Drafting quarterbacks

SWC75

Bored Historian
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I've done a couple of projects on the subject of drafting quarterbacks for the NFL. I decided to post them together.

I just heard a discussion on the radio about whether Trevor Lawrence should opt for the draft this year and possibly wind up as a Jet or wait until next year when he might be drafted by somebody else. It seemed like a silly question: it is the fate of quarterbacks drafted #1 to wind up with a bad team. If it’s not the Jets next year it will be somebody else who sticks. Maybe Lawrence could do what John Elway and Eli Manning did and announce that he doesn’t want to play for the team with the #1 pick in an effort to force a trade, perhaps to a list of teams he’s willing to play for. The team with the pick might actually be better off if they traded it for 2-3 players that could help them in various ways.

It got me to thinking: what’s the track record of quarterbacks drafted #1? The dilemma here is the teams: Do you build the team first and hope to get a quarterback who could start winning immediately with the team you’ve built – a team that won’t have the #1 draft pick because they are too good or do you draft the quarterback now and hope he can survive the trial by fire of suddenly playing with a bad team after playing with dominant teams in high school and college. Some guys can’t handle the higher speed of the game, the worse results on the scoreboard and the scrambles and sacks or just looking bad for the first time in their careers.

When I was growing up Johnny Unitas, (Greatest. Quarterback. Name. Ever.), was the definition of what a quarterback should be. He was a 9th round draft pick. A generation later it was Joe Montana, a 3rd round draft pick. In this generation, it’s Tom Brady, a 6th round draft pick. Those draft picks enabled them to join teams that had already bottomed out and were already building toward a peak. All three already had decent quarterbacks who they were able to beat out. George Shaw, who had been a #1 draft pick, lost this battle for the Colt’s job, then wound up with the expansion Vikings where he got beat out by Fran Tarkington. But he was a back-up quarterback deluxe for 8 seasons. Steve DeBerg lost out to Montana and then went to Denver, where he lost out to John Elway. He later started for Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Drew Bledsoe had also been a #1 draft pick and put up big numbers for the Patriots for 8 years before Brady pipped him. He later started for the Bills and the Cowboys. They just weren’t all-time greats and when an all-time great took over, those teams became champions.

Here is a list of the #1 draft choices each year: NFL and AFL Draft History | Pro-Football-Reference.com

Angelo Bertelli (1944) was a Heisman trophy winner who was in the Marines when he was drafted and had better things to do than play pro football. He signed with the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Conference after the war and played a year for them and a couple years for the Chicago Rockets before knee injuries interrupted his career. The teams he played on went 9-31-2, which would make anybody look for another line of work.

I have never heard of Frank "Boley" Dancewicz (1946) in my entire life. He quarterbacked Notre Dame for two years, (1944-45) when most of the top players were in the service and they famously got clobbered by Army, 0-59 and 0-48. The Boston Yanks went 9-24-2 in Boley’s three years there. The team became the New York Bulldogs, then the New York Yanks, then the Dallas Texans, then the Baltimore Colts.

Harry Gilmer (1948) got stuck playing for George Preston Marshall’s lily-white Washington Redskins for 7 seasons, most of them behind Sammy Baugh in his final years. Then he was traded to Detroit for a couple seasons. He had a perfect record as a starter: 0-10-0.

Bill(y) Wade (1952) had a solid career with the Rams and the Bears. The highlight was quarterbacking the Bears to the 1963 championship, although that team, like the 1985 team, was really all about the defense. The Rams drafted him when they were one of the league’s powers. They’d gotten that way alternating two all-time greats, Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin at quarterback. Waterfield retired in 1952 and the Rams may have seen Wade as his replacement, but Billy went into the Navy for two years and when he got out, Van Brocklin had cemented his hold on the QB position and Wade became a traditional back-up. He replaced Van Brocklin when he was traded to the Eagles and led the league in passing yards in 1959 and in completions in 1962 with the Bears. He scored both Bears’ TDs in the ’63 title game. He was 41-43-2 as a starter. But they key was his post-season record: 1-0.

George Shaw (1955) was beaten out by Johnny Unitas, who had been chosen at #102 in the same draft for the Colts’ job but served as a good back-up quarterback until he went to the Giants where he back-ed Charlie Conerly. He got another shot with the expansion Vikings where he again got beat out by a Hall-of-Famer. He wound up playing for the Broncos when they were the AFL’s bottom-feeder. He was 12-17-2 as a starter.

King Hill (1958) was another Rice quarterback from the days when they were good. He joined the Cardinals when they weren’t and lost his job to Charley Johnson. He was traded to the Eagles and backed up Sonny Jurgenson and Norm Snead. He played in 123 NFL games, starting only 29 games and winning only 8 of those, (8-20-1). He gained greater fame in the player’s union, of which he became vice president.

