Could the 2018 NFL Draft Challenge the Record for Most Quarterbacks Selected in the 1st Round?
By Chris Malumphy
With the recent announcements by several collegiate underclass quarterbacks that they will be entering the 2018 NFL Draft, and the undeniable need of several professional teams to improve at that position, it is entirely possible that the record for the most number of quarterbacks selected in the first round set in 1983 could be challenged.
Six quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 1983 in what arguably might be considered the greatest NFL Draft of all time. That draft produced seven Hall of Famers, including three of those quarterbacks: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Elway led the Denver Broncos to five Super Bowl Appearances, including two victories. Kelly and the Buffalo Bills went to four Super Bowls. Marino led the Dolphins to one. Even Tony Eason, perhaps the second least accomplished member of the 1983 quarterback sextet was a Super Bowl starter with the Patriots. The Jets Ken O'Brien had a decent career. The only dud was the Chiefs' Todd Blackledge. Others elected to the Hall of Fame drafted in 1983 were running back Eric Dickerson, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, defensive back (and fastest man in the NFL) Darrell Green and defensive end Richard Dent. All but Dent were drafted in the first round.
The NFL Draft with the second most number of quarterbacks selected in the first round was 1999 with five. That group had far fewer career accomplishments with only the Eagles' Donavon McNabb (one Super Bowl appearance) having much success. The other quarterbacks taken in the first round in 1999 were: Tim Couch (Browns), Akili Smith (Bengals), Daunte Culpepper (Vikings) and Cade McNown (Bears). Culpepper's promising career was thwarted by a devastating injury. Couch had the disadvantage of being thrown into the fire for an expansion team where he had few moments to shine. Smith and McNown were not NFL caliber players or personalities.
The top quarterbacks entering the 2018 NFL Draft appear to be:
- Sam Darnold, USC
- Josh Rosen, UCLA
- Josh Allen, Wyoming
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
- Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
- Luke Falk, Washington State
- Ryan Finley, North Carolina State
It still too early to tell how these quarterbacks will ultimately be ranked by professional teams, but it seems likely that Darnold, Rosen and possibly Allen will be among the top five choices in the draft. Several teams might also place first round value on Jackson and Mayfield based on their overwhelming collegiate success even though others question whether their games will translate well at the professional level. If there is an early run on quarterbacks, the door may open for quarterbacks currently thought of by many as second tier, like Rudolph, Falk and Finley, to be taken by quarterback desperate teams later in the first round. Much will depend on the level of desperation.
The Browns (1st and 4th picks), Giants (2nd), Broncos (5th), Jets (6th) are all in search of quarterbacks, so it is not inconceivable that four players will be taken at that position within the first six picks. With the retirement of Carson Palmer, the Arizona Cardinals (15th) are also in the hunt. Many Buffalo fans are tired of the conservative play of Tyrod Taylor and currently with the 21st and 25th picks (which is likely to change a bit based in the outcome of the playoffs), the Bills have some draft capital that other teams don't. Bills fans should know, however, that according to the draft value charts, the 21st and 25th picks only equal the 7th pick in the draft, by which time the top four quarterbacks are likely to be gone. Thus, the Bills, or any other team hoping to move up, may need to pay an overwhelming ransom just to get into the game, let alone get the quarterback they truly want. And the Patriots, Saints, Steelers and Chargers may also looking towards the future and be shopping for a quality quarterback to be trained in waiting. While you're thinking about it, don't forget the other teams who having quarterbacks on the wain (Ravens) or those who have never been able to get over the hump with their current starter (Bengals, Dolphins). And I haven't even mentioned the Jaguars. As the Bills, Bengals, Ravens and Dolphins (among others) have found in recent years, being around .500 year after year can be a painful experience which continually keeps you out of the top portion of the draft where future franchise quarterbacks tend to reside.
But not every team will look to the draft for their next quarterback. There are also a slew of potential trade and free agent possibilities. The Redskins might decide that Kirk Cousins is no longer affordable, which would make him available to other teams, but would also put Washington into the quarterback hunt. With Patrick Mahomes in the wings, the Chiefs' Alex Smith might become available. Of course, Eli Manning and the Giants may also decide to separate sooner rather than later. Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum are unlikely to remain together as a trio in Minnesota next season, so one or two of them might be on the market. Although he is not an overwhelming favorite in Buffalo, Tyrod Taylor might be good enough to stabilize a team seeking to cut down on turnovers and mistakes while developing a more commanding choice for the future. The Bengals AJ McCarron might fall into a similar category. And who knows, Jay Cutler might be up for one more season if the Dolphins don't want him around after Ryan Tannehill returns to action.
It is dangerous to reach for a quarterback, especially after the top one or two are off the boards. There have been a few too many unproductive 1st round picks in the last 10 years to raise concern: Paxton Lynch, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, EJ Manuel, Brandon Weeden, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, March Sanchez, Josh Freeman. Still, if a team needs a quarterback, they have to take a chance one way or the other. Coaches and General Managers who produce .500 teams or less don't last long.
|Years with Four+ Quarterbacks Selected in the First Round|
|Year||Number||Name (Player, Team, College)|
|1983||6||John Elway (1, Colts, Stanford); Todd Blackledge (7, Chiefs, Penn State); Jim Kelly (14, Bills, Miami (FL)); Tony Eason (15, Patriots, Illinois); Ken O'Brien (24, Jets, California-Davis); Dan Marino (27, Dolphins, Pittsburgh);|
|1999||5||Tim Couch (1, Browns, Kentucky); Donovan McNabb (2, Eagles, Syracuse); Akili Smith (3, Bengals, Oregon); Daunte Culpepper (11, Vikings, Central Florida); Cade McNown (12, Bears, UCLA);|
|2012||4||Andrew Luck (1, Colts, Stanford); Robert Griffin III (2, Redskins, Baylor); Ryan Tannehill (8, Dolphins, Texas A&M); Brandon Weeden (22, Browns, Oklahoma State);|
|2011||4||Cam Newton (1, Panthers, Auburn); Jake Locker (8, Titans, Washington); Blaine Gabbert (10, Jaguars, Missouri); Christian Ponder (12, Vikings, Florida State);|
|2004||4||Eli Manning (1, Chargers, Mississippi); Philip Rivers (4, Giants, North Carolina State); Ben Roethlisberger (11, Steelers, Miami (OH)); J.P. Losman (22, Bills, Tulane);|
|2003||4||Carson Palmer (1, Bengals, USC); Byron Leftwich (7, Jaguars, Marshall); Kyle Boller (19, Ravens, California); Rex Grossman (22, Bears, Florida);|
|1987||4||Vinny Testaverde (1, Buccaneers, Miami (FL)); Kelly Stouffer (6, Cardinals, Colorado State); Chris Miller (13, Falcons, Oregon); Jim Harbaugh (26, Bears, Michigan);|
|1959||4||Randy Duncan (1, Packers, Iowa); Don Allard (4, Redskins, Boston College); Dave Baker (5, 49ers, Oklahoma); Lee Grosscup (10, Giants, Utah);|