The National Football League’s most successful team’s success usually hinges on the play at the quarterback position. If you have a franchise quarterback then you likely have a franchise vying for realistic expectations at a Super Bowl.
Over the last decade (or longer), it appears clear which teams have been able to first identify a quarterback prospect and develop that particular player into one worthy of starting and being successful in the NFL. Below are some of the best and worst team’s in the NFL that draft quarterbacks.
Who Drafts QB’s Best
Green Bay Packers – Since 1996, only two teams have won a Super Bowl with a different starting quarterback. The names on the exclusive list are the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers. The Ravens won their two Super Bowls with Trent Dilfer (2001) and Joe Flacco (2013). The Packers have done it with two quarterbacks pretty much guaranteed of being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brett Favre (1997) and Aaron Rodgers (2011) have both hoisted the Lombardi Trophy while playing at an extremely high level for the Packers.
Former general manager Ron Wolf traded a first-round pick (19th overall) to the Atlanta Falcons for the rights to Brett Favre. Favre was heading into his second season in Atlanta after being selected 33rd overall in the 1991 NFL Draft. Favre played 16 years in Green Bay, winning three straight MVP awards along with back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl (winning one). He is currently the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (71,838). The Packers did not draft Favre but they realized his potential and traded for him.
Wolf hired current general manager Ted Thompson as a scout for the Packers way back in 1992. Thompson also spent four years in Seattle with the Seahawks as Vice President of Football Operations before returning to Green Bay. A very peculiar scene unfolded during his first draft as GM of the Packers in 2005. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers kept slipping down the board, pick after pick.
Thompson’s decision to select Rodgers allowed Green Bay to remain one of the top teams in the NFL even after the departure of Favre. Rodgers spent 2005-07 backing up Favre before he was traded to the New York Jets. Thompson showed early on why he is considered one of the best in the business, especially when you think about using your first-round pick on a quarterback when Favre at the time was a living legend playing on the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field.
The Packers also traded the best quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise has ever had in Mark Brunell. In 1995, Brunell was acquired by the Jags for a 3rd round and 5th round pick. Brunell became a Pro Bowl player in Jacksonville three times and is the team’s leader in career wins, passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Although the Packers never received any compensation for quarterback Matt Flynn, his success in one game back in 2012 helped him land a deal with the Seattle Seahawks worth $20.5 million with $9 million guaranteed. Flynn played in the final game of the year (2012) against the Detroit Lions. He set single game records for Green Bay with 480 yards passing along with six touchdowns. He was benched for Seattle’s third-round pick that following year (Russell Wilson) and has been bouncing around the league ever since that dominant performance.
New England Patriots – A lot of praise is directed towards Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid and the man who replaced him in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly, for their knack of extracting the best from whomever they place behind the center. One team that seems to get lost in the shuffle in developing quarterbacks is the New England Patriots.
New England has drafted seven quarterbacks since 2000 that includes future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. His overwhelming success be can somewhat contributed to the coaching staff and their development at the position. Brady is an once-in-a-lifetime prospect considering he was the 199th overall selection (2000) but New England has been able to capitalize on trading two other quarterbacks they acquired via the NFL Draft. Matt Cassel was drafted in the seventh-round of the 2005 NFL Draft and ended up replacing Brady in 2008 after he suffered a torn ACL and MCL. He performed so well that after the season ended the Patriots received a second-round pick (34th overall) for him and linebacker Mike Vrabel.
Three years after drafting Cassel, the Patriots used a third-round selection on Ryan Mallett (2011) and even though he attempted only five regular season passes for 17 yards, the Houston Texans offered a seventh-round pick for the former Arkansas quarterback. Not too shabby for a guy who never made a single start. New England has been able to establish themselves as one of the teams in the league that can judge and grow quarterbacks in house.
Next up is their 2014 second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo. He’ll get thrown into action with Brady facing a suspension in the opening weeks of the year. If Garoppolo displays the same poise he has in the pre-season, it looks like another ringer for the Patriots.
Indianapolis Colts – The fortunes of the franchise hung in the balance back in 1998. The Colts’ held the rights to the No. 1 overall selection and had to decide on drafting either Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning or Washington State signal-caller Ryan Leaf.
Indianapolis made the right call.
Manning played 14-years in Indianapolis, leading them to two Super Bowls that included one victory over the Chicago Bears. The staple of consistency, Manning led the Colts’ to ten playoff appearances. Leaf played three years in the NFL and is considered one of the biggest first-round busts in the history of the NFL Draft. Leaf”s record as a starter was 4-17 and managed 14 touchdowns passes in his brief and lackluster career.
Manning sat out the entire 2011 NFL season and the Colts’ were so bad that it led to them picking first in the 2012 NFL Draft. It was the best scenario for a franchise with an aging star and possibly the best prospect in decades named Andrew Luck available to draft.
Luck however had a real run for his money leading up to the NFL Draft with Robert Griffin III displaying awe dropping ability at the quarterback position.
