2011 draft could topple 1983 first-round quarterback record

Greg Cosell’s observation that teams with needs at quarterback could reach for quarterbacks in round one of the draft has caused us to wonder whether the raw number of quarterbacks taken in round one could eclipse the all-time record for first-round quarterbacks.

The high-water mark came in 1983, when six quarterbacks became first-round picks:  John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, and Dan Marino (pictured).

In 28 years since then, only one class had as many as five.  In 1999, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, and Cade McNown exited the board in round one.  All five were picked in the first 12 selections, with the next quarterback — Shaun King — drafted 38 spots later.

Four quarterbacks were drafted in the first round of three other drafts.  In 1987, Vinny Testaverde, Kelly Stouffer, Chris Miller, and Jim Harbaugh were picked in the first round.  In 2003, it was Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwich, Kyle Boller, and Rex Grossman.  Most recently, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and J.P. Losman entered the league via round one in 2004.

In 2011, the number of prospects coupled with the teams that have needs at the position could result in up to seven first-round quarterbacks being taken.  Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are regarded as sure-fire top-ten picks.  Thereafter, one or more of the next five quarterbacks could be picked in round one:  Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick.

The fact that at least eleven teams reasonably need a quarterback could push the total closer to seven than two first-rounders.  The Panthers, Bills, Bengals, Cardinals, 49ers, Titans, Redskins, Vikings, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Seahawks all could be poised to draft a quarterback.  Though several of those teams pick way too high to justify taking anyone other than Newton or Gabbert, they could trade back into round one — or trade down — to get the guy they want.

That said, several factors counsel against a run on quarterbacks.  As Rosenthal pointed out the other day regarding the assessment of Bucs G.M. Mark Dominik that five or six quarterbacks could be taken in round one, there likely aren’t five or six true first-round quarterbacks in the draft pool.  And it’s increasingly obvious that teams not in need of a quarterback are trying to create a feeding frenzy, with the Patriots kicking tires on Jake Locker and the Colts supposedly looking at possible long-term replacements for Peyton Manning and the Saints bringing in Andy Dalton, who has generated an uncanny amount of interest in recent weeks.

Put simply, the teams that don’t need quarterbacks want the teams that need quarterbacks to take them early, pushing down the board the players that the teams that don’t need quarterbacks want.

Perhaps the biggest thing keeping teams from taking a chance in round one on a quarterback who may not really be a first-rounder is the lockout.  With possibly no meaningful chance to get the rookie ready to play in 2011, how can drafting a quarterback in the first round truly address the need in 2011?

Even if the lockout wipes out the offseason training programs, training camp, and the preseason, coaches will need to be ready to compete and win.  No matter how long the lockout lasts, Jerry Glanville’s interpretation of the letters in NFL — “not for long” — will continue to apply to the teams that fail in 2011.

51 responses to “2011 draft could topple 1983 first-round quarterback record

  1. So based on the past alone we know that 2, maybe 3 of the qb’s drafted in the first round will in all likelyhood be epic busts. Sux to be a team desperate for a qb.

  2. Regarding the 83 draft, why Dan Marino’s picture? You should have Elway up there. Elway won two SuperBowls. Marino didn’t win anything except for the fake spike game. LOL

  3. In 28 years since then, only one class had as many as five. In 1999, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, and Cade McNown exited the board in round one. All five were picked in the first 12 selections…

    Yeh and how did that turn out? 2 for 5 not very good. And those 3 that missed were just terrible. Why people keep picking guys that don’t have NFL arms is beyond me. McNown, Leinart etc. When you see all those college completions as arching passes that would never get by NFL safties is time to pass! Christian Ponder my pick in this year’s draft to be the “sleeper”. All the tools, smarts, attitude, arm, starting experience. PLEASE skins take him, hopefully he slips to round 2.

  4. No no no no no. There will be MAYBE three quarterbacks drafted in the first round. Maybe. No way do Jake Locker AND Ryan Mallett get drafted in the first round.

