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Bickel’s Blog: Beware Of EB’s

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On Tuesday afternoon the Denver Broncos released Kyle Orton. He’s had a miserable last two years in Denver and was ultimately replaced by the fan favorite, yet marginally talented Tim Tebow. I’ve suggested on more than one occasion that Orton is one of many that would be better than what we’ve got here in Washington. Would anybody actually argue that?

In fact, for his career he as a TD to Interception ratio of 79 to 55 and a career QB rating of 80. Those aren’t world-beating numbers but they are certainly competent. Nevertheless it seems the majority opinion here is that the Skins would be making a huge mistake bringing him to town. Most don’t think he’s very good and almost all fear he would stunt or prevent the development of a potential first round quarterback, who the Skins MUST select in next years draft.

I’ll stipulate that Kyle Orton isn’t great by any means. He’s probably just decent at best. I’ll also concede that with a first round pick you want better than decent. You want a franchise Quarterback. You want a future first ballot Hall of Famer.

But is that what you’re going to get? Recent history suggests and the evidence is overwhelming that you WON’T get that guy in the first round. You have about a .0612244898 chance of getting that guy to be exact.

Between 1990 and 2010 there have been 49 QB’s selected in the first round. We won’t count 2011 because it’s too early to really tell how Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder will end up performing. Certainly the future looks bright for Cam. But it’s clearly too early to tell.

So let’s look back at the last 49 first round quarterbacks. How will we grade the picks? I’ve broken them down into four groups.

1) EB’s or Epic Busts: This is the Ryan Leaf Category- flat out huge misses…. catastrophic picks. They will go down in infamy

2) KO’s: Kyle Orton’s. (I recognize he was a 4th rounder but his stats are decent and he was available on Tuesday) KO’s are Ok…but ultimately undesirable: These guys are available. They can win some games on a good team…but they don’t wow you. Nobody REALLY wants them.

3) ELI’s: Very good QB’s: These are the Eli Mannings of the world. They can win for you but they aren’t quite elite. They can make Pro Bowls. They are capable of big years but also are susceptible to catastrophic games and decisions that make you wonder how they are successful at times. They aren’t misses by any stretch. But they generally can’t put a team on their back and be counted on to win Super Bowls by their shear talent and will.

4) HRs: Home Run QB’s: These are franchise QB’s for a decade plus. No explanation is necessary.

Here are the first round quarterbacks from 1990 to 2010.

1990 – Andre Ware (Detroit) BUST , Jeff George (Indianapolis) ORTON
1991 – Dan McGwire (Seattle), BUST Todd Marinovich (Oakland) BUST
1992 – David Klingler (Cincinnati) BUST, Dave Brown (N.Y. Giants),
BUST, Tommy Maddox (Broncos) ORTON
1993 – Drew Bledsoe (New England) ELI , Rick Mirer (Seattle) BUST
1994 – Heath Shuler (Washington) BUST Trent Dilfer (Tampa Bay) ORTON
1995 – Steve McNair ELI (Houston), Kerry Collins (Carolina) ORTON
1996 – NONE
1997 – Jim Druckenmiller (San Francisco) BUST
1998 – Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) HR, Ryan Leaf (San Diego) BUST
1999 – Tim Couch (Cleveland) BUST, Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia) ELI, Akili Smith (Cincinnati) BUST, Daunte Culpepper
(Minnesota) ORTON, Cade McNown (Chicago) BUST
2000 – Chad Pennington (New York Jets) ORTON
2001 – Mike Vick (Atlanta) ELI
2002 – David Carr (Houston) BUST, Joey Harrington (Detroit) BUST,
Patrick Ramsey (Washington) BUST
2003 – Carson Palmer (Cincinnati) ELI, Byron Leftwich (Jacksonville)
ORTON, Kyle Boller (Baltimore) BUST, Rex Grossman (Chicago) ORTON
2004 – Eli Manning (N.Y. Giants),ELI Philip Rivers (San Diego) ELI, Ben
Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) HR, J.P. Losman (Buffalo) BUST
2005 – Alex Smith (San Francisco) ORTON, Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) HR,
Jason Campbell (Washington) ORTON
2006 – Vince Young (Tennessee) ORTON, Matt Leinart (Arizona) BUST, Jay Cutler
(Denver) ELI
2007 – JaMarcus Russell (Oakland) BUST, Brady Quinn (Cleveland) BUST
2008 – Matt Ryan (Atlanta) ELI, Joe Flacco (Baltimore) ELI
2009 – Matt Stafford (Detroit) ELI, Mark Sanchez (N.Y. Jets) ORTON,
Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay) ORTON
2010 — Sam Bradford (St. Louis) ELI, Tim Tebow (Denver) ORTON

EBs (Epic Busts): 20 Ware, McGwire, Marinovich, Klingler, Brown,
Mirer, Shuler, Druckenmiller, Leaf, Couch, Akili Smith, McNown, Carr,
Harrington, Ramsey, Boller, Losman, Leinart, Russell, Quinn

Ortons : 14 George, Maddox, Dilfer, Collins, Culpepper, Pennington,
Leftwich, Grossman, Alex Smith, Young, Campbell, Sanchez, Freeman, Tebow

Elis: 12 Bledsoe, McNair, McNabb, Vick, Palmer, Eli, Rivers, Cutler,
Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Bradford

HRs: 3 Manning, Roethlisberger, Rodgers,

In my opinion since 1990 -20 QBs selected in the first round have been EPIC BUSTS. Teams have cast their lots on these guys and coaches and GM’s almost universally have lost their jobs because of them. They can set your franchise back 5-10 years. History suggests you have a 40% chance of drafting an epic bust.

14 have been KO’s (30%) . These are good quarterbacks at times. But they are not special. In fact, they are mostly mostly disappointing. To be fair, a KO can win a Super Bowl if an amazing team surrounds them. Trent Dilfer is a classic example. Mark Sanchez is pretty mediocre but he’s been to 2 AFC Championship games. But, generally they don’t take you there. You don’t want to draft a KO.
KO’s are good enough to keep their jobs but probably not good enough to take you to the Promised Land. They’re almost poisonous.

So in my evaluation that’s 34 out of 49 (69%) who have been drafted in the first round over the last 20 years and they are NOT elite or franchise quarterbacks – not even close. They’re just there. They are competent and good at times, but not special.

12 out of 49 or (24%) are Eli’s. These are very good quarterbacks. They will make Pro Bowls. Eli’s are capable of winning the big one. They are just in that second tier. They are borderline great players. You have to consider these picks hits. Unfortunately, you have a 69% chance of NOT getting an Eli or a home run.

Finally 3 of the last 49 qbs in the last 20 years selected in the first round can be considered Home Runs or first ballot hall of famers. If you hit on one you are gold. You’re probably going to win a few Super Bowls and you get to keep your job. The problem is you only have a 6% chance of getting one. Good luck.

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