In light of the QB article Brian wrote today (good one, too), I thought I would take a look to see if I could find some recent trends on how successful teams acquired their quarterbacks. Please note that this is not how the quarterback originally got into the league, but how the team he is currently with got the quarterback. The following is my research, analysis, and conclusions. Please feel free to let me know if I have something wrong, and please give your take on the subject!
Top 16 (top half of starting signal callers) QBs by QB Rating- 2009 season:
1.) Drew Brees- 109.6 – Free agent signing, 2006
2.) Brett Favre- 107.2 – Free agent signing, 2009
3.) Philip Rivers- 104.4 – Drafted by Chargers, first round, 2004
4.) Aaron Rodgers- 103.2 - Drafted by Packers, first round 2005
5.) Ben Roethlisberger- 100.5 – Drafted by Steelers, first round 2004
6.) Peyton Manning- 99.9 - Drafted by Colts, first round 1998
8.) Tony Romo- 97.6 - Undrafted, signed with Dallas 2003
9.) Tom Brady- 96.2 - Drafted by Patriots, sixth round 2000
10.) Kurt Warner- 93.2 - Free agent signing, 2005
11.) Eli Manning- 93.1 – Drafted by Giants, first round 2004
12.) Donovan McNabb- 92.9 - Drafted by Eagles, first round 1999
13.) Joe Flacco- 88.9 - Drafted by Ravens, first round 2008
14.) Kyle Orton- 86.8 – Traded to Broncos, 2009
16.) Carson Palmer- 83.6 - Drafted by Bengals, first round 2003
Number of Top 16 QBs who:
Were drafted by their current team: 10 of 16 (63%)
Were drafted in the 1st round by their current team: 9 of 16 (56%)
Were acquired by current team in free agency, after QB played for another NFL team: 3 of 16 (19%)
Were acquired by current team via trade: 2 of 16 (12%)
Acquired their QB as an undrafted free agent: 1 of 16 (6%)
Now let’s see who quarterbacked the teams that made the 2009 playoffs:
Cincinnati Bengals- Carson Palmer, Drafted by Bengals, first round 2003
Baltimore Ravens- Joe Flacco, Drafted by Ravens, first round 2008
New England Patriots- Tom Brady, Drafted by Patriots, sixth round 2000
Indianapolis Colts- Peyton Manning, Drafted by Colts, first round 1998
San Diego Chargers- Philip Rivers, Drafted by Chargers, first round 2004
Philadelphia Eagles- Donovan McNabb, Drafted by Eagles, first round 1999
Dallas Cowboys- Tony Romo, Undrafted, signed with Dallas 2003
Green Bay Packers- Aaron Rodgers, Drafted by Packers, first round 2005
Arizona Cardinals- Kurt Warner, Free agent signing, 2005
Minnesota Vikings- Brett Favre, Free agent signing, 2009
New Orleans Saints- Drew Brees, Free agent signing, 2006
Number of playoff teams who:
Drafted their QB: 8 of 12 (67%)
Drafted their QB in 1st round: 7 of 12 (58%)
Acquired their QB in free agency, after QB played with another NFL team: 3 of 12 (25%)
Acquired their QB as an undrafted free agent: 1 of 12 (8%)
And finally, let’s take a look at the 12 Super Bowl winners and how their QBs were acquired:
1998- Denver Broncos- John Elway- Drafted by Baltimore but traded to Denver without playing a game for Baltimore, for this analysis I will count him as being drafted by Denver, first round 1983
1999- Denver Broncos- John Elway- Drafted by Baltimore but traded to Denver without playing a game for Baltimore, for this analysis I will count him as being drafted by Denver, first round 1983
2000- St Louis Rams- Kurt Warner, free agent signing, 1998
2001- Baltimore Ravens- Trent Dilfer, free agent signing, 2000
2002- New England Patriots- Tom Brady, drafted by Patriots, sixth round 2000
2004- New England Patriots- Tom Brady, drafted by Patriots, sixth round 2000
2005- New England Patriots- Tom Brady, drafted by Patriots, sixth round 2000
2006- Pittsburgh Steelers- Ben Roethlisberger- 100.5 – Drafted by Steelers, first round 2004
2007- Indianapolis Colts- Peyton Manning, Drafted by Colts, first round 1998
2008- New York Giants- Eli Manning- 93.1 – Drafted by Giants, first round 2004
2009- Pittsburgh Steelers- Ben Roethlisberger- 100.5 – Drafted by Steelers, first round 2004
Number of Super Bowl winning QBs (past 12 years) who:
Were drafted by their current team: 9 of 12 (75%)
Were drafted in the 1st round by their current team: 5 of 12 (42%)
Were acquired by current team in free agency, after QB played for another NFL team: 2 of 12 (17%)
Were acquired by current team via trade: 1 of 12 (8%)
The first thing that jumps out at me is the number of first round QB’s who are leading the teams they were drafted by to success. 58% of teams in this years playoffs were led by a first round QB they drafted. 42% of Super Bowl winning teams the past 12 years were led by QB’s they drafted in the first round, and if you put Tom Brady in this metric this number jumps to 75%! Lastly, first round QB’s drafted by their team that finished in the top 16 in QB Rating this year made up 56% of the total.
