draft, and get a year to acclimate to the NFL, and you have a much greater chance of success.
 

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Great post tynimiller, regarding where these guys go. It's not easy to be Joe Burrow and walk into the putrid mess in Cincinnati. Go to a top-15 team picked in the lower half of the draft, and get a year to acclimate to the NFL, and you have a much greater chance of success.

Destination is part of it-- supporting cast and coaching.

But I think that, at times, that's used to explain away the phenomenon, when it's far from the only thing going on.

Look at Burrow vs. Herbert, for instance. Both guys had coaching that was mediocre at best, poor offensive lines, some weapons in the passing game, and some talent in the backfield. Burrow performed admirably, but was not blowing the doors off the league. Herbert had one of the best seasons we have ever seen from a rookie QB.

Or look, for another example, at Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. Both teams have made tremendous investments in both the coaching and the personnel around their players. Both of them have great minds designing the offense, both have good offensive lines, and Mayfield has the edge in the support of his running game, while Allen has the edge in the quality of his receiving options. Mayfield, with all of that infrastructure around him, is basically performing at a league-average level. Allen was on the edge of the MVP discussion.

Or finally, consider Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson. I would say that in terms of help on the coaching staff, on the offensive line (prior to the Tunsil acquisition), and even in regards to pass catchers, the Bears did as much or more for Mitchell as the Texans did for Watson. Watson went later, but he did not go to a highly functional franchise. And yet he's probably the 2nd most valuable player in the entire NFL (age considered).

In short, while destination makes a real difference, I think this is as much or more about the NFL as a whole preferring floor over ceiling when it comes to the position. And in this day and age when any *good* quarterback is going to make 35+M on a second contract, those higher floor guys can't return value the way that the high ceiling guys do, when they hit.
 

Dantés

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Jordan Love. :whistling:

We will never know, but I wonder what effect Josh Allen's 2020 season would have had on Jordan Love's draft slot, had the timing worked out differently. I think we're going to see teams react by being more willing to target traits and trust their development. Love was not the most polished player in college, but he has just about every trait you could want.
 

Jerellh528

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I’m not seeing much of a correlation either way tbh. I think every team takes these young guys under consideration on an individual and team by team basis and it’s a little weird to claim that the nfl as a whole is looking at qb prospects wrong. Some are hits, some are misses, just like with every other position, with most successful guys coming out of the first round on average.
 

Dantés

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I’m not seeing much of a correlation either way tbh. I think every team takes these young guys under consideration on an individual and team by team basis and it’s a little weird to claim that the nfl as a whole is looking at qb prospects wrong. Some are hits, some are misses, just like with every other position, with most successful guys coming out of the first round on average.

You don't think it's a trend that none of the best QB's playing right now were the first guys taken in their draft class? You really have to go back to Andrew Luck to find the last time a team had a chance to pick the first QB and got it right.
 

tynimiller

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To be fair, this is why I feel the Atlanta Falcons want to set up their future exceptionally well this is the year they grab a QB.

Honestly, I don't care which QB it is they grab between Fields, Wilson, Lance or Task.

Lawrence will be gone but any of those 4 at their number 4 overall pick will be there.

They have the luxury of an above average QB that has seen immense success at times to take 2021, and let the rookie learn for a year or two.

I'll call it now, IF ATL takes a QB in the first, or even the 2nd at 36 - that QB has a VERY good chance of being one we look at in a few years as a successful pick by that team.

Another team or two I suspect same would play out for is if NE grabs a QB, 49ers, Steelers are few other teams that come to mind.
 

captainWIMM

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You don't think it's a trend that none of the best QB's playing right now were the first guys taken in their draft class? You really have to go back to Andrew Luck to find the last time a team had a chance to pick the first QB and got it right.

I believe it's pure coincidence. But especially I highly doubt that a random poster on an internet forum has figured out a better way to draft quarterback prospects than the entire personnel actually working in the NFL.
 

