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2014 NFL Draft: Is a Late Quarterback a Bad Idea?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

An interesting article appeared today at ESPN Dallas about taking a late round quarterback. It was written with the Cowboys in mind, but the information is relevant to any team.

"Most of the starters in this league come from the first and second round. So that's where you need to take a quarterback. So when you talk about quarterback every year, they have to be somebody that you truly believe will beat out the second and third quarterback that you perceive on your roster. And if not, history shows that you shouldn't make that pick."

From 2006 to 2013, there were 59 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 3-7. Only two are top-end starters: Russell Wilson (third round, 2012, Seattle Seahawks) and Nick Foles(third round, 2012, Philadelphia Eagles). And Foles might have more to prove, but he was Pro Bowl-worthy in 2013.

The best of the rest: Bruce Gradkowski (sixth round, 2006); Matt Flynn (seventh round, 2008); Curtis Painter (sixth round, 2009); Ryan Mallett (third round, 2011); Kirk Cousins (fourth round, 2012). Other considerations: Colt McCoy (third round, 2010); T.J. Yates (fifth round, 2011); Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, 2011).

This might be surprising at first, but it is less surprising when you think about it. At just about every position, the success rate goes way down the deeper you get into the Draft. Quarterback is the position with the least hits. There are only  a handful of good quarterbacks in the entire NFL and another handful of ok quarterbacks.

Does this mean a team should avoid taking a quarterback late? Not necessarily. You have to trust your evaluations and your coaching staff to develop a player. The odds are against a late round quarterback developing just as they are at almost every position, but the reward is bigger. Even if you get a player who becomes a good backup, that is a worthwhile late round investment. You can save money paying a late pick peanuts for a few years and spend millions elsewhere that would go to a veteran like Michael Vick.

I think in this Draft the Jets should take a quarterback where the value fits. That could come in the first round. It could come in the seventh. This is of course easy to say and difficult to do, but that's the job of the general manager and the front office.