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Friday, December 07, 2007

The Risks of Getting a Good Quarterback in the NFL

Great stuff last night on WIP Sports Radio in Philadelphia from host Glenn Macnow, who had an intern evaluate quarterbacks taken in the top 3 rounds over the past 10 years.

I didn't have a chance to take notes, but the numbers look like this:

45 were taken in the top 3 rounds.

About 5 are bona fide stars.

About 10 are good players.

The rest are either so-so are busts.

The odds:

You have an 11% chance to get a potential Pro Bowler, a 22% chance to get an above-average to good QB, and a 2/3 chance to get a QB who at some point will be mired in a QB controversy.

Which might explain why the Philadelphia Eagles gave Donovan McNabb a vote of confidence yesterday and proclaimed that he's their QB of the future. A.J. Feeley proved last weekend with his four picks that he's only a back-up (and perhaps in a more tenuous position than he was in two weeks ago after the noble effort against the Pats, where he threw three picks), and Kevin Kolb is a second-round pick with promise but certainly no sure thing. When healthy (and, yes, McNabb has had serious injuries over the past four years), McNabb is a proven winner. Sure, he hasn't won a Super Bowl, but how many QBs who are currently playing have? Not many.

Mike and Mike were unprepared on ESPN Radio this morning, allowing for the McNabb to Chicago talk after Rex Grossman went down with a bad knee injury last night. Sure, it makes sense to some degree, McNabb going back to play in his hometown, but the guess here is that for that to happen the Bears would have to trade more very good draft picks to get McNabb than they're willing to.

Good QBs are at a premium. Some QBs are given too many chances (Joey Harrington), some get them too early (Alex Smith) or without good protection for years (David Carr), and some have to wait patiently because they went to Eastern Illinois and the football gods don't think you can play in the NFL unless you played superlatively against superior competition in college (hello, Tony Romo). Others linger until the sixth round and benefit from an injury to the top-pick franchise QB (Tom Brady), while one or two come out with great expectations (the Manning brothers, McNabb). But for every Peyton Manning there's more than one Ryan Leaf, and for every Donovan McNabb there's a Tim Couch and an Akili Smith.

The verdict: if you have a good QB, find ways to keep him healthy and don't let him go. To paraphrase Captain Reynaud in "Casablanca": "you shouldn't let quarterbacks with good records go, they might become scarce."



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