How many first-round quarterbacks will be busts?

Getty Images

In 1999, five quarterbacks were drafted in round one. Most of them ended up being busts.

So what will happen with the quarterback quintet of 2018? The official PFT over-under for busts is 2.5.

History tells us to bet the over. But who will the busts be? The reality is that plenty of factors unrelated to the player’s skill and potential affect the final answer. Quality of coaching, stability of the coaching staff and front office, and quality of the supporting cast will impact the finished product.

If, for example, either Tim Couch or Akili Smith had ended up with the Eagles and Andy Reid in 1999, maybe they would have become stars. If Donovan McNabb had ended up in Cleveland or Cincinnati, maybe he would have been a bust. (There likely was no hope for Cade McNown.)

This year, whether and to what extent Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson will thrive hinges on those and other factors. With none of them being far superior physically, dynamics beyond their control will go a long way toward determining how dynamic their performances are perceived to be.

For now, feel free to make a guess as to which one is most likely to be a bust. Vote below, then drop a comment.

79 responses to “How many first-round quarterbacks will be busts?

  1. No busts, but low achievers:
    Darnold (“Gangrene” [Jets]), Rosen (Arizona), Allen (Buffalo)

    Quality starting QB: Lamar Jackson (B’more [Baltimore])

    Pro Bowler: Mayfield (Cleveland)

  2. It just could be that any of them are both potential superstars or busts, depending on a little luck and landing in the right system. Would Rodgers have been a superstar in Minnesota or Chicago, which is the witness protection equivalent for the NFL? An injury or just getting thrown into the fire too soon could be the difference.

  3. Rosen and Allen will be busts, Mayfield and Jackson will have respectable careers, Darnold will give the Jets the QB they’ve been looking for since Namath, and be a Jet for 20 years.

  4. I’m from Cincinnati and no offense, but I don’t think Akili Smith was smart enough to run an NFL offense. He had only played one year of division 1 college football. One of the first things he said when he got to Cincinnati was that he wanted to change the colors from orange and black to white and black to be real tiger colors. He didn’t understand that Bengal tigers are orange and black.

  5. History suggest at least 3-4 busts in this class. There are way more busts than franchise QBs. That’s why every singe year there are numerous first round QBs. Because the first rounders before them didn’t work out. Like waves crashing to the shore….

  6. Why did the Browns take Mayfield first? They could have taken Barkley, then take Mayfield 4th. He would have still been there at #4.

  7. I would answer: as many as are surrounded by bad teams, with bad coaches who don’t develop them, and who rush them into service before they’re ready.

    There are very few “busts” on teams that don’t fit the above description. Most “busts” are QBs surrounded by mediocrity, used incorrectly, coached poorly, or given too little OL protection.

    It takes a special QB to overcome common issues of high-drafting teams, and I think we sometimes put too much blame on the players in such situations.

  8. I know most posters just don’t have the superior footbball intellect that I do and I laught at your comments often and shake my head in disbelief of how much greater my football knowledge is compared to most of you. With that said let me say this, Rosen is tbe best QB in this draft and the Cardinals hit it out of the park drafting him. Mayfield will actually be a good NFL QB. Darnold doesn’t have the mental makeup and Allen is one of the biggest wiffs in the first round I have ever seen. I graded him as undraftable, the Bills made a catastrophic mistake.

  9. footballisnotthatimportant says:
    April 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Also, I wish the best for Josh Allen, but that is going to be a disaster.


    If they use him wrong, it will be. But they seem to have a very competent, steady kind of starter in McCarron, and if they’re smart, they’ll give him a lot of time as a starter and develop Allen with a lot of patience. If he gets at least a full year or two to grow, it could turn out superbly for them.

    Bills have to know they’re not a legitimate SB team just yet. They can either try to take a shortcut or else take a slower route where they will be hitting their peak once Brady’s on the way out.

  10. Jackson = total bust
    Rosen = will be another Cade McNown
    Allen = will be serviceable; potential to be another Osweiler
    Darnold = reeks of a bust; won’t be able to handle the NY media
    Mayfield = will be a Pro Bowler; is the new Drew Brees but without the liberal snowflake mentality

  11. Look at Sam Bradford, he is making a whole lot more than any of these rookies in 2018, but he is not considered a bust despite not having done anything in his career, and he is making a ton of money. If we use Sam Bradford as a benchmark, may be all 5 of them will have better careers than Bradford. Would such a career still be considered a bust? Not sure.

