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RP: The Quarterback Dead Zone

There’s not much real NFL news out there as the lockout continues, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors from floating around. Kevin Kolb remains a hot prospect for several teams at quarterback, while rumors are that the Redskins are prepared to go with John Beck as their starting quarterback.

Since both Kolb and Beck are former second-round picks, I was curious to dig back through drafts of past years to see how such picks have done in the NFL. The results of this research project were startling, and they revealed that both the second and the third rounds of the NFL draft have become the quarterback dead zone.

Can John Beck escape the QB dead zone in his 3rd NFL stop? Photo via bleacherreport.com

Only 14 percent of quarterbacks (5-of-35) taken in the second and third rounds since 1997 have been successes – and that’s if you grade generously and count Kolb as a success. And if you start grading after the first third of the second round, the success rate plummets even more to 7 percent (2-of-29).

Let’s look back at the drafts to see how these failures have happened. Our guess is that you’ll look at this list and marvel at just how poorly teams have done drafting quarterbacks in the dead zone. And after the list, we’ll make some conclusions.

Pat White, just another victim of the QB dead zone, via nydailynews.com

FYI, Quarterbacks who we’re grading as successes are in all caps below. We went back through the 1997 draft, since there’s only one QB left in the league who entered before then (Kerry Collins, 1995).

Second round

2011 – Andy Dalton (CIN, 35); Colin Kaepernick (SF, 36)

2010 – Jimmy Clausen (CAR, 48)

2009 – Pat White (MIA, 44)

2008 – Brian Brohm (GB, 56); Chad Henne (MIA, 57)

2007 – KEVIN KOLB (PHI, 36); John Beck (MIA, 40); Drew Stanton (DET, 43)

2006 – Kellen Clemens (NYJ, 49); Tarvaris Jackson (MINN, 64)

2001 – DREW BREES (SD, 32); Quincy Carter (DALL, 53); Marques Tuiasosopo (OAK, 59)

1999 – Shaun King (TB, 50)

1998 – Charlie Batch (DET, 60)

1997 – JAKE PLUMMER (ARIZ, 42)

Third Round

2011 – Ryan Mallett (NE, 74)

2010 – Colt McCoy (CLE, 85)

2008 – Kevin O’Connell (NE, 94)

2007 – Trent Edwards (BUFF, 92)

2006 – Charlie Whitehurst (SD, 81); Brodie Croyle (KC, 85)

2005 – Charlie Frye (CLE, 67); Andrew Walter (OAK, 69); David Greene (SEA, 85)

2004 – MATT SCHAUB (ATL, 90)

2003 – Dave Ragone (HOU, 88); Chris Simms (TB, 97)

2002 – Josh McCown (ARIZ, 81)

2000 – Giovanni Carmazzi (SF, 65); Chris Redman (BALT, 75)

1999 – Brock Huard (SEA, 77)

1998 – Jonathan Quinn (JAX, 86); BRIAN GRIESE (DEN, 91)

Conclusions

History tells us that to have any chance of success with a second-round quarterback, you have to take him in the first 10 picks of the round. That’s what the Bengals did with Andy Dalton and the 49ers did with Colin Kaepernick this year. But after the first 10 picks of the round, the chances of success plummet and stay low through the third round.

And we discussed last year how trading into the back end of the first round for a quarterback is a strategy that fails. In other words, it seems like the best chance for success with a quarterback isn’t just taking one early – it’s taking one in the first 15-to-20 picks. Spending a second- or third-round pick is an even worse risk than the 50/50 shot a first-round QB is.

Meanwhile, lower-round quarterbacks – Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, David Garrard, Matt Hasselbeck, and of course Tom Brady – have had more success than the QBs taken in the dead zone of the second and third rounds. While it’s been a few years since a late-round or undrafted QB has rocketed to stardom, finding a QB that way is ironically a better bet than taking one in the second or third round.

