Drafting a Backup QB

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Mothman
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Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Mothman » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:47 pm

Dead_poet suggested this topic might merit it's own thread so I'm replying to his post below. Hopefully, the rest is self-explanatory.
dead_poet wrote: This is an interesting topic that may deserve it's own thread. It's the offseason so I don't mind discussing the merits of such a strategy. However it will take me quite a bit of convincing that the team should use such a valuable resource on a first-round QB when we just drafted one the year before that is showing promise of being the long-term starter. I think there's probably a happy medium between doing that and drafting the John David Booty's of the world.

Right now I can't imagine bypassing, say, a top-tier receiver that you hope will start and be a producer for a long time for a guy you may be grooming to be a very good backup, if needed. Worst-case you "waste" a first-rounder on a guy that never throws a pass for you in five years (clearly thanks to Teddy's amazing progression as a top-10 QB and Favreian reputation that never misses a game...I'm speaking from my optimistic future here) and leaves via free agency. Though I suppose, Jim, you're rightfully QB gun-shy and not quite as optimistic about Teddy, which is fair. Therefore are you thinking the "best-case" could be that Teddy pulls an RGIII and either gets injured or takes a step back so it's good to have Mariota-insurance as a guy that can make important spot-starts or even surge ahead after he pulls a Tom Brady, entering for an injured Bridgewater and dominates? IF that were to come to fruition, then it'd look like incredible foresight on Rick's part.

I simply have a hard time breaking the conventional thinking that you draft a guy in the first round to not only start, but be an impact starter for a long time. There's the distinct possibility that you draft Mariota or Winston in the first round and they never play a snap for the duration of their five years. If I'm a GM, I just don't take that chance.
... and that's perfectly understandable because I'm talking about some pretty "outside the box" thinking here and it's an idea I've only come around to recently myself. The best way I can explain it is to point to a few different examples/situations that lead me to thinking this way.

First, the last Vikings QB I was truly excited about was Daunte Culpepper and I saw him go from an arguably elite QB to a reclamation project on one play. His devastating injury was an eye-opener to me. It didn't literally end his career but it ended his career as a Viking and as an elite QB (I know opinions vary on that).

Since then, I've seen the Vikings invest their hopes for the future in QBs they've drafted, first with Jackson, then with Ponder and now with Bridgewater. The first two times, they basically did it without a safety net, putting all of their eggs into one basket. At the moment, that's the case with Bridgewater too. What I dislike about this approach is that there's no Plan B. It's boom or bust. If it works out, the team has their franchise QB. If not, it's back to the draft where they hope there's a great "QB of the future" prospect available that year and they hope they're in position (or can move into position) to select him. As a hypothetical GM, I want to throw out this approach. I think it's bad for business. It's exactly why the Vikings ended up pinning their hopes on Ponder for 3 years in the first place: they had no Plan B.

All of the above, from Culpepper's injury to the failed investments in young QBs have led me to believe a strong "Plan B" is essential. Added to that are situations like Brady stepping in to take over for Bledsoe and then becoming arguably the best QB of his generation, GB not passing up a proverbial "gift horse" when they had the opportunity to select Rodgers and ending up with another QB who could arguably be the best of his generation, Arizona having the best record in the league well into this season and having their season derailed because they didn't have a good enough backup QB, just like GB's was almost derailed last year, just like the Colts were in 2011 ... and so on.

I realize I'm talking about varying circumstances (Brady was drafted later, Favre was going to leave GB soon, etc.) but to me, the overwhelming message of today's NFL is that stability and quality at the QB position are essential to sustained success. I think a lot of people overemphasize the impact of the position and yet I still think it's essential if a team wants to be a perennial playoff contender. So, while I am a but gun-shy after Jackson and Ponder, and while I'm not quite as optimistic about Bridgewater as some fans are, this new outlook has very little do with Bridgewater and everything to do with what i perceive as the importance of the position. Teddy might be great but even if he's great, he could have a season end in a moment due to injury and sometimes it can take a year or two to truly recover from a bad injury. Some players never get back to what they were. Then there's the possibility that Teddy won't be great at all, that he'll be average or a little better than average.

