As the clock continues to wind down to the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, the only thing we know for certain is that it will be a long time until the Minnesota Vikings have their name announced and analyzed while they’re on the clock – whether they stand pat and don’t make a pick until the 48th selection or make a deal to move up slightly or down slightly via trade.
The next-closest thing to a certainty is that NFL teams are going to draft quarterbacks they hope will be critical to their future.
Given that the Vikings won’t have a first-round pick because they traded for former a No. 1 overall selection (Sam Bradford) to replace an injured one (Teddy Bridgewater) and signed former Rams starter Case Keenum to back up one or both, the Vikings have little interest in the QB Class of 2017, especially in the first two days of the draft.
However, they do have an interest before they make their first pick. Every quarterback taken in the draft before No. 48 is a bonus pick slashed away from the Vikings’ draft board.
The problem with drafting quarterbacks who lit up college towns across the country is that, more times than not, the fail rate is higher than just about any other position.
Need convincing? In the last 10 drafts (2007-2016), 116 quarterbacks have been taken. Not all are first-rounders. Some are drafted with the hope that if they don’t embarrass themselves at training camp and in the preseason, they can stick and be developed in the mold of a Tom Brady or Tony Romo or, in a worst-case scenario, unfulfilled roster depth.
Unfortunately, the reality is much more shocking than that.
Here is the full list – hopefully true draftniks remember many of these names on an empty stomach. Players listed are by number selected by team. First-round picks have an asterisk next to their names.
New York Jets (7) – Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty, Tajh Boyd, Geno Smith, Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez* and Erik Ainge.
Denver (6) – Paxton Lynch*, Trevor Siemian, Zac Dysert, Brock Osweiler, Tim Tebow* and Tom Brandstater.
Cleveland (5) – Cody Kessler, Johnny Manziel*, Brandon Weeden*, Colt McCoy and Brady Quinn*.
Los Angeles Rams (5) – Jared Goff*, Sean Mannion, Garrett Gilbert, Sam Bradford* and Keith Null.
Minnesota (5) – Teddy Bridgewater*, Christian Ponder*, Joe Webb, John David Booty and Tyler Thigpen.
Miami (5) – Brandon Doughty, Ryan Tannehill*, Pat White, Chad Henne and John Beck.
New England (5) – Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett, Zac Robinson and Kevin O’Connell.
Philadelphia (5) – Carson Wentz*, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, Mike Kafka and Kevin Kolb.
Washington (5) – Nate Sudfeld, Robert Griffin III*, Kirk Cousins, Colt Brennan and Jordan Palmer.
Baltimore (4) – Keith Wenning, Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco* and Troy Smith.
Buffalo (4) – Cardale Jones, E.J. Manuel*, Levi Brown and Trent Edwards.
Green Bay (4) – Brett Hundley, B.J. Coleman, Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn.
Oakland (4) – Connor Cook, David Carr, Tyler Wilson and JaMarcus Russell*.
San Francisco (4) – Jeff Driskel, B.J. Daniels, Colin Kaepernick, Nate Davis.
Tampa Bay (4) – Jameis Winston*, Mike Glennon, Josh Freeman* and Josh Johnson.
Tennessee (4) – Marcus Mariota*, Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker* and Rusty Smith.
Arizona (3) – Logan Thomas, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton.
Carolina (3) – Cam Newton*, Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike.
Chicago (3) – David Fales, Nathan Ederle and Dan LaFevour.
Cincinnati (3) – A.J. McCarron, Andy Dalton and Jeff Rowe.
Detroit (3) – Jack Rudock, Matthew Stafford* and Drew Stanton.
Houston (3) – Tom Savage, T.J. Yates and Alex Brink.
Indianapolis (3) – Chandler Harisch, Andrew Luck* and Curtis Painter.
Jacksonville (3) – Brandon Allen, Blake Bortles* and Blaine Gabbert*.
Kansas City (3) – Kevin Hogan, Aaron Murray and Ricky Stanzi.
New York Giants (3) – Ryan Nassib, Rhett Bomar and Andre’ Woodson.
Atlanta (2) – Sean Renfree and Matt Ryan*.
Dallas (2) – Dak Prescott and Stephen McGee.
Los Angeles Chargers (2) – Brad Sorenson and Jonathan Crompton
New Orleans (2) – Garrett Grayson and Sean Canfield.
Pittsburgh (2) – Landry Jones and Dennis Dixon.
Seattle (2) – Russell Wilson and Mike Teel.
There’s a lot to digest from that list. Perhaps the most pertinent is the teams that have taken the fewest.
Among the six-pack that have taken just two, Atlanta invested in Ryan and Seattle struck mid-round gold with Wilson. Other than that? Who started for the other four to make this luxury possible? A Tier-2 R&B Mount Rushmore of Roethlisberger, Rivers, Romo & Brees.
Not too shabby.
Considering somebody on the “real” NFL Mount Rushmore – Tom Brady – has mentored five QBs who have never been viewed as competition is saying something. Not far behind are Eli, A-Rog and the tandem of Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer.
The teams that have selected more than one QB in the first round during the last decade speaks volumes about their success – or lack thereof. It also explains the Raiders’ fear of putting a toe in the purple-drank waters.
For the rest, each team has a story – an organizational narrative that can be legitimately explained by these numbers. Hit and you’re set. Miss and fire again. Expectations came with many of them (revisit the list) with hot smoke blowing northward. The reality is much different.
A lot of big men on college campuses have come to the NFL ready to put a hug on Roger Goodell and earn the right to lead their teams. Most don’t.
The good news of not having a pick currently any better than 48th is that, in a down draft year for quarterbacks, the Vikings know that the pre-draft chumming of the water will get teams to bite.
Minnesota won’t be a cute second-generation Mahomes story. From the view of those that stack the draft board, the family reunion is a moot point because he’s off the board.
The wish is that Kizer is on a roll and snapped up.
Two teams – throw your voice in the destination of choice – are certain to take quarterbacks in the first round.
If you are a hit-the-chicken-switch optimist, as many as five or six B-plus quarterbacks could potentially be off the board before the Vikings have their moment in the sun – ETA being about 8 p.m. Friday WPT (Winter Park Time).
The more QBs that are the alleged next big thing for someone else, the better.
Suddenly the 48th pick becomes, in reality, the 45th.
Or, God forbid, the 43rd?
The possibilities are endless. Have at it boys! For now, the Norsemen will be watching their own bobber. Don’t underestimate a Minnesotan’s ability to stare at an immobile bobber, but getting more optimistic all the time.