Randy Duncan (1959) didn’t want to play for the Packers, the worst team in the league at the time. Instead he became a British Columbia Lion and then a Dallas Texan – until Len Dawson showed up. Meanwhile he went to law school and decided that was a better career. He was 1-1 as a starter.

Roman Gabriel (1962) had to battle Zeke Bratkowski and then Bill Munson for four years to secure the Ram’s QB job but finally did and was NFL MVP in 1969.he kept the job through 1972 and was traded to the Eagles, leading the league in nearly every passing category in 1973. He stayed with them until his retirement in 1977, finishing with an 86-66-7 record as a starter. He was a college football Hall of Famer but didn’t quite make the cut in thew pros. But he was the first guy on this list to have a winning career record.

Terry Baker (1963) also went to the Rams but was behind too many better quarterbacks. In three years he attempted 21 passes and had an 0-1 record as a starter.

Jack Concannon (1964) did better: he was a back-up for the Eagles for three years, then became a starter for the Bears. He was in a constant battle for that job for the next five years against various QBs. He finished as a back-up with the Packers and then the Lions in 1975. He had a 20-24-1 record as a starter.

Joe Namath (1964) was a #1 draft pick in the AFL but #12 in the NFL, possibly because the Cardinals didn’t expect to out-bid Sonny Werblin, the Jets owner, for his services. He became the fist Hall of Famer on this list, becoming the first quarterback to pass for 4,00 yards and winning Super Bowl II to establish the AFL as being legitimate in everyone’s eyes. Knee injuries held him back from realizing his full potential and curtailed his career. He wound up with the Rams in 1977. Even Broadway Joe didn’t have a winning record as a starter: 64-64-4.

Terry Bradshaw (1970) joined a 1-13 team and went 3-5 as a starter that first year. But the first several years were a bumpy ride and he had to fight off another Terry, (Hanratty) and ‘Jefferson Street’ Joe Gilliam to retain the starting job. He finally secured it in late in the 1974 season and he led the Steelers to their first of 4 Super Bowl championships in the Bradshaw Era. In 14 years with the Steelers, Bradshaw was 121-56, including 14-5 in the post season.

Jim Plunkett (1971) joined a 2-12 team but started every game in which he wasn’t injured for the next seven years. Unfortunately, the Patriots never had a winning record with Plunkett, who had 62 TD passes and 87 interceptions with the Pats. He was traded to the 49ers in 1976 where he had similar results (11-15, 22TD, 30 picks) in two years there. He showed up in Oakland as a 31 year-old re-tread. There he was back-up to Ken Stabler, throwing 15 passes in two years. Stabler was then traded to Houston for Dan Pastorini, who broke his leg in the 5th game and Plunkett took over, finally having a good team around him. He went 13-2, leading the team to the Super Bowl championship. He was the starter in Oakland and, from 1982, in Los Angeles and also led the Raiders to the championship in 1983. His numbers were never dazzling: he had 18TDs, 16 picks in 1980, 20 and 18 in 1983), but he got the job done. His career record in the regular season is 72-72 with 164 TD, 198 int. But in the post season he was 8-2, 11-12. He’s the only quarterback to win two Super Bowls, be eligible for the Hall of Fame and not be in it.

Steve Bartkowski (1975) was the 1975 NFL rookie of the year, chosen over Walter Payton. He was the Falcon’s starter for the next 11 years- when healthy. He missed 53 games in those years. The highlight was a 12-4 season in 1980, when Steve threw 31 TD passes against 16 interceptions. He wound up his career. But his career record was 60-71.

John Elway (1983) had a legendary career for 16 years in Denver but he was regarded as not fulfilling his enormous potential until he won the Super Bowl in his last two years. He’s lost three of them before that. It helped him to finally get a dominant running game and a championship-caliber defense. Passing when he wanted to rather than when he had to greatly improved his efficiency. In his first ten years he had 158 TD passes vs. 157 interceptions: in the last six it was 142-69. His career record was 162-89-1.

Vinnie Testaverde (1987) Casey Stengel once said that “You’ve got to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games). Vinnie Testaverde was a pretty good football pitcher who set a record for the most regular season losses as an NFL quarterback in history with 123, against 90 wins and a tie. If he wasn’t a good quarterback, he would never have bene called upon to quarterback that many games. He played for 7 different teams, not being quite good enough to keep but good enough that other teams might want him. He played for 21 seasons he had one winning season in his first 11 but blossomed with the New York Jets, for whom he went 34-23, despite injuries, including a 12-1 stretch in 1998, losing to Elway’s Broncos in the AFC title game. He had 29TD passes and 7 interceptions that year. He also had a 33/19 year for Baltimore in 1996. Including post season play he was 92-126-1 with 281TDs and 272 int.