To put it very simply: I want the Vikes to be prepared for Bridgewater to be lost or fail even while trying like crazy to help him stay healthy and succeed. I also don't want them to ever pass on the next Aaron Rodgers. I'm not saying Mariota is the next Rodgers. There's no way to tell who the next Rodgers will be but until their depth chart looks too good to consider it, any time a QB with serious talent and potential falls to the Vikings in the draft, I want them to think about applying the BPA philosophy and drafting him. Having depth and quality at QB has become crucial and in today's NFL, I'm surprised more teams aren't treating it that way. There are also always teams that need a Qb so having great depth at position also opens up trade possibilities that could pay draft day dividends down the road.

In my view, the only thing better than having Joe Montana as your starting QB is to have Joe Montana with Steve Young backing him up. :) If the Vikes become a contender and their starter goes down, I want them to look like a team that has shown the "incredible foresight" you mentioned above. However, I fully realize it doesn't necessarily require the investment of another first round pick to do that (or even a second or third rounder). I'm just at the point where I feel it would be worth a first round pick, even understanding that the player might never play a meaningful down.
But, as I mentioned above, I think I do take a QB sooner rather than later. If Cardale Jones declares, maybe you take him in the 4th or Hundley a round earlier. Petty is interesting as well as a mid-round guy. Is it just me or is there more of a dropoff from the top two guys this year and everyone else?
It's not just you. I see it too.

Jones is an intriguing prospect. He's raw but poised (all things considered) and he has a serious arm with a genuine knack for throwing the deep ball. I'd happily invest a 4th round pick in him.
I know you're preaching depth, and I agree, but when you have so many holes for starters it's hard to want to spend a high draft pick on what could be perceived as potential "luxury insurance" rather than filling holes that are a necessity. It's certainly an interesting perspective and I look forward to further discussion on the topic.
I know what you mean but the "switch" that's flipped in me is the one that considers great depth at that position a luxury. I'm now seeing it as a necessity. Logically, if QB is the most important position on the team (and there doesn't seem to be much dispute about that) then isn't that the position where you want the least possible drop in quality if you have to go from the starter to the backup? The luxury of a good backup can suddenly look like a necessity if that drop-off is too great.

I hope all of that made sense!
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by slapnut19 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:39 pm

i'm fine rolling with teddy and cassel for next year. i'm sure they will add a youngster somewhere along the way, but i wouldn't put a priority on it
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by PurpleMustReign » Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:21 pm

slapnut19 wrote:i'm fine rolling with teddy and cassel for next year. i'm sure they will add a youngster somewhere along the way, but i wouldn't put a priority on it
If Cassel stays. He may decide to leave.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by The Breeze » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:08 pm

The Vikings had 2 first round QBs on their roster this season.... :wink:


If Cassel is going to stay, which I doubt, then it may work for the better to just leave things....but on the other hand the sooner you have the plan B guy the better IMO.

If they snag a 4th or 5th rd guy in the next two seasons and he comes in and learns the ropes, even if, and I'm not predicting he will, Teddy winds up busting in year 3 or 4 you have a guy ready to man the helm until the next possibility is drafted.

I just like the idea of a guy coming in from the getgo knowing he is plan B, cuts his teeth in Turner's system and gets a good salary for being that insurance plan. Rather than some veteran retread that has never really done anything special in his 12 stops with other teams.
Ideally you never want to be forced to play the plan B....but you still have to pay them well considering what you are asking of them.
Last edited by The Breeze on Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Mothman » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:11 pm

The Breeze wrote:The Vikings had 2 first round QBs on their roster this season.... :twisted:
That's a paddlin'!

:spanking:
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by The Breeze » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:20 pm

Mothman wrote: That's a paddlin'!

:spanking:
That's funny. I looked at that post and it scared me...so I had to edit it. :lol:
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by slapnut19 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:33 pm

how many qbs drafted after the 2nd round are ever really ready to actually take over a team long term? it sounds great to draft a 5th round guy, develop him for three years and have him ready to start but that scenario rarely happens. also does cassel have an out clause in his current deal? even if he does i don't think he would be looking at a starting job on the open market and probably wouldn't come close to the 4.5 mil he could make here.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Texas Vike » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:33 pm

Good thread.

IMO, it all depends on who it is and where we take him in the draft. If someone like Bryce Petty falls below what he ought to and we can snag him say in the 4th... that's a no-brainer in my mind for the very reasons you're outlining, Jim.

