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Analysis of QBs taken in Round 1 of the NFL Draft 2000-2009

Today we review the Quarterbacks taken over the past 10 years in Round 1 of the NFL Draft to see how they have graded out.  The important thing to note is how they averaged the 11th pick on the draft.  This skews the comparisons, as so many have been taken near the top of the round.


Year Player Pick Starts Rat’g Pro Bowls Wonder’s Grade
2000 Chad P’ton 18 80 90 3
2001 Michael Vick 1 67 76 3 3
2002 David Carr 1 79 75 5
Joey H’ton 3 76 69 7
Patrick Ramsey 32 24 75 7
2003 Carson Palmer 1 81 88 2 2
Byron Leftwich 7 49 80 4
Kyle Boller 19 45 71 5
Rex Grossman 22 30 70 5
2004 Eli Manning 1 87 79 1 3
Philip Rivers 4 64 96 3 2
Ben R’berger 11 86 92 1 1
JP Losman 22 33 76 5
2005 Alex Smith 1 40 69 4
Aaron Rodgers 24 32 98 2 2
Jason C’bell 25 52 82 3
2006 Vince Young 3 39 72 1 3
Matt Leinart 10 17 71 5
Jay Cutler 11 53 84 1 2
2007 JaM Russell 1 25 65 7
Brady Quinn 22 12 67 5
2008 Matt Ryan 3 30 84 3
Joe Flacco 18 32 85 3
2009 Matt Stafford 1 10 61 3
Mark Sanchez 5 15 63 3
Josh Freeman 17 9 60 4
11 0.5 3.8

* reminder that the 2008-2009 draft picks are in flux.  Those ratings are not bedrock and are more subject to change than the rest.

You may not agree with all of Wonder’s grades.  I for one disagree with a handful.  I do not like Jason Campbell as a 3.  I think he is a 4.   I would not give Roethlisberger a 1, but he has won two titles and is the franchise, so at least I can understand the reasoning behind the grade.  Given the widespread heated debate that all fans give on Quarterbacks 365 days of the year, this is not meant to be a definitive judgment on the relative capacities of the players rated.  It is more generally trying to uniformly grade the position, not the individual.  There are going to be Eli Manning-lovers who want him to get a 2.  I personally like him right where he is, as a 3, a solid starter.  If he puts away the Chargers on 3rd and Goal up 17-14 instead of choosing to checkdown.. if he does not fold vs the Eagles in January of 2009.. then he is a 2.  I know some will disagree.  And then others will cry about the latest crop of QBs like Stafford and Sanchez having the same rating as Eli.  This is not an EXACT science.  At this early stage they probably deserve 4’s, but Wonder (who has a track record of being a tough critic) likes both.  It is hard to argue with the maturation of Sanchez, who (as Terry Bradshaw would note) went to hell first and then to the AFC Championship, all in his rookie year.  

The bottomline is that this grading is not meant to be “the” source of judgment.. it is done to objectively rate things that are much LARGER than any one player.  The goal here is to dig down and look at the positions in aggregate, and then to look at the SLOTS 1-32 each year to see how those did.  We won’t be perfect on all the players, but as long as we are fairly close, we will have a very good review.  The system prevents giving a 3.5 or 2.5 or some other half grade; we did not want to get into too much minutae, less we next end up with a 14 tiered ranking system that starts to get crazed.  7 grades are enough.  We have enough differentiation.

Position PBowls Rating
G/C 1.6 3.0
LB 0.9 3.2
CB 0.5 3.3
RB 0.9 3.4
OT 0.5 3.7
S 1.4 3.8
QB 0.5 3.8
DT 0.6 4.1
DE 0.5 4.1
WR 0.5 4.1

We need to point out again that the difference between a QB as a 3.8 and another position having a higher grade is understandable.  Vince Lombardi lamented how important the QB was.  And yet here we are 50 years later and it is still every bit as important… actually even more important given the rules changes and selective enforcement.  So General Managers will reach for weaker Quarterbacks and a 3.8 is not a surprise.  Frankly, I would have expected it to be lower, but the 2008 and 2009 young QBs really have hit the ground running.  

Let’s also remember that we have to factor in the average slot in Round 1 where they are collectively taken.  It is harder to compare QB as the #11 pick for EVERY player in the sample, vs the Guards and Centers, who are picked at an average spot of #23.  Once we are done with the Tight Ends, we’ll look at the rating of all 32 slots to see if we can adjust each position and make them all the same average spot so that we are talking apples to apples.