Reviewing First-Round Value at Quarterback Position in Recent NFL Drafts

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The rookie wage limitations implemented in the 2011 offseason not only helped protect franchises against crippling JaMarcus Russell contracts but also greatly benefited teams taking top-10 quarterbacks in last April’s draft. The Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins not only have their quarterbacks of the future and present, but possess plenty of salary cap money to throw around — obviously with the Redskins’ situation being mitigated by penalties, but still leaving them in a good spot compared to, of course, the Oakland Raiders.

It’s hard to remember that, before the last couple years, the league was in a dark ages when it came to taking quarterbacks in the first round. Teams were finding themselves in salary quandaries more often than finding the franchise savior. My “Safe Rating” detailed below found that the quarterback position was the least safe to use a first-rounder during a recent stretch regardless of contract.

Alas, hitting jackpot on quarterback has become a modern-age prerequisite to the Lombardi Trophy.

In an attempt to evaluate how much value has been returned on first-rounders at this position in recent years, I’ve compiled each first-round selection from 2006-2010 (leaving out any player with less than three seasons of experience) and added a value rating relative to draft spot. Each pick is evaluated from -3 to +3 depending on value expected by draft slot versus value delivered and promise shown, and the bolded names went top 10.

Picks in the top 10 of the NFL draft are graded harsher than picks 11-32 due to the heightened value expected from the top. At the bottom of the spreadsheet I’ve included the composite “Safe Rating” value, evaluating the position’s overall return on pick position in recent years. This attempts to compare the risk involved in drafting each position at the top of the draft, not weighting how valuable one position is over another.

To provide context among offensive positions, the rankings have shaken out as follows (Click positions to see others): 1) LT +14 2) Center +9/Guard +8 3) WR +4 4) RT +3 5) TE even 6) RB -1 7) QB -10

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google