Theoretically, the best available player is selected with every pick. Such an approach to the draft insures the greatest accrual of talent, and over the course of a few drafts teams can transform their fortunes. Yet, we all know this doesn’t occur in practice. Part of the cause is misevaluation, but part of that is positional demand. Most commonly, quarterback prospects are drafted far above where their relative abilities should place them. For a team like the Packers which already has a franchise quarterback and selects later in each round, this dynamic can push back more valuable prospects.
The 2013 draft pool presents an interesting predicament. Unlike the past couple of years which each featured four quarterbacks drafted in the first round, there is little to no consensus on how many quarterbacks will go round 1 this year. How many are taken will directly affect who the Packers select.
This year’s QB draft pool will go one of a few ways with results ranging from a significant value loss for Green Bay to rewarding them with an elite prospect. We address each scenario below:
Scenario 1: One or Fewer Quarterbacks are Selected in the First Round
How it happens: This is the worst case scenario for Green Bay. While Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson, and Ryan Nassib each could go in the first round, none are locks to be taken that early. Teams may order them differently, but it’s unlikely that many feel there’s a significant discrepancy between the top and bottom player on their list. Because there are so many quality quarterback prospects – but no elite ones – teams could wait to select a passer in favor of selecting a better overall player.
Likelihood of happening: We’ve seen this happen before. In 2000, the league as a whole drafted as though there were no elite prospects. Instead, only the New York Jets selected a quarterback in the first round (Chad Pennington), while the rest of the NFL waited until the third round to take a passer. This happened again the following year when after Michael Vick went number one overall, the run on quarterbacks didn’t begin until the second round. In terms of QB value distribution, those classes mirror the 2013 class very well. While more likely scenarios exist, this outcome has a strong chance of occurring.
Scenario 2: Two to Three Quarterbacks are Drafted in the First Round
How it happens: Similar to scenario 1, the QB needy teams take a conservative approach to drafting a quarterback. The difference this time around is a few decide to go that route sometime before the Packers select at number 26. Depending on your count, there are 6-9 teams that will draft a quarterback in the first few rounds this year. There aren’t that many “top” prospects at the position, so two to three teams may choose to grab one in the first.
Likelihood of happening: This is the most typical distribution of quarterbacks over the last 10 drafts. As such, it’s the most likely outcome. While not the best result for Green Bay, it would at least afford the Packers a decent shot at receiving proper value for the 26th pick by pushing down a few better prospects.
Scenario 3: Four+ Quarterbacks are Taken in the First Round
How it happens: We’ve already discussed how similar in value the quarterback prospects are, but what we haven’t covered is how these prospects differ. Mike Glennon and Tyler Wilson have strong arms and play with a gunslinger’s mentality, Geno Smith is a sneaky good athlete in the mold of Russell Wilson, and Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib are West Coast style passers. The teams in need of quarterbacks don’t all intend to use the same system. It’s not impossible that each team targets only the players that match their desired offensive style and thus aggressively pursues a prospect. In such a scenario four or more could go off the board before the Packers pick and allow Green Bay to select a player graded as a top 20 prospect.
Likelihood of happening: Unfortunately, this isn’t terribly likely. This outcome requires a perfect storm, and the draft is anything perfect. It requires all top quarterback prospects to have teams that value them as first round picks, and the chances of that are very, very low.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Lombardi Ave. He has previously written for Hail to the Orange, College Hoops Net, Mocking the Draft, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.