Is It Smart for New Coaches to Draft a QB in Their First Year?

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IFebruary 7, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 17:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Oklahoma Sooners during the game on November 17, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The concept of a first-year head coach drafting his own rookie quarterback has both pros and cons. On one hand, it's appealing to try and bring in a totally new regime that could potentially grow together and have a lot of long-term success.

But on the other hand, it's a lot of uncertainty for a team to have both a new coach and rookie quarterback taking over. That amount of change could end up being disastrous. 

This past season the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts made the plunge, and both ended up with better results than expected.

It's harder to gauge the Colts' long-term potential because of the unique situation they had this season with having an interim coach for some of the season. 

But Miami was expected to struggle mightily and surprised people by going 7-9, with two overtime losses and a couple close games.

There are going to be a large number of first-year head coaches next season, and a few of them will have to look long and hard at drafting a new quarterback to lead their franchise.

With the NFL becoming more of a passing league every season, the quarterback has become not only the most important and most recognized position in football, but any sport.

So these coaches will have a lot to think about when looking at their draft board and analyzing their team's need for a new quarterback. Is it worth taking a shot on one in the first round? Or maybe they aren't in such dire need that they could wait and see who falls to them in the second or third round. 

To help those coaches make a decision, it would be useful to look at the past combinations of first-year head coaches and rookie quarterbacks. I only wanted to look at more recent pairs, since the NFL has evolved so much in a short period of time. 

Since 2008, there are are eight pairings which are still intact today, two of them being Miami and Indianapolis. 

Other than that, there have been two which I'd consider successes: John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco in Baltimore, and Mike Smith and Matt Ryan in Atlanta.

I would consider Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez to be a failure. They had a little bit of surprising success, but they're currently on the verge of collapsing after just four years together.

That leaves three pairs with a lot still up in the air in regards to their success. Jim Schwartz and Matthew Stafford had a disappointing 2012, as did Ron Rivera and Cam Newton. With Jake Locker's injuries, he and Mike Munchak have yet to really get their ball rolling completely, and only time will tell for them.

So now, new head coaches like Chip Kelly, Bruce Arians and Doug Marrone will all have to look and see if they think history will be on their side.

Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, and Mike Glennon are the five quarterbacks who are at least worthy of first-round consideration, although at least one or two of them will make it into the second round.

Are they worth rolling the dice on? It's a question worth debating, though we won't have a true answer for at least a few years.