We aren't a good enough team, talent-wise, to draft another QB in the first, or even second, round, IMO.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Cliff » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:19 pm

I like the idea of having quality at the #2 QB position but I think maintaining a high level of it is unrealistic and so drafting high for it isn't a good idea.

Even if you were to get a good backup option ... how do you keep him? If a QB is good enough take over for your starter and not miss a beat he's probably good enough to actually start and will want to do so; especially a young one. Once you've got a backup QB that is proven good enough to start (or was a high draft pick who hasn't been given a legitimate shot) it's a temporary solution.

Especially if you believe in your team's starting quarterback it doesn't make sense to spend a high round pick on a player that will hopefully never see the field. Not when there are so many other places that need improvement on the team.

At the end of the day you're talking about drafting a player to sit on the bench rather than a player that can come in and has a legitimate chance of starting. As much as you'd like to have the insurance policy, it just doesn't seem realistic. The picks are too valuable to invest in one position ... even more so when you consider that the #2 QB in general plays less than the #2 at any other position aside from kicker.

I also want to go back over a few of the examples Jim gave because I don't feel like they represent teams who have successfully taken that approach.
I realize I'm talking about varying circumstances (Brady was drafted later, Favre was going to leave GB soon, etc.) but to me, the overwhelming message of today's NFL is that stability and quality at the QB position are essential to sustained success. I think a lot of people overemphasize the impact of the position and yet I still think it's essential if a team wants to be a perennial playoff contender. So, while I am a but gun-shy after Jackson and Ponder, and while I'm not quite as optimistic about Bridgewater as some fans are, this new outlook has very little do with Bridgewater and everything to do with what i perceive as the importance of the position. Teddy might be great but even if he's great, he could have a season end in a moment due to injury and sometimes it can take a year or two to truly recover from a bad injury. Some players never get back to what they were. Then there's the possibility that Teddy won't be great at all, that he'll be average or a little better than average.
You briefly talk about the circumstances surrounding these situations but I think it's important to analyze them a little more. In doing so, you realize that the teams that ended up in this position didn't get there by investing high round picks when they already had young talent at QB. Obviously Brady was a 6th rounder and in that respect, the Vikings have already tried to draft a backup QB. In regards to Rodgers; Favre had been threatening to retire for at least a season before they drafted him. Favre basically forced them into worrying about the future. In retrospect it seems like genius, but Rodgers was never actually meant to sit on the bench as long as he did.

At any rate, I think you don't see any NFL teams actually drafting two QBs very high next to each other because you want the guy you pick up in the first round or two to stay with the team for a decade. In drafting two QBs that high you're guaranteeing that at least one leaves after their rookie deal (if they're both good) and you're left drafting QB in the high rounds every 3-4 years. I just can't see it, especially if you've got a young player who was a top 'rookie of the year' candidate at his position.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by DK Sweets » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:57 pm

I think Cliff just articulated my thoughts better than I could have. Very well put.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Mothman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:17 pm

Cliff wrote:I like the idea of having quality at the #2 QB position but I think maintaining a high level of it is unrealistic and so drafting high for it isn't a good idea.

Even if you were to get a good backup option ... how do you keep him? If a QB is good enough take over for your starter and not miss a beat he's probably good enough to actually start and will want to do so; especially a young one. Once you've got a backup QB that is proven good enough to start (or was a high draft pick who hasn't been given a legitimate shot) it's a temporary solution.

Especially if you believe in your team's starting quarterback it doesn't make sense to spend a high round pick on a player that will hopefully never see the field. Not when there are so many other places that need improvement on the team.

