Ranking the Last 10 Quarterback Drafts

Many people (including myself) are touting this upcoming quarterback draft class as one of the best in years. Sure, it looks good on paper, but we’ve heard this before. I looked back at the last 10 NFL quarterback draft classes, and realized it won’t be that much of a challenge to overcome the talent from the last decade. The bottom classes on this list were easy, it was figuring out which group to put on top that was tough. As the college game evolves further and further away from NFL kinds of offensive systems, less and less signal callers are coming out of school with the ability to function at the professional level.

A few qualifiers here…First off, you may realize this list of the last ten quarterback classes starts three years ago. With any position, but quarterback in particular, it takes time to evaluate talent. I gave myself a three-year window to make sure I’m not jumping into any hot takes. Think about if we based this off of Robert Griffin III’s rookie year, or for that matter Aaron Rodgers’? Consider this list the last 10 rankable QB draft classes. I also took into account not just quarterback talent, but where they were taken. A value pick like Russell Wilson looks good, while a first round bust obviously ranks the class lower.

For the record, the QB’s who are listed are just the notable ones. Some classes were as many as 15 deep, with players who never set foot on an NFL field. I only listed draft picks in the first 3 rounds, and only players that stick out for one reason or another after that. The numbers with each player are the round and overall pick they were taken, followed by the team that took them. Any player with * next to his name won a Heisman Trophy. But real quick, before we get to the top 10, a bonus…

2004:

Eli Manning (1/1 Chargers)

Philip Rivers (1/4 Giants)

Ben Roethlisberger (1/11 Steelers)

JP Losman (1/22 Bills)

Matt Schaub (3/90 Falcons)

Luke McCown (4/106 Browns)

Ok so this class is 11 years ago, but the one that made me want to put this list together in the first place. Easily would have been ranked first. The top three all went on to very successful NFL careers, with 4 Super Bowl wins. That being said, I think 2017 will be the final year for at least one of these guys, and all three will be without a starting NFL job by the end of the 2018 season. Now onto the real list…

(10) 2007:

Jamarcus Russell (1/1 Raiders)

Brady Quinn (1/22 Browns)

Kevin Kolb (2/36 Eagles)

John Beck (2/40 Dolphins)

Drew Stanton (2/43 Lions)

Trent Edwards (3/92 Bills)

Troy Smith* (5/174 Ravens)

The 10 spot on this list was tough, what put 2007 over the top (bottom?) was the hype going into the draft, specifically for one Jamarcus Russell. That being said, I count 4 quarterbacks on this list that were at one point pegged as franchise saviors. Spoiler alert; none were.

(9) 2006:

Vince Young (1/3 Titans)

Matt Leinart* (1/10 Cardinals)

Jay Cutler (1/11 Broncos)

Kellen Clemens (2/49 Jets)

Tavaris Jackson (2/64 Vikings)

Charlie Whitehurst (3/81 Chargers)

Brodie Croyle (3/85 Chiefs)

Also hot garbage. The fact Jay Cutler has somehow managed to hang around the NFL for a decade is this closest thing 2006 has to a saving grace.

(8) 2013:

EJ Manuel (1/16 Bills)

Geno Smith (2/39 Jets)

Mike Glennon (3/73 Beccaneers)

Matt Barkley (4/98 Eagles)

Ryan Nassib (4/110 Giants)

Landry Jones (4/115 Steelers)

2013, the great AFC East swing and a miss. The reason this class isn’t lower is teams seemed to realize the talent was lacking, only 3 quarterbacks in the first 3 rounds is a low for the last decade.

(7) 2009:

Matt Stafford (1/1 Lions)

Mark Sanches (1/5 Jets)

Josh Freeman (1/17 Buccaneers)

Pat White (2/44 Dolphins)

Curtis Painter (6/201 Colts)

Our first group with a quarterback that turned out semi-competent. Stafford has led the Lions to the playoffs twice, and in 2011 threw for 41 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards. Still though…Sanchez and Freeman.

