NFL Draft: Is it really drafting quarterbacks that’s the NFL’s problem?

I am going to come right out and say it. Drafting a QB is the worst strategy to win Super Bowls. I know, blasphemy! Is it though? Today more than ever the NFL Draft is essentially watching two, or in this year’s case three, quarterbacks go right off the bat, the real drama doesn’t even kick in until the third or fourth pick.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the drama started at pick number four with the Atlanta Falcons, but it was a toss-up between — you guessed it — a quarterback and arguably the best player in the draft tight end Kyle Pitts. To recap, Trevor Lawrence went to the Jaguars at #1, because the GM would’ve been fired on the spot for passing on him.

Zach Wilson went second overall to the New York Jets, to no one’s surprise since he is being called the potential next Patrick Mahomes. Then came Trey Lance at number three to the San Francisco 49ers, a good player, but from that concerning well of players who played against subpar competition.

Finally, at number four, the drama began and the decision was whether the Atlanta Falcons, already owning Matt Ryan and his albatross of a contract, but still with Pro Bowl ability, would take hometown kid Justin Fields or stud athlete Kyle Pitts. They chose Pitts, and for the first time in this particular NFL Draft, sanity won out.

So now comes the part where people say that I am crazy, that every franchise needs a franchise quarterback, otherwise they will never win a Super Bowl. While that might be true, who says you have to draft one? Realistically there are plenty of guys on the market or (looking at you, Aaron Rodgers) are ready to move on from their teams for doing exactly what Green Bay did, buying into the QB obsession. Green Bay, with All-Pro Aaron Rodgers, went and took a QB in the first round of last year’s draft. This on the heels of Rodgers asking for some help at receiver.

Let’s take a look at the current QB’s with Super Bowl victories to their name, and just for fun, I’ll show how many they have won in total. Tom Brady (7), Ben Roethlisberger (2), Aaron Rodgers (1), Joe Flacco (1), Russel Wilson (1), Nick Foles (1), Patrick Mahomes (1).

Looking at this list there are some things that stand out to me. First, that four out of the seven were first-round picks, but none of them were top 10 picks. Second, that Joe Flacco and Big Ben barely qualify since it has been over a decade since either of them won the Super Bowl, and Rodgers just joined that camp.

By every definition of the word, Ben and Aaron are “franchise” guys, the top of their positions, at least before Ben’s arm fell off, yet both of them are on the outside looking in year after year.  Joe Flacco went berserk for one postseason, as did Foles, but neither would even come close to being called a Franchise QB.

Mahomes looks the part but has the benefit of elite talent around him (more on that later). Wilson rode the Legion of Boom to the big win over Denver, but as all NFL fans are frequently reminded, when the torch was passed to him, he promptly gave it to Malcolm Butler. He hasn’t been back since.

Then there is Tom Brady. Yes, Tom Brady is what every team is looking for in that QB they take in the NFL Draft, a man to build the dynasty around, that can change the culture. Here is the problem — there has only ever been one Tom Brady, he is called the GOAT for a reason. He is inimitable, he is an original. (Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton for that reference.)

More often than not if your team is drafting in the top 5 or top 10 you have more than just the issue of who is taking the snaps and throwing the ball. A perfect example of this is Atlanta. Matt Ryan is no slouch under center. He may not be the MVP he once was, but he knows how to get the job done. Yet, the Falcons ended up with the fourth pick.

Carolina had Teddy Bridgewater, not an all-world guy, but certainly able to win at this level. They ended up at eight. Cincinnati had QB of the future Joe Burrow, and they got the fifth pick. The Lions have had a decade of Matt Stafford, and even still they are constantly in the upper half of the draft. Philly had Wentz, traded a bunch to get him, and how’d that work out?  They’re currently paying him $32 million to play for someone else.

If I were a GM in the NFL, which maybe after reading this someone will reach out to me, I feel I am competent enough by comparison to run the Houston Texans. Dreams aside, the best strategy to a top pick, trade it away! Get out! Run! Some team will buy into the hype of some kid out of a powerhouse school being the next Tom Brady and trade you their future for the rights to him!  Take it. Take it and laugh all the way to the bank.

I loved what the Miami Dolphins were doing with their rebuild until they drafted Tua, but the fates have been kind to them and they have the firepower and the team to make a run at Aaron Rodgers. Hear me now, they should 100% sell their remaining firsts next year and sell Tua with them and go get Aaron Rodgers.

This is the best way to get your team to the Super Bowl quickly and without forcing your franchise to mire in mediocrity for the next decade because you drafted a just good enough to win eight games QB. Tampa Bay knew this, and they delivered the goods in year one.

A while back Denver also knew this and went and got an aging Peyton Manning, he also delivered two appearances and one win. Philip Rivers made the Colts look formidable, but he came up short. Drew Brees made the Saints must-watch TV, he was signed after San Diego drafted his replacement.

This isn’t basketball where one player is going to win you a championship. LeBron James can go to any team and make them a contender because he makes up 20% of the active players on the court while he’s out there, but in the NFL you account for 1/22nd or about 4% of the players actively involved in the game.

The best move is to acquire capital for the NFL Draft, draft your linemen, receivers, cornerbacks, linebackers, etc. Three elite players are worth more than one very good QB because football is the ultimate team game.

The NFL seems to have forgotten this and acts as if the guy under center can play everywhere and erase all problems.  Bad defenses don’t win championships, so you cannot ignore that side of the ball.  Draft your team, buy your quarterback, and trust me you’ll be better for it.