Troy Aikman (1989) went 0-11 as a starter for a 1-15 Cowboys team in Jimmy Johnson’s first year. He went 14-13 the next two years, then won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. The Cowboys faded after that but Aikman’s reputation was made. He’s been a top color man on TV for years afterwards. He’s got a 105-75 career record despite the awful start. One thing he doesn’t have is impressive passing statistics: he had one season in which he reached 20 touchdown passes with 23TD vs. 14 picks in 1992. But he was 23/17 in 15 post season games.

Jeff George (1990) was everybody’s idea of what a quarterback should look like. He just wasn’t everybody’s idea of what a quarterback should be. He was a big, tall guy who threw a beautiful ball and was a #1 recruit and #1 draft pick. He went 19-15-1 for two different schools in college with 35 TD and 35 interceptions. He played for 5 different NFL teams in 12 seasons and went 47-79 although his numbers were good with 163 TDs and 113 int. His best year was 1997 when he went 29/9 for the Raiders but the team was only 4-12.

Drew Bledsoe (1993) was supposed to be the Answer in New England and he certainly put up some numbers there. He had a league-leading 400 completions for 4,555 yards in 1994. He had 27TDs and 15 interceptions in 1996 and 28/15 in 1997. The Pats made the playoffs all three seasons and the Super Bowl in 1996. “During the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis and suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest, which almost resulted in his death.” (Wikipedia). Tom Brady, who had been a #199 draft pick, took over and led the Patriots to the first of 6 Super Bowl championships in his era, which would last for an incredible 19 years. What people don’t remember is that Bledsoe relieved a hobbled Brady against the Steelers in the AFC title game and led the team to a 24-17 victory that put them in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick had to choose between two positive options and chose Brady. Bledsoe went on to play well for the Bills and Cowboys and wound up 101-98 with 267TDs and 218 int. He was not bust- he just wasn’t Tom Brady.

Peyton Manning (1998) Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning? Well Manning played for 17 years, threw 579 touchdown passes, (40 in the post-season) against 276 interceptions and had a won-lost record of 200-92, including two Super Bowls. At the time of his retirement he’d competed more passes for more yards, more TDs and more wins than any quarterback in history. Those records have since been surpassed by Tom Brady – but not Ryan Leaf, who had a 48% completion percentage, 14 TDs passes, 36 interceptions and a 4-17 record.

Tim Couch (1999) was drafted one spot ahead of Donovan McNabb by the Cleveland Browns upon their return to the NFL. He was supposed to lead them back to glory. He didn’t quite do that but he led them to the playoffs in 2002, their only appearance since they came back. In an injury plagued career that lasted only five years, he threw for 64 scores vs. 67 interceptions and won 22 games against 37 losses. He was frequently booed by the home fans but they came to wish they still had him in subsequent years.

Michael Vick (2001) was the Lamar Jackson of his day. He was never a great passer, (56.2% completions), but he did have a good TD to interception ratio, (138-92), probably because he was such a running threat. He became the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He ran afoul of the injuries that plague running quarterbacks in the NFL and of his own proclivities, which included dog-fighting and gambling. After a couple of years he made a comeback, replacing Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, where he had his best passing season in 2010 with 21TD, 6int., leading the team to a 10-6 record and playoff spot. After that, he faded, winding up 63-54-1 for his career.

David Carr (2002) is the poster boy for the highly touted quarterback stuck behind a horrible offensive line. He set a record in his rookie year by being sacked 76 times! He also led the league with 49 in 2004 and 68 in 2005. In five horrendous years in Houston, he was sacked 249 times. The poor guy just got beat up. He was a back-up for three different teams after that. He got a Super Bowl ring with the 2011 Giants even though he never threw a pass all season. He wound up with a credible 65TDs and 71 interceptions despite a 23-56 record as a starting quarterback.

Carson Palmer (2003) led the Bengals to their first playoff appearance in 15 years in 2005, (11-5, 32TD 12int) and seemed set for a long run as the Bengal’s QB. Unfortunately, in a playoff game against the Steelers, “Palmer had tears of both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments as well as cartilage and meniscus damage, and a displaced kneecap.” (Wikipedia). Amazingly, he was able to come back for the next season and had nearly as good a year (28TD 13int). He tore a ligament and tendon in his elbow in 2008 and missed most of the season. In 2011, disputes with management caused him to demand a trade and to threaten retirement if he didn’t get it. He was traded to the Raiders for whom he played competently of two years and then the Cardinals, where he had a late-career renaissance. His best statistical season was 2015 with 35TDs and 11 interceptions. The team went 13-3 and to the NFC championship game where they lost to the Carolina Panthers. Palmer retired two years later with 298TDs, 193int and a record of 93-91-1.

