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Updated: December 25th, 2013 6:36am
Mackey: Why each win (and tie) hurts Vikings' chances at franchise QB

Mackey: Why each win (and tie) hurts Vikings' chances at franchise QB

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

I can tell Minnesota Vikings fans are torn right now. They were especially torn in the second half of Sunday's nail-biting tie at Lambeau Field.

Root for a win over the rival Green Bay Packers and the short-term high that comes with it? Or root for a loss and improved draft positioning - on a day in which Jacksonville and Tampa Bay both won - in hopes of long-term success?

Well, by tying in Green Bay, the Vikings satisfied both parties, to some extent. They also irritated both parties, to some extent. I guess that's the nature of ties.

In the discussion about tanking vs. winning, players and coaches obviously aren't going to tank on purpose. They're all playing for jobs and contracts. So, really, fans rooting for the Vikings to tank are really just rooting for them to keep playing poorly. So far the Vikings have mostly obliged.

But for fans who refuse to cheer against their team in the short-term, what are you really rooting for? A 6-10 record instead of 2-14? Maybe 4-12 instead of 3-13?

Be careful what you root for...

The Vikings will almost certainly be in search of a franchise quarterback next spring. There are plenty of flaws with this team, but the lack of high-quality quarterback play is by far the biggest albatross in today's NFL. With Sunday's tie in Green Bay, the Vikings (2-8-1) currently own the No. 4 overall draft pick. Had they lost Sunday's game, the Vikings would sit at No. 2 (factoring in the strength of schedule tie-breaker).

Some might say the difference between selecting 2nd or 4th doesn't matter, because great quarterbacks have been taken in all parts of the draft - top five, late first round, second round, and even Tom Brady in the sixth round.

"It's all a crapshoot," right?

False.

I've gone through every draft in the Peyton Manning era - the era in which quarterback play has reached an entirely new level of importance due mostly to rule changes. I looked at the first four quarterbacks taken in each draft and marked them in one of the following three categories:

# = Hall of Fame discussion
* = Serviceable to very good
Blank = Backup at best

Obviously the goal for teams is to draft quarterbacks marked with a # or a * because they have the most potential to rack up playoff wins. The markings are subjective, but only a few are even remotely debatable.

1st QB taken (parenthesis indicates round taken in)

Andrew Luck (1st round) #
Cam Newton (1) *
Sam Bradford (1) *
Matthew Stafford (1) *
Matt Ryan (1) *
JaMarcus Russell (1)
Vince Young (1)
Alex Smith (1) *
Eli Manning (1) #
Carson Palmer (1) *
David Carr (1)
Michael Vick (1) *
Chad Pennington (1) *
Tim Couch (1)
Peyton Manning (1) #

At least serviceable or very good: 11 of 15 (73%)
HOF discussion: 3 of 15 (20%)

2nd QB taken

Robert Griffin III (1) *
Jake Locker (1) *
Tim Tebow (1)
Mark Sanchez (1)
Joe Flacco (1) *
Brady Quinn (1)
Matt Leinart (1)
Aaron Rodgers (1) #
Philip Rivers (1) *
Byron Leftwich (1)
Joey Harrington (1)
Drew Brees (2) #
Giovanni Carmazzi (3)
Donovan McNabb (1) *
Ryan Leaf (1)

At least serviceable or very good: 7 of 15 (47%)
HOF discussion: 2 of 15 (13%)

3rd QB taken

Ryan Tannehill (1) *
Blaine Gabbert (1)
Jimmy Clausen (2)
Josh Freeman (1)
Brian Brohm (2)
Kevin Kolb (2)
Jay Cutler (1) *
Jason Campbell (1)
Ben Roethlisberger (1) #
Kyle Boller (1)
Patrick Ramsey (1)
Quincy Carter (2)
Chris Redman (3)
Akili Smith (1)
Charlie Batch (2)

At least serviceable or very good: 3 of 15 (20%)
HOF discussion: 1 of 15 (7%)

4th QB taken

Brandon Weeden (1)
Christian Ponder (1)
Colt McCoy (3)
Pat White (2)
Chad Henne (2)
John Beck (2)
Kellen Clemens (2)
Charlie Frye (3)
J.P. Losman (1)
Rex Grossman (1)
Josh McCown (3)
Marques Tuiasosopo (2)
Tee Martin (5)
Daunte Culpepper (1) *
Jonathan Quinn (3)

At least serviceable or very good: 1 of 15 (7%)
HOF discussion: 0 of 15 (0%)

The results of this exercise are clear: Since 1998, the first quarterback off the board has a 73% chance of being at least serviceable. But that percentage drops to 47%, 20% and 7% for the second, third and fourth quarterbacks who come off the board.

Of course, some drafts are more QB-heavy than others, which certainly plays into this exercise. In 2000, for example, Tee Martin was the fourth quarterback off the board, but he wasn't selected until the fifth round. In many other drafts, the third and fourth quarterbacks off the board were still first-rounders.

But the main point is this: If the Vikings wind up with, say, the third quarterback off the board instead of the first or second, their chances of finding a gem go down. Significantly. And none of this even includes the value of a team below the Vikings trading up for, say, a defensive player and offering up additional picks.

It's likely the Jaguars (2-9), Texans (2-9), Buccaneers (3-8), Browns (4-7) and maybe others could all be sniffing around the quarterback bin in next year's draft as well. 

Be careful what you root for... 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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