For some teams drafting a quarterback high, disaster is inevitable

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With possibly four quarterbacks taken in the first five picks and five (maybe six) quarterbacks taken in the first 32 selections, each of the teams that writes the name of a quarterback on a first-round draft card will believe that they are getting a franchise-changing guy. In the end, up to half (or more) could be dead wrong.

History tells us that quarterbacks have a ceiling that can’t be determined until they’re in the NFL and either busting through it or bumping against it. Most if not all incoming players have flaws, especially the quarterbacks.

Ultimately, success or failure will hinge not only on the ability of the player to adjust to the next level but also on factors beyond his control, such as the ability of his coaching staff at the next level to get the most out of him. Five quarterbacks went in round one 19 years ago, with Tim Couch to the Browns at No. 1, Donovan McNabb to the Eagles at No. 2, Akili Smith to the Bengals at No. 3, Daunte Culpepper to the Vikings at No. 11, and Cade McNown to the Bears at No. 12. They collectively failed more than they thrived.

McNabb was the best of the bunch, a fringe Hall of Famer who’ll maybe get in years from now via the Seniors Committee. Culpepper had some very good moments (including a stellar 2004 season), but a serious knee injury in 2005 derailed his career. The rest — Couch, Smith, and McNown — had largely disastrous NFL careers. Combined, the not-so-Fab Five won a total of zero Super Bowls.

For Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson, it’s impossible to know who’ll thrive and who’ll fail. Where they end up will be a major factor, whether it relates to quality of coaching, the manner in which personalities mesh, and/or the overall stability of the organization. The teams that take the wrong guys (or who fail to develop a guy who otherwise would have done well) will have to deal with the disappointment of swinging and missing, along with the regret that comes from leaving star players on the board, like the Browns and Bengals did in 199 with the likes of Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey.

This year, one or more teams will be passing on the likes of Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, and Minkah Fitzpatrick for a quarterback who quite possibly will fail. Or maybe they’ll simply take the wrong quarterback, like the Browns did in 1999 by taking Couch over McNabb. (Then again, maybe McNabb would have been Couch under Chirs Palmer and his successors in Cleveland, and Couch would have been McNabb under Andy Reid in Philly.)

Regardless, as the hype builds for the 2018 draft, it’s important to remember that we don’t know — and won’t know — which of the quarterbacks expected to be picked in round one will be worth a damn until enough time passes to allow their skills, abilities, weaknesses, and achievements to be fully evaluated. For those teams who take quarterbacks at the top of the draft and fail, the good news is that they’ll soon be in position to try it again.

27 responses to “For some teams drafting a quarterback high, disaster is inevitable

  1. I wouldn’t want to have to draft out of this bunch. The ones with success don’t appear to be the best physically. The ones that seem to be going 1, 2 and 3 never where able to carry their teams. I don’t see a ’83 draft here.

  2. Article states the obvious. But what is your point? Don’t draft QB at top of draft?
    Teams do best they can with best info and resources they have at draft time, and hope for the best. What else can they do?

  3. Actually, I hope Jackson gets drafted in the first round. That will give him a chance to develop and prove if he and his type of new RPO college QBs can bear up to the punishments of running in the NFL and thrive or prove that he and others like RG3 and Vick will end up injured and losing quickness, speed, and their ability to compete in the NFL.
    If there is real change coming to the QB position, some team must make that extra gamble to see if it is possible, although that team will pay the price if the RPO QB breaks down sooner than later.

  4. Success of an NFL player is primarily based off circumstance, especially at the QB position. How good the coaching staff is and how good the team is factors more into a QB’s success than his own skills do. Tom Brady would not have been able to lead the Browns to the playoffs. Russel Wilson has benefited from having an all time great defense for years. Other QB’s like Luck, Stafford, and Tannehill were drafted to teams that had no leadership and the organizations failed them from the start.

  5. Not sure why Nick Foles has not been traded for but as an Eagles fan I’m thrilled to have him back. Guy comes off the bench to lead the team to the SB. Watch those throws from the games he started- no one in the league could put the ball in a better place than Nick did-not Carson, Rodgers, Brady Brees or Big Ben. You will not find a harder worker or a better teammate.

  6. I never understood the fear of taking a QB high in the draft over a “safe” prospect at a different position. Any player could be a bust or be great, so why not take the chance on a QB if you don’t have one?

    Chicago could’ve taken Jamal Adams last year and passed on Trubisky. If they had, they’d just be looking for a QB this year setting the rebuild back another year.

    Meanwhile the Jets “stole” Adams with the sixth pick and passed on Deshaun Watson. Think they want that one back?

  7. In my experience, and you can look back on this, it goes year after year, all picks, 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3. 1/3 will be all pro, 1/3 will be serviceable and 1/3 will be a bust. The biggest over-hyped crap shoot in professional sports.

  8. Who knows who will be successful? You could field a few all-star teams with guys who busted out after a year or three. Lamar Jackson wasn’t even on my radar, but after flimflam Bill Polian made those old-school redneck comments about him being better as a receiver, I’m rooting for Jackson.

  9. I remember McNabb being bood loudly after his selection, turned out to be the best of the QBs selected.

  10. It’s probably cyclical: bad teams draft QBs and then surround them with a bad team and coaching staff. The teams best able to create success with new players aren’t the ones picking at the top of the draft. So you’re left with the most likely outcome being failure, with occasional departures from that when the right chemistry happens between a few key players and coaches.

  11. The Browns and Bucs are 2 GREAT examples…
    For these 2 teams, 1st round draft QBs just never prove worthy of the honor…

    1 team goes through QBs like water through a sieve…
    The other deems whoever is their qb “Franchise”…

  12. I was watching an old clip recently of Mel Kiper praising Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell before their draft. He rated both QBs as can’t miss prospects. He also had Johnny Manziel as the 4th overall pick of the 2014 draft. Best for GMs to do their homework and not get caught up in all the hype. And then when you get a QB you have to give him the offensive weapons and right coachs so he can succeed. Of course I may be wrong, but I wouldn’t use a 1st round pick on Baker Mayfield, and probably not even a 2nd or 3rd.

  13. “Best Available” QB is Baker Mayfield based on his 3-Year production with the Okie Sooners.

    Baker Mayfield > Sam Bradford + Landry Jones

  14. Most overhyped QB class since 1999. Only Mayfield is going to be a star. Allen will be mediocre. Rosen injury prone and missing more games than he starts. Darnold a turnover machine will soon be benched. Jackson will have one or two good seasons before injuries derail his career and remove his scrambling ability. Mark it down as FACT!

  15. tyelee says:
    April 9, 2018 at 2:14 pm
    The Browns and Bucs are 2 GREAT examples…
    For these 2 teams, 1st round draft QBs just never prove worthy of the honor…
    1 team goes through QBs like water through a sieve…
    The other deems whoever is their qb “Franchise”…


    Not really. Those are actually two terrible examples. The Buccaneers have only drafted two QB’s in the first round during this millennium with both actually being pretty decent and the Browns have never used their first pick for a QB during that same span and have traded more picks to other teams to grab QB’s than drafted QB’s themselves (their starters have generally been free agents with them using the draft to pick up backups who end up starting due to injuries).

    The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans would probably be the most cursed teams when it comes to drafting QB’s high in the first round.

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