(6) 2010:

Sam Bradford* (1/1 Rams)

Tim Tebow* (1/25 Broncos)

Jimmy Clausen (2/48 Panthers)

Colt McCoy (3/85 Browns)

John Skelton (5/155 Cardinals)

Joe Webb (6/199)

While he has had far from a top pick worthy career, Sam Bradford did set the NFL record for NFL single-season completion percentage (71.6%) in 2016. Colt McCoy is still in the league as well; he’s currently the backup in Washington. Even with all that, Tebow keeps this class down at number 6, AKA the round he should have been drafted in.

(5) 2014:

Blake Bortles (1/3 Jaguars)

Johnny Manziel* (1/22 Browns)

Teddy Bridgewater (1/32 Vikings)

Derek Carr (2/36 Raiders)

Jimmy Garoppolo (2/62 Patriots)

Logan Thomas (4/120 Cardinals)

Tom Savage (4/135 Texans)

Aaron Murray (5/163 Chiefs)

AJ McCarron (5/164 Bengals)

Zach Mettenberger (6/178 Titans)

Not top-heavy by any means, but there is some talent here. Derek Carr has led the Raiders back to relevancy, and Teddy Bridgewater looked promising before blowing out his knee. Seeing what Garoppolo does once he gets a chance to start will help clear the picture. And don’t forget, Blake Bortles is undefeated on 5 of 7 continents.

(4) 2011:

Cam Newton* (1/1 Panthers)

Jake Locker (1/8 Titans)

Blaine Gabbert (1/10 Jaguars)

Christian Ponder (1/12 Vikings)

Andy Dalton (2/35 Bengals)

Colin Kaepernick (2/36 49ers)

Ryan Mallett (3/74 Patriots)

TJ Yates (5/152 Texans)

Tyrod Taylor (6/180 Ravens)

Greg McElroy (7/208 Jets)

Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick have each been to a Super Bowl. Tyrod Taylor has been impressive in Buffalo, which is no small feat. The majority of the rest of the list is made up of legitimate NFL backups. Could be top 3 if Christian Ponder and/or Jake Locker’s careers actually, you know, happened.

(3) 2008:

Matt Ryan (1/3 Falcons)

Joe Flacco (1/18 Ravens)

Brian Brohm (2/56 Packers)

Chad Henne (2/57 Dolphins)

Kevin O’Connell (3/94 Patriots)

John David Booty (5/137 Vikings)

Colt Brennan (6/186 Redskins)

Matt Flynn (7/209 Packers)

A Super Bowl winner and NFL MVP make up a pretty impressive group, especially given neither is from a college football powerhouse. Matt Flynn once tallied 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in a game, which is no small feat. Throw in my soft spot for Colt Brennan, and this is an easy top 3 group.

(2) 2012:

Andrew Luck (1/1 Colts)

Robert Griffin III* (1/2 Redskins)

Ryan Tannehill (1/8 Dolphins)

Brandon Weeden (1/22 Browns)

Brock Osweiler (2/57 Broncos)

Russell Wilson (3/75 Seahawks)

Nick Foles (3/88 Eagles)

Kirk Cousins (4/102 Redskins)

The reason I love this draft class is the sleepers. The best two quarterbacks were taken 75th and 102nd. That being said, the top 3 quarterbacks picked have not been able to stay on the field, and if Ryan Tannehill can’t properly recover from his torn ACL, all three could be out of the league well before their time. Plus, I couldn’t put any class with Brandon Weeden in it in the top spot.

(1) 2005:

Alex Smith (1/1 49ers)

Aaron Rodgers (1/24 Packers)

Jason Campbell (1/25 Redskins)

Charlie Frye (3/67 Browns)

Kyle Orton (4/106 Bears)

Dan Orlovsky (5/145 Lions)

Derek Anderson (6/213 Ravens)

Matt Cassel (7/230 Patriots)

Ryan Fitzpatrick (7/250 Rams)

Aaron Rodgers pretty much locks this group into the top spot, he’s the best quarterback taken in the last 10 years. Plus, Derek Anderson had a few good years in Cleveland, Matt Cassel quarterbacked the best team (record-wise) to ever miss the playoffs in the 11-5 2008 Patriots, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has put together a nice decade as well. Good value there at the bottom.

Agree with this list? Of course you don’t. Let me know what I got right and wrong in the comments below, or on Twitter @The_REAL_Alex_B

Written By: Alex Barth (@The_REAL_Alex_B)

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