Bypassing talented QBs early in draft is a risky move

The depth of the 2014 NFL Draft talent pool, both overall and at quarterback specifically, has led to a lot of speculation that quarterback-needy teams that pick in the top 10 could bypass a quarterback in the first round in favor of a player at another position and find a signal-caller in the later rounds.

Numerous analysts touting that strategy point to the success of recent second-round picks Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton and recent third-rounder Russell Wilson.

While it's true that each of that trio has led his team to back-to-back playoff appearances (it's back-to-back-to-back in Dalton's case), recent history says that strategy also is somewhat risky.

In the past seasons, 30 quarterbacks have started a playoff game, and 17 of those were first-round picks. There also have been four second-rounders, three third-rounders, a fifth-rounder, two sixth-rounders, a seventh-rounder and two undrafted free agents. Of those 13 non-first-rounders, eight made just one playoff start in that five-season span.

Conversely, of the 17 first-rounders, 11 have made multiple playoff starts; three others (Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin III and Matthew Stafford) are considered playoff-caliber quarterbacks, even if they're not necessarily surrounded by similar teammates.

Also worth noting is that Dalton, Kaepernick and Wilson play for teams known for their defenses, meaning a defense-challenged team looking for a quarterback after the first round might be taking an even bigger risk.

Prospects such as defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, wide receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson, outside linebacker Khalil Mack of Buffalo, and offensive tackles Greg Robinson of Auburn and Jake Matthews of Texas A&M have star potential and are going to be tough to bypass early in the first round.

That means quarterback-needy teams such as Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Minnesota likely are going to have to make some decisions. Is it better to take a quarterback early, or instead take one of those positional players and hope a quarterback such as David Fales of San Jose State, Zach Mettenberger of LSU, Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, AJ McCarron of Alabama or Aaron Murray of Georgia can develop into a playoff-caliber quarterback? One aspect that might come into play: How do those teams feel about the 2015 quarterback class?

The 30 quarterbacks who have started a playoff game in the past five seasons and where they were drafted (Super Bowl winners noted by asterisks):

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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