The NFL offseason is arguably more exciting than the regular season, especially if your team misses the playoffs. Assuming your team didn’t mortgage their future for a top pick in a previous year’s draft, they will have another opportunity to potentially draft an impact player from this year’s crop of college players.
There are 3 QBs who are virtually consensus first round picks: Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer, and Mitch Trubisky. Different mock drafts have seen all three as the first QB off the board as well as the last of the three. Instead of looking at each QB’s numbers compared to the others, I looked at each player individually, including other variables that others may not have considered when evaluating these prospects. One thing I believe goes overlooked a lot is the talent of the players that surround these QBs in college.
It is much easier to project a WRs abilities translating to the NFL than it is at the QB position as evidenced by Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne also being 1st round draft picks during the same span, and are already considered top 25 WR of all time. That does not include rising stars like AJ Green, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, and Amari Cooper that already have a combined 16 Pro Bowl selections in 20 combined years. Sometimes the talent at the WR position surrounding the QB is overlooked when evaluating theses prospects.
Since 1999, there has been a total of 50 QBs taken in the first round of the NFL draft. I’ve compiled a list, ranking these quarterbacks in 6 tiers on where they stand right now, as I believe a few of them may move up or down as their careers progress (i.e. Mariota, Winston). I did not include the class of 2016, however, as Goff and Lynch sat out most of the season. Wentz was the only one of the three who played a full season, but his career is still too early to judge.
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4||Tier 5||Tier 6|
|Super Bowl Winning QBs Who Will Likely End Up In The HOF||QBs With Potential To End Up In HOF||Pro Bowl QBs With Potential To Win Super Bowl||QBs With Multiple Pro Bowl Appearances/ Potential Appearances||QBs Who Had/ Are Having Decent Careers But Don't Offer Much Upside||Busts|
|Aaron Rodgers||Andrew Luck||Matt Stafford||Michael Vick||Jay Cutler||Robert Griffin III|
|Ben Roethlisberger||Philip Rivers||Joe Flacco||Daunte Culpepper||Jason Campbell||Tim Couch|
|Eli Manning||Matt Ryan||Cam Newton||Teddy Bridgewater||Chad Pennington||JaMarcus Russell|
|Donovan McNabb||Alex Smith||Ryan Tannehill||Sam Bradford||Tim Tebow|
|Marcus Mariota||Blake Bortles||Mark Sanchez||Brandon Weedon|
|Jameis Winston||Vince Young||Byron Leftwich||Johnny Manziel|
|Carson Palmer||Rex Grossman||Akili Smith|
Out of the 47 QBs drafted in the first round from 1999-2015, 20 of them were busts (43%). As history tends to repeat itself, at least one of the aforementioned 3 QBs is destined for Tier 6. The reason I believe Watson has bust written all over him is the fact that his teammate, WR Mike Williams, is also considered a top 10 pick, and the consensus number 1 WR in the 2017 draft class.
Since the 1999 draft, there are 5 other 1st round QBs who have had a teammate also go in the 1st round: Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Blake Bortles, and JaMarcus Russell. Four of those five QBs are labeled as busts and the other is Blake Bortles. While I do think Bortles is talented, he regressed last year and may to find himself labeled a bust by his career’s end.
Elite QB-WR teammate prospects don’t always come out the same year, however. If you expand qualifications to WR drafted a year apart from their QBs, names like EJ Manuel and Teddy Bridgewater come up, with Kelvin Benjamin and DeVante Parker drafted in the 1st round a year after their teammates.
Expanding it further to any 1st round WR played at least 1 game with any 1st round QB in college, Blaine Gabbert, Vince Young, Cade McNown, Ryan Tannehill, and Matt Stafford make the list.
Based on these statistics, Watson’s floor is JaMarcus Russel, with his ceiling somewhere between Blake Bortles and Matt Stafford. Stafford, although talented, is 5-46 for his career against teams with a winning record in the NFL, including a playoff record of 0-3 so even his ceiling isn’t something you should look for when choosing a franchise QB.
If you are wondering where the other two prospects fare in comparison to previous years, Kizer falls in the category with E.J. Manuel and Teddy Bridgewater, as WR Will Fuller was drafted last year out of Notre Dame. This one is tough to judge because the sample size is small, and Teddy Bridgewater sat out the entire 2016 campaign with a knee injury after leading the Vikings to the playoffs in his first full season. Bridgewater’s injury was so bad that some speculate he may never play again.
Mitch Trubisky falls into a category of 1st round QBs who never played with a WR who was drafted at all (assuming none of his WRs are drafted this year). He will join Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Cam Newton as other QBs who fall into this category. Although Locker and Ponder are listed as busts, they did enjoy some success as NFL QBs. In Ponder’s only full season, he completed 62% of his passes for 2935 yards to go with 18 TDs and 12 interceptions on his way to a 10-6 record. Locker couldn’t seem to stay healthy but in 2013, he went 4-3 before spraining his MCL among other injuries, completing 60.7% of his passes to go with a 2-1 TD-Int. ratio. Even if that is the floor for Trubisky, his ceiling is much higher. The other five in this group have five Super Bowl victories in 7 appearances (potentially 6 in 8 if Roethlisberger or Ryan wins this year), 3 Rookie of the Year awards, and 1 MVP award.