Dantés

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I believe it's pure coincidence. But especially I highly doubt that a random poster on an internet forum has figured out a better way to draft quarterback prospects than the entire personnel actually working in the NFL.

Ok, easy there Captain.

I'm pointing out a fact-- the best QB's in the league are almost never the guys taken at the very top of the class. That means that, consistently, teams misevaluate who deserves to go #1. And I'm suggesting a theory as to why that might be happening.

I'm not claiming to be a better QB evaluator than the entirety of the NFL, just like when you give your twice daily assessment that the Packers should have drafted a WR, I'm sure you're not trying to claim that a random poster on an internet forum has figured out a better way to draft than the architects of the best offense in football.
 

ARPackFan

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Destination is part of it-- supporting cast and coaching.

But I think that, at times, that's used to explain away the phenomenon, when it's far from the only thing going on.

Look at Burrow vs. Herbert, for instance. Both guys had coaching that was mediocre at best, poor offensive lines, some weapons in the passing game, and some talent in the backfield. Burrow performed admirably, but was not blowing the doors off the league. Herbert had one of the best seasons we have ever seen from a rookie QB.

Or look, for another example, at Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. Both teams have made tremendous investments in both the coaching and the personnel around their players. Both of them have great minds designing the offense, both have good offensive lines, and Mayfield has the edge in the support of his running game, while Allen has the edge in the quality of his receiving options. Mayfield, with all of that infrastructure around him, is basically performing at a league-average level. Allen was on the edge of the MVP discussion.

Or finally, consider Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson. I would say that in terms of help on the coaching staff, on the offensive line (prior to the Tunsil acquisition), and even in regards to pass catchers, the Bears did as much or more for Mitchell as the Texans did for Watson. Watson went later, but he did not go to a highly functional franchise. And yet he's probably the 2nd most valuable player in the entire NFL (age considered).

In short, while destination makes a real difference, I think this is as much or more about the NFL as a whole preferring floor over ceiling when it comes to the position. And in this day and age when any *good* quarterback is going to make 35+M on a second contract, those higher floor guys can't return value the way that the high ceiling guys do, when they hit.

I fundamentally agree with what you are saying but the flaw in your premise is that you are taking the #1 pick at that position against the field even if is just the the other 1st round QBs. The process of evaluating collage talent that is going to translate into the NFL is performed by people that in many instance buy into the same hype/emotions surrounding the player as the fan base. Trevor Lawrence is viewed as the upcoming #1 pick but is taking him the right move? If the Jaguars trade down to get more picks and instead draft Trey Lance (QB - N. Dakota State) in addition to another player or two in the first two rounds is that the smart play? The fan base and maybe even the owner would be upset and don't you think the people making this choice realize this? The upside of this move is that the team has increased their odds of finding a great player even if is not the QB. I agree that the evaluation process is flawed in that it includes both subjective (opinion) and objective (fact based) evidence and in many instance I think many GMs/Scouting Staffs make one to protect their career.


Having the #1 draft pick in most cases does not work out. Take a look at the list below of #1 picks since 1980 and tell me how many of them where one of the best at their position in the NFL.

https://www.theringer.com/2020/4/16/21222905/nfl-draft-20-years-number-1-draft-picks-joe-burrow

2020: Joe Burrow
2019: Kyler Murray
2018: Baker Mayfield
2017: Myles Garrett
2016: Jared Goff
2015: Jameis Winston
2014: Jadeveon Clowney
2013: Eric Fisher
2012: Andrew Luck
2011: Cam Newton
2010: Sam Bradford
2009: Matthew Stafford
2008: Jake Long
2007: JaMarcus Russell
2006: Mario Williams
2005: Alex Smith
2004: Eli Manning
2003: Carson Palmer
2002: David Carr
2001: Michael Vick
2000: Courtney Brown
1999: Tim Couch
1998: Peyton Manning
1997: Orlando Pace
1996: Keyshawn Johnson
1995: Ki-Jana Carter
1994: Dan Wilkinson
1993: Drew Bledsoe
1992: Steve Emtman
1991: Russell Maryland
1990: Jeff George
1989: Troy Aikman
1988: Aundray Bruce
1987: Vinny Testaverde
1986: Bo Jackson
1985: Bruce Smith
1984: Irving Fryar
1983: John Elway
1982: Kenneth Sims
1981: George Rogers
1980: Billy Sims
 