All this history points does not bode well for recent draftees like Jimmy Clausen (who appears headed down the traditional second-round path) and Colt McCoy (who has shown a bit more promise). And it makes us wonder whether the Patriots’ 2011 gamble on Ryan Mallett will end up like their selection of Kevin O’Connell three years before.

We’ll see if Dalton, Kaepernick, Mallett, or any other young quarterbacks can escape the trend. But for now, we have no choice but to believe in the force of the QB dead zone.

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Training Camp Moves – Last week

This post is a compilation of additions NFL teams made during the fourth full week of camps. The timetable for this post opens on September 4 and continues through the regular-season opener on September 10. You can read a summary of the first week of training camp moves here; the second week moves here; the third week moves here; the fourth week of moves here; the fifth week of moves here; and the sixth week of moves here. Because moves will be coming fast and furious throughout training camp, we’re going to use quick analysis of moves each week during this time instead of creating a massive Football Relativity comparison.

Additions

Raiders (add DE Richard Seymour) – There are plenty of thoughts on the trade for Seymour in this post.

Broncos (add DE Vonnie Holliday) – Holliday, a 12-year veteran who played for Miami the last four years, signed to provide solid DL play for Denver and its new 3-4 defense. Holliday is a solid player who can anchor against the run but won’t provide much pass rush. Still, he’ll be an asset because he fits the new defense much better than most of the returning personnel in Denver does.

Seahawks (add S Lawyer Milloy) – Milloy, the long-time Patriot who played for Atlanta most recently, returns to his hometown to play for the Seahawks. He has basically been a full-time starter for 13 years in the NFL now, but he’ll have to beat out Jordan Babineaux for the free safety job in Seattle. Still, at the least he’ll provide pressure that makes Babineaux better, and his veteran influence will be an asset as well.

Jaguars (add OG Kynan Forney and S Brian Russell) – Given the massive offensive line injuries that doomed their season last year, it makes sense for them to add a veteran like Forney for insurance. Forney has started before, but he fits better as a backup in Jacksonville. Russell isn’t great, but he can play corner or safety at an average level, which makes him a solid backup.

49ers (add OT Tony Pashos) – Pashos was sent to the bench in Jacksonville by the additions of Tra Thomas, Eben Britton, and Eugene Monroe, and he chose to be released instead of taking a pay cut. He landed in San Francisco, where he’ll have a chance to start at right tackle after Marvel Smith retired during training camp.

Patriots (add OG Kendall Simmons) – Simmons, a long-time Steeler, provides depth for New England’s interior line. He basically replaces Russ Hochstein, who was traded for Denver for a draft pick, on the roster.

Eagles (add TE Alex Smith) – The Eagles let veteran L.J. Smith leave as a free agent in the offseason, so it makes sense that they grabbed Alex Smith after he was cut by the Patriots. Alex Smith is a good pass rusher who provides a nice complement and insurance policy behind new starter Brent Celek.

Falcons (add CB Brian Williams) – Atlanta has spent much of training camp looking for secondary help. They traded for CB Tye Hill and then signed Williams, a veteran who has good size but not great speed. If one of these two shots pays off for the Falcons, they’ll be very happy because they’ve met a real need.

Vikings (add WR Greg Lewis) – Lewis is an inconsistent deep threat who lost out to Joey Galloway for a roster spot in New England after going there in a trade from Philly. But Minnesota thought that Lewis’ deep speed was a better fit for them than the possession game of Bobby Wade, whom the team released. Lewis is ideal as a No. 4 receiver and can be a No. 3, because he’s capable of making huge plays but also capable of dropping his share of balls and then some.

Cardinals (add OG Jeremy Bridges) – Arizona cut Elton Brown and replaced him with Bridges, who is a good interior player who has had trouble staying out of trouble off the field. Still, he provides a nice backup if he behaves.

Jets (add TE Ben Hartsock) – Hartsock, the Falcons’ starting tight end last year, lost his spot in the ATL to Tony Gonzalez. He now moves to New York, where he will be the No. 2 tight end behind Dustin Keller. The Jets have been shuffling tight ends all offseason looking for stability in that spot, so Hartsock is a good find for them.

