Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So quarterbacks are good if they are drafted in the first round?


You know how much I love the NFL Network. These guys are my evening house guests every night. Unfortunately, I am going to have to take exception to one big logical fallacy I have heard repeatedly in recent days. This fallacy is posed as a question and it goes a little bit like this:

“If the quarterbacks in this year’s draft are so bad, why are so many of them going to be drafted in the first round?”

The answers are incredibly obvious, but let’s do a bit of reductio ad absurdum just for fun. You know I just loved that reductio ad absurdum to death. This is the force that made my UCLA degree worth more than $0.25 thimble full of coffee. It’s more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

Implicit within the NFL Network’s argument are the following key points:

  • A player must be good to be taken in the first round.
  • Conversely, if a player is taken in the first round, he must be good.
  • If a bunch of teams are considering a QB in the first round, they must be impressed by the good quality of this year’s crop.
  • If a bunch of QBs go in the first round, it must be a good QB year.

Fallacious! Fallacious! Fallacious! This is bogus false reasoning, and completely erroneous also. Fallacious reasoning doesn’t always guarantee a false conclusion; it just means your logic is bad. In this case, the logic is bad and the conclusion is absolutely false. What is the real story?


Rather than simply stating the obvious let’s do this catechistically. I’ll phrase my answers as questions.

  1. If Andrew Luck had come out of Stanford this year, who would be the #1 QB in the 2011 draft?
  2. How many teams need a QB this year?
  3. If we had had a normal free agency/trade period would all of these teams be in need of QB as we approach the draft?
  4. If free agent QBs such as Mark Bulger had flown free, would the Cardinals be looking for a QB right now?
  5. If QBs such as Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb were on the trading block, would the Vikings and 49ers be looking for a QB right now?
  6. If Vince Young had been released, would QB demand in this draft be absolutely unchanged?
  7. If Carson Palmer (whose Bengal jersey I am wearing right now) had not abruptly pulled up stakes and retired, do you think the Bengals would use the #4 pick for QB… if they get a shot at it?
  8. There are several brand-new first year coaches who have no quarterback to speak of. Several are in near-rebuilding situations. Jim Harbaugh, Leslie Frazier, Mike Munchak and Huge Jackson are in this situation. {Incidentally, the Raiders need a QB, and they don’t want to admit it.} Would QB demand be unchanged if you didn’t have new coaches, hoping for a good start?
  9. Do you think the lockout and lack of free agency has had zero impact on club plans in the 2011 draft?

The Solution Set

Folks we live in a time of remarkable NFL crisis. About 10-12 teams need a QB. There is a chronic and serious quarterback shortage in the land. The handful of available (and competent) QBs are quite literally locked out of reach of the needy beggars who want them. The desperation is building. It is palpable and it is visceral.

Against all common sense, many teams are considering the chicken switch (reaching for a 2nd rounder in the 1st), but this does not prove that this is a good QB class. Taking an undraftable red-light kid in the 1st round is not indication that this is a good year. The fact that desperate fools are going to hit the chicken switch is no measure of talent.

Brian Baldinger is quite correct when he says that you’re taking a big risk if you wait for the second round. There might not be anything there for you when the time arrives. Certainly, you will curse the football gods if this happens to you. However, just a few years down the road, you may be counting this event as one of the best things that ever happened to you.

My Perspective

I wouldn’t take Ryan Mallett. I wouldn’t take Cam Newton. I would take Blaine Gabbert, but the price is outlandish. If he hits, it will look like genius. I love second round QBs, but I like my 2nd rounders in the 2nd round; not the first. I would love to get Christian Ponder in the 2nd. I would love to get Andy Dalton in the 2nd. If you give me Dalton in the 3rd, I’m going to jump through the roof. I am intrigued by Colin Kaepernick, or are we calling him Optimus Prime now?

Charnak and the Wonderlic have scared me regarding my favorite kid Jake Locker. Nevertheless, I would still take the risk on this kid. I think Jake Locker is a lot better than Kyle Boller.