NFC West: Kevin O\'Connell
Teams tend to overvalue quarterbacks in the draft, which means the most promising ones rarely escape the first round. Teams tend to focus on other positions in the rounds immediately following the first round before "taking flyers" on the position later in the draft.
We see this when looking at the number of quarterbacks drafted by round since 2000. There have been 31 in the first round, 16 in the second, 17 in the third, 20 in the fourth, 24 in the fifth, 36 in the six and 32 in the seventh.
The chart, updated since it ran in February 2010, ranks second-round quarterbacks since 1995 by number of games played.
While we're on a hot streak, let's take a quick look at third-round quarterbacks drafted since 1995, arranged by team:
- Arizona: Stoney Case, Josh McCown
- Atlanta: Matt Schaub
- Baltimore: Chris Redman
- Buffalo: Trent Edwards
- Cleveland: Eric Zeier, Charlie Frye and Colt McCoy
- Denver: Brian Griese
- Houston: Dave Ragone
- Jacksonville: Jonathan Quinn
- Kansas City: Brodie Croyle
- New England: Kevin O'Connell
- Oakland: Andrew Walter
- Philadelphia: Bobby Hoying
- San Diego: Charlie Whitehurst
- San Francisco: Giovanni Carmazzi
- Seattle: Brock Huard, David Greene
- Tampa Bay: Chris Simms
Count Schaub and Whitehurst among those who were more valuable to their teams as trade bait than as quarterbacks.
The exceptions: Lawrence Jackson, selected 28th overall by the Seattle Seahawks, and Kentwan Balmer, chosen one pick later by the San Francisco 49ers.
And with Glen Coffee retiring from the 49ers, San Francisco joined the New England Patriots as the only NFL teams to have parted with more than one player drafted among the first three rounds over the past two seasons.
That makes it easier to waive the usual disclaimers about waiting three or four years before assessing draft classes. We already know the 49ers and Seahawks will never realize a return on their 2008 first-round investments.
The first chart lists the nine draft choices from 2008 or 2009 who are no longer with their original teams (Brad Cottam, a third-round choice of the Kansas City Chiefs, landed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after clearing waivers).
The second chart shows how many 2008 and 2009 draft choices selected in the first three rounds are no longer with their original teams.
He has never attempted a pass in a regular-season NFL game.
NFLDraftScout.com's analysis on Whitehurst coming out of Clemson in 2006 called him a "good competitor who is a quiet leader, but has total control of the huddle" and a quarterback with "a snappy overhead delivery and a fluid follow-through rather than a windmill type that most tall passers display."
Some of the negatives listed could be outdated, the assumption being Whitehurst has worked to correct them under Norv Turner and the Chargers' offensive staff.
Matt Leinart is the only quarterback on the Cardinals' roster.
Using a third-round choice for Whitehurst, 27, could make more sense than using one for a college prospect. Though inexperienced, Whitehurst would be better prepared to play in a regular-season game.
The chart shows third-round quarterbacks drafted since 2000. Not many have succeeded. One exception: The Texans acquired 2004 third-round choice Matt Schaub from the Falcons when Schaub had minimal experience.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Philip from Sunnyvale, Calif., writes: I've always been a 49er fan through the bad times of times of the 80's and early 90's to the bad times now. I'm giving you a comment more than a question. Do you think the 49ers brought in Mike Martz to replace Mike Nolan if the 49ers don't at least finish 8-8 this year? I think they did, and then will promote Mike Singletary to Defensive Coordinator. What are your thoughts on that?
Mike Sando: I don't think the 49ers made the Martz hire with that in mind. Mike Nolan appeared to be behind the hire more than management or ownership was behind the hire. Yes, Martz would be a logical candidate for the job if the 49ers decided to make a change, and Singletary's name has surfaced for jobs. Also, don't forget about defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. He appears to be a rising coach. I would expect his name to surface if the situation arose as you described.
It's awfully early to be discussing such things, but the 49ers did nearly make a change after last season. The pressure is definitely high in San Francisco. A fast start would help.