Fans will have you believe that second round picks, and maybe they mean positions other than quarterback, don’t typically sit for an entire year. They will also have you believe that every QB taken after round one has a better chance of becoming Tom Brady than the guys taken in round one. Historically, first round quarterbacks are more successful because coaches typically have more reason to invest in those QBs.
Coaches are more patient, and with good reason as the financial commitment to the first round QBs used to be potentially crippling to a franchise. Now, with the rookie slots it is easier to miss on first round picks. Still, if you hit on a QB things suddenly look better. The Philadelphia Eagles traded the farm for Carson Wentz and, despite their losing season, feel good about the direction they are headed in. The Cowboys have a young signal caller in Dak Prescott that has led them to the top seed in the NFC and homefield advantage through the playoffs. These are the examples the fans use to say “look, THIS is why you play Christian Hackenberg.”
Keep in mind that when they make those points, they ignore that Wentz was behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel in training camp that he wasn’t even going to dress in regular season games and that it was a freak injury to Teddy Bridgewate changed that. They also ignore that the Cowboys were positioned to be Tony Romo’s team this year until his season was cut short by injury, and that Prescott has been helped by the probable MVP/OPOY/OROY of the league in Ezekial Elliott and the best OL in football and a defense led by Rod Marinelli and a healthy Sean Lee. All of those points get ignored obviously, because they do not fit the following narratives:
“If the Jets start Hackenberg, he will be exposed because we know he won’t be good. The heat will then turn up on Maccagnan, who has proven he sucks as a GM.”
“If the Jets start Hackenberg and he plays well, it exposes Bowles because he had a good QB on the bench and let the season spiral with Fitzpatrick.”
For historical context on the “he probably won’t be good” argument, here’s a list of QBs taken after round one over the last 5 years:
- Sean Mannion, Bryce Petty, Garrett Grayson, Brett Hundley, Trevor Siemian (one starting QB out of 5, and before you say Siemian is trash know that he is statistically better than Alex Smith this year and sat for a year).
- Derek Carr, Jimmy Garropolo, Logan Thomas, Tom Savage, Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, David Fales, Keith Wenning, Tahj Boyd, Garrett Gilbert (one starting QB out of 11, with Garropolo being most likely the next in the long line of Brady backups that stink outside the Patriots system)
- Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, Brad Sorensen, Zac Dysert, BJ Daniels, Sean Renfree (the best one of this bunch is the best QB in this draft class, and it’s the best QB on the Jets roster but whose ceiling might just be a backup so 0/10)
- Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Lindley, BJ Coleman, Chandler Harnish (2 out of 7; jumps to 3/7 if you count Foles, but two of the three sat for at least a year)
- Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Mallett, Ricky Stanzi, TJ Yates, Nathan Enderle, Tyrod Taylor, Greg McElroy (3 starters out of 8 QBs selected, two sat while one started right away)
Out of the 41 quarterbacks selected, 8 have become starting QBs in this league with some degrees of success. Out of those 8, 5 sat on the bench for at least a year and were able to be properly developed. Some, like Kaepernick, were projects and some, like Cousins, were more traditional pocket passers with low ceilings. There aren’t many QBs that can be compared to others because circumstances don’t dictate similarity in regards to the development of passers. 41 taken, and only 8 became good QBs that won games in this league. That means that 19% of the QBs taken after round one have become successful starting QBs in this league. 62% of the ones drafted after round one that eventually became successful after sitting for at least one year.
This shows that historically it makes sense to sit these QBs because they are way too rough to be thrown into the fire right away. Like the pick or not, the Jets realized that they took a kid who is talented but needs to refine alot of his mechanics. The Jets have operated this year as if this is a redshirt year, which is why you see Bowles mention the plan they’ve had for Hackenberg since he was drafted. It’s not sexy, and it’s not how most fans would do it but it is historically the right way to develop these day two and day three quarterbacks.
The pick of Hackenberg has been called narcissistic, and has been called a fireable offense by some. I may not have liked the pick, but all of this reeks of hyperbole and overreaction. It is now reaching its summit as we barrel towards the final game of the season and, with the injury to QB Bryce Petty, calls by vocal fans to start the rookie. These calls come even as Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey has stated multiple times how much work they’re doing and still need to do to get Hackenberg ready. The man that developed Kordell Stewart, and who was able to get something out of a terrible QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick, has been laying out the plan for months. The Jets rushed Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith and are now being killed for trying to do right and develop Hackenberg instead of throwing him into the fire behind an untested offensive line against a talented Bills defensive line. The Jets are finally doing things right for a change when it comes to their young QBs. It’s about time people realize that.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com