LIST 1: Josh Rosen, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Mark Sanchez, Blake Bortles, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford
That’s seven quarterbacks, all under the age of 35, who were selected in the top ten picks of the NFL Draft. Some are out of the league. Some had a year or two of success. One – Rosen – is still young enough to hope for an unlikely resurgence. But I feel comfortable in saying all will go down as major busts. None will have careers that come anywhere near their lofty draft status.
LIST 2: Mitch Trubisky, Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold
That’s three quarterbacks, all under 28, who were selected in the top three. It is likely that Darnold will be traded soon, and when that happens, none will still be playing for the team that chose them. Depending on where Darnold ends up, all three may be backups in 2021. And in case you missed it – ALL WERE TOP THREE PICKS.
LIST 3: Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff
That’s three quarterbacks, all also under 28, who were picked in the top two. It is likely that all three will start in 2021, but for teams other than ones that drafted them.
That’s 13 quarterbacks – all still young enough to be playing, all taken with a top ten pick. None have lived up to expectations, while more than half have been major failures.
LIST 4: Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady
That’s six current starting NFL quarterbacks, each of whom was drafted later than Washington’s 19th first-round selection in 2021. None of them have a career passer rating below 92. Three are over 100. I could have included the recently-retired Drew Brees on this list, but that’s not how I roll.
I know – you are 100% certain that your preferred guy this year is “can’t miss.” But every single one of them can miss.
On Mel Kiper’s list of the top-ten quarterback prospects he has ever rated, you will find John Elway and Peyton Manning. They lived up to the hype. You will also Andre Ware and Ryan Leaf. They combined for 24 career touchdowns and 46 career interceptions.
The name that I find most interesting on Kiper’s list is Andrew Luck. Luck is Kiper’s second-highest rated quarterback prospect, trailing only Elway. He is two spots ahead of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. And by most statistical analysis, Luck was an excellent player. But due to repeated battering, Luck retired after just six NFL seasons and four playoff victories. That’s the same number of playoff victories that Mark Sanchez accounted for in his career.
It may not be Luck’s fault, but was that the return Indianapolis was hoping for when they selected him No. 1? Just as it may not be all Robert Griffin’s fault that injury prevented him from fulfilling the promise of his magical rookie season with the Washington Football Team. But the return never materialized.
This is why you cannot mortgage your future for any one player, no matter how certain you are of his talent. Football is too violent a sport, and the risk of injury is too great, to make such a wager.