The first round of the NFL Draft took place Thursday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the first time in history and yet again the storylines centered around the quarterbacks.
For the first time in NFL Draft history, four quarterbacks were taken in the top 10 picks. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield went first to the Cleveland Browns, USC’s Sam Darnold was selected by the New York Jets with the third pick, Wyoming’s Josh Allen was picked up by the Buffalo Bills at seventh overall, and UCLA’s Josh Rosen rounded out the top 10 by going to the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite all the talk about quarterback being the most important position in football, I have yet to see a quarterback drafted that has drastically improved a team’s record. A team is more than its quarterback.
If you ask NFL experts or the casual fan who the best quarterback in the league is, they would probably say Aaron Rodgers. Yet the Packers have only won one Super Bowl win in Rogers’ tenure with the team. The Patriots are a dynasty, but not because of Tom Brady. They always have a solid defense and consistently draft players late in the first round that fit their system. Brady completes their team, but he is not the foundation.
We’ve seen teams such as the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowls in recent years because of dominant defensive units. The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII with their backup quarterback. Yes, Nick Foles played well in the absence of Carson Wentz, but Foles didn’t dismantle the Patriots singlehandedly.
Mayfield, Darnold, Allen and Rosen all had great college careers and I’m sure at least a couple of them will have solid careers in the NFL, but there are plenty of can’t miss prospects in this draft that fell down the board due to teams prioritizing quarterbacks.
Chris B. Brown, author of “The Art of Smart Football”, put it best by tweeting that we’ve been debating too much over the quarterbacks when there are solid picks across the board.
“My gut increasingly feels like we’re going to have spent so much time talking about the QBs and [Saquon] Barkley,” Brown wrote, “and then in five years when [Bradley] Chubb, Derwin James, Quenton Nelson, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick are perennial all-pros we will wonder what we were doing.”
Yes, the quarterback is the flashiest position in football, and when an offense is rolling it looks like the quarterback holds the keys to winning games. But when looking to build a team, one should first look to establish a solid offensive line or secondary.
A quarterback completes a team, it doesn’t save one. The best of example of this is when the Houston Texans selected David Carr with their first ever draft pick. Carr was projected to be the face of their franchise moving forward. Yet with a subpar offensive line, Carr took hit after hit as a young quarterback and never panned out.
I hope each of the quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft has a successful career, but if I ran a team I would look in other areas before taking a signal caller.