QB1 - A brief history of QB's taken in the first round.

Post date: Apr 30, 2021 5:0:1 PM

Last night, there was a lot of grumbling on social media about the Vikings not trading up to select Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Especially when the Chicago Bears traded up to select Fields at #11. It was the 2nd time in the last 5 years the Bears had traded up to draft a QB in the first round. The last time they did it, in 2017, they took Mitchell Trubisky, which clearly hasn’t worked out for them. It’s important to note as well, that Fields was the 4th QB taken in that first round. Mac Jones was the 5th QB taken, at #15 by New England. Some Vikings fans were upset about not taking him as well.

Historically, 1983 is widely considered the best class of QB’s ever in an NFL draft. Three Hall of Fame QBs were chosen in the first round of that draft; John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Having said that, there were 3 other QB’s taken in that first round as well. Some names you may not be familiar with. The Chiefs took Todd Blackledge at #7 ahead of Jim Kelly who was chosen by Buffalo at #14. The Patriots chose Tony Eason at #15 and the Jets chose Ken O’Brien at #24. Both were taken ahead of Dan Marino at #27.

1983 NFL Draft

1 – John Elway DEN (HOF, SB)

7 – Todd Blackledge KC

14 – Jim Kelly BUF (HOF)

15 - Tony Eason NE

24 - Ken Obrien NYJ

27 - Dan Marino MIA (HOF)

Since that 1983 draft, 92 QBs have been chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. (Not including 2021). Of those 92 QB’s, 8 have led their first team to a Super Bowl title. (First team = the team that drafted them OR the team they were traded to before ever playing an NFL game. I’m wording it that way because the onus is on the team that initially puts the investment into the player. For example, Elway was traded to Denver after being drafted by Baltimore & Eli Manning was traded to Giants after being drafted by San Diego). Even though I will Include Bledsoe here, I’m not sure we should. We all know that Tom Brady led that team to their first Super Bowl victory. Anyway, of those 8 QB’s that have led their first teams to Super Bowl victories, 4 of them were selected at #1 overall. The other 4 were selected later in the first round. Below are the actual picks.

1989 Troy Aikman - pick #1

1993 Drew Bledsoe - pick #1

1998 Peyton Manning - pick #1

2004 Eli Manning - pick #1

2004 Ben Roethlisberger - pick #11

2005 Aaron Rodgers – pick #24

2008 Joe Flacco – pick #18

2017 Patrick Mahomes - pick #10

Admittedly, I’d be a terrible GM and hindsight is 20/20. But according to WAFR-metrics (Whenesota American Football Research), drafting a QB in the first round is a losing proposition. Statistically, 8 out of 92 = .086, Meaning… teams who select QBs in the first round have an 8.6% chance of that QB leading their team to a Super Bowl victory. And…if it’s not a #1 overall pick, it’s even less. There were 21 QB’s taken at #1 since 1983. 4/21 = .019 = 19.0 % chance of that QB leading your team to a SB victory. If they were taken after the first pick, its 4/92 = .043 = 4.34 %.

It begs the question then, why do so many teams continue to select QB’s in the first round, especially if it’s not a #1 overall pick? Not only that, some teams are repeat offenders (I'm looking at you Chicago)!!!! I don’t often defend Spielman. But remember, he's been fooled once already when he drafted Ponder. Is it possible we look back in a few years and regret it? Yes. Mahomes was passed over a few times. Rodgers was passed over by the Vikings TWICE. It’s just not very likely its going to pan out. First round picks are extremely valuable. Why wouldn't you invest in building up the other parts of your team (like offensive line)?

Some of you are probably thinking, “Where is a team supposed to find their QB?” We all know the story of Tom Brady being drafted in the 6th round. Look at where these other Super Bowl winning QB’s were drafted.

Russel Wilson 2nd round

Nick Foles 3rd round

Drew Brees 2nd round

Brad Johnson 9th round

Brett Favre 2nd round

etc etc......

And guess what? Many of those QB's didn’t win Super Bowls with the team that originally drafted them.