Eli Manning (2004) was the little brother who made good. He never put up big brother Peyton’s regular season numbers (366TD 244int vs. 539/251, 117w-117l to 186-79), but he’s been better in the playoffs, (18/9 vs. 40/25, 8-4 vs. 14-13). Both won two Super Bowls and made Archie proud.

Alex Smith (2005) is the guy who is always good but somehow never good enough for his employers. He’s cursed with the title “game manager’, which is the equivalent of ‘nice guy’ or, to an artist, ‘very interesting’. But he’s been better than that. He played 7 seasons for the 49ers, (missing one with a shoulder injury). In 2011 he led the team to a 13-3 record. He only had 17TDs but just 5 interceptions. Two years later he quarterbacked the team to an 6-2-1 record but the Niners decided that Colin Kaepernick was their future and he led the team to the Super Bowl. That made Alex expendable and he was sent to Kansas City where he kept playing well and winning, going 50-26 with 102TDs and 33 interceptions. But the Chiefs felt that Patrick Mahomes might be just a big better and traded Alex to Washington where, in 2018 “Smith suffered a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula in his right leg” (Wikipedia), which seemed as if it would end his career. But Alex has come back this year to lead to the Artists formerly known as the Redskins to 4 wins in 5 games. For his career he’s an excellent 211-109 in TDs/int, (including 14-2 in the playoffs), and 105-74-1 in wins. He’s one of the better quarterbacks of his generation.

JaMarcus Russell (2007) is Ryan Leaf’s true competition – for the biggest bust of all time. He did manage 18TDs vs. 23 interceptions but completed only 52% of his passes. The Raiders lost 18 of the 25 games he started. Maybe the biggest condemnation of Russell is that nobody else wanted to take a chance on him. He was gone from the NFL after three dismal years. Three other teams gave Leaf a shot. The fact that Russell’s weight ballooned to 300 pounds may have been a factor.

Matthew Stafford (2009) has had a highly productive career for a franchise that’s been stuck in ‘neutral’ for decades. He’s been the Lions’ starting quarterback since the 7th game of the 2008 season and has started every game they’ve played save for 21 missed due to injury. He’s had 283 TD passes vs. 146 interceptions. The problem is the team around him, which has gone 74-92-1, including 0-3 in the playoffs.

Sam Bradford (2010) had his career wrecked by injuries. He could have jumped to the pros after his sophomore year at Oklahoma, when he threw 50 touchdown passes and directed the highest scoring team of all time. He elected to come back for his junior year and became the poster boy for all those who eschew the college game for the pros as soon as they can. He hurt his shoulder and played only 3 games, throwing only 2 TD passes. He had to skip the NFL combine due to surgery but was still selected #1. He had a good rookie year with the Rams, starting all 16 games and throwing for 18TDs vs. 15 picks as the Rams went from 1-15 to 7-9. But in his second year, Sam suffered a high ankle sprain and the team was ravaged by other injuries and fell to 2-14, including 1-9 in the games Sam started. He came back with a 21/13 steam and the team came back to 7-8-1 in 2012. The next year, Sam tore his ACL in game seven. He missed not only the rest of that season but the entirety of the 2014 when he tore the same ACL in a preseason game. (Why do they have pre-season games?) He was then traded to the Eagles. He made another comeback, throwing 19TDs vs. 14 interceptions. When the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, Bradford demanded to be traded and wound up with the Vikings to replace Teddy Bridgewater, who had torn his ACL in practice. Sam played very well for the Vikings, throwing for 20TDs vs. 5 picks, although the team only went 7-8. In 2017 he was done after reinjuring his knee after 4 games. The next season he was with the Cardinals where he gave way to rookie Josh Rosen after three losing games and was released.

Cam Newton (2011) had a roller-coaster career with the Carolina Panthers. The team went 6-10, 7-9, 12-4, 5-8-1, 15-1, 6-8, 11-5, 6-8 and 0-2 for them. Cam was a big dude at 6-5 245 and liked to throw his body around. It’s to his credit that he played so many games but the lasting image is of him making no effort to recover his fumble that clinched the Super Bowl for the Broncos after the 15-1 season. The wear and tear finally began to catch up to him in 2018 when he missed the final two games with shoulder trouble and had surgery in the off-season. In 2019 he only played in two games due to a broken foot. Bill Belichick picked him up as the best available quarterback to replace Tom brady for the 2020 season but hasn’t proved to be the answer to that problem, throwing only 5 TD passes vs. 10 interceptions in 14 games. For his career, Cam has 197 TDs to 125 picks and a won-loss record of 77-67-1.