Dantés

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I fundamentally agree with what you are saying but the flaw in your premise is that you are taking the #1 pick at that position against the field even if is just the the other 1st round QBs. The process of evaluating collage talent that is going to translate into the NFL is performed by people that in many instance buy into the same hype/emotions surrounding the player as the fan base. Trevor Lawrence is viewed as the upcoming #1 pick but is taking him the right move? If the Jaguars trade down to get more picks and instead draft Trey Lance (QB - N. Dakota State) in addition to another player or two in the first two rounds is that the smart play? The fan base and maybe even the owner would be upset and don't you think the people making this choice realize this? The upside of this move is that the team has increased their odds of finding a great player even if is not the QB. I agree that the evaluation process is flawed in that it includes both subjective (opinion) and objective (fact based) evidence and in many instance I think many GMs/Scouting Staffs make one to protect their career.


Having the #1 draft pick in most cases does not work out. Take a look at the list below of #1 picks since 1980 and tell me how many of them where one of the best at their position in the NFL.

https://www.theringer.com/2020/4/16/21222905/nfl-draft-20-years-number-1-draft-picks-joe-burrow

2020: Joe Burrow
2019: Kyler Murray
2018: Baker Mayfield
2017: Myles Garrett
2016: Jared Goff
2015: Jameis Winston
2014: Jadeveon Clowney
2013: Eric Fisher
2012: Andrew Luck
2011: Cam Newton
2010: Sam Bradford
2009: Matthew Stafford
2008: Jake Long
2007: JaMarcus Russell
2006: Mario Williams
2005: Alex Smith
2004: Eli Manning
2003: Carson Palmer
2002: David Carr
2001: Michael Vick
2000: Courtney Brown
1999: Tim Couch
1998: Peyton Manning
1997: Orlando Pace
1996: Keyshawn Johnson
1995: Ki-Jana Carter
1994: Dan Wilkinson
1993: Drew Bledsoe
1992: Steve Emtman
1991: Russell Maryland
1990: Jeff George
1989: Troy Aikman
1988: Aundray Bruce
1987: Vinny Testaverde
1986: Bo Jackson
1985: Bruce Smith
1984: Irving Fryar
1983: John Elway
1982: Kenneth Sims
1981: George Rogers
1980: Billy Sims

That's a really good point.

I still think that worse organizations are looking for finished products, and better organizations are targeting traits and developing them. But odds are part of it too.
 

ARPackFan

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That's a really good point.

I still think that worse organizations are looking for finished products, and better organizations are targeting traits and developing them. But odds are part of it too.

Some organizations are just dysfunctional and/or have a strong-willed owner that thinks they know more about football than the staff they hired. I've always wondered if players coming out of collages that have great football programs like Alabama are at the peak of their abilities because of great coaching. Can they be made better or is that the best they will ever be against what is often inferior talent. How will they do when every player is bigger faster & stronger?
 

PackAttack12

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Without having researched it, I think a lot of this has to do with the 1st QB taken off the board going to a pretty crappy organization with very little structure. As a QB, you obviously have to have talent, but the support level around that QB I would argue is of equal importance.

As a quick example, Baker nearly looked like a complete bust in Cleveland. But they finally got a solid infrastructure around him with a solid head coach, running game, offensive line, etc.

Think about Mahomes. He got to sit behind Alex Smith for a year and gets to learn from Andy Reid, has an elite support system around him, great players, etc. Imagine if he would've went to say, the Jets.

It's interesting to think about what the perception of him would be at this point if that were to have happened.
 

