Those who think the Jets killed the future of their franchise by winning on Sunday and giving the Jaguars the lead in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes may want to look at how great teams are built. It’s hardly ever by losing enough to earn the first overall pick, and using that pick on a franchise quarterback.
In fact, of the NFL’s eight current division leaders, none drafted their quarterback first overall. None even drafted their quarterback in the Top 5.
Four current division leaders used a first-round pick on a quarterback, but none followed the “tanking” model to get him: The Chiefs were a playoff when they traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. The Bills were a playoff team when they traded up to draft Josh Allen. The Packers were a playoff team when they drafted Aaron Rodgers. The Steelers were a 6-10 team but had been in the playoffs the two years before that when they drafted Ben Roethlisberger No. 11 overall.
The other four division leaders did not draft their starting quarterback in the first round: The Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. The Saints signed Drew Brees as a free agent. Washington traded for Alex Smith after the Chiefs decided to move on from him. The Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill after the Dolphins decided to move on from him.
But while the NFL’s best teams didn’t get their quarterbacks at the top of the draft, what about the teams that do have a Top 5 draft pick quarterback? Some of them may make the playoffs this year, but overall the results are more bad than good: The teams that have a quarterback picked in the Top 5 on their roster (the Browns, Dolphins, Bengals, Jets, Rams, Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Eagles and Falcons) have a combined record of 60-78-2 this season.
Bad franchises are often bad for reasons that no one player can change, and sometimes quarterbacks who look like great prospects either languish on bad teams or prove not to be so great. There’s no guarantee that Lawrence can transform a franchise.