Subtractions

Raiders (cut QB Jeff Garcia) – Oakland signed Garcia to be its backup QB, which was a bad idea because Garcia has always refused to accept a backup role. That became obvious to Oakland, and Garcia’s performance wasn’t good enough to make them overlook his personality. This release will end up benefiting JaMarcus Russell in the end.

Bills (cut OT Langston Walker and RB Dominic Rhodes) – The Bills have had a lot of offensive upheaval late in training camp, and it continued in making the roster. Walker was starting at right tackle, but he’s not in good shape, and the Bills decided to go with rookie Demetrius Bell instead. Rhodes was slated to be the Bills’ backup running back in the first three weeks with Marshawn Lynch suspended, but he didn’t perform well enough to merit a roster spot.

Rams (cut LB Chris Draft) – Draft was expected to be a starter at outside linebacker for the Rams this year, but the Rams released him right before the season in what looks like a move to keep his salary from becoming guaranteed. Draft is a solid linebacker who is the definition of average. He has proven that he won’t hurt a team, but he won’t make many big plays either. Don’t be surprised if the Rams try to bring him back after Week One, but Draft may choose to move to a better team as a backup or injury fill-in.

Giants (cut WR David Tyree) – Tyree, one of the big heroes of the Giants’ Super Bowl 42 win, was released after he fell behind New York’s cadre of young receivers (like Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, and Ramses Barden). Tyree missed the entire season last year with injury, and so he might not be healthy enough to be a big contributor anywhere else. But he’s a veteran and a good special-teams player, so he could end up being a nice midseason addition somewhere before long.

Vikings (cut WR Bobby Wade) – Wade had 50 catches in each of the last two years in Minnesota, but with Sidney Rice healthy and Bernard Berrian arrived, Wade became too expensive for his production. He was cut just before the season because his salary would have been guaranteed for the year on Sunday. He’s good enough to play elsewhere, but it won’t be for anything near the money he was slated to make in Minny this year.

Packers (cut QB Brian Brohm) – Brohm was a second-round pick just two years ago, but his performance has been so bad that he was beaten out for the backup job by Matt Flynn, just a seventh-round pick that same year, and then was cut. He cleared waivers and landed on the practice squad, which means no other team thought he was worth a flier. That’s a huge fall for a guy once considered a nice prospect.

Patriots (cut QB Andrew Walter) – Walter, the former Raider, came over to New England early in training camp, and it looked as if he would be the No. 2 QB there after the Pats cut ’08 draft pick Kevin O’Connell. But Walter too was beaten out by undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer, who seized the backup job and played well enough that New England will keep just two QBs to start the season.

Eagles (cut QB A.J. Feeley) – The ultimate loser in the Michael Vick experiment in Philly was Feeley, who has proven he can be a solid backup but got caught in a roster crunch. He should land elsewhere as a No. 2 quarterback at some point, because he’s better than many teams’ backups.

Chiefs (cut S Bernard Pollard, C Eric Ghiaciuc, OT Damion McIntosh, and CB Travis Daniels) – Pollard started all year last year, famously hitting Tom Brady’s knee in the first game, but he lost his starting job to Mike Brown and eventually lost his roster spot. Ghiaciuc came over from Cincinnati to compete for the Chiefs’ starting center job, but he obviously didn’t get the job done. McIntosh is a nine-year vet who started 31 games for the Chiefs the last two years, but he too lost not only his starting gig but his job with K.C.’s new regime. Daniels, a former Dolphin who played for Cleveland last year, couldn’t hook on to continue his career.

Titans (cut WR-RS Mark Jones) – Jones had a good year in Carolina as a return specialist last year, and Tennessee gave him a small signing bonus to fill the same role there this year. But Jones can’t really play elsewhere, and the Titans decided to let rookie Kenny Britt contribute on returns, which made Jones expendable. He’ll end up somewhere else, at least for a look, given his ’08 success.

