John Murphy Draft Notebook Part 2

Here is how the first round of the NFL Draft breaks down by position over the last seven years (2000-2006)...

a closer look would reveal that in each of the past seven drafts either wide receiver or defensive back is the majority winner in terms of first round selections... only twice in the past seven years has a position other than WR or DB provided the highest number of selections made in the initial round... that happened last year 2006 when six outside linebackers were taken, granted some were "Hybrid" DE's and back in 2003 when both six defensive ends and six defensive backs were chosen among the top 32 picks... Here is the overall breakdown by position of the last 222 first round selections (31 in 2000, 2001, 32 in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006)… they are accompanied in parentheses by the average size of those players over that same period of time… the oddity is that it is nearly a dead draw down the middle 110 offensive players, 111 defensive players and one lone specialist taken in the first round since the turn of the new century.

QB: 19 (6032, 225)

RB: 22 (5112, 224)

WR: 31 (6020, 209)

TE: 12 (6045, 255)

OC: 3(6030, 305)

OG: 4 (6033. 309)

OT: 19 (6060, 335)

DE: 27 (6034, 272)

DT: 25 (6036, 312)

ILB: 7 (6022, 245)

OLB: 13 (6030, 248)

CB: 29 (5115, 192)

S: 10 (6006, 215)

K: 1 (6020, 250)

FIRST ROUND QUARTERBACK MYSTIQUE... MORE TRUTH OR MYTH?:

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning became the first former #1 overall signal caller to win the Super Bowl since John Elway won his final championship ring in 1999, previously Troy Aikman had won three Super Bowl titles as a member of the Dallas Cowboys with the last one coming in 2006. However, prior to Manning's victory it was only Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who became just the second former first round signal caller to win the Super Bowl in recent memory as he joined only Trent Dilfer who did it while a member of the Baltimore Ravens back 2001.

What's worse is that quarterbacks have been taken #1 overall in seven of the past nine NFL Drafts, but to date only Manning has made it to the final game of the season. In fact, dating back over 30 years to 1975, the only three (Aikman, Elway and Manning) of the 13 quarterbacks to have been selected #1 overall have even made it to being the starting quarterback on Super Bowl Sunday. Both Manning and Rex Grossman were former first-round selections, and Tom Brady of the Patriots, a former sixth round pick faced off with Donovan McNabb of the Eagles, a former first round pick two years ago, but in previous years the signal callers in the Super Bowl have had less than "Super" draft credentials.

Manning now has one title (2006), Brady has captured three Super Bowl titles (2005, 2004, 2002) add in Dilfer's title (2001) and then the championship won by Brad Johnson, a ninth round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, in 2003 when he was the starting quarterback for Tampa Bay, so of that group Manning's draft credentials are hardly met by the others who have held up the Lombardi Trophy in recent memory. In fact, there have been a total of 24 meetings on Super Bowl Sunday between former first round signal callers and non-first round quarterbacks with the non-first rounders winning almost 50% of those contests, 10-out-of-24. The overall sense is that with this day-and-age of the salary cap that you may not need to over-extend your cap and spend a high if not first overall draft choice on a quarterback. You can rather build around a solid nucleus of talent. Sprinkle in a young, veteran signal caller or hope your scouting department is able to locate a solid early-to-mid round prospect that can take the reigns of the offensive system, while being surrounded with a solid offensive line, ground attack and defensive unit.

Here is another indication of what teams in the Top-10 who are looking to draft a rookie quarterback might have to look forward to or steer clear of depending on how you review the following material. The three quarterbacks taken in the first round of last year's NFL Draft had a combined touchdown to interception ratio of 32:30, so nearly a one-to-one ratio between Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler with only Cutler throwing for more touchdowns (nine) than interceptions (five). If you add in the significant playing time of Bruce Gradkowski and Tarvaris Jackson, the totals get a little rougher, as the five rookie signal callers that took the most snaps from center during the 2006 NFL campaign combined for a 43:43 ratio, which is exactly a one-to-one ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. Conversely, the majority of top-rated signal callers according to the NFL's passer rating system had ratios at or above 2:1 or even 3:1.

While those numbers are just a portion of their first year success/failure it is highly productive if compared to the signal caller group from 2005, whose ratio was just 1:12, mostly contributed to the early struggles of #1 overall pick Alex Smith of the 49ers. In review, the only quarterback from the 2005 draft with a positive touchdown to interception ratio was little used third-string backup Matt Cassel, who threw two touchdowns with just one interception on 24 pass attempts for the Patriots. Charlie Frye was the only signal caller to complete nearly 60% of his passes (59.8%). However, the rookie class of 2005 provided the league with four quarterbacks who attempted at least 100 passes, and their total combined touchdown to interception ratio was 18:37, which is an over 2:1 ratio in the negative direction.

What was equally disturbing is the fact that they averaged just 5.5 yards per pass attempt, which is also well below the normal league average. Lets take it even one step further back and take a look back to the 2004 NFL Draft, the highly publicized combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning have combined to throw for 106 touchdowns against 87 interceptions, over 16,000 yards, but will now have also combined to have four position coaches over the same three year period of time; two each. Roethlisberger has already won his first Super Bowl, while Manning led the Giants to resurgence on offense two years ago before struggling mightily down the stretch of 2006. However, both Philip Rivers and J.P. Losman came into their own with the benefit of sitting and learning their new system first, although Losman's initial venture into the starting lineup was often inconsistent to say the very least. So, of the ten first round quarterbacks taken over the past three drafts (2004-2006) only a handful have been able to take charge of their teams right away, while the others have struggled mightily to adapt their game to the pro level, and even then so have not found ideal results enough of the time to carry their teams to playoff caliber success.

You can take it even one final step further over the past seven years (2000-2006), a total of 13 rookie signal callers have attempted at least 175 passes, and of those only two have produced positive touchdown to interception ratios. The group as a whole has combined to throw 157 interceptions, while adding just 131 touchdowns through the air during that same period of time (2000-2006). How well will prospects like LSU's JaMarcus Russell or Notre Dame's Brady Quinn fair as rookies is still many months away from being known, but teams in the Top-10 better have a clear cut idea of their ability to perform as rookies in less than 11 weeks. On a side note when Warren Moon was named to the Hall of Fame class two years ago he became the first-ever un-drafted quarterback in the over 70-year era of the draft (1936) to earn a prestigious spot in Canton, Ohio after starting from such humble beginnings...

John Murphy writes for Yahoo Sports.


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