    No. Way.

  5. The reason for more reaches on QBs this year is the impending rookie salary cap. Every draft pick is a risk, so why not take a risk on a position that could lead your franchise for the next ten years? With the cap, it won’t cost $60m for a Jamarcus if you fail, so take a shot on the biggest impact position there is. Sure, you may pass on a Patrick Willis, but you may also pass on a Vernon Gholston. The cap will make it worth the risk to draft a QB earlier than usual.

  6. The sad part truly is….that today’s QBs really don’t have too long to mature into the position. Terry Bradshaw would be a bust if he was drafted today. Bradshaw threw 46 INTs his first 2 seasons, he would be gone in today’s day and age. I mean, Carolina is already giving up on Jimmy?

  7. I’m glad we have been so great about our quarterbacks position. We draft a guy and end up having him for over a decade, and when we are ready to let him go, we have more than one guy to fall back on. And even when Mcnabb went down we fell back on jeff Garcia and he smoothly rode us into the playoffs.
    We have never had the Dan Marino or the Tom Brady but we have had a quarterback that can get down the field and be successful.
    Quarterback to me is far more risk than anyone else you will draft. Many factors go into the success of just that one guy. As Terrell Suggs you have Ray Lewis screaming in your ear helping you out step by step right on the field. As a lineman you have four other guys doing the same thing you are. As a qb of course they get the veteran talk on the sidelines, but when a qb is on the field its them, and only them on the field. Not that every other position you draft isn’t ever a bust, qb is just the most risk. And if you guess wrong it sets you back far too long.
    I’m just grateful we havent had to rely on hoping to get the next John Elway year in and year out. I feel for you bengals fans because thats coming up rather soon for ya’ll.

  8. The closer we get to the draft the more Machiavellian it gets, which I love.

    The evil genius of New England, who (in his unmatched skulduggery) has amassed 3 of the first 33 picks, lurks in the background, not unlike Snidely Whiplash (sans the mustache). Given that only the 1st round (where they have 2 picks @ 17 & 28) is held on Thursday and they have the 1st pick on Friday @ 33, and the price goes down to sign them, one can only sit back and wait breathlessly for the evil genius to strike.

    The rich get richer because they are SMARTER.

  9. One more thing – I’m not a big fan of Robert Kraft but I do give him credit for being smart enough just to get the heck out of the way and let the evil genius do his thing when the time comes for the E.G. to do his thing, cuz NO ONE does it better.

  10. The guy I see most potential in is Christian Ponder….. If my team needed a QB, he is the 1 guy of the available that I would be Super exited to get!

  11. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Apr 16, 2011 10:34 AM

    In 28 years since then, only one class had as many as five. In 1999, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, and Cade McNown exited the board in round one. All five were picked in the first 12 selections…

    Yeh and how did that turn out? 2 for 5 not very good. And those 3 that missed were just terrible. Why people keep picking guys that don’t have NFL arms is beyond me. McNown, Leinart etc. When you see all those college completions as arching passes that would never get by NFL safties is time to pass! Christian Ponder my pick in this year’s draft to be the “sleeper”. All the tools, smarts, attitude, arm, starting experience. PLEASE skins take him, hopefully he slips to round 2.

    ++++++++++++++++

    he will slip to rd 2, and the Bengals will take him. Once that happens, then everyone will say it’s a horrid pick.

    If he’s taken by any other team, it will be “the best pick of the draft”

  12. At least Marino has a Super Bowl souvenir – his white jersey with grass stains all over the back, from the 49er defense sacking him and knocking him down all day long, as Joe Montana and Roger Craig ran roughshod over the not-so-killer B’s.

  13. So that’s 11 teams needing one. 4 of them might shop for Vet QB’s like Palmer, VY, McStabb or Kolb.

    The bills don’t ‘NEED ONE’… so might go with defense or offensive line.

