The next month could decide whether the Seattle Seahawks draft early enough to select the quarterback they like the most.
Seattle, having upset Baltimore in Week 10, plays its next four games against teams with losing records. Three of those games are at home. The lone road game falls against 2-7 St. Louis in Week 11.
1991-2004 NFL Drafts
The Seahawks could plausibly go from 3-6 to 6-7 or even 7-6 over the next month. Their final three games -- at Chicago, home against San Francisco and at Arizona -- will be tougher to win. But the victory over Baltimore, backed by a capable defense and improving offensive line, have made 6-10 or 7-9 reachable for this team.
Teams winning seven or more games last season drafted 14th or later. Teams winning six games last season drafted between seventh and 13th. The first four quarterbacks drafted were gone among the top 12 overall choices, an unusual early run.
Of course, plenty of quarterbacks drafted early fail to meet expectations, but banking on the second round isn't the way to find one. And if the Seahawks' leadership has a good feel for personnel, they'll fare better over time with earlier picks than with later ones.
The first chart breaks out draftmetrics.com research showing what became of quarterbacks based on how early NFL teams drafted them from 1991-2004. Stopping at 2004 allowed the research to show which percentage of drafted quarterbacks had become five-year starters by last season. Teams drafted a disproportionate number of quarterbacks among the top 13 choices. The chart divides picks into seven "value groups" that the study's author, Tony Villiotti, described as "a subjective process, though based on objective information."
As the first chart shows, a significantly higher percentage of quarterbacks drafted in the first value group became five-year starters and Pro Bowl quarterbacks, despite memorable failures by some highly drafted passers.
The chart below is my own. It shows how early the first through fifth drafted quarterbacks were selected from 2008-11. For example, the first quarterback drafted went first overall in each of the last three drafts, and third overall in 2008. The fifth quarterback drafted last year, Andy Dalton, went 35th and was available when the Seahawks were on the clock with the 25th overall choice.
Mel Kiper Jr., writing for Insider subscribers, lists four quarterbacks among his top 24 prospects for the 2012 NFL draft. He lists Andrew Luck first, Landry Jones fourth, Matt Barkley 10th and Robert Griffin 24th. Teams tend to over-draft quarterbacks because they value the position so much, one reason the Seahawks can feel better about the draft if they're picking a little earlier.