Not All Elite QBs Are First-Round Picks
By Jerry Tapp
Brett Favre and Drew Brees were second-round selections. Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round. Joe Montana and Dan Fouts both were chosen in the third round.
With the NFL draft about six weeks away, there is ongoing speculation about where some of the top players will be drafted. A constant debate concerns the QBs in this year’s draft. Who will select Johnny Manziel? Where will Blake Bortels end up? How high on the board will Teddy Bridgewater go? Each of these three college QBs are projected to go in the first round.
There are, however, a group of QBs who are projected to go after the first round; QBs whose NFL potential is still a mystery and up for debate. Derek Carr, Jimmy Garappolo and A.J. McCarron are just one group of college signal-callers who will end up on an NFL team this fall. What their NFL career looks like in 10-15 years is anyone’s guess. But that’s where the fun of the draft really takes shape. Who can predict the success of those players chosen in the later rounds compared to those taken in the first round?
For QBs, the discussion seems to dominate the pre-draft chatter. So let’s put some numbers to these QBs who were drafted in previous drafts and how well they performed in the NFL.
Using touchdowns as a measuring stick, we start with the fact that 123 NFL quarterbacks have 100 or more career touchdowns. Of those 123, 60 (48.8 percent) were first-round draft choices, a respectable figure. Here’s a quick look at where those 123 QBs with 100 or more career TDs were drafted.
1st Round: 60
2nd Round: 10
3rd Roumd: 13
4th Round: 6
5th Round: 3
6th Round: 6
7th Round: 2
8th Round 1
9th Round: 2
10th Round: 4
11th Round: 0
12th Round: 2
13th Round: 2
17th Round: 2
Free Agents (were not drafted): 10
Let’s take it a step further … of the Top 15 QBs in career touchdown passes, five were drafted in the first round, 10 were not. Here’s a look at how these players break out.
Top 15 in career TD passes—drafted in the first round (rank on the list in parenthesis): Peyton Manning (#2), Dan Marino (#3), John Elway (#7), Vinny Testaverde (#10) and Drew Bledsoe (#15).
Top 15 in career TD passes—not drafted in the first round (rank on the list in parenthesis): Brett Favre (#1), Drew Brees (#4), Tom Brady (#5), Fran Tarkenton (#6), Warren Moon (#8), Johnny Unitas (#9), Joe Montana (#11), Dave Krieg (#12), Sonny Jurgensen (#13), Dan Fouts (#14).
The chances of drafting a QB high in the draft and having that QB become a “bust” in the NFL is a distinct possibility. In fact, since 1970, there have been 10 QBs selected in the first round of the draft who had less than 10 career TD passes in the NFL. Here are those players.
Fewest career TD passes of QBs selected in the first round since 1970 (draft year in parenthesis)
1-Jim Druckenmiller, San Francisco (1997)
2-Dan McGwire, Seattle (1991)
3-Jerry Tagge, Green Bay (1972)
3-Steve Pisarkiewicz, St. Louis (1977)
3-Rich Campbell, Green Bay (1981)
3-Art Schlichter, Baltimore (1982)
5-Andre Ware, Detroit (1990)
5-Akili Smith, Cincinnati (1999)
7-Kelly Stouffer, St. Louis (1987)
8-Todd Marinovich, Oakland (1991)
Moral of the story: You can definitely find a QB who will have great success in the NFL after the first round. In addition, there is also a chance that the QB a team selects in the first round will be a flop. How will this year’s crop of QBs do?