Bears (cut CB Rod Hood) – Hood, cut by Cleveland just days ago, latched on in Chicago but didn’t look good enough there to stick around. He could still get another look during the season, but being released multiple times must be a shock after starting for a Super Bowl team last year.

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Training Camp Moves – Week 2

This post is a compilation of additions NFL teams made during the second full week of camps. The timetable for this post opens on August 1 and continues through August 6. You can read a summary of the first week of training camp moves here, and follow past offseason moves from there. Because moves will be coming fast and furious throughout training camp, we’re going to use quick analysis of moves each week during this time instead of creating a massive Football Relativity comparison.

Additions

Seahawks (add CB Travis Fisher and OGs Cory Withrow and Grey Ruegamer) – After cutting ’08 starter Mike Wahle, the Seahawks went looking for interior offensive line depth. Withrow and Ruegamer are both veteran hands, and it apepars that they’ll be fighting it out for one job (at best). Fisher provides depth at an already-deep position, but with Marcus Trufant battling a back injury, Seattle went for some insurance.

Eagles (add LBs Matt Wilhelm and Jason Babin) – When starting MLB Stewart Bradley went out, the Eagles faced a huge gap in the middle. They were fortunate that Wilhelm, a starter in San Diego, was on the market. Wilhelm isn’t an impact guy, but he’s big and can at least help stuff the run. He’ll be moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, which could cause some problems, but it’s worth a shot for Philly to see if Wilhelm can adjust and contribute as a two-down player. There probably wasn’t anybody else on the market as good as Wilhelm, so props to Philly for getting this deal done immediately after Bradley’s injury. Babin, a former first-round pick in Houston, has potential as a pass rusher but has never really realized it. Still, he’s worth a look – especially in Philly’s attacking D.

Falcons (add LB Jamie Winborn and WRs Robert Ferguson and Marty Booker) – After losing Keith Brooking to free agency in the offseason, the Falcons wanted a veteran hand in their LB corps. That’s what Winborn brings, along with Mike Peterson. Winborn probably fits in best as Curtis Lofton’s backup at middle linebacker, but he could step into the strong-side role if Peterson were to get hurt. This is a move designed to bring depth, and it should do just that. Ferguson never really broke out as a receiver in Green Bay or Minnesota, but he’s a veteran who can slip into the No. 3 or No. 4 spot in the ATL now that Harry Douglas is out for the year. With Douglas out and Roddy White holding out, the Falcons desperately needed depth, and Ferguson can provide that. The fact that Ferguson can help on special teams as well should help secure him a spot on the regular-season roster. Booker has had a more accomplished career than Ferguson, but his size and lack of speed makes him a lot like current Falcons wideout Brian Finneran. So unless Booker shows a burst he hasn’t featured in recent years, he’s a long shot to make it.

Chiefs (add WR Amani Toomer and QB Matt Gutierrez) – Toomer, the long-time Giant, no longer has any kind of breakaway speed, but he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. It seems a little strange to have both Toomer and Bobby Engram on the same roster, which could lead to a release down the line. But if Mark Bradley doesn’t continue to emerge, then Toomer is a solid insurance policy. Probably the best-case scenario for the Chiefs is to have Toomer as their No. 4 receiver who can fill in outside if Bradley or Dwayne Bowe has to miss time. Relying on Toomer for more than that could prove to be a mistake. Gutierrez is good enough to be on a roster, but it didn’t make much sense for the Patriots to have two inexperienced backups behind Tom Brady. That appears to be why Gutierrez lost his spot there to Andrew Walter. The Chiefs claimed Gutierrez on waivers to be their third quarterback, which makes sense because he’s coming from the same system as starter Matt Cassel. Gutierrez still has potential, and the fact that new Chiefs GM Scott Pioli knows him reveals the logic behind the move. He’ll upgrade the Chiefs at the No. 3 QB spot and could even make trading promising backup Tyler Thigpen an option at some point before 2010.

