For NFL teams, finding a starting quarterback is vital for success. Finding a quality backup is necessary insurance. And drafting quarterbacks with upside is just smart business.
With a market shortage on quality quarterbacks, landing a player with potential can lead to future success or aid in stockpiling draft picks. The Eagles under Andy Reid were the prime example of building up backup quarterbacks then swapping unproven talent for draft picks -- i.e. Kevin Kolb.
This offseason, the hot backup name is Mike Glennon, who will wither away behind Jameis Winston if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't swing a trade. Glennon has starting experience and an NFL arm. There are questions about his ability to be an everyday starter, but in a QB-needy league, a player like Glennon could bring back a solid haul for Tampa.
The New England Patriots are another example of franchise not afraid of adding quarterbacks, despite Tom Brady's presence. They did it with Matt Cassel. Ryan Mallett always generated buzz (even if it lacked substance). Next offseason Jimmy Garoppolo will be the hot name on the trade market along with Bengals backup AJ McCarron -- both entering the final year of their rookie deals.
Coming from New England, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn knows taking swings at quarterbacks in the draft is a calculated risk every good organization should make, even if that swing misses.
"I think it's really good football business to acquire a young quarterback every year or every other year," Quinn said, via the Detroit Free Press. "There's such a value in the position and nowadays in college football there's a lot of spread offenses, which means it's a lot different than pro football. So it takes these young quarterbacks time to develop. So if you can add a young quarterback every year or every other year to your roster, it's good football business in my mind. So you have time to develop them, either on the practice squad or as a backup, before eventually them having to play in a game."
The Patriots didn't fear using a second-round pick in 2014 on a player who might not play a significant snap in his entire tenure with the team. It's easier to do while shining multiple Lombardi Trophies, to be sure, but it's also good sense. It will be blatantly clear when we hear next offseason teams are considering sending at first-round pick for Garoppolo.