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A Look at Drafting QB's, Part 1: First Rounders

With the Jets potentially in the market to take a quarterback in the first round of April's NFL Draft, this is a good time to examine the issue. Taking a quarterback so early can help bring a team glory or cripple it for five years. The purpose of this is to determine whether any trends can be useful in evaluation. This will be a brief summary of quarterbacks selected in the past ten years.

This part of what will be an ungoing series will focus only on the success rate of first round quarterbacks in the past decade. The criteria is simple. A quarterback will either go down as a hit, a miss, or not having enough evidence to determine either at this point. The riating method is very unscientific.The question is ultimately whether the quarterback in question played above average football for the team that selected him for a sustained stretch.

We are only judging the success rate of picking a quarterback so early and will get into specifics at a later date.

1999 NFL Draft

Tim Couch (Browns)-Miss

Donovan McNabb (Eagles)-Hit

Akili Smith (Bengals)-Miss

Daunte Culpepper (Vikings)-Hit

Cade McNown (Bears)-Miss

2000 NFL Draft

Chad Pennington (Jets)-Hit

2001 NFL Draft

Michael Vick (Falcons)-Hit

*This will undoubtedly be a controversial topic, but he dominated the Packers in a Playoff game in Lambeau Field and brought the Falcons to within a game of the Super Bowl two years later. His off field discretions aside, he was an above average albeit unconventional quarterback. A lot of teams would have traded for him before his arrest.*

2002 NFL Draft

David Carr (Texans)-Miss

Patrick Ramsey (Redskins)-Miss

2003 NFL Draft

Carson Palmer (Bengals)-Hit

Byron Leftwich (Jaguars)-Miss

Kyle Boller (Ravens)-Miss

Rex Grossman (Bears)-Miss

2004 NFL Draft

Eli Manning (Giants)-Hit

Philip Rivers (Chargers)-Hit

Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)-Hit

J.P. Losman (Bills)-Miss

2005 NFL Draft

Alex Smith (49ers)-Miss

Aaron Rodgers (Packers)-Apparent Hit

Jason Campbell (Redskins)-Not Enough Information

2006 NFL Draft

Vince Young (Titans)-Apparent Miss

Matt Leinart (Cardinals)-Apparent Miss

Jay Cutler (Broncos)-Hit

2007 NFL Draft

Jamarcus Russell (Raiders)-Not Enough Information

Brady Quinn (Browns)-Not Enough Information

2008 NFL Draft

Matt Ryan (Falcons)-Apparent Hit

Joe Flacco (Ravens)-Apparent Hit


I had to qualify some of my choices because some of these players could see their play improve or regress with more experience. For now, the fact neither Vince Young nor Matt Leinart is a starter makes them disappointing, but they have time to turn things around. Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Joe Flacco did exceptionally well in their respective first seasons as starters, but they have not experienced sustained success as of yet and could potentially regress. Jason Campbell has been around for a while, but his final reputation in Washington is still anybody's guess. Some of these choices may have been debatable, but for the most part, teams would have selected the hits if given the chance to do so again, and the opposite is true of the misses.

Overall, 27 quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the past 10 Drafts. Of these, there is not enough information to make a judgement on 3 of them. Of the 24 remaining, 12 were hits. This means the odds of finding a quality quarterback in the first round is about 50/50 in a vacuum.

Finding a good quarterback is one thing. However, the goal is winning the Super Bowl, which only two quarterbacks on this list have done. That will be the focus of the next part of this series.