Connect with us

Bears

Navigating Bear Markets: 1st Round QB’s

Why have so many quarterbacks taken in the first round flopped? We dive into quarterbacks drafted from 1990-2016 and the factors that made them great or terrible.

Carson Wentz
Photo: David Purdy/Getty Images

Why are QB’s so hard to draft? Even when looking at 1st round picks over the years, the hit rates are simply abysmal.

Recently, I started playing around with the numbers for every 1st round QB drafted since 1990, and there are some things that I found interesting.

In this piece, I am not looking at whether any given QB pick is good or not, or better than another QB. Rather, I am looking at whether making that pick at that time was a good decision by the team, whether picking that QB led to a positive result for the team and got them closer to winning a Super Bowl, or whether they miscalculated where they were as an organization and their ability to draft/develop said QB at that time.

Advertisements

Methodology

Every 1st Round QB Drafted Between the Years of 1990 and 2016

The cut off for this analysis is 2016 because that year is a clear differentiator. This is because every 1st Round QB drafted between 2009-2016 is no longer on the roster of the team that drafted them. Matt Ryan (2008), Aaron Rodgers (2005), and Ben Roethlisberger (2004) are the only QBs to be drafted in the 1st Round from 1990 – 2016 who are still on the active roster of the team they were drafted by.

So why stop at 1990? Why not go back to 1980 or 1970? I stopped here because of the strike years in 1987 and 1983, which created differences in games played per season, as well as the 14-game schedule prior to 1978.

Games Started for the Drafting Team

I started out looking at how many games each QB started for the team that drafted them. A team wouldn’t let a QB continue to start year after year if there were better options out there or they didn’t believe he was making progress. A QB who started 90+ games for the team he was drafted by is considered to have achieved “Tier 1” for this category. The cutoff was 90 games because that means that he started for at least 5 ½ seasons, or beyond his rookie contract. Only 13 of the 65 QB’s considered in this analysis achieved 90+ starts.

Playoff Games Started and Won for the Drafting Team

This shows how often this QB’s team was able to reach the playoffs with him starting, and partially show his team’s ability to advance in the playoffs. A QB who made 8+ playoff starts for the team he was drafted by is considered to have achieved “Tier 1” for this category. A QB who won 4+ playoff starts for the team he was drafted by is considered to have achieved “Tier 1” as well. The average QB to have started over 90 games for the team that drafted them ended up starting 179 games for that team. That would be ~11 seasons with 8+ playoff appearances and 4+ playoff wins. Only 10 of the 65 QB’s considered achieved 8+ playoff starts for the team that drafted them, and 13 QB’s achieved 4+ playoff wins.

Use the code ONTAP at sign-up!
*Valid for gamblers 21 and over in Illinois and Iowa

Super Bowl Appearances and Win’s for the Drafting Team

That is the ultimate goal here. When you draft a QB in the 1st round, the vision is for him to be holding the Lombardi Trophy. A QB who made 2+ Super Bowl starts for the team he was drafted by is considered to have achieved “Tier 1” for this category. This stat was included to give credit to a QB for getting to the Super Bowl, win or lose. A QB who won 2+ Super Bowl starts for the team he was drafted by is considered to have achieved “Tier 1”.

In order to be considered “Tier 1”, a QB does not need to meet all of these criteria. Their Tier’s must have an average below 1.5. The lowest tier assigned for both Super Bowl categories is Tier 3 to prevent knocking a guy like Rivers too heavily. The lowest tier assigned for playoff wins is Tier 4 to prevent from hitting a guy like Stafford too heavily.

We can use Joe Flacco as an example here:

  • Games Started for Ravens: 163 (Tier 1)
  • Playoff Games Started for Ravens: 15 (Tier 1)
  • Playoff Wins for Ravens: 10 (Tier 1)
  • Super Bowl starts for Ravens: 1 (Tier 2)
  • Super Bowl Wins for Ravens: 1 (Tier 2)
  • AVERAGE TIER: 1.4 (Tier 1)


Tier 1 QB Picks:

  • Only 5 of the 65 QB’s drafted between 1990-2016 (8%) achieved “Tier 1” status. On average, they were drafted #11 overall.
  • The primary differentiator between Tier 1 and Tier 2 is winning a Super Bowl. Every QB who won a Super Bowl is considered “Tier 1”. This may be due to teams being extremely loyal to QB’s who won a Super Bowl for them, whether they have sustained performance or not (i.e. Joe Flacco).
  • This group of QB’s averaged 205 games started for the team that drafted them, with a win percentage of 62%.
  • They averaged 18 playoff starts, with 10 playoff wins, 1.8 Super Bowl starts, and 1.4 Super Bowl wins.
  • Four of the five QB’s to achieve “Tier 1” status were drafted into good situations (winning percentage of 50% or better). The average team winning percentage for the two years prior to drafting these QBs was 47.5%.
  • The only QB to achieve “Tier 1” with a draft team that did not have a winning percentage of 50% or better the two years prior to drafting said QB was Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts had a win percentage of 18.8% for the two years prior to drafting Manning.
Advertisements

Tier 2 QB Picks:

  • 7 of the 65 QB’s drafted between 1990-2016 (11%) achieved “Tier 2” status. On average, they were drafted #2 overall.
  • All but two of the QB’s to have reached a Super Bowl are considered “Tier 2” or better. While only two of the QB’s to achieve “Tier 2” status failed to reach a Super Bowl (Rivers/Luck).
  • Generally, these QB’s would be considered guys who consistently met expectations and teams could invest in building around.
  • They were quality franchise players, but they never got over that final challenge of winning a Super Bowl.
  • Drafting these QBs were generally the right decision for their teams, because it ultimately led to success despite falling short of a Super Bowl victory.
  • This group of QB’s averaged 148 games started for the team that drafted them, with a win percentage of 57%.
  • They averaged 9.6 playoff starts, with 4.4 playoff wins, 0.7 Super Bowl starts, and 0.0 Super Bowl wins.
  • The average “Tier 2” QB was drafted into a poor situation. The average team winning percentage for the two years prior to drafting these QBs was 33.9%.
  • None of the “Tier 2” QB’s were drafted into a good situation (winning percentage of 50% or better). Only two of these QB’s were drafted into awful situations (winning percentage below 30%). This makes me wonder whether these guys could have achieved “Tier 1” status had they been drafted into a better situation.

Tier 3 QB Picks:

  • 12 of the 65 QB’s drafted between 1990-2016 (18.5%) achieved “Tier 3” status. On average, they were drafted #6 overall.
  • There are really two groups of QB’s within this tier that I want to highlight. The first group is made up of players drafted to teams who were in a good spot to grab a rookie QB, and the team simply missed on their evaluation, still finding some quality production due to strong rosters (i.e. Sanchez, Goff, Grossman). The second group are guys who entered bad situations and did well, but they could never bridge the talent gap or coaching/front office deficiency for their team in their time there (Palmer, Stafford, Vick, Smith).
  • Only two of the QB’s to have reached a Super Bowl are considered “Tier 3”. Those two QB’s are Jared Goff and Rex Grossman.
  • This group of QB’s averaged 76 games started for the team that drafted them, with a win percentage of 50.6%.
  • They averaged 3.6 playoff starts, with 1.6 playoff wins, 0.2 Super Bowl starts, and 0.0 Super Bowl wins.
  • The average “Tier 3” QB was drafted into a poor situation, but not an awful situation. The average team winning percentage for the two years prior to drafting these QBs was 37.8%, so a little bit better than the “Tier 2” guys.
  • Three of the “Tier 3” QB’s were drafted into a good situation (winning percentage of 50% or better). But, six of these QB’s were drafted into awful situations (winning percentage below 30%).
Advertisements

Tier 4 QB Picks:

