Is drafting a quarterback in the 1st round a “sure thing”?

Let’s break down some statistics from the last 10 NFL drafts and find out. 

For the first time since 1981, when some guy by the name of Lawrence Taylor heard his name called during draft weekend by the New York Giants, Big Blue has the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft.

And for the first time since 2004, the Giants appear to need a quarterback what with their current franchise quarterback, Eli Manning, having turned 37 this month.

Happy coincidence? Admittedly, it’s hard to envision a Giants team not quarterbacked by Manning, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl MVP.

But let’s be realistic: Absent Manning finding the Fountain of Youth, all good things must come to an end sooner than later, including Manning’s tenure.

For the Giants and Manning, that ending could be coming sooner. The team is starting over with a new general manager, Dave Gettleman, and a still-to-be-named head coach who might be bringing a completely different offensive system to the Giants.

While Manning has opined that he still has a lot of good years left in his arm and that learning a new system won’t be a problem if the situation calls for it, the decision regarding what to do with the Giants quarterback should not be Manning’s to make.

Nor will it. Gettleman, a self-professed film junkie, is no doubt throwing himself into film study of Manning to get a sense of just how much life Manning has left in his arm.

At the same time, Gettleman, who, per the New York Daily News, will reportedly run the Giants’ 2018 draft all by his lonesome, will also be studying what is thought by many draft analysts to be a quarterback-rich class.

Names like Josh Rosen (UCLA), Sam Darnold (USC), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Josh Allen (Wyoming), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Luke Falk (Washington State) and Riley Ferguson (Memphis) are just some of the top names mentioned in this quarterbacks class, with Rosen, Darnold, Mayfield and Allen all projected to be first-round picks.

But here’s the dilemma the Giants face: Since they obviously don’t want or plan to have a top-3 draft pick every year, do they splurge this year on a quarterback and toss aside the year they spent developing Davis Webb, their third-round draft pick?

Or do they go in a different direction—perhaps a linebacker or an offensive lineman or a cornerback?

Common sense would suggest quarterback be the choice at No. 2, and it shouldn’t even be a question. In an ideal situation, the Giants could let Manning play out the 2018 season—right now, he’d be too expensive to trade and, unless he were designated a post-June 1 cap cut, too expensive to cut.

Just as was the case this year with Manning serving as a “big brother” to Davis Webb and Geno Smith, let him continue in a similar role while he helps grooms the next franchise quarterback.

Let’s take a closer look at how quarterbacks drafted in the first round in the draft have fared.

ROUND OVERALL PLAYER YEAR
1 1 Jared Goff 2016
1 1 Jameis Winston 2015
1 1 Andrew Luck 2012
1 1 Cam Newton 2011
1 1 Sam Bradford 2010
1 1 Matthew Stafford 2009
1 1 JaMarcus Russell 2007
1 2 Mitchell Trubisky 2017
1 2 Carson Wentz 2016
1 2 Marcus Mariota 2015
1 2 Robert Griffin 2012
1 3 Blake Bortles 2014
1 3 Matt Ryan 2008
1 5 Mark Sanchez 2009
1 8 Ryan Tannehill 2012
1 8 Jake Locker 2011
1 10 Patrick Mahomes 2017
1 10 Blaine Gabbert 2011
1 12 Deshaun Watson 2017
1 12 Christian Ponder 2011
1 16 EJ Manuel 2013
1 17 Josh Freeman 2009
1 18 Joe Flacco 2008
1 22 Johnny Manziel 2014
1 22 Brandon Weeden 2012
1 22 Brady Quinn 2007
1 25 Tim Tebow 2010
1 26 Paxton Lynch 2016
1 32 Teddy Bridgewater 2014
Source: NFL Draft History

The findings?

  • Of the 29 quarterbacks selected in the first round, 14 developed into franchise/starting quarterbacks for the team that originally drafted them.
  • Eight quarterbacks—Robert Griffin III, JaMarcus Russell, Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder, Johnny Manziel and Brady Quinn—are currently free agents or retired after never really catching on with the teams that originally drafted them.
  • Five quarterbacks—Blaine Gabbert, Sam Bradford, EJ Manuel, Mark Sanchez and  Brandon Weeden—have achieved “journeyman” status.

When teams have selected quarterbacks within the first three overall picks of the draft, the percentage of hitting a slam dunk increases.

Of the 13 quarterbacks selected within the first three overall picks, only three—Bradford, Russell and Griffin—didn’t really pan out for their original teams.

Nothing is a guarantee when it comes to the NFL draft. Certainly, those teams that invested in a quarterback only to come up empty when the pick didn’t pan out, didn’t expect that to be the case.

That’s why it’s imperative that Gettleman and the rest of the Giants investigate every nook and cranny of any quarterback prospect they might be eyeballing because one wrong move could set the franchise back years.

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