Every year, quarterbacks make draft day jumps and end up going far above where their talent ranks them. Just take last year’s draft for example. Josh Allen, who passed for fewer than 1,900 yards in his final college season, was taken with the seventh pick. He had just two more passing touchdowns (ten) than rushing touchdowns (eight) and threw 12 interceptions in his rookie season. Josh Rosen was taken with the tenth pick and he had a worse rookie year. Rosen threw for 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and was even taken out of games when it was clear he was rattled. Allen and Rosen were two of the four quarterbacks taken in the top ten selections, although Lamar Jackson also went in the first round (32nd Overall).
Quarterbacks went early in the 2017 draft too. Mitchell Trubisky (2nd Overall), Patrick Mahomes (10th Overall), and Deshaun Watson (12th Overall) were all taken high. Despite what these three quarterbacks have become now, they were all Pro Bowlers in 2018, there were plenty of questions around them when they were picked. Trubisky only started for one season at North Carolina. It was unknown if Mahomes could translate his numbers from Texas Tech’s QB friendly offense to the pros. Scouts worried that Watson would be no more than just a great college quarterback, and were unsure of how his game would translate to the pros. Despite these concerns, which were legitimate at the time, all three quarterbacks went high.
Looking at how things have gone in recent drafts, there is always a pocket of two to four quarterbacks who go in the first ten to twelve picks. After that, maybe another goes in the bottom five to seven selections in the first round or high in the second round. There’s usually a decent gap in the middle. That’s because the “top tier” quarterback prospects get swept upward. When one team picks a quarterback, other needy teams panic and select quarterbacks as high as possible to secure they get the player they want. Teams usually have a few top players they are willing to choose, just in case another team takes one of the guys they want. With quarterbacks, that system doesn’t apply. Teams that want to take quarterbacks have very few options and often have a single favorite of the bunch. This leads to team scrambling to take “their guy”. After the best quarterbacks are taken, a large stretch of teams that have franchise quarterbacks make picks and this causes the separation between quarterback selections.
The 2019 NFL Draft has several quarterbacks worthy of mid to late first round selections, but these prospects will inevitably go in the top ten picks or so. Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins, and Kyler Murray all seem like prime candidates for this process. While the combine will give us a better understanding of which way players are trending and how the final prospect rankings should shake out, these four have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Teams in desperate need of a quarterback already hold, or are willing to trade for, high draft selections that they’ll use on these four players.
If you don’t think this will happen, just remember that the New York Jets passed on Denzel Ward, Bradley Chubb, and Quenton Nelson for Sam Darnold. The Buffalo Bills passed on Roquan Smith for Allen and the Arizona Cardinals passed on, well, everyone else for Rosen. That left Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, and Leighton Vander Esch still on the board for other teams. Quarterbacks are seen as everything in the NFL, and teams are willing to take risky shots to try and land a worthwhile starter, even if it means passing up generational talent elsewhere.