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New York Jets: Where Do Teams Find Quarterbacks?

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of excitement around the hirings of Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan, and justifiably so. Both have a lot of potential in their new jobs. Will they be successful. Nobody knows for sure. A large degree of their success will undoubtedly come down to their ability to find a quarterback.

I'm not sure it is true that a team necessarily needs a great quarterback to win in today's NFL, but it is almost impossible to build a consistent winner without a good quarterback. Despite Geno Smith's big Week 17 performance at Miami, he has not shown much to suggest he will be the answer at quarterback.

Where do teams find their quarterbacks? I decided to take a look. For my cutoff point, I used ESPN's QBR stat. It isn't perfect, but it is an easy enough stat to understand. It rates quarterback performance on a scale between 1 and 100. I took the quarterbacks this season who had a QBR over 50 and enough passes to qualify with two exceptions. I added Carson Palmer, who did not have enough passes to qualify based on both his play this season and his track record. I also added Alex Smith who had a 49.3, just below.

Here are how their teams acquired them.

Aaron Rogers Draft - 1st Round
Ben Roethlisberger Draft - 1st Round
Eli Manning* Draft - 1st Round
Joe Flacco Draft - 1st Round
Matt Ryan Draft - 1st Round
Philip Rivers* Draft - 1st Round
Andrew Luck Draft - 1st Round
Ryan Tannehill Draft - 1st Round
Cam Newton Draft - 1st Round
Matthew Stafford Draft - 1st Round
Teddy Bridgewater Draft - 1st Round
Colin Kaepernick Draft - 2nd Round
Andy Dalton Draft - 2nd Round
Russell Wilson Draft - 3rd Round
Nick Foles Draft - 3rd Round
Tom Brady Draft - 6th Round
Jay Cutler Trade
Alex Smith Trade
Carson Palmer Trade
Tony Romo Undrafted Free Agent
Peyton Manning Unrestricted Free Agent
Drew Brees Unrestricted Free Agent
Mark Sanchez Unrestricted Free Agent
Ryan Fitzpatrick Unrestricted Free Agent

Are there any lessons to take from this? There's a pretty big one. 11 of the 24 were drafted by their current team in the first round. Dalton and Kaepernick were picked at the top of the second round. Of the seven players who were acquired by trade or free agency, five were first rounders. A seventh, Brees, was picked with the 32nd pick. When he was drafted there were only 31 teams in the league so he was a second round pick. Today the 32nd pick is a first rounder.

19 of the 24 were originally picked in the top 40 of the Draft. Wilson and Foles were third rounders. Still want to wait for the third day? Only Brady, Romo, and Fitzpatrick didn't go before the fourth round.

There is a school of thought that the Jets should wait until the middle rounds to take a quarterback. I don't necessarily disagree with taking a shot on somebody, but it probably isn't because that player is going to step in and become a great starter.

The NFL scouts can't say with a high degree of certainty whether a quarterback will pan out. One only needs to see how many quarterback busts there are in the first round. It does, however, seem like they are pretty good at eliminating the guys who really can't play. If they don't think you're good enough to merit a first or early second round pick, the odds seem very stacked against you.

What about the elite franchise quarterbacks, though? While the list above is a group of players on the fringes of good quarterback play, it isn't perfect. I mean Mark Sanchez made the cut.

Let's cut the list down from 24 to the top 12.

Aaron Rodgers Draft - 1st Round
Ben Roethlisberger Draft - 1st Round
Eli Manning* Draft - 1st Round
Joe Flacco Draft - 1st Round
Matt Ryan Draft - 1st Round
Philip Rivers* Draft - 1st Round
Andrew Luck Draft - 1st Round
Russell Wilson Draft - 3rd Round
Tom Brady Draft - 6th Round
Tony Romo Undrafted Free Agent
Peyton Manning Unrestricted Free Agent
Drew Brees Unrestricted Free Agent

There we go. Now doesn't that look like a real list of the top quarterbacks in the league?

Seven of these twelve were first round picks who have spent their careers with one team. You really need to draft one of these quarterbacks too. They don't become available. Why would anybody make a top quarterback available.

There is only one reason, to replace a franchise quarterback with a younger, also elite quarterback. Manning and Brees are the only guys on this list to change teams, and that is exactly what happened. Their original teams had the ability to replace them with another quarterback on this list. The Colts moved from Manning to Luck, and Chargers moved from Brees to Rivers.

Last night Seth.P wrote a great FanPost talking about some of the dangers when it comes to taking a quarterback early. He made a lot of great points, and I strongly encourage you to read it.

There is a flip side, though. It is true that teams should not take a quarterback in the first round for the sake of taking a quarterback. You do, however, need a good quarterback in the NFL, and the first round seems to be the spot to find the best ones.

*Eli Manning was drafted by the Chargers. Rivers was drafted by the Giants. The two were then traded for each other on draft day. For the purposes of this piece, they are considered homegrown.