Remember the days when Sam Bradford went #1 overall? When Joe Flacco was a mid-first round pick? When Tim Tebow and Christian Ponder, and Rex Grossman were 1st round picks?
It used to be, if a guy had a glimmer of hope as a viable starting QB, he'd go first round, or at worst early 2nd.
And it's not just 1st round guys who were overdrafted: Here's the full list of QBs drafted in the 2nd round over a 5 draft period from 2006 to 2010:
Jimmy Clausen (Panthers), 2010
Pat White (Dolphins), 2009
Brian Brohm (Packers), 2008
Chad Henne (Dolphins), 2008
Kevin Kolb (Eagles), 2007
John Beck (Dolphins), 2007
Drew Stanton (Lions), 2007
Kellen Clemens (Jets), 2006
Tarvaris Jackson (Vikings), 2006
However, starting in 2011, teams started getting better at developing QBs. The 2011 draft hyped guys like Gabbert and Locker, and saw one Tebow-esque reach in Christian Ponder, but it was still a draft that produced Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick (2nd round), and Andy Dalton (2nd round).
The 2012 draft is of course already legendary, producing starter caliber QBs in rounds 1, 3, 4, and possibly UDFA (Keenum).
The 2013 draft seemed like a reaction to 2012. Geno Smith could be a good QB for a team like Philly, but sent to New Jersey where QBs go to die. Barkley gets buried in Philly on a team that doesn't really fit his skillset. Nassib gets drafted to backup Eli. All of those guys were better prospects than Mike Glennon, who was actually given a half-decent opportunity and has looked pretty decent for Tampa. Manuel actually looked okay in Buffalo (a surprise for me) but hasn't been able to stay healthy. UDFA Matt McGloin was on pace for a Sam Bradford rookie season over 211 pass attempts.
At the time, I figured the massive undervaluing of the 2013 QB group was due to GMs eyeballing the 2014 group. Fair enough, the 2014 group is better than 2013 was. But now I am hearing a lot of talk that the 2014 QBs are going to sink like a rock on draft day. Seriously? At the very least, both Bridgewater and Manziel are top 10 picks, and Bortles could justify a high pick if you put him in a simple offense like SF. Bortles is far superior to EJ Manuel, who went mid-first last year.
If these QBs do sink, my theory is that it is a function of supply and demand, not a question of their quality as prospects.
Right now, Andrew Luck is statistically just below the NFL median for efficiency. Andrew Luck may be the NFL's most over-rated player, but he's not a bad QB. And right now, he defines what a "median level" QB looks like in this league (Andy Dalton works pretty well too). The median level for QB performance has never been higher, and it has never been easier to find a median level performer. You can even find superstar performers in very unlikely places these days, just look at Nick Foles and Josh McCown. Long story short, there just aren't as many teams as there used to be who have glaring needs at QB.
Where does Mettenberger or Garappolo get drafted if you plop them into the 2009 draft? Probably higher than the 2nd round. The few teams that actually do need QB help urgently can pass on QB in round 1 knowing that there will still be excellent options in rounds 2 and beyond knowing that quality options that shouldn't be there will in fact be there.
Anyway, it's kind of interesting how these days a guy has to be a generational talent to be considered a 1st round lock. Unfortunately, this will trick the less enlightened into thinking QBs aren't as good as they used to be because fewer are getting drafted early, when in fact the truth is the opposite.
That's kind of sucky for us, because we already have our QB. The Rams need to upgrade over Sam Bradford, and though it seems they won't do it this year, when Les Snead eventually snaps out of his stupor he'll likely have no shortage of quality options the way the QB market has been trending.