    Would Nick Foles be considered a bust if he retired instead of re-joining the Eagles and getting an MVP award in the Super Bowl? Sometimes teams simply give up too soon on a qb and in any case there is a thin line between greatness and bust.

  12. Because he has proven under fire to be an accurate passer and able to study and read defenses, Mayfield will be a solid NFL franchise QB like Jeff Garcia and Brees.
    Jackson will get hurt from the pounding from the superior athletes and hitters in the NFL and unless he can improve his passing game, he will be another RG3 and never fulfill his potential.
    Allen will be a bust because of his inherent inaccuracy.
    Darnold will end up being another Fiztpatrick or McCowen.
    Rosen will end up being injured much of the time as he was in college as the pros hit much, much harder. And as evidenced by his college career QBR, he may throw for lots of yards when manages to be healthy enough to play, but not win many games just like Jay Cutler.

  13. The best thing to Allen, once he has open dialect with his teammates is to literally sit for the year and put in as much extra work as possible. Like not even to dress for a game. If you need an emergency qb, Logan Thomas can be it. As long as he put the work in and is not rushed, he will have a chance.

  14. Flash in the pan then bust: Lamar Jackson; (2 good seasons then defenses figure him out and injuries take their toll).

    Bust: Josh Rosen; (too arrogant and entitled for his own good plus a concussion history).

    Good but not great: Darnold and Allen

    Very good bordering on Great: Baker Mayfield

  15. “Bust” is also a subjective term.

    For instance, Ken O’Brien is sometimes referred to as a “bust.” But he wasn’t a bust….he just wasn’t Dan Marino.

    Cade McNown was a bust. Ryan Leaf. Todd Blackledge. JaMarcus Russell.

  16. Mayfield will thrive. Allen will bust. Rosen will be OK. Darnold will bust. Jackson will bounce around the league as a “slash” project QB until he is 30.

    You heard it here first.

  17. These guys were hyped up because there was no sure fire #1 QB in this draft. I don’t see any of these guys being game changers. Maybe a couple of Pro Bowls between the 5 of them but that’s about it.

  18. Have to define busts, too. Like that 1983 draft we were discussing here recently, for example. There were a couple HOFers but a couple other guys played in a SB and had several productive years. Is a guy a bust if he starts for a few years and loses a SB? Is he a bust if he starts 7-8 years but is never “elite”? Some of these teams have been in a QB drought for so long that if they just got a decent game-manager or average starting QB that would improve their team greatly. For me, I think a bust is a guy who never starts more than a few games or perhaps only sticks around a few seasons and never wins or is at least a top 30 QB.

  19. Rosen will be a bust because grown men down want some douchey kid screaming at them that they need to play harder. That isn’t leadership. Allen will be a bust because he isn’t at all an accurate passer. Darnold looks like a dude. Mayfield is going to get beat up in Cleveland, but has a change because of his accuracy. Personally I think Lamar Jackson will end up having a nice career, as long as they cater the offense to him for a few years a la Russell Wilson. Everyone said Watson wasn’t an NFL QB last year, and look how that turned out.

  20. onebuffalove716 says:
    If you need an emergency qb, Logan Thomas can be it.

    Yeah, and Terrelle Pryor is going to be starting QB for the Jets. Actually, even though he’s about 6th on their depth chart right now, I consider that more likely than Thomas playing QB for the Bills.

  21. Mayfield is a PUNK !

    Darnold and Allen will have to have their receivers wear the opponents jerseys.

    Rosen is still waiting for someone to answer the phone .

    Jackson will be average .

  22. I’m looking at these guys and you have a combination of over-rated QBs and Bad Teams that drafted them. This Draft is going to go down as the all-time Worst. Teams that took RBs and O-Linemen should be the only ones to make any hay in 2018

  23. Good points Mike. As a Browns fan, I have no ill will towards Couch as a bust. More sympathy for him as to how his career would have went had the Browns not drafted him.

