Second Round Quarterbacks... Just Roll The Dice

Take the chance on a 2nd round quarterback three times and you'll end up with about the same likelihood of success as the teams that just spent a top-three pick on a QB. But you'll have paid less than half the price.

A couple days before the draft, McGeorge and I were discussing the merits of drafting Brock Osweiler. "I’m not saying we’ll draft Brock", I told him. "But I’m saying I think it’s as likely as it isn’t."

My contention was that Osweiler made sense from a risk/reward standpoint, saying "I don’t think we disagree that it’s unlikely for a 2nd round pick to end up as a franchise player. We disagree on whether it’s worth risking 330 points to win 2500 points."

And that's what I'm here to talk about - that it's wise to roll the dice and take the risk on those developmental quarterbacks. It's far and away the more attractive option for teams that have time to develop, and especially for those teams that have time to fail.

Thing is, if you want to draft a "franchise quarterback", you either wait until Peyton is gone and we stink so bad that we're drafting in those top spots like the lowest helmets on the totem pole do, or else you mortgage your future drafts to trade up into those spots once Peyton only has a year left (like the Redskins), or else you start drafting 2nd rounders right now, cross your fingers, rinse and repeat.

And believe me - that last choice - the odds are with you moreso than with any other choice. For teams with time to train and time for trial and error, drafting a 2nd round pick is easily the most attractive option. The odds are with you there, as is The Force.

Well, I can't actually prove to you that the force is strong in that one... But I think I can prove to you that the odds are better by taking 2nd rounders. And it's cheaper. Cheaper and better and better odds of landing your guy. Win, win, win. But first...

You only get one shot if you wait.

The desire to 'win now' is loud and overt and it's a happy and exciting time for we Bronco fanatics. But I don't want to just win now; I want to win forever. We've got about three years to implement a post-Peyton plan that ensures we're not trading picks away to get the new guy like the Raiders or Redskins, and to ensure that we're not left looking weak and pathetic like the Colts.

When you fail to address the problem preemptively, and once you need a quarterback immediately, you're screwed. Plain and simple. No matter where you draft him, you're forced to play him earlier than he should be. It stunts healthy growth and can lead to bad habits forming. It can lead to confidence problems. It leads to losses, which lead to new management, which leads to a new quarterback. They, too, get one chance. They make the same moves by drafting him early, playing him early and building the team around compensating for this too-young-to-play quarterback, which makes them ignore long-term plans. Once teams get into that cycle, it's tough to get out. The best coaches don't want to go there, the best players don't want to play there. And some of the fans no longer want to cheer there.

The best teams in the league have a leg up in that they have time to develop a youngster behind their current Franchise QB. Even more importantly, though, they have the stability and the confidence to fail and then try again. That's the most important key probably in this entire post... A team with a Franchise QB has the stability and confidence to fail at grooming their next QB multiple times. Teams without a Franchise guy do not have that luxury. So if we find ourselves without Peyton, John Fox will have exactly one chance at a 1st round QB. If he fails in that pick, which is about a 50% likelihood, then he's out of a job.

Probably. It probably goes about like that league wide.

When you still have a franchise QB, you can try and fail without being a failure. You have time to keep working on a replacement behind the scenes all the way up until either you find one, or until you lose your franchise guy.

We have a chance to do it like the Packers, or we can do it like the Colts. Yeah, chew on that one.

You want to know why we drafted a QB this year instead of waiting two years to start the Post-Peyton Plan (PPP for short?)? It's because it doubles your likelihood of finding a true, franchise replacement. It gives you two extra years of trial and error(s). It means you can go on to the next one without being scared of losing your job. Just demote him to eventual backup status and draft another 2nd rounder. Fans will complain, but fans also complained when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers. And what?

Second-Round Quarterbacks.

Miller58 had a post up recently where he detailed that there were 14 quarterbacks taken in the 2nd round over the past decade, of which Drew Brees and Andy Dalton made the Pro-Bowl. It's a fairly small sample size and has plenty of variables for you to argue with, but the guiding principle is sound - that you can expect roughly 14%(ish) of 2nd round quarterbacks to be pro-bowlers.

Now don't get too caught up in the word Pro-Bowl. Rregardless of how you define success, teams are happy that they made the investment in Drew Brees and Andy Dalton and they're not going QB shopping anytime soon thereafter. It means you won with the pick. It means it was a successful pick and that you landed your quarterback. That's going to happen 14% of the time with 2nd round picks. That's 1 in 7.

I'll let each of you define the conversation as to how you define first-round quarterbacks who succeed versus those that fail. Instead of opening that can of worms, I'll just paint this vague generality so that we've got some type of working thesis: A roundabout rough idea is that first-round QBs, regardless of how high they're being taken, "work out" roughly 50% of the time. Ish. Ballpark. Generally. Don't tase me bro!

And so here's the payoff. Draft three 2nd rounders in three years and you've got roughly the same chance of one of them being the bee's knees(ish?) as you do in drafting one QB at #2 overall. The only real difference is that you spent less than half the draft resources to do so. You spent around 1,000 points in draft resources instead of the 3500 or so that the Redskins just spent when they moved up. The other difference is that you likely ended up with a lot more time to develop the guy.

