Picking a QB in first round usually pays off

It’s a quarterback-driven league. We’re reminded of it again and again. And the quarterbacks still standing validate it.

Look at the eight remaining teams and eight remaining quarterbacks: Arizona’s Kurt Warner, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Tennessee’s Kerry Collins.

Six were first-round draft picks, and two –- Warner and Delhomme –- were undrafted free agents who were teammates on the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe.

But this ratio is no different in recent years. Since 2002, 31 of the 56 divisional-round quarterbacks were first-round picks.

And even more enlightening, of the 17 teams to make the divisional round in back-to-back years, 14 had quarterbacks who were first-round picks. The only teams that went to back-to-back divisional-round games that didn’t have quarterbacks drafted in the first round were New England with Tom Brady, Seattle with Matthew Hasselbeck and St. Louis with Marc Bulger.

It’s a quarterback league. And without one, a team is sunk.

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