Friday, January 28, 2011

Dolphins Draft Options at QB Still Good

January 28, 2010

With the 15th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select...well we don't know. The organization doesn't even know who will be available at that spot or whether it's worth trading up or down in the draft. We can pinpoint the positions of highest priority for the Fins and the quarterback spot is clearly one of them.

Mixed reports have some within the Dolphins' organization sticking with Chad Henne, while others aren't throwing their support behind him. The fact is that when there is no consensus as to whether you should keep or trash a signal-caller, you've got a problem at the QB spot.

Given the likelihood of Miami going after a new QB, we've decided to look back into the past decade and see what teams have succeeded in drafting a QB in the mid-first round and beyond. The results provide some hope but should be taken with a grain of salt (since more teams have failed than succeeded at drafting a quality passer).

Top-Tier QBs

There are two highly successful QBs in the league today that were late-first/early-second rounders. We're talking about Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Rodgers was selected by Green Bay with the 24th overall pick (2005), while Brees was the San Diego Chargers' first pick in the second round (2001). Miami -- and any other team without a bonafide QB -- would take these guys in a heartbeat.

The funny thing is, the Fins have a shot at salvaging their own Rodgers or Brees in this year's draft. These two guys were criticized by analysts back in their college days the same way that Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and other highly touted draft-eligible QBs are today. That shouldn't stop Miami from taking a serious look at the QB talent available.

There is clearly luck involved when a team hits on a franchise QB but Miami hasn't tested their luck in 28 seasons. At least not in the first round. Henne and John Beck were "safe picks" in later rounds. The point remains that playing it safe rarely translates into winning big.

Other Quality QBs

There are other not-so-flashy QBs out there that haven't won a title yet but have elevated their respective teams and may be title-worthy one day. Here's who we're talking about:
  • Joe Flacco (2008) - 18th overall, first round
  • Matt Schaub (2004) - 90th overall, third round
  • Josh Freeman (2009) - 17th overall, first round 
  • Kyle Orton (2005) - 106th overall, 4th round
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (2008) - 250th overall, seventh round
Flacco, Schaub and Orton have had good success in the league given their short tenures as starting QBs. On the other hand, Freeman and Fitzpatrick performed well in their first starting gig but don't have nearly enough experience to be labeled great just yet. Nevertheless, these are guys that the Fins wouldn't mind taking snaps for them right now.

As I stated earlier, the success rate for acquiring a very good to great quarterback is not very high in the league. Hence, that's why many teams are constantly looking for their franchise QB every time the draft rolls around.

With that said, there is still hope for Miami to draft their first true heir to Dan Marino this season. He doesn't have to be a future Hall of Famer but a perennial Pro Bowler wouldn't be too bad.  

After Thought: Ben Roethlisberger was drafted as the 11th pick in the 2004 draft - Miami could always try and move up if they find it necessary. 

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