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Historic NFL Draft QB Run Was About Money and Sense

The quarterback picks came pouring in, one after the other, with barely a moment’s pause, and then many more. This year’s crop broke records, created history and gave us the most easily understood lesson there could be about the economics of winning the National Football League.

The fact that six signal-callers were chosen in the first 12 selections was a coincidence of timing…and was also anything but.

Yes, this was a class of rare talent at the most important position of all, conferring at least the promise of being as famous as the magnificent group of 1983, the only other occasion when six QBs went in the first round – and from which three Hall of Famers emerged, led by John Elway.

But it’s also a time of fiscal madness in the NFL, where front offices are populated with smart people who know statistics, probability, game theory and risk management.

(NFL Draft picks, grades and analysis: Bears land pair of A’s for top 10 duo)

You don’t need Patrick Mahomes to tell you how imperative having a quality QB is for any franchise hoping to become or remain a contender. General managers, with the help of the analysts around them, are able to quantify this reality.

In some cases, a dollar amount. Thursday evening, a selection order number. Which, in essence, are part of the same discussion.

As we move forward into an era where the market for top-tier pitchers is set by the $55 million annual mark raised by Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, the tantalizing opportunity to lock up a new prospect for at least four years at a fraction of the cost is just too good to pass up.

Caleb Williams, picked first by the Chicago Bears out of USC, will make about $9.6 million per year, according to Spotrac. Bo Nix, the sixth QB at 12th, will make around $4.6 million per season.

Where does Caleb Williams rank among former NFL QB prospects?

Therein lies the main reason for what we saw. Not that so many QBs were taken off the board in the first round, but why they did it before the night sky completely darkened in downtown Detroit.

That’s why all of Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., JJ McCarthy and Nix were wearing new hats and being interviewed at the same time. Jim Kelly, the third QB taken in 1983 at No. 14, was still waiting. for a call. Poor Dan Marino had to relax all the way to 27th that year (Elway was picked first), but did a pretty good job of shrugging off the disappointment in the years that followed.

The math behind the modern method can be interpreted in different ways, but a basic version looks like this. If you’re the Denver Broncos and you’re thinking about whether to pick Nix at 12 or perhaps go with an elite defensive option, the QB boom or bust game becomes a fluid concept .

By the numbers, if the Broncos felt that Oregon QB Nix had even, say, about a 25 percent chance of becoming a front-line passer, convincing themselves of the choice would have been pretty simple, given his paltry gains compared to the best players in the position. .

Over $40 million to spend elsewhere because your QB makes less than other teams’ starters? Oh OK, you twisted my arm.

After plenty of chalk, Penix was the first big surprise of the night, picked at No. 8 after making a big impression on Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris, even though the team just handed to Kirk Cousins ​​$100 million in contractual guarantees. .

Did the Atlanta Falcons make a huge mistake by selecting Michael Penix Jr.?

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t want to miss their shot, taking no chances by moving up 10th to pick up McCarthy, the national champion from Michigan.

This renewed activity naturally had repercussions elsewhere. The defense may familiarly win championships, but being part of the hopeful group on that side of the ball brought no one anything but a long wait as Roger Goodell continued to rack up trips to the dugout.

UCLA power forward Laiatu Latu went to Indianapolis with the 15th pick, the lowest position for a No. 1 defender in draft history. By the time Latu was removed from the green room, a few hours of ceremony had already passed.

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With such a glut of QBs, good players capable of making an immediate impact were pushed down the rankings. The Philadelphia Eagles had the cornerback position as their primary need and could afford to wait until their No. 22 position to get Quinyon Mitchell.

As the first round progressed, the situation became a little more balanced between attack and defense, but that fooled no one because the trend was already set.

This will be considered the quarterback draft, for the sake of common sense…and dollars and cents.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX And subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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