  • 18 of the 65 QB’s drafted between 1990-2016 (27.7%) achieved “Tier 4” status. On average, they were drafted #9 overall.
  • No QB to have reached a Super Bowl is considered “Tier 4”.
  • Generally, these QB’s would be considered quality backups to low-end starters in the NFL. They are not the type to elevate the play of those around them, but they can be good enough with a high quality-surrounding cast. Ultimately, the team that drafted them deemed them to be fatally flawed and decided to move on.
  • These teams ultimately made a poor choice in drafting these players, as the team never found consistent success with them under center.
  • Ryan Tannehill qualifies here because it is ONLY looking at his time with the Dolphins, prior to reviving his career with the Titans.
  • This group of QB’s averaged 51 games started for the team that drafted them, with a win percentage of 43.5%.
  • They averaged 0.6 playoff starts, with 0.1 playoff wins, 0 Super Bowl starts, and 0 Super Bowl wins.
  • The average “Tier 4” QB was drafted into a poor situation, but not an awful situation. The average team winning percentage for the two years prior to drafting these QBs was 39.2%, so a little bit better than the “Tier 3” guys.
  • It should be noted that this figure does not include the three QB’s drafted onto expansion teams, all three of which qualified as “Tier 4”.
  • Five of the “Tier 4” QB’s were drafted into a good situation (winning percentage of 50% or better). Only four of these QB’s were drafted into awful situations (winning percentage below 30%).

Tier 5 QB Picks:

  • 23 of the 65 QB’s drafted between 1990-2016 (35.4%) achieved “Tier 5” status. On average, they were drafted #14 overall.
  • No QB to have reached a Super Bowl is considered “Tier 5”.
  • Generally, these QB’s are guys who either flamed out of the league, bounced around as back-ups, or did not produce for the team that drafted them due to changing teams early in their career (Cutler). These QB’s got the hook from the team that drafted them fairly quickly.
  • It is safe to say that these teams made the wrong choice in drafting these players, as the team never came close to finding any success with these QBs under center. They may have had very little talent in place around that QB, significant turnover at coaching or front office positions, locker room turmoil, other internal issues, or they may have simply just botched a pick that was too heavily rooted in need.
  • This group of QB’s averaged 19 games started for the team that drafted them, with a win percentage of 33.5%.
  • Not a single one of these QB’s ever made a playoff start for the team that drafted them.
  • The average “Tier 5” QB was drafted into a decent situation. The average team winning percentage for the two years prior to drafting these QBs was 44.2%.
  • Eight of the “Tier 5” QB’s were drafted into a good situation (winning percentage of 50% or better). Only four of these QB’s were drafted into awful situations (winning percentage below 30%).
Advertisements

TOTAL:

  • In total, there were 65 QB’s drafted from the 1st round between 1990-2016.
  • The average 1st round QB was drafted by a team with a winning percentage for the prior two years of 40.8%.
  • These QB’s averaged 66.7 games started for the team that drafted them (4.2 seasons), with a win percentage of 44.2%.
  • The average 1st round QB went on to start 3.2 playoff games, with 1.6 playoff wins, 0.25 Super Bowl starts, and 0.11 Super Bowl wins.

Takeaways:

  • Zero out of five QBs selected by teams with a two-year win percentage above 65% reached “Tier 4” or “Tier 5” status. Only one of these QB’s (Culpepper) even reached Tier 3 status. This was surprising to me, but could be because of the pressure put on a rookie QB to win right away, or being bread from the lack of need for the QB to be the difference maker.
  • There were 15 QB’s drafted by teams with a win percentage between 50%-64%. Four of these QB’s reached “Tier 1”, but none reached “Tier 2”. This may be because those teams were ready to win, but timed their QB selection well with where their roster stood. It left less middle ground for the QB development. The QB is given everything they need, and it comes down to scouting & QB selection at that point.
  • Every QB to reach “Tier 2” status was drafted by a team with a two-year win percentage below 45%. Six out of seven QB’s to reach “Tier 2” were drafted by a team with a win percentage below 40%.
  • “Tier 2” QB’s actually saw the largest increase in win percentage once they became starter versus the two years prior to their arrival. I believe that these QB’s would have been considered “Tier 1” had there been better coaching & front office decisions to better their situation.
  • Are we seeing the greatest QB groups to ever enter the NFL in recent years? In the past four drafts, we have seen Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert, all of whom seem like they will reach Tier 3 or better, in my opinion. Many of them are looking at “Tier 2” projection at least. Or is this not that unheard of with many players falling off after their first few years (i.e. Wentz, Goff). I’d say it bears watching into the future.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BET WITH BETRIVERS ILLINOIS

Listen To Bears On Tap Podcast

More Bears News

Advertisement DraftTop

More in Bears