At the end of the day you're talking about drafting a player to sit on the bench rather than a player that can come in and has a legitimate chance of starting. As much as you'd like to have the insurance policy, it just doesn't seem realistic.
I honestly don't see anything unrealistic about it from a strategic point of view. I think it's just unconventional.
The picks are too valuable to invest in one position ... even more so when you consider that the #2 QB in general plays less than the #2 at any other position aside from kicker.
Until the #1 QB goes down or turns into Josh Freeman (does anybody think the Bucs saw that coming?) and then suddenly, the #2 QB is every bit as crucial to winning and losing as the starting QB. Heck, we've seen the Vikings start 3 different QBs in each of the last 2 seasons. We've seen them struggle at this position for the better part of a decade. I'm tired of it. I don't want to see them keep playing without a "net". I don't want to see them make decisions on what they believe Bridgewater will become. They believed in Jackson and Ponder too. We're bombarded by media reports emphasizing the importance of good QB play and the rules have placed greater emphasis on it than ever before. I'd like to see the Vikes become one of the first teams to truly react to those changes, and the leverage provided by the rookie cap, and become a team that all but hoards young talent at QB. I say become a QB factory if possible! I'm not suggesting they need to repeatedly spend first or second picks on QB after QB but I want them to learn from the past and take advantage of golden opportunities if/when they present themselves.
You briefly talk about the circumstances surrounding these situations but I think it's important to analyze them a little more. In doing so, you realize that the teams that ended up in this position didn't get there by investing high round picks when they already had young talent at QB. Obviously Brady was a 6th rounder and in that respect, the Vikings have already tried to draft a backup QB. In regards to Rodgers; Favre had been threatening to retire for at least a season before they drafted him. Favre basically forced them into worrying about the future. In retrospect it seems like genius, but Rodgers was never actually meant to sit on the bench as long as he did.
I realize all of that, which is why I referred to the varying circumstances. My point is: I don't care about those circumstances. :) I'm talking about a new approach, a new paradigm, not one based on previous conventions. I fully understand why GB drafted Rodgers when they did. However, the rookie cap is a complete game-changer in my opinion. Consider Rodgers and the Vikings situation in 2005: the Vikes had Culpepper. They had a young QB, in his prime, coming off a near-MVP season. It was understandable that they wouldn't draft a QB in the first round no matter how highly they had him graded. However, by mid-season, they were starting an aging Brad Johnson and their future at QB was in doubt, where it's basically remained for a decade. In hindsight, drafting Rodgers would have been a godsend. They even had two first round picks that year!

Here's another consideration: the Vikes gave Matt Cassel a $10.5 million contract for 2014-15 with $5,650,000 guaranteed. If, for example, Mariota fell to them at #11 this year and they had a high enough grade on him to consider him worth selecting, based on the "slotted" contracts we've seen under the rookie cap, he'd cost them about $11.5 over 4 years, one million more than Cassel for twice the time. In other words, it's a move that would easily be affordable and that's using the relatively extreme example of a highly-touted prospect sliding to #11, which is still in the upper third of the first round. Bridgewater was selected with the last pick in R1 and he's costing the Vikes under $7 million over 4 years, with less than that guaranteed. What Im talking about is easily affordable in today's NFL... and that's with first round picks. It wouldn't necessarily require first round investments to do do this. I just think they should be open to those rare first-round opportunities should they arise.
At any rate, I think you don't see any NFL teams actually drafting two QBs very high next to each other because you want the guy you pick up in the first round or two to stay with the team for a decade. In drafting two QBs that high you're guaranteeing that at least one leaves after their rookie deal (if they're both good) and you're left drafting QB in the high rounds every 3-4 years.
Which seems like a good idea to me, since again, strong performance from that position is clearly crucial to sustained success in today's NFL. What I'm talking about isn't all that different from what Seattle did in signing Matt Flynn to a 3 year, $20 million deal ($9 million guaranteed) and then drafting Wilson in R3 anyway. It's just cheaper and in their case, that willingness to draft Wilson despite just signing a young free agent to fill their QB position might have been the difference between Super Bowl success and failure.

That said, I do see your point but using a first round pick in this capacity would be a relative rarity.
I just can't see it, especially if you've got a young player who was a top 'rookie of the year' candidate at his position.
A year or two later, a player like that can look like one of the league's best QBs, a lost cause or anywhere in-between. At this point, I think it makes a lot more sense to invest heavily in the most important position in the sport rather than to operate on hope and faith so much of the time, with veteran journeyman and practice squad projects backing up the all-important starter. If it makes sense to have a quality young QB waiting in the wings when there's a veteran starter approaching retirement, why doesn't it make sense to have a quality QB waiting in the wings all the time? A starting QB's career can go south just as rapidly as an established QB's career can succumb to age.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by The Breeze » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:50 pm

slapnut19 wrote:how many qbs drafted after the 2nd round are ever really ready to actually take over a team long term? it sounds great to draft a 5th round guy, develop him for three years and have him ready to start but that scenario rarely happens. also does cassel have an out clause in his current deal? even if he does i don't think he would be looking at a starting job on the open market and probably wouldn't come close to the 4.5 mil he could make here.
I don't think long term is what you're looking for....but a guy who can come in without significant drop off until there is a long term solution for what ever situation created the need for plan B in the first place.