Patriots (add DE Derrick Burgess and QB Andrew Walter) – Burgess, who had 38.5 sacks in his four years in Oakland but only 3.5 last year, had become disgruntled as a Raider, and so he’s been seeking a trade all offseason and into training camp. He finally landed in New England (as had long been rumored) in exchange for 3rd- and 5th-round draft picks in 2011 (according to Mike Lombardi). Burgess fits in New England as a situational pass rusher but not much more. Still, given the veteran nature of the Pats’ roster, and given the luck New England has had with Raiders castoffs like Randy Moss, we can count on Burgess finding a nice niche and filling his role well. Walter is a former third-round pick, but his potential never revealed itself during his starts in Oakland. Still, he has a good arm, and his experience provides a better balance to backup Kevin O’Connell than Matt Gutierrez’ raw ability did.

Texans (add CB Deltha O’Neal and RB Andre Hall) – With Dunta Robinson holding out and Jacque Reeves out for more than a month, the Texans were in dire need of cornerback help. O’Neal is a veteran who can attack the ball but also gets burned at times. Still, he can help enough to be worth a look in Houston’s hour of need. Hall has shown flashes of ability in the past, and he has played in a system like Houston’s in Denver, so he could get noticed in the preseason.

Cardinals (add C Melvin Fowler) – Fowler, a center who was most recently with the Bills, is an experienced hand who should provide some stability as a backup. He won’t beat out Lyle Sendelein, but he is a better insurance policy than Donovan Raiola would have been.

Bengals (keep CB Jamar Fletcher) – Fletcher, who played 11 games for Cincinnati last year, was on the outside looking in until David Jones’ injury opened a roster spot for him. The former first-round pick and 8-year veteran faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but at least he’s in a camp now.

Redskins (add WR D.J. Hackett) – Hackett, who showed potential in Seattle but busted out as a big free-agent addition in Carolina last year, hooked on with the Redskins after offseason import Roydell Williams was released because he broke a pinkie finger and would miss the next month. Hackett is big and has shown the ability to get downfield regularly, but his lack of consistency hampers him from being a regular rotation player. Hackett is the kind of veteran who can make a roster and help in case of injury – or in case of slow development of young receivers that are plentiful in Washington. But even if Hackett makes the team, he’ll probably be a game-day inactive until an injury or demotion opens the door for him.

Jets (add WR Aundrae Allison and TE Kevin Brock) – Allison, a former fifth-round pick, had just 18 catches in two seasons, and he was passed by youngsters Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. So the Vikings cut Allison, and then the Jets quickly grabbed him off waivers. He has average size but above-average speed, and that’s the reason he’s work a look. Allison could also figure in as a return specialist at a cheap price. Brock, an undrafted rookie who spent OTAs in Carolina, is a pass-catching tight end from Rutgers. He does what Dustin Keller can do, which should at least make it easier for the Jets to run their regular offensive sets with Mark Sanchez and the No. 2s. He’s a useful camp body, which shows the Jets are actually thinking as they try to prep Sanchez for the season.

Subtractions

Seahawks (cut OG Mike Wahle) – Wahle, a big-time free-agent signing last year who started all season, failed his physical before camp, and he was released. The 12-year veteran is reportedly considering retirement. The main upshot of Wahle’s release could be that second-round pick Max Unger has an easier path to a starting spot as a rookie.

Redskins (cut WR Roydell Williams) – Williams, who looked to be a fifth receiver, was waived/injured after suffering a broken pinkie that will sideline him until just before the regular season. Once he gets healthy, he could land somewhere as a backup receiver. He’s the kind of guy who could also go to the UFL and be a standout to try to enhance his value.

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Training Camp moves – Week 1

This post is a compilation of additions NFL teams made during the opening week of training camps. The timetable for this post opens on July 20, the week before the first camps opened, and continues through July 31. Because moves will be coming fast and furious throughout training camp, we’re going to use quick analysis of moves each week during this time instead of creating a massive Football Relativity comparison.

For comparisons of other offseason moves, start with our summer signings post and work your way back, or click on the blog’s NFL Free Agency category.

