Unconventional times call for unconventional strategies. The New Orleans Saints have been perennial winners for nearly the past two decades. In the past two seasons though, the Saints have lost a Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame head coach. With the 2022 NFL Draft nearing, the Saints own two selections in the top-20 picks. With so many questions lingering, having two first-round selections presents answers, even if rare and unconventional. When presented with the statistics for first-round quarterback success as well, maybe it is time to do something never seen in NFL Draft history. The Saints can potentially secure their future by using both first-round selections on the top two quarterbacks.
Draft Two Quarterbacks to Cement the Future
The last decade of the NFL draft really shows how much of a gamble selecting a quarterback truly can be. This does not count last season’s selections since it is too early to really tell how new careers will end up. From 2011 to 2020, there were 31 first-round picks used on quarterbacks. Out of these 31 picks, only eight can truly be counted as being hits for their organizations. Five more selections still have questions but have not done enough to be considered hits. Quarterbacks with ongoing issues include Carson Wentz, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, and Ryan Tannehill. These quarterbacks are likely still starters in the league but have not won significant enough games to be considered hits just yet.
Out of the 31 first-round quarterback selections, at least 18 of them are considered misses, or busts in the vernacular. This is nearly a 60% failure rate. Even worse, true hits sit at just a 26% success rate. The eight hits counted here in the past decade are Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert. For every Josh Allen is a Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. For every Cam Newton is a Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. For every Andrew Luck is a Ryan Griffin III and Brandon Weeden. Assessing quarterbacks is one of the biggest gambles in sports and the numbers prove that.
Which quarterback in this year’s draft will be the biggest bust?
326 votes total
The Saints also do not have a first-round draft pick in next year’s draft after trading it for this year’s extra pick. If the organization does not feel as if the quarterback of the future is on the roster, this year’s selections have to include a quarterback. With such a low success rate across the league at drafting a quarterback, it would seem to make sense to spend multiple picks to find a long-term starter. In the past decade, there have only been three years where every first-round quarterback selection can be considered a miss. These were the draft classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015. So 70% of the time, at least one quarterback drafted turned into a perennial starter. In three of the last four years, there have been at least two hits taken in the first round. With selections at number 16 and 19 in the first round, the Saints can likely take two of the five highest-rated quarterbacks in this year’s draft to improve the odds of finding a long-term solution. This would greatly improve the odds of finding a franchise quarterback.
Three Heads are Better Than One (or Two)
First-round selections have a minimum of four years on their selected team with another fifth-year option available. This would give the Saints plenty of time to assess two quarterbacks, especially at the same time. The Saints have carried three quarterbacks on the active roster in recent history. Sitting two young quarterbacks behind the veteran Jameis Winston would not overcrowd the roster. Winston has just two years on his current contract, so he is not guaranteed to be a long-term solution for the Saints. If two young quarterbacks are pushing to be the starter, it is likely that competition will get the best out of all three players. A winning scenario for a Saints team that needs to secure the future, even if unconventional.
There is no more important player on any NFL team than the quarterback. Fans and the front office are willing to give up nearly anything to secure this kind of player. Recent trades for Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson have shown this. The Cleveland Browns sent six total picks to the Houston Texans for Watson, including three first-round selections. The Seattle Seahawks received five selections for Wilson, including two first-rounders and three additional players. If the Saints were already looking toward the future in this year’s draft, simply spending this extra first-round pick does not seem like a huge price to pay, especially since that first-round pick only cost an extra second and third-round pick in the upcoming drafts. With the track record of first-round quarterbacks this past decade as well, taking the top two on the board should give the gamble better odds.