Taking a quarterback early in the draft is pro football’s biggest gamble.
It’s both a financial and patience investment with far-reaching consequences. Get it right, and you have a franchise player you can build around for a decade or more. Get it wrong, and it can set your franchise back years.
The potential payoff means teams will always take chances at the position, something recent history has backed up. There have been 128 quarterbacks taken in the last 10 draft classes, just under 13 per year. Of those 128, 27 have been selected in the first round.
Last year, the St. Louis Rams made Sam Bradford the No. 1 overall pick, and this month three NFL Network draft analysts — Bucky Brooks, Charles Davis and Steve Wyche — see Auburn standout Cam Newton being the first overall choice by the Carolina Panthers.
As the pie chart illustrates, the SEC and Pac-10 have produced the most quarterbacks drafted since 2001, with 19 signal-callers taken from each conference. Seven SEC QBs have gone in the first round, compared to six from the Pac-10. Newton appears primed to join that SEC group of first-rounders, while Washington’s Jake Locker (Pac-10) and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert (Big 12) could join the elite group in their respective conferences.
Note: Aside from the 111 QBs represented in the chart, another 17 were taken from IA Independent, I-AA or D-II schools.
— Dan Hanzus