How the 2014 Super Bowl should effect the draft

If this Super Bowl has taught us anything, it is that the cult of the quarterback needs to end. Like John Elway and Tom Brady can attest: your team may have the best quarterback, but that doesn’t mean you’ll win. In fact, history doesn’t side with the better quarterback, but with the better team.

Here’s the list of Super Bowl winners since 2001:

2001 Baltimore Ravens
2002 New England Patriots
2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2004 New England Patriots
2005 New England Patriots
2006 Pittsburgh Steelers
2007 Indianapolis Colts
2008 New York Giants
2009 Pittsburgh Steelers
2010 New Orleans Saints
2011 Green Bay Packers
2012 New York Giants
2013 Baltimore Ravens
2014 Seattle Seahawks

The common denominator among all of these teams is not the elite quarterback. It is the better defense. Those 2003 Bucs and 2004 Patriots had brutal defenses. Those Colts that won the Super Bowl in 2007, with Peyton Manning winning his only Super Bowl had an elite defense.

Just as the “you must have an elite quarterback to win the Super Bowl” line is tired, so is that old chestnut “Defense wins championships”. Even though many of these teams had elite defenses (like Seattle’s this year), the outliers prove something more important: aggressive, punishing defenses win. It isn’t necessarily the stingiest or the stoutest. Look at those two outliers in 2010 and 2011. The Saints and Packers did not have elite defenses; far from it. But both teams produced turnovers and blitzed aggressively. It was also the hallmark of those Patriots teams that won the Super Bowls, not the high-flying offensive teams that have lost more recently.

My guess is that of the teams with the chance to draft a top quarterback this year, each needs an elite defensive player more. And Mel Kiper will be confounded by their wise decision.

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