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The true value of Trent Edwards, third round quarterback

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QB Edwards is great value for Bills (Associated Press)

Disclaimer: this post is not designed to be a tool to help football fans, specifically football fans, read the future, specifically the future of quarterback Trent Edwards. The former third-round pick out of Stanford has surprised in his first two years in the league, and his surprise continues to be a pleasant one despite the fact that Edwards helped commandeer one of the worst collapses in Buffalo Bills team history as its starting quarterback in 2008.

I'm a numbers guy. I like taking numbers and stacking them up against history to determine exactly where we're at at a given position. In racking my brain, I came to conclusion that Trent Edwards was the best third-round quarterback selected in the past decade. Numbers back that up. In fact, when comparing Edwards to first-round quarterbacks over the same decade, it becomes apparent that the Bills got tremendous value when they selected Edwards #92 overall.

First thing's first: let's compare Edwards to all quarterbacks drafted in the third round over the past decade (a relatively small number, to be sure). Edwards is the only third-round quarterback to have a winning record during his career. That, alone, makes him the best third-round quarterback of the past decade (though he has some competition). For illustrative purposes, here are the top five third-round quarterbacks of the past decade ranked by won-lost record. Draft team, record over the first 23 games, overall record, and career QB rating are also listed.

Quarterbacks: Round 3 Prospects
Year Name Team F23 OVR RAT
2007 T. Edwards BUF 12-11 12-11 79.1
2003 C. Simms TB 7-8 7-8 71.2
2002 J. McCown ARI 10-13 12-19 71.6
2004 M. Schaub ATL 9-14 10-14 86.2
2000 C. Redman BAL 4-6 4-6 79.5

Other third-round quarterbacks of the past decade: 1999 (Brock Huard, SEA); 2000 (Giovanni Carmazzi, SF); 2003 (Dave Ragone, HOU); 2005 (Charlie Frye, CLE; Andrew Walter, OAK; David Greene, SEA); 2006 (Charlie Whitehurst, SD; Brodie Croyle, KC); 2008 (Kevin O'Connell, NE)

Not much of a contest there. Simms and McCown are unlikely to be starters again. Schaub is coming on fast, as are his Texans, but he hasn't been able to shake the injury bug throughout his career.

It's pretty apparent that, in terms of third-round quarterbacks, Edwards was tremendous value. You didn't need me to tell you that. It's rare enough that a third-rounder starts more than half a season as a rookie, which Edwards has already done. But how well does Edwards stack up to first-round quarterbacks within the same decade? Counting Drew Brees (the first pick of the second round; that's essentially a first-rounder), 29 quarterbacks have been taken in the first round over the past decade. Of those 29 signal-callers, nearly half (12) had better records through their first 23 games. The list...

Quarterbacks: Round 1 Prospects
Year Name Team F23 OVR RAT
2004 Roethlisberger PIT 20-3 51-20 89.4
2004 P. Rivers SD 18-5 33-15 92.9
2003 R. Grossman CHI 17-6 19-12 70.2
2008 M. Ryan ATL 11-5 11-5 87.7
2008 J. Flacco BAL 11-5 11-5 80.3
2001 M. Vick ATL 14-8-1 38-28-1 75.7
2000 Pennington NYJ 14-9 43-34 90.6
1999 Culpepper MIN 14-9 41-53 89.0
2003 C. Palmer CIN 13-10 32-33 88.9
1999 D. McNabb PHI 13-10 82-45-1 85.9
2003 K. Boller BAL 13-10 20-22 71.9
2006 V. Young TEN 13-10 18-11 68.8
2007 T. Edwards BUF 12-11 12-11 79.1
2004 E. Manning NYG 12-11 42-29 76.1

Other notable first-rounders (with F23 data): Tim Couch (5-18), Akili Smith (3-14), Cade McNown (3-12), Drew Brees (9-14), David Carr (6-17), Joey Harrington (6-17), Patrick Ramsey (9-14), Byron Leftwich (10-13), J.P. Losman (8-15), Alex Smith (9-14), Aaron Rodgers (6-10), Jason Campbell (10-13), Matt Leinart (7-9), Jay Cutler (11-12), JaMarcus Russell (5-11), Brady Quinn (1-2)

So what does this prove? Largely nothing. You see some very bad quarterbacks with blazing starts to their careers, and some very good ones (i.e. Brees) with slow starts to their career. The only thing this list proves is that Edwards compares favorably to most of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round over the past decade - and he's a third-round pick. That, my friends, is good draft day value.

Side note before you pick apart the numbers, proclaim this exercise as useless and/or declare yourself bored because this has nothing to do with the future of the team: only two quarterbacks on this list have Super Bowl rings - Mr. Roethlisberger and Mr. Manning.  They show up at opposite ends of this list.

So let's hear it. Anything interesting you find in these numbers? Are you encouraged/discouraged/remain unmoved about Edwards' potential? Does it surprise you that J.P. Losman isn't the crappiest first-round quarterback of the past decade? Feel free to discuss, whether you find this tangible or not.