Dantés

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Some organizations are just dysfunctional and/or have a strong-willed owner that thinks they know more about football than the staff they hired. I've always wondered if players coming out of collages that have great football programs like Alabama are at the peak of their abilities because of great coaching. Can they be made better or is that the best they will ever be against what is often inferior talent. How will they do when every player is bigger faster & stronger?

There is also a philosophy of drafting that massively underrates traits and potential.

PFF most notably espouses this view. They are more about drafting who the player is than who the player can be to a greater degree than just about anyone else. They treat “upside” as a dirty word.
 

easyk83

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You don't think it's a trend that none of the best QB's playing right now were the first guys taken in their draft class? You really have to go back to Andrew Luck to find the last time a team had a chance to pick the first QB and got it right.

Chicken or egg, is it the evaluation that tends to be lacking or is it a matter of otherwise great prospects getting beat up playing for hopeless franchises? Teams that pick 1st are typically deficient throughout their depth chart.

Edit: really should have read yhe rest of this thread.
 

Dantés

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Chicken or egg, is it the evaluation that tends to be lacking or is it a matter of otherwise great prospects getting beat up playing for hopeless franchises? Teams that pick 1st are typically deficient throughout their depth chart.

Edit: really should have read yhe rest of this thread.

That’s why I provided all those examples where that is not the case.
 

captainWIMM

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I'm pointing out a fact-- the best QB's in the league are almost never the guys taken at the very top of the class. That means that, consistently, teams misevaluate who deserves to go #1. And I'm suggesting a theory as to why that might be happening.

In my opinion the main reason is that the gap in talent between the top quarterback prospects is pretty marginal in most drafts.

I still think that worse organizations are looking for finished products, and better organizations are targeting traits and developing them.

There are a ton of college quarterbacks having favorable traits to develop into decent NFL QBs who never make it for various reasons as well.
 

Dantés

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In my opinion the main reason is that the gap in talent between the top quarterback prospects is pretty marginal in most drafts.

There are a ton of college quarterbacks having favorable traits to develop into decent NFL QBs who never make it for various reasons as well.

That depends on how you define "talent."

Maybe the overall scouting grades are typically fairly close. But there is a type of QB that has been paying off big lately-- the guys with exceptional physical skills who need a lot of refinement (Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Jackson)-- and they are very different from the guys who have come out with more refinement, but less arm talent and athleticism (Burrow, Tagovailoa, Mayfield, Goff).
 

Dantés

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Here's another angle to this. In the last 15 years, QB salaries have been on the rise, not just in terms of total value, but also in terms of percentage of the cap.

For example, in 2009, Philip Rivers signed a deal that averaged 15.3M, and the cap was 123M. So he accounted for just over 12% of the cap.

In 2019, Goff signed a deal that averaged 33.5M, and the cap was 188M. So he counted for almost 18% of the cap in that first season.

As QB's on second contracts account for more and more of the cap, you really need them to be special if they're going to return value. A guy on Jared Goff or Kirk Cousin's level eating 18% of your total cap, even when they're playing well, are hard to win championships with.

The guys with elite traits offer the ceiling of being special, and the special guys are the ones who give you the best return on investment.
 
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tynimiller

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Here's another angle to this. In the last 15 years, QB salaries have been on the rise, not just in terms of total value, but also in terms of percentage of the cap.

For example, in 2009, Philip Rivers signed a deal that averaged 15.3M, and the cap was 123M. So he accounted for just over 12% of the cap.

In 2019, Goff signed a deal that averaged 33.5M, and the cap was 188M. So he counted for almost 18% of the cap in that first season.

As QB's on second contracts account for more and more of the cap, you really need them to be special if they're going to return value. A guy on Jared Goff or Kirk Cousin's level eating 18% of your total cap, even when they're playing well, are hard to win championships with.

The guys with elite traits offer the ceiling of being special, and the special guys are the ones who give you the best return on investment.

Which the awesome thing is if we stash Love while Rodgers continues dominating - his second contract is gonna get cheaper with every year he isn't putting up stats :D
 

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