Below is the full list of QB’s taken in the first round since 1983. Take a look at some of the names. Not all of them were busts. Some of them turned out to be serviceable QB's. But there are a lot of bad ones. How many of you were clamoring for the Vikings to move up and take Tua Tagovailoa last year? How do you feel about that now? Remember when some wanted the Vikings to take Manziel? As you look through the list, pay attention to the QB’s the Vikings drafted in the first round. But also pay attention to how many of the QBs drafted by other teams eventually became Vikings. (facepalm)

1984

None

1985

None

1986

3 Jim Everett - HOU

12 Chuck Long - DET

1987

1 Vinny Testaverde – TB

6 Kelly Stouffer – STL

13 Chris Miller ATL

26 Jim Harbaugh - CHI

1988

None

1989

1 Troy Aikman - DAL (HOF) (SB)

1990

1 Jeff George - IND

7 Andre Ware - DET

1991

16 Dan McGwire - SEA

24 Todd Marinovich - OAK

1992

6 David Klingler - CIN

25 Tommy Maddox - DEN

1993

1 Drew Bledsoe - NE (SB)

2 Rick Mirer - SEA

1994

3 Heath Shuler - WSH

6 Trent Dilfer - TB

1995

3 Steve McNair - HOU

5 Kerry Collins - CAR

1996

NONE

1997

26 Jim Druckenmiller - SF

1998

1 Peyton Manning - IND (HOF) (SB)

2 Ryan Leaf - SD

1999

1 Tim Couch - CLE

2 Donovan McNabb - PHI

3 Akili Smith - CIN

11 Daunte Culpepper - MIN

12 Cade McNown - CHI

2000

18 Chad Pennington - NYJ

2001

1 Michael Vick - ATL

2002

1 David Carr - HOU

3 Joey Harrington - DET

32 Patrick Ramsey - WSH

2003

1 Carson Palmer - CIN

7 Byron Leftwich - JAX

19 Kyle Boller - BAL

22 Rex Grossman - CHI

2004

1 Eli Manning - SD (SB)

4 Philip Rivers - NYG

11 Ben Roethlisberger - PIT (SB)

22 JP Losman - BUF

2005

1 Alex Smith - SF

24 Aaron Rodgers - GB (SB)

25 Jason Campbell - WAS

2006

3 Vince Young - TEN

10 Matt Leinart - ARI

11 Jay Cutler - DEN

2007

1 JaMarcus Russell - OAK

22 Brady Quinn - CLE

2008

3 Matt Ryan - ATL

18 Joe Flacco - BAL (SB)

2009

1 Matthew Stafford - DET

5 Mark Sanchez - NYJ

17 Josh Freeman - TB

2010

1 Sam Bradford - STL

25 Tim Tebow - DEN

2011

1 Cam Newton - CAR

8 Jake Locker - TEN

10 Blaine Gabbert - JAX

12 Christian Ponder - MIN

2012

1 Andrew Luck - IND

2 Robert Griffin III - WSH

8 Ryan Tannahill - MIA

22 Brandon Weeden - CLE

2013

16 EJ Manuel - BUF

2014

3 Blake Bortles - JAX

22 Johnny Manziel - CLE

2015

1 Jameis Winston - TB

2 Marcus Mariota - TEN

2016

1 Jared Goff - LAR

2 Carson Wentz - PHI

26 Paxton Lynch - DEN

2017

2 Mitchell Trubisky - CHI

10 Patrick Mahomes - KC (SB)

12 DeShaun Watson - HOU

2018

1 Baker Mayfield - CLE

3 Sam Darnold - NYJ

7 Josh Allen - BUF

10 Josh Rosen - AZ

32 Lamar Jackson - BAL

2019

1 Kyler Murray - AZ

6 Daniel Jones - NYG

15 Dwayne Haskins - WSH

2020

1 Joe Burrow - CIN

5 Tua Tagovailoa - MIA

6 Justin Hebert - LAC

26 Jordan Love - GB

2021

1 Trevor Lawrence - JAX

2 Zach Wilson - NYJ

3 Trey Lance - SF

11 Justin Fields - CHI

15 Mac Jones - NE