  24. Kenmasters34: I think the Browns watched Draft Day for inspiration prior to the 2018 draft and thought Sonny Weaver Jr. was a pretty crafty guy!

  25. “Also, I wish the best for Josh Allen, but that is going to be a disaster.


    If they use him wrong, it will be.”

    Sooooo are you suggesting he play different position than QB?

  26. Everyone thought it was funny that the Browns were going to draft 2 quarterbacks, well based on all of the busts in the past ,it really wasn’t a stupid idea, at least they would of doubled their odds

  27. I agree there are other factors. But many of these people failed when they went to other teams as well, and never caught on. Think Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow. And that list could go on. Sometimes it’s just that they can’t translate college success to the NFL.

  28. Rosen will b e out of football in a year with his 3rd concussion. His surgeon/ice dancer father will demand he quit.

  29. Allen and Rosen are the only two that will make it. Of course, the media will hype up Jackson because he isn’t white. Reality is Jackson won’t make it because he is a running back who throws once in awhile and that scheme doesn’t work long term in the NFL. Mayfield won’t do any better than Johnny football. Darnold might make it but it is borderline whether or not he will be able to mentally adjust to the pro game. Come back to my post in 2 years if you think I am full of it.

  30. I chose 4 to be busts because history has shown that playing QB in the NFL is extremely difficult and quality QB play is hard to achieve. My “forecast” is that Josh Rosen will be a star because he’s heady and has enough of the requisite physical tools; Josh Allen will good for a long time because of his physical tools; Sam Darnold will be a longtime starter but a “relative” bust as I don’t see his style ascending to star-level; Lamar Jackson a bust because I thought he was taken too high and Baker Mayfield a bust because his biggest attribute is his “moxy”?–he’s short and has just an ok arm and how many other guys with those physical qualities have become stars or longtime, productive starters? And let’s not forget that he was chosen by the Browns which might be the worst franchise in North American professional sports right now.

  31. Rosen: A concussion or two and early retirement.
    Allen: Too inaccurate, bust.
    Darnold: Good career. Maybe a Pro Bowl or two.
    Jackson: Can’t play from the pocket, will get killed running around in the NFL.
    Mayfield: The mother of all busts. The Manziel comparisons are legitimate. It’s Groundhog Day for Browns Fans.

    So I’m at 1 out of 5 being any good.

  32. Mayfield – Jury’s still out.
    Darnold – Doesn’t have enough supporting cast or weapons around him to be successful. Likely a BUST.
    Allen – Definite BUST and waste of trade up by the Bills.
    Rosen – Doesn’t fit the team, Cardinals should have kept the pick instead of trading up. Should have waited til 15 for Jackson to fall to them. BUST.
    Lamar Jackson – Great QB, needs time to develop and learn the scheme/playbook.

    I’m guessing 3 out of 5 are BUSTS, with Mayfield and Jackson being servicable QB’s.

  33. Rosen (75/25% Great/Bust) has all the tools, he just needs to make adjustments with his personality. McCoy is good at developing a system that works with the talent he has, so Rosen probably has the best chance of being a great QB. Mayfield (70/30%) has a great attitude and definitely kept getting better each year. His height will always be a concern, but I think he will be a great QB, even in Cleveland. He is lucky the Browns brought in Haley and Zampese, who will develop him. Darnold (51/49%) needs time, patience and some good coaching to develop. Hopefully, the Jets will give him time, but he also needs good coaching, as he definitely regressed last year. I’m not sure he’ll get it with the current staff. Jackson (40/60%) will need to have the Ravens modify their entire scheme, if he is going to become a great QB. Greg Roman did some great work with Kaepernick, so there’s a chance, but Mornhinweg may have to go. And, in my opinion, Josh Allen (20/80%) will likely be a bust. Terribly inaccurate QBs at the college level don’t usually get better in the NFL. Jackson’s accuracy % was only slightly better than Allen’s, but he threw more often, against better talent and he has the extra benefit of athleticism. I don’t know why Allen was drafted ahead of him.

  34. I love when we are given questions that nobody can answer. Yet, many throw their hypothesis out there. Saying someone is going to be a bust, solely because they went to Cleveland, is absurd. Cleveland has some weapons. I would rather be a QB in Cleveland than for the NY Jets, right now.

