The NFL Draft is where champions are made. Specifically through quarterbacks, who can sustain dynasties with their play behind center.
The league’s elite quarterbacks rarely escape the franchise that drafted them. For every Drew Brees who flourishes in his second (or third or fourth) stop in the league, there are five Ben Roethlisbergers, Philip Rivers, and Eli Mannings who only take the field for a single team over the course of storied careers. Of the last 10 NFL championships, seven have been won by homegrown quarterbacks (Tom Brady x3, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning). Only Brees, Peyton Manning, and Nick Foles — who earned his ring by returning to the team that drafted him — won titles after hitting free agency.
That makes solid QB drafting paramount to NFL success. Between 2007 and 2016, the Browns drafted three first-round passers. That lack of stability helped contribute to a 48-112 record over that decade of play. Conversely, the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan in 2008 and then went 95-65 in the 10 seasons that followed.
So when’s the last time each NFL franchise swung for the fences with a first-round quarterback prospect?
- Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray
- New York Giants: Daniel Jones
- Washington: Dwayne Haskins
The Cardinals picked a first-round quarterback in back-to-back years, making them the first team to do so since the Baltimore Colts in 1982-83. That duo was Art Schlichter and John Elway, who combined for six career starts with the franchise.
The Giants made a point to pick a quarterback with fifth-round advanced stats in the first round, which will surely work out in their favor. Haskins slid to a needy Washington team, who had, at first glance, one of 2019’s best drafts.
- Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield
- New York Jets: Sam Darnold
- Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen
- Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson
Mayfield set the tone for Oklahoma Heisman winners to go No. 1, making Murray nothing but a copycat in the process. An extremely good, ever-dangerous copycat.
All three of these players look like they’ll keep their respective teams from using a first-round pick on a quarterback over the next decade.
The Rams and Eagles picked up MVP candidates in 2016. The Broncos did not.
The Buccaneers and Titans could each be in the market for quarterbacks next spring. Both Winston and Mariota are entering the final years of their rookie contracts without an extension lined up.
If we get a repeat of January’s NFC title game between the Rams and Saints, these two will be the backups. Neat?
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck
- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill
Fortunately for the Colts, they’ve had a lot better luck with the other quarterback they drafted No. 1 overall out of Stanford.
- Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton
- Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford
- Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan
- Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell
A successful run comes to a screeching halt with Russell, who lasted three seasons and 25 starts in the NFL (he went 7-18). The nicest thing that can be said about him is he averaged less than one interception per game.
And so began Rodgers’ beef with Mike McCarthy.
Manning didn’t have to wait long until his blatant wish not to play for the Chargers was granted. Three picks after he went first overall, the Giants drafted Philip Rivers — their last first round QB before Daniel Jones — and pulled off the blockbuster trade that would help net them two championships.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer
The first round from 2003-05 was a cauldron of great quarterbacks. Together Smith, Rodgers, Eli Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Palmer have combined for five Super Bowl wins, 31 Pro Bowl invitations, 664 regular season wins — all six have winning records for their career, though Manning’s 116-114 is looking mighty perilous heading into 2019 — and 1,922 passing touchdowns.
Sometimes you don’t find your franchise QB in the first round. Things work out pretty well when you can find a Super Bowl-winning passer in the third. They work out even better when you can pick up the greatest quarterback of all time in the sixth, then watch him play until the heat death of the universe.
- Dallas Cowboys: Troy Aikman
Aside from the lean years of 2001-05, Dallas has been fortunate enough to spin NCAA hay into NFL gold. Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent who then gave way to fourth-round pick Dak Prescott.
- New Orleans Saints: Archie Manning
The Cardinals are on the brink of selecting first-round quarterbacks for the second time since 2018. The Saints haven’t selected a single one since the Vietnam War was still raging.