    The seahawks don’t ‘NEED ONE’… so might go with defense or offensive line.

    That now leaves 5.

  14. egls7 says:
    Apr 16, 2011 10:51 AM
    Im glad my team isn’t desperate for a qb!

    ——————————-

    Keep on holding on the delusion that Kolb is a franchise QB – The rest of the NFC thanks the Eagles for that

  15. gbfanforever called it on this draft: It sucks to be a team desperate for a QB.

    I like Mallett. Not a believer in pure spread QBs, but Newton is a phenomenal athlete. But I’d be stunned if the league pulled three winners from this class to rival Elway/Kelly/Marino or Roethlisberger/Rivers/E. Manning.

    Three Hall of Famers, 14 Championship Titles, 5 Super Bowl wins? Sorry … just don’t see that potential in this year’s draft.

  16. Dean,

    Many things factor into a QB winning a Superbowl…if you think Elway would have won without Shanahan’s blocking schemes and terrel Davis you are delusional.

    Marino laid it all out there on the field but he never had anything close to what Kelly or Elway had in terms of a supporting cast.

  17. I think 4 qbs will be selected in the 1st round but I wouldn’t be shocked if that number turns to 5 or 6. There are a lot of qb needy teams out there. I can name at least 5 qbs I wouldn’t mine my niners using a pick on if they trade up in to the late 1st rd.

  18. Hah. And not one of ’em has a single snowflake’s chance in hell of matching Elway, Kelly or Marino. This year’s draft class is going to be like ’05, where a few years down the road people look at the top of the draft and wonder how the hell those stiffs ever got selected so high.

  19. 1historian says: Apr 16, 2011 11:48 AM

    “The evil genius of New England, …
    The rich get richer because they are SMARTER.”

    The cheating seemed to help too.

  20. I am so glad my team doesn’t need a QB, any QB drafted before 16 is going to be too high.
    You either have Glam Newton, Ryan Mallet who I don’t think can be the leader his team needs at that position or, Blaine Gabbert who could very much end up like Kyle Boller.

    So while this class may have more QBs taken this draft, I would feel pretty safe saying that the 83 class will have played in more superbowl games when its all said and done.

  21. jmorand47 says:
    Apr 16, 2011 11:28 AM
    The sad part truly is….that today’s QBs really don’t have too long to mature into the position. Terry Bradshaw would be a bust if he was drafted today. Bradshaw threw 46 INTs his first 2 seasons, he would be gone in today’s day and age. I mean, Carolina is already giving up on Jimmy?
    ====================

    That is a great point.

    Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning also had worse rookie seasons than Clausen.

  22. Only two or three will go in the first round but watch them clear the board in the second. A lot of teams are hoping they can get by another year and go for Andrew Luck next year.

  23. 1historian says:
    Apr 16, 2011 11:50 AM
    One more thing – I’m not a big fan of Robert Kraft but I do give him credit for being smart enough just to get the heck out of the way and let the evil genius do his thing when the time comes for the E.G. to do his thing, cuz NO ONE does it better.
    ———————————————————–
    Except Green Bay’s Ted Thompson, whose team of nothing but draft picks won the Super Bowl last year. He also traded the evil cheater two seconds and a third for the chance to take Clay Mathews. And his team almost beat New England without Aaron Rodgers…

    New England isn’t relevant in the big picture anymore, just like the Red Sox.

  24. Newton, Gabbert are locks. Locker/Mallett are probably round 1 picks, but after the top 2 why wouldn’t you try to trade your 1st round pick for Palmer or Kolb instead of rolling the dice?