  35. Mayfield seems like he will end up being a good backup for someone eventually, a lesser Doug Flutie.

    Rosen will be out of the league in 4 years, a poor man’s Matt Leinart.

    Allen seems at best Jeff George 2.0 and at worst Jamarcus Russell 2.0.

    Darnold’s biggest vulnerability is playing for the Jets organization. But he has a chance to be Jay Cutler 2.0 with a better attitude.

    Lamar Jackson will thrive as a dual threat in Baltimore but have the predictable injury issues.

  36. Allen will probably be a bust.

    If they actually expect Jackson to be a long term QB – hell be a bust.

    Rosen has a fair chance of busting due to injuries, but if he isnt injured hell be at least a modest success.

  37. “If they use him wrong, it will be. But they seem to have a very competent, steady kind of starter in McCarron, and if they’re smart, they’ll give him a lot of time as a starter and develop Allen with a lot of patience.”

    That sounds good now but we’ll see how long the patience lasts if McCarron struggles or is injured. Another big issue is that McCarron’s skillset is quite a bit different than Allen’s. So, what do they run? Optimizing for your current starter is what makes the most sense in the short term but Allen might never be able to beat out McCarron if they go that route. His strength is going to be more shots down the field because he’s probably never going to be able to pick defenses apart with shorter, pinpoint passes.

  38. I predict that all 5 do better financially than any of these commenters do by age 35. You’re a bunch of busts.

  39. I think Baltimore is best positioned to make their pick a starting-caliber quarterback.

    These QB picks are in need of serious coaching and I don’t see any of those teams with those kinds of coaches. Buffalo is defense-minded, Arizona is as well. The Jets have ruined every QB they’ve drafted in the last 5 years. The Browns will need to replace Jackson to get the most out of Mayfield, but at least Jackson is an offensive-style coach.

    One only has to see Goff to know what’s going to happen with these teams. He looked like a bust until a new regime came in.

  40. Jackson = wide receiver

    Rosen = 5 years starter on talent alone. He’ll get multiple chances.

    Allen = will either be THE best or THE worst of this group. I don’t buy anything between

    Darnold = The Jets are awful. Who’s his 2nd team? That will decide it for me.

    Mayfield = I’m not buying the Brees comparisons. But I believe in John Dorsey, and I think Mayfield can prove his worth as the top pick.

  41. Mayfield(Brees) will struggle at first, but come on strong in years 3 & 4, becoming what Cleveland has lacked for years… a franchise Quarterback. Darnold(Palmer) will learn from McCown and turn out to be a competitive starting QB. Allen(Roethlisberger)will sit his 1st season and come in blazing hot from then on… becoming the Bills 1st Franchise QB since Kelly. Rosen(Edwards) will be a bust… and between injuries and his fear of getting hit will be out of the league in 4yrs. Jackson(Vick) will sit 2-3 years, but will come in and be a good QB for Baltimore.

  42. genericcommenter says:
    April 27, 2018 at 2:07 pm
    onebuffalove716 says:
    If you need an emergency qb, Logan Thomas can be it.

    Yeah, and Terrelle Pryor is going to be starting QB for the Jets. Actually, even though he’s about 6th on their depth chart right now, I consider that more likely than Thomas playing QB for the Bills.
    Why not? The Bills used Joe Webb, who was basically a ST player for 2017… he came in when Taylor was injured and Peterman when down in the Bills/Colts Snovertime game. Webb basically won the game when he set up McCoy for the game winning TD with a 40 yard strike to Deonte Thompson. So why wouldn’t the Bills utilize an emergency QB like Thomas on Gameday? Thomas is exactly like Webb… Not good enough to be a starter or steady backup, but can come in on short notice and keep his team in the game.

  43. Rosen was easily the #1 pick…his profile screamed Montana/Brady…..lanky guy with a solid/accurate arm, decent movement and natural pocket passer. Most of all, brains….we all know what happens to the flashy running QB’s, yes they have some success up front, then fade to dust. Guys like Montana and Brady end up being prolific winners as pure pocket passers with actual intellect. Unreal how teams fell for the flash again when it was so obvious there was a dynasty maker right there. We’ll see AZ in the SB shortly.

