Football

Evaluating draft value by position

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Washington Football Team DLs Daron Payne and Chase Young, and Eagles QB Carson Wentz. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

As I was thinking for the thousandth time about what the Washington Football Team should do in the upcoming NFL draft, this tweet from Field Yates grabbed me by the throat.

Consider that for a moment. That is a mind-boggling factoid. No team picks any player in the first round with the expectation that he won’t become a cornerstone. This is especially true for quarterbacks. You select a QB in Round 1 and you think you have your franchise guy. A decade of quality play is a minimum expectation.

Sure, injury is always a factor. That’s what happened to Washington’s member of the club identified in Yates’ tweet – Robert Griffin III. Flukish retirements, as happened to Indianapolis when Andrew Luck decided to hang them up – that can happen too. Washington and Indianapolis were two of the team’s most bereft of quarterback at the dawn of the 2021 offseason.

But for the most part, teams just swung and missed – over and over – at high-profile quarterbacks in the draft.

Since 2017, the numbers for first-round QBs look somewhat better. But a word of caution. It’s still very early.

Of the 15 quarterbacks selected in the first round between 2017 and 2020, two did not last more than two years with the club that chose them. One was Josh Rosen. We all know who the other one was. (But in case you need a hint, he shares a name with legendary NBA guard Clem Haskins – and the name ain’t Clem).

At least two others – Mitch Trubisky and Sam Darnold (chosen with the second and third picks, no less) could soon be gone from their original teams. The book is wide open on several others, like Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones, and Jordan Love. Then you have the bizarre situation in Houston, where Deshaun Watson could be moving on.

That’s more than half of the 15 that could be gone from their original teams by the end of their rookie deals. The others seem like much surer bets. For now. But you never know. If Joe Burrow doesn’t regain his pre-injury form, or Baker Mayfield decides he has a better future as a TV commercial pitchman than as QB for the Browns … like I said, you just never know.

Does this mean the Washington Football Team should avoid picking a QB in the first-round this year? Of course not. If they are sold on someone and can get him, they have to do it. All it means is that the first round of the draft is not the only avenue – or even the best avenue – for acquiring a QB.

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