  25. Apparently Marino scored 16 on the Wonderlic test. I don’t know, that seems awfully high.

  26. Looking at the 50% success rate of these QB heavy drafts, I cannot understand how a team like the Vikings or San Fran didnt trade their 1st round pick for Kevin Kolb the second they could this off-season. On a mature team like the Vikes, Kolb will be a top 12 QB in 2011 season.
    The experts for these teams are no different than the dopes playing fantasy sports who pick potential over a sure thing.
    Whether is is Seattle, San Fran or the Vikes(maybe even Cards) they will win more games over the next 3 years with Kolb behind center than any of the QBs available in the draft. Considering the fact that 3 years to a coach is a lifetime, they should forgo the potential and get a young gun who can step in from day one. Yes Vikes this means you!

  27. egls7 says: Apr 16, 2011 10:51 AM

    Im glad my team isn’t desperate for a qb!

    What team is that?

  28. Wow, with the exception of Blackledge and O’Brien all those QBs played in the Super Bowl. And while he didn’t play in a SB I wouldn’t call O’Brien a slouch either. Dude had nice accuracy. In Blackledge case, sometimes it just doesn’t pan out in the pros like it does in college. I enjoy his color commentary though for college football. What a beast of a QB draft class that was.

    Growing up in MD I was torn between the Skins and the Colts and Elway’s decision pretty much sent the Colts to Indy. I would have loved to been able see him play in person in Baltimore as a kid. My father grew up on Unitas leading the Colts. But it is what it is, I ended up being a Redskins fan, and we went to the SB 4 times in 10 years, losing once to the Raiders. That draft I believe also had indirect impacts on teams. What effect did it have for your favorite team directly or indirectly?

  29. I don’t know how many QB’s will be taken, I just know the Vikings will draft one of them and that one will be one of the busts.

    Book it.

  30. NO way 6 QB’s get drafted in the first this yr…especially since none really deserve to

  31. Its amsuing watching GM’s seeling everyone on all these 1st round QB’s.

    There is absolutely no ground for this sudden stock rise – other than the stories being planted by those same GM’s.

  32. That’s fitting to show how clueless most NFL front offices are since this crop of QBs are some of the weakest I’ve seen in years. There’s barely justification to take the top guys (Newton,Gabbert), let alone 6 or 7 QBs in the first round this year.

  33. Dean VERMITE at it again…..I think he’s Ray Finkle!!! Marino is one of the best quarterbacks ever!!! Sorry you had Ken O’Brien all those years when your sorry Jets could have had the best…… MARINO!!!

  34. JimmySmith says:
    Apr 16, 2011 3:27 PM
    I don’t know how many QB’s will be taken, I just know the Vikings will draft one of them and that one will be one of the busts.

    Book it.
    ——————————————-

    You should really believe little jimmy…. As the ultimate Packer homer, he witnessed firsthand the Packers using top-100 picks on 7 different QBs who were unequivocal busts before finally hitting on Rodgers. And then they used a 2nd on Brohm and cut him in training camp. Talk about a bust.

  35. i could see a lot of QBs go in the 1st round…. however i wouldnt give any of them a top 15 grade

    teams over value need as opposed to value

  36. realitypolice says: Apr 16, 2011 1:53 PM

    Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning also had worse rookie seasons than Clausen.

    —————————————————————–

    Are you out of your mind? Peyton Manning threw 26td’s his rookie season#@$%^!!!!!!

  37. charism4 says:
    Apr 16, 2011 2:13 PM

    ———————————————————–
    Except Green Bay’s Ted Thompson, whose team of nothing but draft picks won the Super Bowl last year
    ————————————–

    Actually, that is not essentially true. Many of the Packers defesive players came from other teams. Woodson (of course), Pickett and Chillar both started in StLouis, Tramon Williams was claimed off waivers from Houston, Howard Green is a journeyman reserve…. In point of fact, only 34 of the 58 Ted Thompson draft picks remain on the Packers roster, and of those players, only 11 are current starters.

    But feel free to continue bowing to pray before his image. I know that TT-ism is the predominate religion in Green Bay these days.

  38. all those qbs are 2nd rounders. i know some teams feel desperate for a qb but none of them are worth it.

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