In the 25 NFL drafts ago, no quarterback went in Round 1. Five years later, everyone is talking about quarterbacks going early.
The “1st overall qb picks” is a statement that is not true. In the 25 NFL drafts ago, no quarterback went in Round 1.
It’s practically unimaginable right now. A Sasquatch tale that people with gray around their temples repeat once in a while and swear is real no matter what you’ve heard previously is the stuff of football legend.
In the 1996 NFL draft, no quarterback was chosen in the first round. It was just the fifth occurrence since the 1970 merger of the AFL and the NFL, and it hasn’t occurred since.
Broncos general manager George Paton stated, “I don’t see it occurring again — ever.” “I honestly don’t think so. The spread offense, 7-on-7 tournaments in middle school and high school, and there are just too many quarterbacks who are too smart in that sense compared to a few decades ago, have all transformed the game. And, maybe most crucially, the job has never been more vital.”
It’s no longer a matter of whether or not a quarterback will be taken in the first round, but rather how many will be taken in the first ten choices. Quarterbacks were chosen with the first three choices in the draft in 2021, with five going in the first round.
Joe Burrow was the first quarterback selected in the 2020 draft, and four quarterbacks were selected in the first round. In 2019, three quarterbacks were selected in the first round, five in 2018, three in 2017, and so on.
Bill Polian, former general manager of the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, and Indianapolis Colts, said, “The position is so vital, and with a rookie salary scale, the financial punishment for failure is substantially less expensive than it used to be [for a rookie quarterback].” “As a consequence, taking a chance on a brilliant but developing potential in the first round is worthwhile.”
What occurred in 1996, then?
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“There were no quarterbacks worthy of a first-round choice,” Johnson said. “None of them were doing the things that myself, Jonathan Ogden, Kevin Hardy, Simeon Rice — the guys at the top of the draft — were doing and could accomplish.” “Keep going around — Eddie George, Terry Glenn, Willie Anderson, Marvin Harrison, Ray Lewis — they didn’t choose them because there were no quarterbacks on that level who could lead their teams.”
Ogden (No. 4 by the Ravens), Harrison (No. 18 by the Colts), and Lewis (No. 26 by the Ravens) were all picked in the first round that year, while Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens was a third-round choice. Rice, who was drafted third overall by the Arizona Cardinals, won Defensive Rookie of the Year that season, while George, who was drafted 14th overall by the Houston Oilers, won Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Why isn’t it going to happen again?
Nobody has ever questioned why any of the quarterbacks from 1996 were not picked in the first round. There is a school of thinking that the 2014 draft might have, or should have, been the last without a quarterback in the first round, but the desire to find a quarterback has increased nearly tenfold since 1996 and is now so intense that the clubs selecting will not allow it to happen.
At the scouting combine, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch remarked, “That position is so essential, everything goes into it, their potential just like every other position, but everything is accentuated at that position.” “Because the game is played differently in college and the NFL, it’s common to have to make forecasts. There are so many factors that go into determining the level of competitiveness. Every position is the same. But, as I already said, the gravity of that position makes your choice all the more crucial.”
The three quarterbacks taken in the first round in 2014 were Blake Bortles (No. 3), Johnny Manziel (No. 22), and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32). Bridgewater, who was picked with the final choice in the first round, is the only one of the three who has been named to the Pro Bowl. Derek Carr, the Raiders’ second-round choice at No. 36 overall, is the only quarterback from that draft class to pass for more than 18,000 yards.
Several personnel executives believe that the 2013 draft, in which EJ Manuel was the only quarterback chosen in the first round, the 1997 draft, in which Jim Druckenmiller was the only quarterback chosen in the first round, and the 2007 draft (in which JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn were the only first-round picks) should have likely joined the 1996 draft in history.
Only five drafts have gone without a first-round quarterback since the merger: 1974, 1984, 1985, 1988, and 1996.
|Year||No. 1 selection||1st QB selected|
|1996||Johnson, Keyshawn||Tony Banks, St. Louis Rams, No. 42|
|1988||Bruce Aundray||Phoenix Cardinals’ No. 64, Tom Tupa|
|1985||Bruce Smith is a well-known figure in the||Philadelphia Eagles’ Randall Cunningham, No. 37|
|1984||Fryar, Irving||Cincinnati Bengals’ Boomer Esiason, No. 38|
|1974||Jones, Ed “Too Tall”||Dallas Cowboys’ Danny White, No. 53|
This year’s class was previously thought to be a weak year for quarterbacks, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each have three quarterbacks in the first round this year: Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, and Mississippi’s Matt Corral in their latest mock selections.
“This year’s quarterback class,” Paton said. “As the process progresses, the general opinion is that the quarterback class isn’t very exciting. However, they do well throughout the season, in the Senior Bowl, and at pro days. With the exception of the hype test, they have passed all of the tests.”
The demand for a franchise passer is bigger than it has ever been, but supply hasn’t kept up. In the hopes of winning the thrower lottery, teams will continually reach for a quarterback, even early in the first round, and take a passer much beyond where they may even have him ranked.
“It’s become a lot more important,” Johnson added. “But if you can’t throw it under pressure, you won’t pan out, you won’t be successful, no matter how high they push you up the ladder. And if you’re a general manager and you take a quarterback in the first round merely because you need one but don’t believe he’s a first-round choice, you’ll almost certainly be fired. Just because you got him in the first round doesn’t mean he’ll improve.”
QB exercises at the scouting combine are now broadcast on national television in prime time, and pro day throws against no defenders are the stuff of fire emojis sent throughout the country. It just doesn’t seem conceivable that any future first-round draft will end without a quarterback.
“It would be an enormous outlier year,” Paton predicted. “That’s something I can’t see happening. Too many teams need one every year, and they are not going to pass it up.”
The “first round qb bust rate” is a statistic that has been around for a while. It shows the percentage of quarterbacks taken in the first round who have failed to meet expectations.
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