But Chuck Knox used to go on his TV show and, after losses, complain "Well!, I don't know where you go to GET the premium quarterback. Growf. If somebody has one, they're not giving him up." Knox' teams always made the playoffs, so he wasn't going to get a 1-1 pick. He was frustrated by the paradox of his own 10-6 success...
Problem was, Chuck Knox wouldn't have known how to groom a Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Montana or Tom Brady if his life depended on it... I always wanted to yell through the TV, "You GROOM the premium quarterback!"
=== Draft Position: No Absolutes Need Apply ===
I think it's perfectly feasible, even today, to identify and groom a 6th-round Tom Brady, a 6th-round Joe Montana, or a 6th-round Matt Hasselbeck -- and obviously it's possible to groom a 2nd-round Brett Favre or Drew Brees.
Nobody can prevent you from taking your favorite QB at a Favre/Brees draft slot. It puts more pressure on you to identify and groom your #25-overall pick; it makes your job easier to draft a QB in the top 5.
Go back to 2004 and there is a long series of Super Bowls won by QB's who weren't drafted high. Three by Brady, one by Dilfer, one by Kurt Warner, one by Brad Johnson of all people...
And notice that the 2005-10 championship QB's weren't all taken 1-1. Rodgers and Brees did not enjoy Andrew Luck status coming out of college.
=== Roster Position: No Absolutes Need Apply ===
Also, a football team can be verrrrrry good without having the best QB in the league. The 2005 Seahawks were actually one of the best football teams I've seen. They dominated based on a historically-great offensive line that --- > simply broke other teams' wills to win.
Personally, I'd be very happy to root for a team like the 2000-2007 Ravens, a team with a nuclear defense, one that could ride Trent Dilfer to a ring. Also the 1985 Bears crushed the NFL in Video-Dance fashion despite the insipid Jim McMahon at QB.
So here too: no absolutes. True, if you get yer a star QB, TB and WR in the Aikman-Smith-Irvin mold, and everything else falls into place. But! If you have a merely good QB, it merely forces your hand to build up some other sector of your team into total domination.
=== Logical / Scientific Fallacies Dept. ===
You'll see people line up charts proving that QB's taken 1-5 overall have a 70% chance, taken 6-10 they have a 50% chance, and so on down to ---- > 6th round, 1% chance. Or whatever.
People think, "See? QB's taken at Whitehurst's slot have only a 12% chance. Therefore Whitehurst has only a 12% chance."
Sounds good, but see what lies behind that fallacy. Right in the middle of the sentence, they decided that QB drafting is a completely random process -- that it is no different at all from throwing dice.
That's because, for the sabermetrician, it is a shot in the dark. He's on his own turf talking about dice rolls. One saber football fan would be as good as another, drafting and grooming Keith Price.
[All 3rd-rounders taken by the NFL] might score 12%, but [3rd-rounders handled by Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren] do not. You think that if you gave Mike Holmgren a draft pick, and four years to work with a kid like Matt Hasselbeck, that the kid's chances would be 12%? More like 72%.
90% of all new business fail. But that doesn't mean that Steve Jobs shouldn't have started one. And it doesn't mean that Steve Jobs simply happened to hit a 10:1 dice roll.
Developing a young QB is not a random process. There are people who are really good at it. Whether Carroll is, or rather whether Norv Turner was, we'll see...
=== Ex Post Facto Dept. ===
Also keep in mind that there's a certain "after the fact" 20-20 hindsight. Tom Brady is now considered a talented quarterback. Joe Montana came to be considered an elite talent. Matt Hasselbeck, for a few years, was a top-6, top-8 QB.
If Charlie Whitehurst blossomed, people would say then that he'd always had the physical tools... and where are you going to find another Whitehurst if you're not losing 12 games...
=== Dr's Prognosis, Dept. ===
I believe that the need to get a 1-1 draft pick is overstated. True, the cleanest path to a Peyton Manning is to lose 14 games in just the right season ... even my man Chuck Knox could have turned Manning into a great QB and a championship.
But if the head coach is willing to do the heavy lifting, as opposed to the draft guy doing it, it's still completely feasible to fashion a Brees, Rodgers, or Favre out of a late 1st-round pick.
And if you never do get the really elite QB, it just means you're going to need Ray Lewis & Co., or Walter & Hutch, or some other posse of great players.
Could be wrong, but (as opposed to rooting for 14 losses and then a John Elway draft pick) I'm okay with creating an impact QB rather than drafting him.
At least I hope so :- )