Andrew Luck (2012) abandoned ship. I’ve hear more than one ‘expert’ declare that Trevor Lawrence is the best QB prospect “since Andrew Luck”. The Colts thought that they’d lucked out and gotten the next Peyton manning just 2 years after Manning left them for the Broncos. They expected another decade, at least, of first-rate quarterback production and many more wins and possible championships because they had Luck. The team had one awful 2-14 season between Manning and Luck and them jumped up to three straight 11-5 season while they built the team around him, including a 40TD, 16int season in 2014. In 215 he hurt his shoulder, came back and suffered “a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle” (Wikipedia) and was done for the year. He came back and performed very well in 2016, (31TD, 13 int), but the team couldn’t get going and went only 8-7 in the game she started. His shoulder had never properly healed and he underwent surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season. He came back strong in 2018 with a 39 TD 15 int season in 2018. The Colts went 10-6 and won a playoff game.

But at age 29, Luck shocked everyone by announcing his retirement just prior to the 2019 season. He cited the injuries as a reason. I recall discussions about how Luck, unlike so many athletes, had other interests in life. He travels a lot and loves to read. “An avid reader, Luck has become known as "the Colts' very own librarian", giving and suggesting books for his teammates; in 2012, he said his favorite book was Henri Charrière's Papillon, and he is a fan of Bernard Cornwell's historical fiction”. The final scene of the movie Papillon, (which means “the Butterfly” in French), comes to mind:

The look on Dustin Hoffman’s face must have been the look on the face of the Colt’s GM and Coach when Andrew made his announcement. I’ve rooted for the Colts among a small group of other NFL teams over the years and was at first dismayed by the decision and especially the timing of it. But I came to admire the fact that Luck had other interests in life and to appreciate that I don’t know what it takes to play this game even that long and at that level. If a player decides he no longer wants to put his body through that, that’s got to be his decision and I have to respect it. Beyond that you want 11 guys on the field at all times who want to be out there. A player who doesn’t want to be there isn’t going to do himself or his team much good by being there. So good luck to Andrew Luck.

Jameis Winston (2015) was a talented but somewhat immature player who had still been good enough to lead Auburn to the 2013 national championship and back to the 2014 playoffs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a chance on him, with mixed results. In four years there he had 121 TDs and 88 interceptions, including 33/30 in his final year. The Bucs went 28-42. When they got Tom Brady, they shipped Jameis to New Orleans where he’s hardly played behind Drew Bees and someone named Taysom Hill. Jameis’ career seems to be in limbo at the moment.

Jared Goff (2016) survived a horrific 0-7, 95TD 7 picks) first season to really blossom, as his team, the Rams, did in his second season. The team went 11-4, then 13-3 and to the Super Bowl in 2017-18 as Goff threw 60 TD passes against 19 interceptions. The result shave been much more mixed the last two seasons: 18-13 and 42/29. But Goff still seems to have a good hold on the position for the near future. Overall, he’s 44-29, 109-57.

Baker Mayfield (2018) is a cocky sort and needed to be, taking over for the Cleveland Browns, the worst franchise of the 21st century (111-241, .315 since they were resurrected), who were 1-31 in the two years before he arrived. They’ve been 23-23-1 since, certainly a big improvement. He had a strong first year (27 TD 14 ints), faltered in year two, (22//21) but is having a big year this year (25/8). They are on the edge of making the playoffs for only the second time since the franchise started up again at 10-5 but they may need some help from other teams. I hope he and Cleveland are beginning a great run because the Cleveland fans certainly deserve it.

Kyler Murray (2019) won the Heisman at Oklahoma a year after Baker did. He was supposed to go off and play baseball for the A’s. he seemed a little small for an NFL QB at 5-10. But he changed his mind and opted for football with the long-suffering Cardinals, who last won a championship in 1947, (if only someone had tackled James Harrison in that Super Bowl). With the Cubs’ World Series win, the football Cardinals are now the pro sprots franchise that has waited the longest to win a title, (including many created since who have never won it). Kyler’s certainly proven he can play at this level with 46 TD passes vs. 24 interceptions in two seasons. He’s also run for 1,360 yards at 6.1 a crack. He does a commercial with Tim Tebo in which he demonstrates his amazing ability to anticipate what’s going on around him. He’ll need it. So far the Cardinals are 13-17-1 in the games he’s started.

