Heisman Quarterbacks In The NFL: Do They Produce?

By Jason Buettner
March 06, 2012 4:34 pm
1,830 Views 2 Comments

The most talked about player coming into the 2012 NFL Draft is not Andrew Luck - a player that could have came out last year, a player that most scouts and writers feel can step into a starting role immediately for just about any pro team. Luck, is basically being penciled in as the number one overall pick in the 2012 draft. A player of this supposed caliber while also being possibly selected by a team with a future no-doubt Hall of Fame quarterback would normally dominate media coverage. However, it seems that that 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner, quarterback Robert Griffin III from Baylor, seems to be eating up most of the media coverage.

He's tough, smart, charismatic and had a great combine showing. But why is all the attention on the Heisman Trophy Winner? Do scouts believe he is like Luck, who will be able to immediately start in the NFL, just as Cam Newton was able to do in 2011? Is it because we are not as certain as we are about Luck in regards to what team he will play for? Is it because he went to Baylor, a school not known for producing NFL quarterbacks? Why is Griffin being interviewed on Mike and Mike, ESPN and The Dan Patrick Show?

The intriguing question to me is, what sort of Heisman quarterback will he become in the NFL? Taking a look at the last 10 Heisman winning quarterbacks, only four of them have managed to become regular starters in the NFL. Only two of them have played in a playoff game. Four of them have managed to fade into obscurity without even putting a dent in the NFL. One of them has managed to blow every chance they have received, while another, due to no real fault of his own, didn't even play in the NFL.

Let's examine the the last 10 Heisman winners at the quarterback position and how they have/did fare in the NFL.

2010-Cam Newton, Auburn:
Drenched in controversy about eligibility issues, it didn't stop Newton from becoming the 2010 Heisman winner, out of Auburn. It also didn't stop the Carolina Panthers from selecting him with the number one pick last season, or immediately penciling him in as their number one starting quarterback ahead of Jimmy Clausen. There's no secret that there was a pretty good contingency of people that wanted to see Newton fail, or felt that his college game wouldn't translate to the pros. It took Newton two games to shut everyone up. In both games he threw for over 400 passing yards, 432 against Green Bay which was a rookie record. The Panthers didn't make the playoffs but Cam Newton managed to win Rookie of the Year over fellow rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who did take the Bengals to the playoffs. Newton became the first rookie to rush for 10 touchdowns and pass for 10 touchdowns in a season. He also broke the record for most passing yards by a rookie with over 4,000 and most touchdowns with 35 (21 passing, 14 rushing). It's safe to say that there are more good things to come from Newton, if Carolina can string together a complete team, Newton could possibly be taking the Panthers to playoffs in a few seasons.

2008-Sam Bradford, Oklahoma:
Bradford became the second sophomore to ever win the Heisman award and decided to skip the NFL draft and continue to play for Oklahoma for his junior year. Instead he became injured and missed most of it. However it did not stop the Rams from making him the number one pick of the 2010 NFL draft, and giving him a guaranteed contract of 50 million dollars, the largest ever given to a rookie. Bradford played remarkably well in his rookie season, setting a record for most completed passes by a rookie with a 354. He was the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL, and was close to getting the Rams into the playoffs. However in 2011 he ended up missing six games due to a high ankle sprain and did not play well, only throwing for six touchdowns and getting sacked 36 times. Other than Steven Jackson, Bradford didn't have a ton of weapons on the offensive side of the football, but hopefully with a bit of an upgrade this off-season Bradford will return back to form.

2007-Tim Tebow, Florida:
Tebow became the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman award. He won two National Championships with the Florida Gators. He set countless records in the SEC conference, yet despite all the college accolades, he was and still not given a fair shake by many people. Mainly criticizing him for his awkward throwing delivery, and his supposed run first attitude. During the 2010 NFL Draft, analysts predicted him to go anywhere from the 1st to the 3rd round, more people leaning on a second or third round selection. However, Tebow was selected with the 25th pick of the 1st round by the Denver Broncos. In his first season he started the last three games, going 1-2. This last year, Tebow took over the team when they were 1-4 under Kyle Orton. Tebow helped the team finish with an 8-8 record, good enough to win the division and make the playoffs, where they knocked out the defending AFC Champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but lost to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round. Tebow will enter next season as the starting quarterback for the Broncos, and it will be interesting to see him play a full season and if he can take the Broncos back to the playoffs.


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Previous Comments (2)

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3 years ago
Interesting article. There have been several Heisman winners who received the trophy because they were good quarterbacks on teams with great talent. This could not have been more evident than when Jason White beat out Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. As for Griffin, he has the physical and mental tools to succeed. He will be a good NFL QB for many years to come.
3 years ago

Thanks. I thought it was interesting that they either went one way or the other, no real middle ground. I think/hope Griffin will be successful, I never want to see anyone fail. I thought the similarities between Wuerffel and Tebow are quite interesting.

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