NFL First Round Quarterbacks Go Bust More Than Boom
By Robert Ferringo
I am a huge believer in sitting rookie quarterbacks and letting them learn. And I don’t see the argument for the other side. There have been players that have been exceptions. Ben Roethlisberger, Flacco, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez come to mind. But what did all of them have in common? You guessed it: they were fortunate enough to be drafted by teams that had dominating offensive lines, exceptional running games and outstanding defenses. And what is overlooked is that with the exception of Ryan (who, admittedly, didn’t have a “dominating” defense) the other three guys were pretty bad for the majority of their rookie seasons. And had they been on lesser teams they likely would have been a disaster. (Also, Ryan experienced a pretty rough sophomore slump. I think Sanchez is headed for the same fate. Again, young quarterbacks can’t be counted on.)
So, I am 99 percent opposed to taking a quarterback No. 1 overall. I am about 95 percent against taking a quarterback in the first round. And I think that the odds back me up. Here is a list of every first round quarterback taken since 1990:
1990 – Andre Ware (Detroit), Jeff George (Indianapolis)
1991 – Dan McGwire (Seattle), Todd Marinovich (Oakland)
1992 – David Klingler (Cincinnati), Dave Brown (N.Y. Giants), Tommy Maddox (Broncos)
1993 – Drew Bledsoe (New England), Rick Mirer (Seattle)
1994 – Heath Shuler (Washington), Trent Dilfer (Tampa Bay)
1995 – Steve McNair (Houston), Kerry Collins (Carolina)
1996 – NONE
1997 – Jim Druckenmiller (San Francisco)
1998 – Peyton
Manning (Indianapolis), Ryan Leaf (San Diego)
1999 – Akili Smith (Cincinnati), Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota), Cade McNown (Chicago)
2000 – Chad Pennington (New York Jets)
2001 – Mike Vick (Atlanta)
2002 – David Carr (Houston), Joey Harrington (Detroit), Patrick Ramsey (Washington)
2003 – Carson Palmer (Cincinnati), Byron Leftwich (Jacksonville), Kyle Boller (Baltimore), Rex Grossman (Chicago)
2004 – Eli Manning (N.Y. Giants), Philip Rivers (San Diego), Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh), J.P. Losman (Buffalo)
2005 – Alex Smith (San Francisco), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Jason Campbell (Washington)
2006 – Matt Leinart (Arizona), Jay Cutler (Denver)
2007 – JaMarcus Russell (Oakland), Brady Quinn (Cleveland)
2008 – Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Joe Flacco (Baltimore)
2009 – Matt Stafford (Detroit), Mark Sanchez (N.Y. Jets), Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay)
That means there have been 44 quarterbacks taken in the first round over the last 20 years. I think that the jury is still out over the nine that have been picked in the last four years. So of the other 35 first rounders I would say that eight of them have been very good (Bledsoe, McNair, Collins, P. Manning, Palmer, E. Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger). I would say that two of them have been pretty good (Pennington, Rodgers) and were decent picks. I would say that four have had their moments, but in general didn’t live up to their positioning (George, Maddox, Culpepper, Dilfer). And I would say that the other 21 were outright busts and complete wastes as selections.
By my math that means that 10 of the 35 first round quarterbacks taken before 2006 were successful while the other 25 were, well, not. Compare that to the four of 10 successful quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall since 1990 (I’m not counting Stafford yet) and the 50-50 success ratio I laid out in the lede is starting to look generous.
What’s more, is that the numbers are actually uglier when you really get into it. In the last decade (2000-2009) there were only 12 Pro Bowl berths from the group of 26 quarterbacks taken in the first round. None of the players has been on the first team All-Pro. In the decade prior, quarterbacks taken outside the Top 10 or quarterbacks taken in the first round on teams that had seven or more wins actually saw their teams produce a worse record the following year.
So if Detroit and St. Louis somehow think that they have their quarterback issues solved, or that their young guns will give them something to build on moving forward, I hate to tell them that they are probably sorely mistaken.