As it stands right now, the New Orleans Saints do not currently have a Quarterback under contract beyond the 2017 season. Drew Brees concludes his two-year deal (but will most likely be extended if he has another Drew Brees-like season in 2016), and Chase Daniel came back to New Orleans on just a one year deal.
With the current QB situation in New Orleans, it’s not surprising to see fans and analysts speculating about whether or not the Saints will draft Drew Brees’s future replacement in the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Saints were to go this route, a position I’m not entirely on board with, they must do so in the first round or no sooner than the fifth round.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Saints selected QB Garrett Grayson out of Colorado State in the third round, a player they were hoping to groom to potentially take over the starting role some time in the future. As it turned out, Grayson is currently on a Futures contract with the Saints, with his long-term future in the NFL still largely in question. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it looks like the Grayson pick ended up being a bust.
The Saints have too many holes on the defensive side of the ball for the Saints to end up wasting a third round pick on a QB who never develops into a starter. There have been 33 QBs drafted in the third round or later in the past four drafts. Of those 33, only one is currently starting in the NFL - Dak Prescott of the Cowboys, drafted in the 4th round last year. Of the 14 QBs selected in the first and second rounds during that same period, only four (E.J. Manuel, Johnny Manziel, Geno Smith and Jimmy Garoppolo - the later who could be a starter in 2017) are not starters in the NFL. The success rate in finding a starting QB early in the NFL draft is obviously far greater than mid-round selections.
Past the fifth round, it is generally harder to find Pro Bowl-caliber players available to be drafted. In the entire 5th-7th Rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft, only two players made it to the Pro Bowl their rookie year. Now I know what you’re saying: “But they’ve only had one year in the NFL to even try to make a Pro Bowl!” Fine. In the 2015, 2014, and 2013 NFL Drafts, a combined three players have made a Pro Bowl during that entire time, drafted in the fifth round or later.
What’s the point in all of this? That later round picks are largely crapshoots anyway. If the Saints want to draft a QB in 2017, they should do so in the first or second rounds where the probability of that caliber player turning into an NFL starter are greatest. If not, they should wait until significantly later in the draft where even a defensive selection might not ever see starting time in the NFL.