NFL Draft 2011 – How to evaluate quarterbacks?

The NFL draft is upon us, and as usual, many teams are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. Since the 2000 draft, 145 quarterbacks have been selected in the first 7 rounds, with 28 taken in the first round and an astounding 8 taken as the overall number one pick. This year, the talk has surrounded Gabbert, Newton and Mallett, and next year the consensus is Andrew Luck as the quarterback of the future. Based on intangibles, film and private workouts, some of these players will be pegged as the leader of their team, but how important is being drafted in the first round to overall success in the NFL? Using data collected from the Pro Football Reference and Draft History we look at where top performing quarterbacks are often selected.

Using the Average Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) as an indicator of quarterback performance, we investigated the top 100 players historically to see where in the draft they were selected.
Historical quarterback performance and draft position
Philip Rivers, through his 7 year career so far, has performed the best in terms of per attempt efficiency. Amazingly, many recent quarterbacks dominate the top of the charts. This might be due to several reasons: 1) Offenses favor the forward pass more; 2) The league has cut down on defensive tactics to reduce the chance of injury; 3) Players are training properly to become stronger passers; 4) The current set of players are at their playing peak. Add in a few more years and their performance might decline, with their average performance being slightly lower. Of course many of the historic greats like Montana, Young and Marino are high up the list as well.

Several undrafted quarterbacks, notably Kurt Warner and Tony Romo recently, have performed at a high level in the NFL as well. So while at times it might seem hit or miss, the draft does

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