2014 NFL Draft: The problem with waiting on a quarterback

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Waiting on a quarterback in the draft sounds like a great idea, but it leads to problems.

Teams are going to wait on drafting a quarterback, Peter King noted on Monday. According to King, at least four teams at the top of the draft (not including the Buccaneers) are "strongly considering" waiting until their second or third picks to take a quarterback.

Those NFL teams are all run by idiots. Assuming the report is correct.

The problem with drafting a quarterback low is kind of obvious, if you stop and think about it for more than a few seconds: the lower you draft a quarterback, the worse that player is going to be -- and the better a quarterback is, the less likely he is to fall in the draft. After all, what are you going to do if that guy you really want to pick in the second round is instead picked at number 23? Don't believe me? The numbers speak for themselves.

It's easy to point to the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson as an example of successfully waiting on a quarterback. But it's also an example of how a lot of other teams failed to draft Wilson, because they decided to wait on the pick. "It's real common for people to say, ‘Hey we loved that guy, too'," Pete Carroll told the Seattle Times. "And we got phone calls right after that sitting in the draft room from people saying, ‘Oh we were going to take him with the next pick.'"

Andy Reid loved Russell Wilson, and would have drafted him with his third-round pick, according to Daniel Jeremiah. He was off the board by then. Adam Schefter reported that both the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins were targeting Russell Wilson at the top of the fourth round as a backup quarterback. He never made it there. Undoubtedly, other teams contemplated drafting Wilson at one point or another.

Of all of those teams, only one is happy with what they did. And even that team has to consider themselves lucky that Andy Reid wasn't just a little bit more excited about Russell Wilson, or that Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck were available at the top of the draft. Or that seemingly no one in the NFL could listen to the wisdom of crowds that screamed "Russell Wilson is awesome".

What happened in the 2012 draft seems like a sort of collective delusion: NFL teams convinced each other that Russell Wilson would fall, and that's exactly why he fell. The pre-draft NFL team hype on Wilson was relentlessly negative: he was too short, and that was all there was to him. Internet draft scouts loved him, but that doesn't matter to NFL teams. Football Outsiders' forecast loved him, but that doesn't matter to NFL teams, either. And so everyone decided to wait on Wilson, convinced that every other team hated him.

That's a dangerous game to play. Sure, people would have laughed at the Seattle Seahawks had they taken Russell Wilson with their first-round pick. But laughter's fairly palatable if you're holding the Lombardi trophy two years later, in large part thanks to that short, obvious failure of a quarterback you drafted in the first round.

I said this same thing last year, and I'll say it again this year: if you really like a quarterback, use your first-round pick on him. Don't try to get a steal in a later round. Don't run the risk of missing out on the guy you love at the most important position on the field because you're obsessed with value.

You don't want to be the team telling reporters about the franchise passer you would have selected had he fallen just a little farther. You want to be the team that's telling reporters how smart you were for taking that quarterback that high, against all conventional wisdom.

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