Carson Wentz and Jared Goff are currently viewed as the top two quarterbacks according to DLF Rookie ADP data, followed by a second-tier of passers evenly distributed through the next few rounds. Success for signal-callers taken in the later rounds of the NFL draft is largely dependent on their propensity to learn, improve and adapt. It also matters where they land.
While these landing spots may not be fertile ground for immediate fantasy production for rookie QBs in the short-term, they do offer the auxiliary conditions needed to create prime candidates for longer-term dynasty assets to monitor closely.
Let’s take a look.
Feeling optimistic about a certain QB prospect’s ability and landing spot is perfectly fine. But to create a complete, balanced analysis, it’s important to understand the chances that a QB taken in the later rounds in the NFL draft actually pans out.
Back in 2014, Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders did an in-depth study regarding this subject. In short, nearly every measure of quarterback success – completion percentage, yardage, touchdowns – steadily decrease from rounds 1-5, then level off in rounds 6 and 7. Justin Winn also showed that players drafted outside the first 40 picks have a much smaller chance of becoming a starting NFL quarterback.
So while we have seen some significant outliers – Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, etc. – it’s crucial to level expectations regarding these prospects and their fantasy value down the road.
For a landing spot to be considered for this list, a few existing conditions need to be met:
- A current starter age 34 or older
- A passer-friendly offensive system
- Talent at the surrounding offensive positions
- No immediate backup above replacement-level
Coming off a remarkable 2015 season, Carson Palmer is the unquestioned starter in Arizona. But at age 36 with a checkered past of injuries, it makes sense for the Cardinals’ front office to look to address the future at the position.
It’s also worth noting that Palmer’s current trio of wide receivers have gotten the best out of the 12-year veteran:
Both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd could end up as salary-cap causalities after the 2016 season so it’s possible the landscape here could shift. Look for them to address the position at some point in the draft to solidify depth. And oh yeah, there’s a running back named David Johnson that played pretty well last season as well as promising second year player J.J. Nelson.
Even without Martavis Bryant in the mix for 2016, the Steelers still have one of the most explosive offenses in the league. After garnering some criticism for his play-calling early on in his stint as offensive coordinator, Todd Haley orchestrated Pittsburgh’s offense masterfully last season.
Ben Roethlisberger is playing at a very high level and signed through the 2019 season. He’s started 15 or more games in seven of his 11 seasons since becoming the Steelers’ full-time starter, despite ranking 8th in NFL history for most times sacked. While Roethlisberger has been resilient, it’s fair to worry about the accumulation of punishment he’s taken.
The offensive pieces are in place to facilitate an eventually changing of the guard at QB, including Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Sammie Coates has a chance to emerge in Bryant’s absence and the addition of Ladarius Green should only add to the explosive capabilities of the offense.
Tony Romo is a better QB than the common narratives often intimate. He also missed 12 games last season due to two separate broken collarbones and will turn 36 before the end of the month.
This dichotomy tells me that assuming health, Romo will be the Cowboys’ starter in 2016, even if they take a QB with the fourth overall pick. It also tells me it would be wise for Dallas to find and groom a predecessor, and soon.
Dallas’s offensive line ranked sixth in both run blocking and pass protection last season per Football Outsiders, which would certainly help a young QB advance. It’s also the main reason why I like this spot for a later-round pick.
More needs to be done to address the lack of offensive playmakers outside of Dez Bryant, possibly starting with their first-round pick. A combination of Bryant and Laquon Treadwell/Josh Docston/Corey Coleman would only increase the likelihood for success.
The odds are against QBs that get drafted in the later rounds finding sustained success making it a risky proposition investing in such a player for dynasty purposes. And the premise of this article partially relies on speculation about what will happen over the next two-to-three seasons.
But it’s important to realize that not all landing spots for rookie QBs are created equal. If I needed to take a later round QB, I’d preference one that landed on one of these teams.