  44. Allen and Mayfield will be the most successful QBs out of this class. With Allen leading the Bills to multiple Super Bowl wins. Perhaps 4 Super Bowl in a row.

  45. We know Mayfield, Darnold, and Allen will be busts by virtue of the teams they went to. That leaves Rose, who everyone is down on, and L. Jackson, who has the skills of a COLLEGE QB.

  46. kamthechancellor says:
    April 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm
    Rosen is an absolute clone of Ryan Leaf.

    Says the Seahawks fan. Enjoy the NFC WEST Basement year !!!! Rosen was the best most Pro-Ready QB In the draft.

  47. I would say the only real bust from this draft isn’t Mayfield. That was a terrible pick. Jackson at 32 ? Not sure you could even call a late round first a bust when it’s a qb. Just not enough expectation. I think Rosen ends up a pro bowler. Allen isn’t a mediocre qb but will be a long term starter and could be winner in the right situation like a Flacco. And the usc kid I have no clue. He seems to have all the tools but, usc qbs don’t seem to do well.

  48. Both Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen will become top 10 NFL QB’s and the best QB of this draft, I think Mayfield will succeed but wont be great. Allen and Jackson I think will be NFL Busts.

  49. Career Comps at the end of the day:

    Allen – Drew Bledsoe
    Rosen – Jay Cutler
    Mayfield – Mark Sanchez
    Darnold – Chad Henne
    Jackson – Kordell Stewart

  50. Kirwan said you never know what a guy is going to be when he suddenly has one million in his bank account.

  51. Rosen doesn’t seem like the kind of guy a lot of teammates are going to want to play real hard for. That and the concussion history isn’t a good recipe for a long and productive career.

  52. When you look at the history of the guys taken in the first round you would have to predict 4 of 5 will not pan out.

    I for one think it has as much to do with the pressure of being put in a situation where they are typically asked to play too soon, on a team with many other deficiencies. When you look at most of the ones that become great many of them have a chance to sit, study, learn the game and not pushed into starting role until they are ready.

  53. MostlyRight says:
    April 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm
    I predict that all 5 do better financially than any of these commenters do by age 35. You’re a bunch of busts.

    I also predict that all will have blown all that money and have fewer assets than the average commenter on the board by age 30

  54. Darnold, and Allen are untested. They never faced good competition, so to me they have a potential to be busts. Rosen played great against Texas A&M but is injury prone. He may also be a bust. Baker Mayfield has a ton of experience with good defenses, from Ohio State to Auburn to Georgia. Lamar Jackson also faced good defenses in the ACC, from Clemson to Florida State. So 3 out of 5 will be busts.

  55. intuition:
    Allen will be the best of them
    Darold struggles more because of pressure of New York and Jets

    failed careers:
    Mayfield – short in stature rarely works in pros; Browns; 1st over all often fail!
    Rosen – attitude, ego, disrupts locker room and fractures team
    Jackson – his passing is inconsistent so he runs and that division strong in defense cuts his career short

  56. Josh Allen is the obvious bust.
    Lamar Jackson will be solid but not spectacular (see Jeff Blake)
    Baker Mayfield will be a bust
    Sam Darnold will be a bust
    Josh Rosen is the wild card. He could be another Aaron Rodgers, but his personality is even more unlikable.

  57. Great quarterbacks are great regardless of the team. Both Tim Couch and Akili Smith tried to play for Green Bay just to be Favre’s backup and both got cut. In fact, Couch got booed off the field in Green Bay in a pre-season game.

  58. @lilevil74

    Have you paid attention to who the Jets have? or are you gonna run with a tired Jets narrative..the Jets are pretty good at wide receiver and RB. It’s the offensive line they need to worry about.

  59. honkeyt says:
    April 27, 2018 at 1:44 pm
    I know most posters just don’t have the superior footbball intellect that I do and I laught at your comments often and shake my head in disbelief of how much greater my football knowledge is compared to most of you.

    Your first sentence is a self proclamation of your own stupidity and arrogance. You graded him? Hahahahahahahaahahaha. We graded you F- and that’s only because the system doesn’t allow lower grades.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.