Joe Burrow (2020) had perhaps the greatest collegiate season any quarterback has ever had, throwing an incredible 60 touchdown passes vs. 6 interceptions and running for 5 more while leading LSU to a 15-0 record and the national championship. He then joined the horrible 2-14 Cincinnati Bengals. Joe managed to play 10 games with them before he “tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee, as well as sustaining other damage to his PCL and meniscus”. (Wikipedia) Joe had thrown 13TDs vs. 5 int while leading the team to a 2-7-1 record. He tweeted ““Thanks for all the love. Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.” Welcome to the NFL, Joe.


It’s interesting that 17 of the last 23 #1 draft picks have been quarterbacks. None were running backs. 19 of the first 62 had been quarterbacks vs. 21 running backs. The last running back taken was K-Jana Carter in 1995. It’s obviously a reflection of how prominent the passing game has become in the pros. I think it also shows how much the colleges have switched to the passing game and provided pro-caliber quarterbacks.

I think that when a team picks a quarterback #1, they are hoping for at least a Matthew Stafford: a guy who will fill the position more than adequately for at least the next decade so they can concentrate on building up the team at the rest of their positions. That’s happened 9 times in 36 picks, (Gabriel, Namath, Bradshaw, Bartkowski, Elway, Aikman, the Mannings and Stafford). Goff, Mayfield, Murray and Burrow have a chance to add to that list. Still, drafting a quarterback #1 is no guarantee that your problems at that position are over for the foreseeable future.
 

SWC75

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Everybody’s wondering who will get to draft Trevor Lawrence as the #1 draft pick in the NFL draft. He’s said to be a generational talent and fans have speculated that teams were tanking to get him. I’ve always thought there is a dilemma here: do you build the team first or get your star quarterback first? The egg or the chicken? If you put a great young talent on a lousy team, you won’t get the most out of his talents and you might ruin him, (see below). If you try to build the team first, you may never get a chance to draft a top quarterback – you team, while not great, would be too good to get a high draft pick.

The quarterback himself has a dilemma. After playing with a dominant team in college, 9and probably high school), doe she want to go to the worst team in the NFL, one that likely has a porous offensive line and receivers who can’t get open or cant’ catch his passes when they do. It’s been speculated that Lawrence might even want to remain another year in college because the teams vying for his services are so bad, (but would they bene any better next year?) many a top-rated quarterback has not survived the rigors of playing on a lousy team for the first time in his career. Not only do they look bad for the first time in their careers but they are risking injury, (ask Joe Burrow), or just getting worn down by being sacked so often. But then, “the strongest steel is forged in the hottest flame”. Maybe to become a top NFL quarterback a top college quarterback has to experience adversity and earn the respect of his teammates by surviving it.

I decided to look at what quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame and see where they were drafted. Do you have to draft #1 or close to it to get a Hall of Famer? I used this Wikipedia page: List of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees - Wikipedia
And this ProFootballReference.com page: NFL and AFL Draft History | Pro-Football-Reference.com
(The first NFL draft was in 1936 so no one who enter the league before that is listed.)

Troy Aikman was drafted #1
Sammy Baugh was drafted #6 – highest QB
George Blanda was drafted #119 – 9th QB
Terry Bradshaw was drafted #1
Len Dawson was drafted #5 – 2nd QB
John Elway was drafted #1
Bret Favre was drafted #33 – 2nd QB
Dan Fouts was drafted #64 – 6th QB
Otto Graham was drafted #4 (by the Lions: he opted to sign with the AAFC Browns) -2nd QB
Bob Griese was drafted #4 – 2nd QB
Sonny Jurgensen was drafted #43 – 6th QB
Jim Kelly was drafted #14 – 3rd QB
Bobby Layne was drafted #3 – 2nd QB
Sid Luckman was drafted #2 – highest QB
Dan Marino was drafted #27 – 6th QB
Joe Montana was drafted #82 – 4th QB
Warren Moon was undrafted (335 players were, including 18 quarterbacks)
Joe Namath was drafted #12 by the Cardinals and #1 by the Jets (no combined draft) – 2nd QB in NFL draft
Ace Parker was drafted #13 – 2nd QB
Ken Stabler was drafted #52 – 4th QB
Bart Starr was drafted #200 – 9th QB taken
Roger Staubach was drafted #129 by the Cowboys and #122 by the Chiefs, (No combined draft -he had a 4 year Naval commitment) – 8th QB taken in NFL draft, 6th in AFL draft
Fran Tarkington was drafted #29– 3rd QB, by the Vikings and #35 – 2nd QB, by the Patriots, (No combined draft)
Y. A. Tittle was drafted #6 – 3rd QB, by the Lions but signed with the AAFC Colts, who joined the NFL in 1950 but then went out of business. Their players were put into the draft and he was drafted #3 – 2nd QB by the 49ers in 1951
Johnny Unitas was drafted #102 - 4th QB taken
Norm Van Brocklin was drafted #37 – 6th QB taken
Kurt Warner was undrafted (222 players, 9 QBs)
Bob Waterfield was drafted #42 – 4th QB taken
Steve Young was drafted #1

