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Did the Devaluation of QBs Continue in the 2014 NFL Draft?

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Back in April, I did a little study that confirmed my suspicions that QBs are being devalued in the NFL Draft. I decided to do a little follow-up bookkeeping now that the 2014 NFL Draft is over. Below, I’ve included the table detailing draft picks by year from that article, and added the information for 2014, in bold:

Year # Selected Average Pick #
2009
First Round 3 7.66
First Two 4 16.75
First Three * *
2010
First Round 2 13
First Two 3 24.67
First Three 4 39.75
2011
First Round 4 7.75
First Two 6 17
First Three 7 25.14
2012
First Round 4 8.25
First Two 5 18
First Three 7 36.14
2013
First Round 1 16
First Two 2 27.5
First Three 3 42.66
2014
First Round 3 19
First Two 5 31
First Three * *

If you need a refresher, here’s the QBs and the overall pick used to draft them: Blake Bortles (3), Johnny Manziel (22), Teddy Bridgewater (32), Derek Carr (36), and Jimmy Garoppolo (62).

You’ll notice that the first round average1 is still trending consistently downward2 and so is the 2nd round average. Admittedly, we’re dealing with a small sample here, so if you’re not convinced by the overall trend I don’t blame you. But the difference between the time period from 2009-2012 and the last two years is clearly significant.

I think the really telling factor is the quality of the QBs. The QBs in 2012, a historically good group, were drafted later than the QBs in 2011, a group defined by its plethora of busts. This year’s group of QB prospects were really quite good, and Johnny Manziel may be an all-time great prospect, but they were still drafted later on average than all other years in this sample.

Again, the advantage to be had here is that there is no mainstream narrative about the devaluation of QBs like there is for RBs. Draft position is perhaps the single largest factor many people use in their personal QB evaluations. I’ve already heard people say that this is a mediocre QB class, even though that couldn’t be further from the truth. People think since none of them went with the first overall pick, none must be that good. People think since they didn’t really differentiate themselves from each other to form a clear hierarchy, none must be that good. This ignores the fact that Bortles, Bridgewater, and Manziel are completely different kinds of prospects. Steak, ice cream, and back rubs don’t lend themselves to a clear hierarchy either, but I’d be happy to have any of them.

Hopefully, the top three QBs will all fall further than they should in various formats. Hopefully, you’ll take advantage of the market inefficiency.

  1. Average meaning mean.  (back)
  2. The abysmal QB class of 2010 is the lone exception. The QBs: Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy.  (back)

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