NFL

NFL Draft History Lesson Regarding 2015 Rookie Quarterbacks

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In a matter of a few weeks rookies got their first taste of life in the NFL as rookie mini-camps opened. In an era when passing the football is vogue and antidote for success is having a franchise quarterback at the helm of the franchise.

Finding the right player under center has never been more critical to reach the pinnacle of success in the NFL. Amongst the 32 NFL teams in the league, roughly 69 percent of the NFL has a starting quarterback that entered the league as a first round draft pick.

When the 2015 NFL Draft concluded, seven quarterbacks where ticketed to the NFL over the course of the three day event in Chicago. The top two selections overall were quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The next quarterback off the board was 73 picks later (Round 3) when the New Orleans Saints drafted Garrett Grayson. Fourteen picks after that the fourth quarterback (89th overall) Sean Mannion was taken in the third round. The final day of the NFL Draft that covers rounds four, five, six and seven had a total of three quarterbacks drafted. The list included Bryce Petty (Fourth Round), Brett Hundley (Fifth Round) and Trevor Siemian (Seventh Round).

Assuming both Winston and Mariota start the year under center this season the NFL will have 22 starting quarterbacks selected from round one. Two more quarterbacks from the second round bring the total to 24 of the NFL’s available 32 starting jobs at the position hail from the first two rounds. The third round of the NFL Draft has currently produced three starting quarterbacks and the latest round currently to connect with a starting quarterback is the sixth round (Tom Brady).  Only one of the 32 starting quarterbacks went undrafted as Dallas’ Tony Romo beat the odds.

Looking back at history to the previous NFL Drafts help us evaluate how this year’s current group of rookie quarterbacks careers will unfold. Below is a breakdown of the seven quarterbacks selected in the 2015 NFL Draft and how they may fair based on where they were drafted.

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winston was selected No. 1 overall and the Buccaneers appear to have total faith in him to lead the franchise from day one. History almost gives Winston close to a 50/50 shot at reaching and winning a Super Bowl. Since the NFL’s first Super Bowl (1967), 20 quarterbacks have been selected No. 1 overall. Seven have reached the Super Bowl and six have helped hoist up the Lombardi Trophy. Among the list of not to make it (yet) include the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton. Winston is going to have every opportunity to seize the starting job and help lead Tampa Bay back to the upper-echelon of NFL franchises.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans: The most talked about player in the draft had several desired teams attached to his name, but none of those rumored trades ever transpired after the Titans were not detoured from drafting the player they envision as their future quarterback. The history of the NFL Draft does not favor Mariota in terms of how other quarterbacks selected No. 2 overall via the NFL Draft have panned out. The list includes Rick Norton (1966), Archie Manning (1971), Bert Jones (1973), Rick Mirer (1993), Ryan Leaf (1998), Donovan McNabb (1999) and Robert Griffin III (2012). McNabb is the only quarterback to reach the Super Bowl even though it ended in defeat to the New England Patriots.

Garrett Grayson, New Orleans Saints: Grayson goes to a team with Drew Brees firmly entrenched as their franchise quarterback. Brees is 36 years old and should still bring three to four extremely competitive season together before calling it quits. That leaves Grayson likely ending his rookie contract with no real substance of NFL action to his resume. Now anything could happen and Brees could end up hurt and Grayson is forced into the mix, but in all likelihood the Saints will draft their eventual replacement for Brees a few years from now. Only three current starting quarterbacks in the NFL are from the third round.

Sean Mannion, St. Louis Rams: The Rams traded Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles earlier this year (March). Foles is set to hit free agency in 2016 if he and the Rams do not negotiate a new deal. Foles shares the same draft entry as Mannion. Foles was drafted in the third round (2012) and learned from one of the best quarterback coaches in the business in former Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Mannion may have the quickest road to a starter’s job from the current group of rookie quarterbacks not drafted in the first round. The last two NFC participants in the Super Bowl have had a third round quarterback (Russell Wilson) starting in the game so there’s hope for Mannion to sneak into the starters role eventually.

Bryce Petty, New York Jets: Without question the most talked about non-first round drafted quarterback amongst the 2015 rookie class is Bryce Petty. The unsettled nature at the top of the quarterback depth charts in New York helps Petty appear as a real candidate to claim the title as the team’s starter in 2015.  Geno Smith has struggled to compete at a high level consistently since arriving via the second round of the NFL Draft (2013) for the Jets. Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed earlier this year to push Smith and it is not out of the question he leapfrogs Smith when training camp concludes this summer. That leaves Petty with plenty of optimism because of the other quarterbacks on the current roster. Smith has done very little to confirm his role as the franchise quarterback for the Jets moving forward and Fitzpatrick is on his sixth different NFL team proving he is the ultimate journeymen quarterback. As good as the opportunity looks for Petty, remember the NFL does not have a single starter currently residing from the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

Brett Hundley, Green Bay Packers: Considered the third best quarterback by many among the 2015 rookie class, Hundley ended up being the 147th overall pick and fifth quarterback drafted. Hundley will need miracles to emerge as a NFL threat for a starting job in the NFL. Incumbent starter Aaron Rodgers (31-years old) is not going anywhere anytime soon so Hundley will hope that preseason action and practice reps can hype his value when his rookie contract expires. Currently no quarterbacks from the fifth round are officially named a starter for the upcoming season. Only one quarterback in the history of the NFL was drafted in the fifth round that went on to start in a Super Bowl as Billy Kilmer started for the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Kilmer was drafted by Washington in the first round of the NFL Draft and selected in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Draft. So depending on how you want to judge it maybe no quarterback ever in the history of the NFL Draft has started in a Super Bowl from the fifth round.

Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos: The last quarterback drafted was none other than Siemian. The former Northwestern quarterback was a very hot prospect leading up to the NFL Draft with several visits and workouts that included the Broncos. It does not appear that Siemian will be getting a lot of reps with the starters anytime soon since he sits behind Peyton Manning and second-string, second round selection Brock Osweiler. The Broncos now have two seventh round quarterbacks on their current roster with Siemian joining 2013 pick Zac Dysert.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.