Since this doesn’t include quarterbacks not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, I’ll add QBs who won MVPs, (regardless of selector), and aren’t already on the above list: National Football League Most Valuable Player Award - Wikipedia

Charlie Conerly was drafted #127 – 3rd QB taken
Earl Morrall was drafted #2 – 1st QB taken
Roman Gabriel was drafted #2 – 1st QB, by the Rams and #1 by the Raiders (No combined draft)
John Brodie was drafted #3 – 1st QB taken
Bert Jones was drafted #2 – 1st QB taken
Brian Sipe was drafted #330 – 12th QB taken
Ken Anderson was drafted #67 – 6th QB taken
Joe Theisman was drafted #99 – 8th QB taken
Boomer Esiason was drafted #38 – 1st QB taken
Rich Gannon was drafted #98 - 7th QB taken
Peyton Manning was drafted #1
Steve McNair was drafted #3 – 1st QB taken
Tom Brady was drafted #199 – 7th QB taken
Aaron Rodgers was drafted #24 – 2nd QB taken
Cam Newton was drafted #1
Matt Ryan was drafted #3 – 1st QB taken
Patrick Mahomes was drafted #10 – 2nd QB taken
Lamar Jackson was drafted #32 – 5th QB taken
John Hadl was drafted #10 – 2nd QB, by the Lions and #24 – 4th QB, by the Chargers (No combined draft)
Craig Morton was drafted #6 – 1st QB, by the Cowboys and #75 – 8th QB, by the Raiders (No combined draft)
Archie Manning was drafted #2 – 2nd QB taken
Phil Simms was drafted #7 – 2nd QB taken
Randall Cunningham was drafted #37 – 1st QB taken
Parker Hall was drafted #3 – 2nd QB taken

I also decided to add in anyone in the Top 32, (the number of draft choices in the first round and a neat dividing line between Steve Young and Jay Cutler), quarterbacks in terms of touchdown passes:
Here are the ones on that list not on the above two lists:
Drew Brees was drafted #32 – 2nd QB taken
Philip Rivers was drafted #4 – 2nd QB taken
Ben Roethlesberger was drafted #11 – 3rd QB taken
Eli Manning was drafted #1 – 1st QB taken
Carson Palmer was drafted #1 – 1st QB taken
Matthew Stafford was drafted #1 – 1st QB taken
Vinnie Testaverde was drafted #1 – 1st QB taken
Russell Wilson was drafted #75 – 6th QB taken
Dave Krieg undrafted (333 players, 17 QBs)
Drew Bledsoe was drafted #1 – 1st QB taken
Tony Romo undrafted (255 players, 17QBs)
Donovan McNabb was drafted #2 – 2nd QB taken

That’s 63 quarterbacks who certainly would certainly have been considered a good use of a draft pick. A total of 197 QBs were picked ahead of them, an average of 3 each. Adding one to the total players drafted for the undrafted QBs, the average draft pick for these QBs in #103. That’s not particularly meaningful as a big number tends to throw the sample off. A breakdown would be more meaningful:
11 were drafted #1
7 were drafted #2
5 were drafted #3
3 were drafted #4
1 was drafted #5
3 were drafted #6
1 was drafted #7
1 was drafted #8
2 were drafted #10
1 was drafted #11
1 was drafted #12
1 was drafted #13
1 was drafted #14
1 was drafted #24
1 was drafted #27
1 was drafted #29
2 were drafted #32
1 was drafted #33
2 were drafted #37
1 was drafted #38
1 was drafted #42
1 was drafted #43
1 was drafted #52
1 was drafted #64
1 was drafted #67
1 was drafted #75
1 was drafted #82
1 was drafted #98
1 was drafted #99
1 was drafted #102
1 was drafted #119
1 was drafted #127
1 was drafted #129
1 was drafted #199
1 was drafted #200
1 was drafted #330
4 were undrafted in drafts that totaled 222, 255, 330 and 333 players.

I would conclude from this that taking a quarterback below the top 5-6 spots is basically a crap shoot: you might get a Hall-of-Famer but probably not. If you don’t have a high pick, you are better off building up the team around the guy you’ve got.