All of these guys are rd 3 or later and are who I would be happy with as a back up considering their talent. Several of which could have been traded for another piece had they not become starters for the team that drafted them:

Nick Foles, Russel Wilson, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colt McCoy, Matt Schaub, Josh McCown, David Garrard, Marc Bulger, Tom Brady, Matt Hasselback, Kordell Stewart, Rob Johnson, Jim Miller, Gus Frerotte, Mark Brunell, Trent Green, Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Brad Johnson, Stan Humphries, Rich Gannon, Steve Beuerlein, Don Majkowski



The Vikings took Culpepper in 99 then didn't even draft another QB until Jackson in 06 which is when the QB position really became a problem. Culpepper got wrecked and they had zero backup plan at the games most critical position.

In the next 4 seasons they drafted Tyler Thigpen, John David Booty, then Joe Webb....before Ponder. They might have had something with Thigpen instead of Jackson. If Thigpen had been kept while Favre was around they may have never reached on Ponder. Who knows? The point is not to leave yourself in a desperate situation if you can help it.


Favre showed up in GB in 92...since then here is the list of QBs they drafted:

Brunell 93
Jay Barker 95
Kyle Wachholtz 96
Matt Hasselback 98
Aaron Brooks 99
Craig Nall 02
Aaron Rodgers 05
Ingle Martin 06
Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm 08
BJ Coleman 12

Brunell was traded after two seasons for 5th and 7th rd picks.....Travis Jervey RB made the probowl on special teams for GB and Adam Timmerman G who made a probowl and was a 4 time alternate and played in 4 superbowls.

Matt Hassleback was traded after 3 seasons in a deal that netted GB Seattle's 1st and 3rd ...they took DE Jamal Reynolds #10 overall, and ILB Torrance Marshal, both busts...haha GB!

Aaron Brooks was traded for a 3rd rd pick.....Bhawoh Jue DB he was GBs own defensive ROY career; cut short by injuries

New England has a similar QB draft history through the Bledsoe Brady eras, drafting 10 Qbs in that stretch.

The Pats got starting Safety Patrick Chung (#34overall) when they dealt Cassel and also had a deal for a first rounder through Denver which they passed on.

Ryan Mallet was traded for a 2016 6-7 rd pick and became a starter for Houston before getting hurt.

Using these two teams as a model for drafting at the postion in spite of having a HoFer already under center. Both GB and NE have drafted more QBs than the Vikings over those respective stretches and in some cases parlayed them into more picks.

They seem to draft a guy every couple of seasons or so and it's not usually a guy who is a big project...but someone who they think will fit their system and be a competent backup. They invest at the position even when they have the starter nailed down.

I think it's a good idea.
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by The Breeze » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:06 pm

Looks like Cardale is going to declare:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/sto ... ide-future


Not only would he be a possible backup QB but he would probably be a beast at full back or LB :lol:
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Re: Drafting a Backup QB

Post by Mothman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:18 pm

The Breeze wrote:Looks like Cardale is going to declare:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/sto ... ide-future

Not only would he be a possible backup QB but he would probably be a beast at full back or LB :lol:
Interesting!

Good post above, too... the contrast you illustrated between how GB and NE have approached the QB position and how the Vikings have was interesting, to say the least. I don't think our favorite franchise has placed nearly enough emphasis on that position over the years.
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Drafting a Backup QB

Post by frosted » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:01 pm

Does anyone know the fail/pass rate on first round QBs? Obviously fail/pass is subjective, but I guess what I'm asking, is, historically, how risky is it to take a first round QB vs. other positions?

My initial thought would be that the bust factor is higher, but I hesitate to trust that instinct, since it's likely been slanted that way by other factors (the media, Ponder, etc.). Is perception reality? Or nah?


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