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What Is the Value of a Quarterback?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the Nation Football League annual draft approaches next week, excitement and hope fill football cities across the country. ESPN, the sports network, began running commercials in April rhetorically asking the viewer whether their team would draft a player worthy of naming their next child after. There are always great players in the draft that could help a franchise, but quarterbacks are usually the ones that steal the spotlight.

This year there are a number of notable quarterbacks that are touted as first-round talents. Analysts on television and radio speculate wildly about the validity of each one's skillset. One analyst may grade a player as the next All-Pro, while another grades the exact same player as a second round pick with limited potential. With so much contradictory information filling the airwaves, I thought it would be an interesting study to analyze the market of drafting a quarterback.

To begin, I gathered data from the year 2000 to present day on quarterbacks that had starting experience for more than one full season. A caveat is that the quarterback can be drafted prior to the 2000 season, but has to have meaningful starting experience in the new millennium, such as Peyton Manning. I then looked at the correlation between the winning percentage that each quarterback had attained, and how it related to the player's initial draft position.

There are a total of 254 picks in the draft, and are represented 1-254 on the X-axis in the chart. Meanwhile, quarterbacks that went undrafted are represented as pick 255 to give them a quantitative value.  I chose winning percentage as the measure of success because winning teams mean players, coaches, and front office staff usually get to keep their jobs for a longer period of time. Popular opinion would say that first round quarterbacks are more skilled and thus would be able to lead their teams to more wins. That assumption, however, proved inaccurate.


The chart above shows that although there is a slight negative correlation between when a player was drafted and their success as a starter, the relationship has no statistical significance. Since there was no meaningful relationship determined, and common opinion was proven somewhat false, it makes the case to start from the best quarterbacks and work down the list.