Blaine Gabbert is playing so badly right now that the Jaguars may consider something practically unheard of in the NFL: Taking Top 10 quarterbacks in back-to-back drafts.
Gabbert’s horrible game in Thursday night’s loss to the Falcons has continued a horrible rookie season for the quarterback the Jaguars chose with the 10th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. Gabbert is last in the league with a passer rating of 65.6, and he looks lost out there. It’s tough to see why the Jaguars’ next coach, whoever he is, would want Gabbert as his starting quarterback.
So would the Jaguars, who will likely draft somewhere between the fourth and 10th overall picks, take a quarterback? It’s impossible to say right now, as we have no idea who the new coach will be or what kind of offense he’ll run. We also don’t know where new owner Shahid Khan stands on the matter, and whether he’ll take a hands-on or hands-off approach to the draft. But if Baylor’s Robert Griffin III or USC’s Matt Barkley is available to the Jaguars, they’d have to think long and hard about drafting one of them in the Top 10.
That almost never happens. The Cowboys used their first-round picks in 1989 and 1990 on quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh, but the 1990 pick was used in the supplemental draft. (The Cowboys traded Walsh to the Saints in 1990.) The last time a team used consecutive first-round picks in the regular draft on quarterbacks was in 1982-83, when the Baltimore Colts drafted Art Schlichter and John Elway. But that was a highly unusual circumstance in which neither one of those quarterbacks played for the team in 1983: Schlichter was suspended for the entire 1983 season, and the Colts traded Elway to the Broncos before he ever played a down for Baltimore.
Before the Colts, you have to go all the way back to the early 1960s Los Angeles Rams to find a team that used first-round draft picks on quarterbacks in back-to-back years. The Rams actually drafted quarterbacks in the first round three years in a row: Roman Gabriel in 1962, Terry Baker in 1963 and Bill Munson in 1964. But Baker was a college quarterback who played halfback in the NFL, so that’s not quite the same thing, either. Prior to those Rams, the last team to draft quarterbacks in back-to-back first rounds was the 49ers, who took Earl Morrall in 1956 and John Brodie in 1957. The 49ers traded Morrall to the Steelers before the 1957 season.
What does this history lesson tell us? NFL teams only take quarterbacks in back-to-back first rounds under the most extraordinary of circumstances. If Jaguars G.M. Gene Smith takes a quarterback in the first round a year after he took Gabbert 10th overall, he’ll be doing something NFL general managers just don’t do. But Gabbert might be bad enough to make the Jaguars do it.