Much has been made of the fact that after a long run of quarterbacks ranking as one of the riskiest propositions in the first round, there has recently been a great deal of success with passers drafted among the Top 32.
Consider that in the three year span of 2005-2007, there were eight quarterbacks selected in the first round, including three that were Top 3 picks (Alex Smith, Vince Young, Jamarcus Russell). Of the eight, only Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have proven themselves to be legitimate starters in the NFL. Of course, Cutler is now with the Chicago Bears after having been drafted by the Denver Broncos.
Yet, in the 2008-09 drafts, all five quarterbacks (Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman) have already established themselves as legitimate starters. Though I hesitate to include 2010 first round QBs Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow (due to only one season at the helm), they too, have already demonstrated many of the skills necessary to enjoy success -- especially Bradford.
So, what gives? Are these seven quarterbacks simply extraordinary talents and the earlier' eight largely overrated?
It isn't that simple, in my opinion.
The reality is that NFL teams are doing a better job of scouting quarterbacks -- and even more importantly -- building their offenses to cater to the particular talents of their young passers.
The quarterback position might provide us with the most obvious examples of how a player's "fit" into scheme can be play a large role in determining their NFL success (or relative failure), but in reality, every position is this way. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.
Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day, attempting to identify five players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft that are particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role.