QB Success In Relation To Draft Capital


In this next series I'm going to examine positional player success in relation to draft capital, looking position by position over a three year sample size. Attempting to see if certain positions are able to succeed without necessarily having to be high draft picks. I will be starting with quarterbacks, a position where success rate in relation to draft capital may be more important than any other. For the sake of building the graphs any player that went un-drafted was given an eighth round draft grade. 

2017 NFL Passing Leaders

The first bar graph displays how important draft capital can be at the quarterback position, as 60% of the 2017 passing leaders were drafted in the first round. Only Tom Brady, Kase Keenum, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott or 20% of the passing leaders were drafted after the third round. Highlighting that 75% of the top twenty were drafted in the first or second round, with Russell Wilson being the only third rounder and no QB being represented from the fifth or 7th round. 

2016 NFL Passing Leaders

The second bar graph displays an even larger gap in first round draft picks dominating the top twenty in passing yards, with 65% being drafted in the first round. Only four players or 20% of the leader board were drafted after the second round. Showing again just how important it is for QB's to be selected early on in the NFL draft. As is the case in 2017 Brady, Prescott, and Cousins are really the only exception as later round success stories at the quarterback position recently.

2015 NFL Passing Leaders

The final graph displays the highest representation for first rounders with 70% of the 2015 passing leaders being first round draft picks. The same few names drafted outside the first couple of rounds keep popping up as expected, like Brady, Cousins, Wilson, and in 2015 "Fitzmagic". It also stands out that not a single quarterback drafted in the fifth round has made the top twenty in the past three years. 


After examining the quarterback passing leaders data over the past three years and building these graphs. It has become blatantly obvious to me that there isn't a great chance of success for QB's drafted outside of the first two rounds of the NFL draft. As there is a 65.0% representation annually for quarterbacks drafted in the first round, with second rounders accounting for 13.3%. So first and second round quarterbacks from 2015-2017 averaged 78.3% of the top twenty in passing yards. Third round draft selections only accounted for 5.0% on average over that span, with fourth rounders at 8.3%. Not one single QB drafted in the fifth round made the top twenty in the past three years, and Tom Brady is the only sixth rounder to make the list annually. Only one quarterback from the seventh round was able to crack the top twenty for a 1.7% showing. With the exception of Brady, Fitzpatrick, and Keenum there wasn't a single QB drafted after the fourth round who qualified for the top twenty in passing yards between 2015-2017. So when drafting rookies QB's this draft season keep in mind just how integral draft capital has been in the past for quarterbacks. There are exceptions to every rule, but essentially I want no part of QB's drafted outside of the second round.