Additions

Rams (add DT Hollis Thomas) – Thomas is the prototypical wide-load defensive tackle who can stop the run. He can’t play more than about 40 percent of plays, and he won’t get into the backfield, but he can clog up the middle and protect linebackers a little. He’s actually a guy that makes a little more sense for a contender than for a rebuilder like the Rams, but maybe the Rams want help to get to respectable defensively. So while this is a curious combination of player and team, it should help the Rams at least a little.

Texans (kept DT Jeff Zgonina) – Zgonina is 39, and at this point he’s probably at best a fourth tackle. But with Travis Johnson and Amobi Okoye facing injuries that could linger into the regular season, the Texans brought back Zgonina to provide some depth and some assurance. This is a move that makes sense as an insurance policy when it wouldn’t fit as a long-term solution.

Ravens (add WR Biren Ealy) – The Ravens needed an experienced, reliable receiver to fill in the gap left by Derrick Mason’s retirement, and their solution was to ink ex-Titan and ex-Ram Drew Bennett to a one-year, minimum-salary deal. But Bennett practiced for two days and then retired, leaving the WR corps with a gaping hole yet again. The Ravens added Ealy, another former Titan, to provide depth, but while he could make the team, he’s not the answer. The search continues.

Lions (add CB William James) – James is a serviceable corner who was released in Jacksonville but who could provide a veteran backup in Detroit. At the least, he’s a talented enough player to add to the depth of competition in Lions camp, and that in itself is enough to justify a signing.

Seahawks (add LS Kevin Houser) – Houser, the long-time Saints long-snapper, was replaced by Jason Kyle more for locker-room issues than for performance. He’s reliable, which is exactly what you want your long-snapper to be. Just don’t take investment advice from him.

Jaguars (add DT Montavious Stanley) – Stanley has only played one full season, in ’07 with the Falcons. But he had a cup of coffee in Jacksonville in ’06, which means team leadership knows enough to want a second look.

Subtractions

Chargers (cut LB Matt Wilhelm) – Wilhelm started 21 games over the past two years in San Diego, but the Chargers felt like their depth at inside ‘backer made him extraneous in ’09. Wilhelm’s starting experience, plus the proliferation of 3-4 defenses in the league, should allow him to find at least a backup role somewhere. The six-year vet could even end up as a starter for a new 3-4 team like Denver or Green Bay.

Vikings (cut CB Charles Gordon) – Gordon served as the Vikings’ nickelback last year before he suffered a major knee injury in November. He’s not healthy yet, but he could reappear on a roster somewhere before the end of the season if his rehab progresses. If healthy, he’s good enough to be in the league.

Raiders (cut QB Andrew Walter) – Walter, a former third-round pick, was once a promising prospect, but playing for a bad team behind a bad offensive line seemed to beat that potential out of him. His career TD/INT ratio of 3 to 16 isn’t good, but Walter has enough talent that some team that needs a No. 3 quarterback should still take a look to see if Walter can recapture his potential a bit. Walter could also become a UFL quarterback and try to rebuild his career that way.

Bills (cut LB John DiGiorgio) – DiGiorgio was a backup middle ‘backer who was released after failing a physical. He had microfracture surgery just before camp and will miss the ’09 season as a result.

Chiefs (cut PK Connor Barth) – Barth was the Chiefs’ kicker for 10 games last year, but he’s out before he could even start a training-camp battle with Mr. Irrelevant Ryan Succop. That’s a little surprising, but probably says something about how Succop and Barth compared in OTAs. Barth may get a look elsewhere, but that’s no given.

Patriots (cut DB Antwain Spann) – Spann played 10 games last year, but most of his action was restrained to special teams.

Bears (cut LB Joey LaRocque) – LaRocque, who played in 14 games as a special teamer last year, was caught up in a numbers game. Maybe our guy The Tower was part of the reason.

Ravens (cut TE Quinn Sypniewski) – Sypniewski is a blocking tight end whose roster spot was endangered when the Ravens added L.J. Smith to back up Todd Heap. He’s the kind of player who only fits in certain systems, so finding a new gig might be difficult.

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