LIST 5: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith
It appears almost a lock that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and one of the remaining big three – Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones – will be the first three picks in this year’s draft. The last time that happened was 1999, when the three men above were drafted first, second, and third.
McNabb, his brief Washington sojourn notwithstanding, had a fine career. Couch was a mediocre quarterback for a bad team. Smith was historically bad.
You can think whatever you want about this year’s crop of quarterbacks but history rarely misleads. And history says one or two of them will be outstanding, while another one or two will be major mistakes.
LIST 6: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson
If five quarterbacks are picked in the first round at this year’s draft, it will be the fourth time at least five have gone in the first round. It happened in the above-referenced 1999 draft (the very good Daunte Culpepper and the career backup Cade McNown were the other two in ’99), and six were drafted in the magical year 1983, in which three future Hall of Famers (John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino) were selected. But even in ’83, the second quarterback drafted, Todd Blackledge, was a major disappointment.
The list above refers to the last time as many as five quarterbacks went in the first round – 2018. A quick glance shows just how inaccurate quarterback evaluation remains to this day. Allen and Jackson have clearly been the best players in their brief careers. Mayfield is emerging, though you would not take him at No. 1 were you redrafting. Darnold has been a major disappointment thus far and Rosen has been … fill that one in however you want.
You know what the funny thing is? Before that draft, a dozen writers from The Huddle did an in-depth ranking of all the 2018 prospects. Guess who got the most first-place votes? Rosen. More than a third of the analysts predicted he would be the best quarterback to emerge from that class.
More than half of the analysts deemed Allen the biggest “bust” candidate. One called him “undraftable” while others found various colorful ways to express how awful he would be. Many thought Mason Rudolph would be a better pro. One thought that the best move any of these teams could make would be to wait a couple of years until Tua Tagovailoa would be graduating.
I’m not calling out these Huddle writers. They had the guts to put their rankings in writing. They were way ahead of many pro scouts in their opinion of Jackson, consistently rating him among the top three prospects. The ones that bothered to rate Allen at all often had him rated at the top of the class.
Speaking as the guy who thought Sean Davis and Cody Latimer would be major contributors to the Washington Football Team in 2020, I have swung and missed plenty of times in evaluating prospects.
I only intend to point out that the surest quarterback in the world is no sure thing. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a high draft pick to get one. You can trade for one. You can sign one as a free agent. You can get a good one later in the draft. Which brings us to…
LIST 7: Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien
The Washington Football Team’s three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. The first came via trade. The second was a free agent. The third, a sixth-round draft pick.
Don’t feel too bad about missing out on one of the can’t-miss QBs in this year’s draft. It could wind up being the best thing that could happen to the Washington Football Team.