More On Franchise Quarterbacks

To set what a franchise quarterback is or is not, I'm going to a third party, John Clayton.

In ranking the league's starting quarterbacks, I have three categories. The first is the Elite level, which includes quarterbacks who can carry teams into the playoffs. An elite quarterback is one who can complete better than 60 percent of his passes, has the potential to throw for 4,000 yards and has fourth-quarter comeback ability. I am criticized for putting Baltimore's Joe Flacco in this category with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but he absolutely belongs. In two seasons, Flacco has the numbers (6,584 passing yards, 61 percent completion percentage) and three road playoff victories to back up my ranking. You'll probably be more interested in who I don't have in this group.

The next category is what I call the Chad Pennington Division. Pennington, a former starter who's now a backup with the Dolphins, doesn't have the strongest arm but he once was good enough to take a team to the playoffs with a good surrounding cast or a favorable schedule. The quarterbacks who fit this mold include Denver's Kyle Orton, who I think has a very small chance even now to end up in the elite group.

The third category I call the Hit-Or-Miss Division. It is filled with young QBs -- hello, Mark Sanchez and Kevin Kolb -- who easily could climb my ladder or veterans who have reached their ceiling (Jake Delhomme) and have no chance of moving up.

For clarity, elites are in bold, Pennington's are in italics.  I'm taking liberty and adding Michael Vick to the group, since Clayton wrote the article in September of 2010, before Vick's amazing season.  I also downgraded Jason Campbell and Alex Smith, and upgraded Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Kolb, Sam Bradford, and Josh Freeman.  I downgraded McNabb and Palmer.

Buffalo: Fitzpatrick, 7th Round

New England: Brady, 6th Round
Miami: Henne, 2nd Round
NYJ: Sanchez, 1st

Pitt: Roethlisberger, 1st
Cle: McCoy, 3rd
Bal: Flacco, 1st
Cin: Palmer, 1st

Ind: Manning, 1st
Jax: Garrard, 4th
Hou: Schaub, 3rd
Tenn: Either Young or Collins, 1st

Den: Tebow, 1st and Orton, 5th
Oak: Campbell, 1st
SD: Rivers, 1st
KC: Cassel, 7th

Phil: Vick, 1st, Kolb, 2nd
NYG: Manning, 1st
Wash: McNabb, 1st
Dal: Romo, Undrafted

GB: Rodgers, 1st
Det: Stafford, 1st
Min: Jackson, 2nd
Chi: Cutler, 1st

Atl: Ryan, 1st
NO: Brees, 2nd
Car: Clausen, 2nd
TB: Freeman, 1st

SF: Smith, 1st
STL: Bradford, 1st
ARI: no real starter (Anderson, Hall, Skelton, all later rounds)
SEA: Hasselbeck, 5th

So what does this all say?

Of the franchise QB's in the league (12), eight were first round picks.  Or 67%

Of the guys in the second group (14), eight were taken in the first round.  Or 57%

Of the remaining 11 (I'm counting all three of Arizona's three-headed quarterback hot mess), four were first rounders.  Kerry Collins isn't getting any better, Alex Smith would need Jim Harbaugh to summon all his quarterbacking knowledge to make him even OK, and Tebow and Stafford are still developing.

Conclusion: If you're looking for a franchise quarterback, you may have to historically draft two to get one (46% from WGR's study).  But of the league's franchise quarterback's two thirds were first rounders. 

A team can bang it's head against the wall with the likes of Kely Holcolm's and Trent Edwards, hoping to find a diamond in the rough.  Chances are 20% they hit in the 2nd round, and 13% in the 3rd and 4th.  And even if they hit, only one third of the elite quarterbacks came outside the first round.  So even if you hit, you may not hit on a first rounder.

My point all along: it's far better statistically, in ever study that's come down the pipe, to try to acquire the franchise's future starting quarterback inside the first 32 picks.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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