The Trend of Drafting a Quarterback

April 28 2012; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos second round pick quarterback Brock Osweiler speaks to the media at Broncos headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

One thing many have questioned since the arrival of Peyton Manning was the decision to draft a quarterback. With the drafting of Brock Osweiler, the questions are still stirring. With all these comments and discussions going on, I wanted to do some research on this situation. Now after looking at this past off-season I saw a trend, here's a quick break down of the situation we've seen take place over the past few months:

- A new coaching and front office is installed (McD's firing and Fox's and Elway's hiring)
- A young quarterback who struggled but showed promise (Tebow)
- A big name quarterback goes on the market, either through free agency or trade (Manning)
- That team pursues that quarterback and reach a contract with him
- With the arrival of this new veteran quarterback, the young player is released. (Now many questioned why we released Tebow, well it seems that the young, high potential quarterback is almost always removed)
- After the new quarterback is brought in, within one off-season the team drafts a new quarterback in the mid-1st to mid 2nd round.

Now this may sound very specific to the Broncos but after looking at the past decade, it's actually very common. Today I hope to examine this trend to see how history has shown the outcome of this trend. While obviously this isn't saying it's 100% going to happen one way or another, I wanted to see if there was a clear trend in this situation. Also this isn't a comprehensive list, but it does list 11 of the 13 situations that fit the bill the best, the other two had some clear deviation from the mold. This also isn't saying that the veteran quarterback mentored the young quarterback, but he ushered in the new era and was the bridge into that change.

Method and Intro:

This is fairly straight forward, I went back a decade and looked to see if any other teams ever went through the same situation the Broncos went through. I looked for the markers we saw these past two seasons and then recorded a number of facts about the situation. Here's what I recorded for each situation and how it is recorded on the table will be in ():

- Young quarterback's name who is replaced (Young QB)
- Win percentage for the young quarterback who is replaced (Win %)
- Playoff win percentage for the young quarterback who is replaced (Playoff Win %)
- Veteran quarterback who comes in as the replacement (Vet QB)
- Rookie Quarterback who is brought in after the veteran (Rookie)
- The pick in the draft where the rookie was take (Pick Taken)
- Combined win percentage for the veteran and rookie quarterbacks (Win % for Vet/Rookie)
- The difference in win percentage between the young quarterback and the veteran/rookie (Difference in Win %)
- Playoff win percentage for the veteran and rookie quarterbacks (Playoff Win %)

The Table:

Young QB Win % Playoff Win % Vet QB Rookie Pick Taken Win % for Vet/Rookie Difference in Win % Playoff Win %
Tebow 56.3% 50.0% Manning Osweiler 57 - - -
Quinn 33.3% 0.0% Delhomme/Wallace McCoy 85 28.1% -5.2% 0.0%
Kolb 42.9% 0.0% Vick Kafta 122 62.5% 19.6% 0.0%
Young 63.8% 0.0% Hasselbeck Locker 8 56.3% -7.6% 0.0%
Campbell 61.1% 0.0% Palmer Pryor 80 44.4% -16.7% 0.0%
Jackson 50.0% 0.0% Favre/McNabb Ponder 12 43.8% -6.3% 0.0%
Grossman 61.3% 50.0% Griese Orton 106 58.3% -3.0% 0.0%
Orton 63.6% 0.0% Cutler LeFevour/Enderle 170 64.9% 1.2% 0.0%
Edwards 43.8% 0.0% Fitzpatrick - - 38.2% -5.5% 0.0%
Pennington 52.5% 40.0% Favre Sanchez 5 57.1% 4.7% 50.0%
Beck 16.7% 0.0% Pennington Henne 57 46.2% 29.5% 0.0%
Average 48.0% 12.7% 70 51.1% -0.4% 6.3%


Wrap Up:

I don't want to draw too many conclusions from this data since it's too small for real statistical analysis, but I'll jot down a few of my thoughts as I did this research:

- We have to remember that in 4 of these examples the rookies haven't even started yet (LeFevour/Enderle, Pryor, Locker, Kafta) and another one is just taking place this season (Osweiler). So we don't know the long term effects of some of these changes, only the short term.
- In cases like the Vikings with Ponder, it may look rough, but if he can improve in 2012 this one could be smart.
- The best cases we've seen out of veterans so far seem to be Matt Hasselbeck (9-7), Micheal Vick (15-24), Brett Favre (17-12) and Chad Pennington (12-8). But of those guys, only Mark Sanchez (27-20) has impressed as the long term QB solution while Chad Henne (13-18) struggled and we haven't seen much of Mike Kafta or Jake Locker yet.
- You could say the opposite happened in cases where the vets seemed to hurt the team but the rookie came in and played well. Brian Griese (3-3) and Kyle Orton (21-12) in Chicago are a good example of this, and to a lesser extent in Cleveland with Jake Delhomme (2-3) and Seneca Wallace (1-6) to go with Colt McCoy (6-15). While McCoy certainly wasn't a big improvement, he was still better.
- Now there were a number of situations where the move to replace the young QB with a vet/rookie combo looks to have just been a bad move, replacing Jason Campbell (though his was injury related) and Trent Edwards are two examples of this, though neither player was impressive, the move to "upgrade" certainly made the team worse.

Overall it seems there is little improvement or regression with these moves, in the end it's situation by situation. But if you want my opinion, teams do tend to move on more quickly than they should because of either fan or owner pressure. Now that's not to say the Broncos made the wrong decision to move on from Tim Tebow, mostly because of the quality of player they brought in to replace him. But one thing that worries me is that it seems the biggest weakness in this trend is that the rookie quarterbacks brought in tend to struggle unless they are quality players (1st rounders). Doesn't matter if they have a mentoring QB like Chad Pennington was for Chad Henne, but it seems teams will reach and draft a QB they like assuming he'll develop, and more often than not, he'll struggle. That's not to say Osweiler will 100% struggled, but in my opinion we may have begun down the path of struggles for that QB. Now I won't make any final judgements on him until he plays, but I am worried based on what I saw in college, but I won't write him off just as we've drafted him, I have my opinion, but I hope Osweiler blows me away and changes my opinion.


Many people wondered why the Broncos didn't decide to keep Tim Tebow instead of drafting a new quarterback, and it lingered in my mind at times as well. But if we remove the obvious media and fan issues, it just seems to be the trend. Now obviously the fans were one reason Tebow was moved, the media issue was another, but the trend for all of these was that the team decided to just move in a new direction. This held true in almost all cases, didn't matter if the player won a large number of games or if the player was popular, the desire of a new organization almost always leads to a new direction at quarterback.

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