Top 10 NFL Draft Prospects: QB Edition

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There’s not a more important player in the National Football League right now than a good rookie quarterback, especially if you’re a bad team. Even though you — as armchair general manager — need every one of the 53 roster spots to be filled with NFL-caliber players, the starting quarterback spot is arguably the most important.

Since the NFL has a hard salary cap on how much each team can spend on a roster, the natural impetus is to get the greatest ability out of the fewest dollars. After the 2011 lockout, rookie contracts became the cheapest deals in the league and stopped top draft picks from accumulating large sums of cash (and tying up massive portions of the available cap space).

If you need any more evidence, look at the recently concluded Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos fielded surefire Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for $17.5 million over the 2013-2014 season. They will owe Manning an additional $60 million over the next three seasons (all salary information provided by SportsCity) In case you missed it, Denver lost the Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks, fielding rookie-contract poster boy Russell Wilson, did not lose the Super Bowl. In fact, they very handily beat the Broncos, and they only had to pay Wilson $681,085 for the entire season. Wilson is owed $1,770,821 over the remaining two years of his contract. That’s just more than one-tenth of what Manning will be paid next season. No one would seriously suggest that Wilson is a better QB than Manning, but it’s fair to say that Wilson’s contract is about a million times more conducive toward building a winning team.

So, to shower some more praise on the guys who’ll be criminally underpaid after the 2014 NFL draft, here are the top ten NFL draft prospects as aggregated from SBNation, Sports Illustrated, CBS, and Walter Football.

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Yahoo Finance, Harvard Business Review, Market Watch, The Wall St. Journal, Financial Times, CNN Money, Fox Business