Now let’s breakdown successful teams that did not get their QB via the draft (or undrafted free agent QB that didn’t play for anyone else prior, I'm looking at you Tony Romo!). The list of 3 QBs who got their teams to the playoffs this year and were signed via free agency includes Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Kurt Warner. Retired after a great career, the Vikings had to get Favre out of retirement, and not every team had a realistic shot at doing so, since he wanted to go to a “contender”. Drew Brees had two very good years in San Diego, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2005, but hurt his shoulder badly a game before free agency, and thus at the time it was far from a sure thing to think he would come back completely from this injury. Kurt Warner also had a wildly successful few years with St Louis, but in 2002 he broke his hand, and when 2003 started terribly for him, he was released. He went to the Giants and played terribly there as well, so he was let go and the Cardinals took a chance that the once great Warner could come back to life. All three of these guys had some level of success prior to hitting free agency (in the cases of Favre and Warner great success), thus they had proven they could be good/great in the NFL prior to signing with their new teams.
Finally, of the two QBs who were traded to their current team and finished in the top 16 in QB rating this year, you can make an argument that Kyle Orton just snuck on the list, and really shouldn’t be considered “Denver’s future”. Matt Schaub, on the other hand, had potential with Atlanta, and still does with the Texans, although they need to get over the hump and make the playoffs still. Neither of these guys are locks to take their teams to the next level.
To me, when deciding how to go about getting that QB to lead the Bills, most options include taking one in the draft in the first round, taking one in the draft after the first round, signing a free agent who has proven that he can have success playing in this league with other teams, and signing a free agent who another team has more or less “given up” on. Here is how I rate the choices, from best to worst option:
1.) Draft a QB in first round. While I know the rate of hitting on a first round QB is not always the best, and if you take one and they suck, it can set your franchise back not only in “wasted years” trying to teach the new guy but also financially, I still believe it is the best option of leading your team to the playoffs. The teams in the 2009 playoffs prove to me that good teams are most often lead by good quarterbacks. And most of these good quarterbacks are chosen within the first 32 picks of the draft. It is risky, but I believe it is well worth the risk. (Unless of course, there is a pre-draft consensus that the best QBs are named Manning, Rivers and Big Ben, so right after they are taken your team trades up to get…..JP Losman? For the record, I don’t consider that as the Bills gambling on a first round QB, since Losman wasn’t projected to even go first round, IMO). My early leaders in this category for 2010: Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, possibly Tim Tebow….possibly.
2.) Sign a free agent who has proven that he can have success playing in this league for another team. It is a very rare occurrence that a team can acquire a QB via free agency that will lead them to success. Drew Brees is this exception because to sign him you had to give him big bucks and most importantly take a chance that he could come back from a big injury. Needless to say, New Orleans gambled and hit the jackpot. Favre and Warner were proven winners who found teams willing to gamble that they still had some left in the tank. Sometimes these guys are out there, but not often. My early leaders in this category for 2010: Donovan McNabb if he becomes available…..and that may be it. You can argue that Chad Pennington, Mike Vick and Marc Bulger (if released) can be placed in this group…..but I don’t think I would agree with you.
And those, to me, are the only two options worth exploring, since I don’t think the remaining options really work out enough times, and here is why:
Drafting a QB after the first round. The only guy I see anywhere on these lists that won with the team that drafted him and was not a first rounder? You guessed it….Frank Stallone….err….Mr. Wonderful, Tom Brady. To me, this screams anomaly. Oh yes, and Tony Romo, as he was an undrafted free agent. Still looks like it isn’t worth spending the pick, to me at least.
Signing a free agent who another team has more of less “given up on”. Again, I just don’t see where these guys are really represented in the top 16 of QB rating leaders (Kyle Orton looks like the only example), in the playoff teams (none here) and in the Super Bowl winners (Kurt Warner doesn’t really fit here, since he wasn’t with any other teams very long before St. Louis. Trent Dilfer is the poster child for this label, though, but you can argue that Baltimore won because of that insane defense, and despite Dilfer, and that is what I will in fact argue, since it helps my point! Brad Johnson rounds out this group, winning with Tampa by not making mistakes and getting 21 of their 48 points scored by their defense in that game. That always helps!) My early leaders in this category for 2010: Tavaris Jackson, Jason Campbell, Tyler Thigpen and Billy Volek, Troy Smith, Bruce Gradkowski and in my opinion, Chad Pennington, Mike Vick and Marc Bulger.
So start scouting some first round quarterbacks!