This isn't a math lesson peeps, so sorry for all the ratios and percents. Point is, we can debate the specifics but the guiding principle remains the same, which is that you have about a 1 in 7 chance of getting a Pro-Bowl QB in the 2nd round, and you can afford 7 second-round picks for far less than it would cost to move into the top-3 even one time.

Seven 2nd-rounders, therefore, theoretically give you a 100% likelihood of getting a pro-bowler. The Colts and Redskins, however, spent more draft resources (yes, those picks are worth more than 7 2nd rounders) and yet only have about a 50% likelihood of their pick working out. One of those coaches will likely be fired without having another chance at finding a new solution. They waited too long and their careers now rest on the arm of one single quarterback.

Are we really supposed to draft 7 second-rounder quarterbacks? No, of course not.

Do we have time to take seven swings? No, I already told you no. That wasn't the point and why you breaking my balls here? We do have time to take three swings, though. I was just telling you that we could take seven swings for less cost than one of those desperate, weak top-3 picks cost.

By the time we draft your third 2nd round pick, assuming we missed on the first two, then we've already ensured that we have roughly the same chance of landing a "franchise guy" as the Redskins had when they drafted RGIII.

And that's worst case scenario here. The best case scenario is that we land on the 1st swing, thereby having spent 330 points for Brock instead of 3500 points for Griffin.

Like I said, this isn't a math test and I didn't mean to put so many numbers and stats in there; it's more a crash course in effectively planning for the future while playing for the now. If a team that has time to train and teach and time for a couple failures, then that team can draft three 2nd rounders and end up with about the same chance of a success story as any of those crappy teams have that are drafting in the top of the first round. It's in the 50/50 ballpark in both cases.

Responsible. Reasonable. Wise.

My friends, planning for the future doesn't mean the Front Office just played you like Willie Lump Lump. There is no conspiracy here, and drafting a second-round quarterback doesn't mean that they don't believe in Peyton Manning. Nor does it mean that they just Punked you. They didn't just stab you in the back with a pitch fork. They didn't lie to you about wanting impact either. All they did was send a message to the Colts and the Redskins and the Raiders that we aint goin' out like that.

Playing to 'win now' was never meant to mean that our strategy for the future was to ignore the future. That's not a plan at all; it's more of an inadvertent action that teams often make and then later regret. When teams concern themselves more with having that extra puzzle piece now, at the cost of missing pieces later and/or at the cost of depth and development, it never works out. Never. We could have tried that strategy by giving us impact for today instead of working toward a quarterback for tomorrow, but our F.O. was more responsible than that.

Think about the Redskins going to war with Grossman and Beck and then all the sudden having to mortgage three drafts to move up four spots for Griffin. Really? They couldn't see that coming and take some sort of proactive step? How about when the Raiders spent two very high draft picks last year to get Carson Palmer to get them over the hump and into the playoffs. Really? Until the comp picks were awarded, they had like two picks in this draft and none before the 4th round or so. How about the Eagles and their "Dream Team" last year. They wanted to get those last puzzle pieces so badly that they traded a very good backup QB on a team that has a scrambling, injury prone starter. I mean wtf were they thinking? What about the Colts? I mean Curtis Painter? Are we really to believe that they never saw that epic fail coming? Too concerned with that last piece of today's puzzle to responsibly deal with building a team, building depth and building for perennial tomorrows.

I'm glad we spent a 2nd round pick on the future.

Stability, my friends. Stability while on a never ending search for the next "franchise guy". That's the ticket. That's it.

The 'nuclear option' of trading up and mortgaging future drafts should be a last resort, but it should also be seen as somewhat inevitable if responsible moves aren't made to prevent that day from coming.

Hopefully Brock ends up as our guy, but even if not, he'll always be worthy of betting 330 points while attempting to win 2500+ points. And that, my friends, is the cost of waiting. That's what happens when teams let the future sneak up and hit 'em in the face instead of responsibly planning for it.

The nuclear option isn't even desirable to the weakest of teams - the weak just have no other options available. They don't have time to draft and develop. But we do, so it's better to try and fail, dust yourself off, rinse and repeat. The longer you wait, the less swings you get to take, so it was time to get in the game. Already. Three years is not too soon to begin the Post-Peyton-Plan. It's just not.

I'm down with PPP, yeah you know me!

I defended our 2nd round pick before we made the pick, and before the chatter started up, so you can trust that I'm not just being a 'yes man' here and blindly supporting a new draft pick. I stand by those earlier assertions that "Brock Osweiler has all the physical tools, arm strength, brains and intangibles to make it at the next level. What he lacks is experience. That makes his situation different."

It makes his situation one in which the perfect team for him is a team that has time to wait. That's us.

Brock has all the tools you can't teach and the time to learn those things that you can teach. We were the perfect team for him, and he was the perfect developmental quarterback for us. It was a good and responsible move for us to draft him. It's a move I fully support.

This plan that we've implemented - the plan of not ignoring the future - will still be wise and responsible even if we happen to fail with Brock. It would be out with the old, in with the new, and on to the next one, but that doesn't mean we're on to Plan B.

Because Plan A, according to this guy, has always included enough wiggle room to allow for errors and misses. Brock Osweiler doesn't have to work for this plan to work. So long as one of the 2nd rounders eventually work, we'll not have wasted a 2nd round pick or two; we'll have actually saved a first-rounder or two. Beautiful, isn't it?

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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