QB Wasteland: Jets draft most QBs but Cleveland is where QBs Die

By Nick Citrone (@Pyrollamas)

Business Insider recently created a chart showing the number of quarterbacks each NFL team has drafted since 1999. The New York Jets top the list with ten quarterbacks taken in the 16 year span. Many people, including CBS staff writer Sean Wagner-McGough, view this chart as proof that the Jets are actually worse at developing QB talent than the eternally tortured Browns. In an article about the chart, Wagner-McGough wrote “New York might actually be the new official quarterback wasteland.” However, although the Jets have underperformed at drafting QBs since 1999, the Browns rate of return has been significantly worse.

The Jets (10) have drafted more quarterbacks than the Browns (8) since 1999, but they have spent less total draft capital. NFL draft picks decline in value as the draft continues; first round selections are worth considerably more than picks in later rounds.

Using data from the same NFL Drafts as the Business Insider chart (1999-2015), I used a smooth spline function to calculate the expected value of every pick in the draft. To measure value I used Pro Football Reference’s Draft AV variable, which is a calculation of the value added by a player to the player’s drafted team. Below is a chart showing expected value added by each pick in the draft, with Jets QB selections in green and Browns selections in Orange.

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The New York Jets have had more success from drafted QBs than the Browns despite spending less draft capital to obtain them. The Jets have spent 131.2 in NFL Draft Pick expected value and received 103 in Career AV from the ten QBs; the Browns have spent 149.39 and received only 68. The Jets rate of return is 78.5% to the Browns 45.5%, and this is without considering Geno Smith or Bryce Petty. Both Smith (25) and Petty (24) are still rostered on the Jets, and may add additional value in future years which will push up the Jets rate of return. With the departure of Johnny Manziel, none of the Browns drafted quarterbacks remain on their roster.

Here is the breakdown for both teams:

New York Jets Quarterbacks Drafted 1999-2015



Rnd Pick Name Draft AV Pick Value Percent Return
2009 1 5 Mark Sanchez 27 32.8 82.4
2000 1 18 Chad Pennington 41 27.6 149
2013 2 39 Geno Smith 14 20.1 69.5
2006 2 49 Kellen Clemens 3 17.2 17.4
2006 4 103 Brad Smith 12 9.19 131
2015 4 103 Bryce Petty 0 9.19 0
2008 5 162 Erik Ainge 0 4.71 0
2003 6 200 Brooks Bollinger 5 3.55 141
2011 7 208 Greg McElroy 1 3.43 29.2
2014 6 213 Tajh Boyd 0 3.36 0
Totals: 103 131.13 78.5

An interesting note here is that Brad Smith, drafted as a QB in 2006, proved to be a valuable pick by contributing as a wide receiver and return man, not by playing QB.

Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks Drafted 1999-2015

Year Rnd Pick Name Draft AV Pick Value Percent Return
1999 1 1 Tim Couch 30 34.4 87.2
2007 1 22 Brady Quinn 3 26.1 11.5
2012 1 22 Brandon Weeden 11 26.1 42.2
2014 1 22 Johnny Manziel 5 26.1 19.2
2005 3 67 Charlie Frye 7 13.3 52.8
2010 3 85 Colt McCoy 10 10.7 93.4
2004 4 106 Luke McCown 2 8.97 22.3
2000 6 183 Spergon Wynn 0 3.87 0
Totals: 68 149.54 45.5

Tim Couch and Colt McCoy are the closest thing to stars in this dim sky. 22 is the unlucky number for the Browns: the three quarterbacks taken 22 overall combined for less value than Joey Harrington added in Detroit. The departure of Manziel leaves the Browns open to drafting yet another QB, possibly with the number two pick.

When considering Drafting success at a position it is important to consider both value added by the player chosen and the value of the pick used. The Jets have drafted more QBs than any other team since 1999, but they had better selections later in the draft compared to Cleveland. Cleveland is still the NFL’s QB graveyard.

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