No draft decision is as important as a draft quarterback decision. And historically, some NFL franchises have been better than others. But who has been the best? Worst? We turn to the numbers to find out.
To rank the 32 teams based on their quarterback writing skills, we used Pro Football Reference’s approximate career weighted (AV) value to measure production since the beginning of the common draft era in 1967. But this is not as simple as summarizing each QB career weighted AV. We also wanted to adjust where they were selected. Anyone can pick a No. 1 superstar overall, but grabbing a Russell Wilson in the third round requires more skill. Think of this as a production above or below the expectation given where the player was selected.
We also made an adjustment for the year a player was selected. Recent recruits haven’t had a chance to develop a career AV yet, although this doesn’t completely solve the problem, so someone like Patrick Mahomes will likely look much more valuable in a few years than he seems now. this measure
Let’s see how all of the NFL franchises have fared in the quarterback selection since 1967, starting with the six-time Super Bowl Patriots champion.
Note: This exercise uses career-weighted AV, which puts more weight on a player’s best seasons, rather than simply adding together the AV earned each season. For simplicity, I’ll just call it AV or Professional AV from here on out.
Total QB Professional AV Composition higher than expected: 304
Selection of the best value: Tom Brady, No. 199 in 2000
Worst value selection: Tom Hodson, No. 59 in 1990
How could it be someone else? The name of the game here is production above expectations based on draft pick, and the Patriots found arguably the best quarterback of all time in the sixth round. The Patriots are so far ahead here that even if we didn’t count their second-best-performing quarterback Rich Gannon, drafted in the fourth round in 1987, they would still be the best team.
Total QB Professional AV Writing Over Expected: 197
Selection of the best value: Drew Brees, No. 32 in 2001
Worst value selection: Ryan Leaf, No. 2 in 1998
I saw the Chargers at number 2 and, for a moment, I thought, “Eh?” But then he clicked. Even with the Leaf disaster, the Chargers have recruited several successful quarterbacks … for other teams. The aforementioned Brees is one. Eli Manning and Trent Green are two more.
Add Dan Fouts, a Hall of Fame recruited with the 64th overall pick who did play for them, and it all makes a lot of sense.
Total QB Professional AV Composition higher than expected: 167
Selection of the best value: Peyton Manning, No. 1 in 1998
Worst value selection: Art Schlichter, No. 4 in 1982
Although he was selected with the first overall pick in 1998, Manning still racked up the fourth highest AV of any quarterback’s expectations, and the highest among all selected players in the first round. That is in stark contrast to Manning’s successor in Indianapolis, who was also selected with the first overall pick: Andrew Luck. Although Luck exceeded expectations for a first overall pick, he finished just 15 AV units ahead of that expectation due to his early retirement. Manning went over 100 units beyond that.
Do you know who else is increasing the Colts’ numbers here? John Elway The Baltimore Colts selected Elway with the first overall pick in 1983, but the future Hall of Fame member refused to play for them and successfully forced a trade to Denver.