Indianapolis made the right call, again!
It obviously seems like a simple decision, looking back on each selection, but going back in a time capsule the choices were very neck-and-neck on who would be the right quarterback to draft.
For nearly two decades now the Colts’ organization has had two top-tier franchise quarterbacks at the helm of the franchise. If the wrong call was made back in 1998 there likely would have been a truckload of different quarterbacks being drafted in Indy.
Who Drafts QB’s The Worst
Jacksonville Jaguars – The first franchise quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars ever had in Mark Brunell was the last franchise quarterback the team has ever had. His career in Jacksonville spanned from 1995-03 and since that time the team has used three first-round selections on quarterbacks. The list includes Byron Leftwich (2005), Blaine Gabbert (2010) and current starting quarterback Blake Bortles (2014).
Leftwich battled injuries throughout his career in Jacksonville and his absences from games allowed back-up David Garrard to take over as the team’s starting quarterback. He lasted only four seasons in Jacksonville before being cut. In theory, if Leftwich pans out then the Jaguars could have saved two first-round picks that could have been addressed to serve other needs of the team. The reality of it though was Leftwich was not a franchise quarterback and Garrard was not much better.
With Leftwich and Garrard out of the picture, the Jagaurs looked for a upgrade at quarterback in 2011. Jacksonville used the 10th overall selection on Blaine Gabbert, who failed mightily at grasping the position in the NFL after a great college career at Missouri. Gabbert started 27 games (2011-13) for Jacksonville and could only manage to lead them to a 5-22 record. Obviously there was plenty of blame to go round for the team’s lack of success, but the nature of the beast is the quarterback is one of the first to be replaced if the franchise flounders. He is currently the back-up now in San Francisco behind 49ers’ starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Striking out on both Leftwich and Gabbert led the Jagaurs to invest their third first-round selection since 2003 on quarterback Blake Bortles. The former Central Florida star struggled early in his rookie season but Bortles showed some positive glimpses of the player Jacksonville envisioned when they selected him with the third overall pick in 2014.
Cleveland Browns – Is there anyone better at being the worst franchise in the NFL when it comes to drafting quarterbacks?
Cleveland has revisited the quarterback position time and time again upon their return to the league in 1999 after former owner Art Modell moved the franchise east to Baltimore. Since that time, a vicious cycle has taken place where 22 different quarterbacks have started at least one game for Cleveland. Likely that number jumps to 23 with the off-season signing of journeyman quarterback Josh McCown.
The Browns inherited the No. 1 overall pick in 1999 and selected Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch. Couch was drafted one year after the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning. In comparison, the Colts addressed the starting quarterback position once since drafting Manning. They took Luck and as luck would have it they seem set for another decade with a franchise caliber quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Browns have exhausted every avenue available via the NFL Draft, free agency, waiver wire and trading with other teams in a failed quest to land a franchise quarterback.
The next chapter of failed quarterbacks in Cleveland leads us Johnny Manziel. Cleveland used the 22nd overall selection last year to draft Manziel and it marked the third time since 2007 that the team has used the 22nd overall pick on a quarterback who include both Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. The series of events that led to Manziel not living up to expectations is well documented both on and off the field.
The M&M’s (McCown & Manziel) are not the final answer. McCown is a band-aid solution to a gaping wound on the Browns offense. Manziel just left rehab as a last ditch effort to save himself and his NFL career. That leaves the organization once again at the crossroads on what to do regarding the games most important position.
New York Jets – The Jets arguably rival Cleveland in being incredibly awful at developing a quarterback via the NFL Draft. Since 1990 the Jets have drafted 13 quarterbacks that include Troy Taylor, Browning Nagle, Jeff Blake, Chuck Clements, Chad Pennington, Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge, Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Geno Smith, Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty.
The only thing more insulting than the list of names above is the fact that the Jets released Jeff Blake after drafting him in the sixth round of the 1992 NFL Draft. Blake became the best quarterback amongst the group and yet the New York hierarchy thought it was best to rid themselves of a quarterback who played 13 years in the NFL and was a one-time Pro Bowler.
New York epitomizes an organization that has been unable to evaluate the quarterback position. The lack of identifying talented quarterbacks puts them at an disadvantage of turning the prospect into a quality player in the league.
Chad Pennington was efficient and injuries robbed him of a above-average NFL career, but make no mistake about it he was never going to join the upper-echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. The Jets are rolling the dice on Geno Smith again and hoping that 2015 fifth-round pick Bryce Petty flashes the potential to make a run at the starting job in New York.
The ultimate tell-tale sign that they have no answer at quarterback is the team bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’ll be 33 in November and the Jets are the sixth team he has played for since 2005. In reality, he actually is their best option for success as training camp nears but it sheds a blinding light on how bad the quarterback position is in New York for the Jets.
Buccaneers admit mistake, boot Aguayo
Source: Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk
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Did Bucs put too much pressure on Aguayo?
Source: Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk
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Broncos holding their breath on Derek Wolfe
Source: Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk
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