Overall, I don't think 'tanking' is worth it. One guy isn't going to turn your franchise around. The Jets must have seen it the same way.
 

chugg21

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Think the Jets 2 wins have ended the idea of him trying to get away from the Jets. The Jags are in a great position right now loaded with picks and have the best HC/GM spots available to candidates. They should be able to get good really quickly like Miami has.
 

longislandcuse

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Jags can align GM-HC-QB like the Bills have.

They have a lot of cap space and a bunch of draft picks.

The whole “can one guy turn around your franchise”? Maybe, maybe not... that guy would be a QB, and we’re seeing that it takes a village beyond the QB, but it still remains that one guy is a QB...

If there was ever a pre-draft guy that could turn a franchise, and perhaps even the city in Jacksonville’s case, it’s Trevor Lawrence.

I absolutely think he was worth tanking for and as a Bills fan, am so happy that the Jets randomly decided to start winning games.

After T-Law, I think Wilson is boom or bust, and in a draft without Trevor, it would be between him and Fields for the top pick, but those two aren’t Lawrence.

Not only is it Trevor Lawrence’s talent (although he has his issues as well), but it’s what Jacksonville can now offer GM’s, HC’s and FA’s... it’s been reported that the Jax job became highly coveted as soon as they locked down the #1 pick.
 

chugg21

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Jags can align GM-HC-QB like the Bills have.

They have a lot of cap space and a bunch of draft picks.

The whole “can one guy turn around your franchise”? Maybe, maybe not... that guy would be a QB, and we’re seeing that it takes a village beyond the QB, but it still remains that one guy is a QB...

If there was ever a pre-draft guy that could turn a franchise, and perhaps even the city in Jacksonville’s case, it’s Trevor Lawrence.

I absolutely think he was worth tanking for and as a Bills fan, am so happy that the Jets randomly decided to start winning games.

After T-Law, I think Wilson is boom or bust, and in a draft without Trevor, it would be between him and Fields for the top pick, but those two aren’t Lawrence.

Not only is it Trevor Lawrence’s talent (although he has his issues as well), but it’s what Jacksonville can now offer GM’s, HC’s and FA’s... it’s been reported that the Jax job became highly coveted as soon as they locked down the #1 pick.
Yeah, I was in the same boat as a Bills fan. Was absolutely rooting for the Jets to start winning games the past month or 2. Certainly was not looking forward to the Dolphins and Jets both potentially having franchise guys and be loaded with picks and cap space. We'll see what Tua becomes but the Dolphins have 3 more picks inside the top 37 and another somewhere around 50 this year to combine with the 5 guys they added in the 1st 2 rounds last year. Even if you don't hit on everyone, having that many contributors on rookie deals is how powerhouses are built. They are going to be REALLY good for a while if Tua hits.

Jets have 5 picks in the 1st 3 rounds this year and then an extra 1st again next year to add to Becton and Mims so if Douglas is a great GM like most think he is, then they may be on their way to relevancy pretty quickly too. With Lawrence out of the picture I don't know if I prefer they take a chance on one of the coin-flip guys like Wilson/Fields or build around Darnold. Certainly would help them to have a QB on a rookie deal for another 4/5 years as they build up but I don't see either as a clear upgrade over Darnold if he was able to play with any semblance of talent or stability around him.
 

SWC75

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Jags can align GM-HC-QB like the Bills have.

They have a lot of cap space and a bunch of draft picks.

The whole “can one guy turn around your franchise”? Maybe, maybe not... that guy would be a QB, and we’re seeing that it takes a village beyond the QB, but it still remains that one guy is a QB...

If there was ever a pre-draft guy that could turn a franchise, and perhaps even the city in Jacksonville’s case, it’s Trevor Lawrence.

I absolutely think he was worth tanking for and as a Bills fan, am so happy that the Jets randomly decided to start winning games.

After T-Law, I think Wilson is boom or bust, and in a draft without Trevor, it would be between him and Fields for the top pick, but those two aren’t Lawrence.

Not only is it Trevor Lawrence’s talent (although he has his issues as well), but it’s what Jacksonville can now offer GM’s, HC’s and FA’s... it’s been reported that the Jax job became highly coveted as soon as they locked down the #1 pick.


Lawrence is from Georgia so he may be a Jacksonville type of guy more than a New York type of guy anyway.
 

samspann1

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How much has Lawrence improved since his freshman year?

He seems to be a good kid, has a huge arm, ideal size for a QB, etc., but when I've watched him play these past 2 years, I didn't really see what he's improved upon from his freshman year.
 

SWC75

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How much has Lawrence improved since his freshman year?

He seems to be a good kid, has a huge arm, ideal size for a QB, etc., but when I've watched him play these past 2 years, I didn't really see what he's improved upon from his freshman year.


Some guys don't, which doesn't mean they aren't good. it means that they were already good when they got here.
 

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