Quarterbacks, Analytics, And Arbitrage

There is an ongoing debate right now regarding who the best Quarterback is of all time, and it usually results in a Joe Montana versus Tom Brady debate.  I see a different problem that needs to be resolved.  Why were neither taken in the first round?  The NFL is a league where the play of an organization’s QB will affect coaches, management, and their families.

With record turnover with Head Coaches and General Managers, the common theme by the media is the inability to find a Quarterback.  From radio to ESPN talking heads, to a recent USA Today article, it is clear that a system that evaluates Quarterbacks well is of tremendous value.

Understanding Quarterbacks is not an easy task, but rather a complex problem.  It takes outside the box analytical thinking.  What if you could bring in not 1, not 2, but 3 Quarterbacks that if provided the opportunity would be successful?  The only way to do that is to understand what leads to success and then use it as a framework to determine the probability of success.  The Cowboys were ahead of their time when they formulated a draft pick chart and used arbitrage to amass talent that would bring multiple Super Bowl Championships.  They understood the value of an asset because they did the research and analysis to make it quantifiable.

The Green Bay Packers had a great stretch of years bringing in Quarterbacks that went on to have success with other organizations, and none of them required an early pick.  Among them were Matt Hasselbeck (6th), Mark Brunnell (5th), Kurt Warner (UDFA), and Aaron Brooks (4th).  None of them were starters sitting behind Favre who was acquired via trade for a 1st round pick.  The type of success by the Packers to evaluate the QB position is something a strong analyical system can replicate.  It proves that an organization can accumulate multiple Quarterbacks that have a high probability of success and are also undervalued in the market.  Using an approach that is measurable, it is very possible to cash in on the arbitrage that exists with Quarterback evaluation.  Obtaining QBs for far below the perceived market value would also help remove the monetary bias and allow a true competition for the job.  And a competition among a good group of Quarterbacks means success for the coaches, management, and their families.  It also means a very satisfied owner and fan base.