The 2012 draft is rapidly approaching, and the consensus seems to be that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are going to be the first two overall picks.
Since 1990, a quarterback has been selected with the number one overall pick 13 times, with teams experience both jubilation and heartbreak over their choices. Sometimes a team got a Peyton Manning while sometimes a team got a Ryan Leaf.
This article looks back at those 13 selections, and examines whether or not the quarterback turned out to be a winner or loser.
In 1990, the Indianapolis Colts used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Jeff George from Illinois. In his rookie season, George would start 12 games, and post a record of 5-7, while throwing for 2,152 yards, 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Indianapolis would finish that season with a 7-9 record and not make the playoffs.
George would spend four seasons in Indianapolis, and then played for the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and finished his career in 2001 with the Washington Redskins, and never played in a Super Bowl.
In 1993, the New England Patriots used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Drew Bledsoe from Washington State. In his rookie season, Bledsoe would start 12 games, and post a 5-7 record while throwing for 2,494 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. New England finished the 1993 season with an overall record of 5-11 and did not make the playoffs.
Bledsoe would play nine seasons in New England, posting a 63-60 record, and played in Super Bowl XXXI, losing to the Green Bay Packers.
Bledsoe went on to play three seasons in Buffalo, before ending his career in 2006 after playing two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.
Bledsoe made it to the Pro Bowl four times in his career, in 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002.
Eight years after using the first overall pick to select Jeff George, the Indianapolis Colts again used the No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback to select Peyton Manning from Tennessee. In his rookie year, Manning played in 16 games, posting a record of 3-13, while passing for 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
Things would get better for Manning and the Colts, posting a winning record in 11 of the next 12 seasons, making the playoffs in each of those 11 seasons, and winning Super Bowl XLI. Additionally, from 1999-2010, Manning threw for 51,089 yards in the regular season, while also throwing for 373 touchdowns.
Manning has won the NFL Associated Press MVP award four times, won the NFL Bert Bell Player of the Year award twice, was the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, has made the Pro Bowl 11 times, and has been named a first team All-Pro five times.
After missing the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury, the Colts cut ties with Manning, who then signed with the Denver Broncos. Only time will tell what other chapters Manning will add to his career in Denver.
In 1999, the (new) Cleveland Browns were preparing to play in their first season in the NFL, and with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft selected Tim Couch from Kentucky. In his rookie season, Couch started 14 games, posting a 2-12 record, while throwing for 2,447 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The team finished with an overall record of 2-14 and did not make the playoffs.
Couch would be with the team for five seasons, posting overall totals of a 22-37 record, 11,131 passing yards, 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions. Unfortunately, for Cleveland Couch’s failures at quarterback was only a sign of things yet to come.
In 2001, the Atlanta Falcons made a trade with the San Diego Chargers to secure the first overall pick, which they used to draft Michael Vick from Virginia Tech. Vick had a lackluster start to his career, as he started only two games in his rookie season, posting a 1-1 record, throwing for 785 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Vick saw more action in 2002, and began to make a name for himself not only as a passing quarterback but also as a running quarterback. Following the 2006 season, Vick had accumulated 11,505 passing yards, 71 touchdowns, 3,859 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.
Vick would miss the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to serving jail time related to a dog-fighting ring. During that time the Atlanta Falcons cut ties with the quarterback, therefore when he returned in 2009 he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In his time with Philadelphia, Vick has thrown for 6,407 yards, and 40 touchdowns while rushing for 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Vick was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2010, and has made the Pro Bowl four times.
In 2002, the expansion team Houston Texans used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select David Carr from Fresno State. In his rookie season Carr, started 16 games and posted a record of 4-12, with the team not making the playoffs. In that season, Carr threw for 2,592 yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Things did not get much better for Carr and after posting a 22-53 record as a starter, Carr and Houston parted ways. Since leaving Houston, Carr has served as a backup for the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants.
In 2003, the Cincinnati Bengals used the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Carson Palmer from USC. In his rookie season, Palmer started 13 games posting a record of 6-7, while throwing for 2,897 yards, 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Palmer led Cincinnati to the playoffs once in 2006 and again in 2010, losing both times in the first game.
In 2011 with Palmer unhappy with Cincinnati and the team refusing to trade him at the beginning of the season, Palmer “retired” rather than play for Cincinnati. Eventually, Cincinnati traded Palmer to the Oakland Raiders where he finished the 2011 season with a 4-5 record, 2,753 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Palmer has made two Pro Bowl appearances in his career, in 2005 and 2006.
In 2004, the San Diego Chargers used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, to select Eli Manning from Mississippi, whom they eventually traded to the New York Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers. In his rookie season, Manning started in seven games posting a 1-7 record while throwing for 1,043 yards, six touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
Things have gotten better for Manning and the Giants, as the team has posted a winning record or a .500 mark every year following the 2004 season. Additionally, Manning and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII and XLVI with Manning being the MVP in both games.
Manning has made two Pro Bowl appearances in his career, in 2008 and 2011.
In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers used the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft to select, Alex Smith from Utah. In his rookie season, Smith started seven games posting a record of 2-5 while throwing for 875 yards, one touchdown and 11 interceptions. The team finished 4-12 and did not make the playoffs.
Smith has experienced many difficulties while in San Francisco, but in 2011, everything seemed to come together as Smith had the best season of his career throwing for 3,144 yards, 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The team finished with a 13-3 record and the team made it to the NFC Championship game before losing to the New York Giants.
Smith was a free agent this past offseason, but with San Francisco being unable to secure the services of Peyton Manning, Smith was re-signed.
In 2008, the Oakland Raiders used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select JaMarcus Russell from LSU. Russell lost his only start of his rookie season, and in that season threw for only 373 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
His numbers picked up in the 2009 season, as he posted a 5-10 record with 2,423 passing yards, and 13 touchdowns. However, in 2010, things fell apart again and Russell went 2-7 as a starter, threw for only 1,287 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing 11 interceptions.
Russell finished his short NFL career with a 7-18 record, 4,083 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
In 2009, the Detroit Lions used the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft to select quarterback Matthew Stafford from Georgia. In his rookie season, Stafford started 10 games, posting a 2-8 record, while throwing 2,267 yards, 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
After an injury shortened 2010 season, many in Detroit were beginning to panic about the team’s selection of Stafford.
However, Stafford bounced back in 2011, taking Detroit to a 9-7 record, the team’s first playoff berth since 1999. Additionally, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions.
Detroit lost to New Orleans in the 2011 playoffs, however, Detroit is expecting more good things to come in 2012.
In 2010, the St. Louis Rams used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Sam Bradford from Oklahoma. In his rookie campaign, Sam Bradford threw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, while leading the St. Louis Rams to a 7-9 record. While a 7-9 record is not impressive, it was better than their 1-15 record in 2009.
Expectations were high for 2011; however, St. Louis went 2-14 with Bradford missing six games due to an ankle sprain. When Bradford did play in 2011, he threw for only 2,164 yards and six touchdowns, but also threw six interceptions and fumbled the ball six times.
In 2012, Bradford’s success will depend on how well St. Louis does in free agency and in the Draft.
In 2011, the Carolina Panthers used the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, to select Cam Newton from Auburn. In his rookie campaign, Newton played in 16 games, posting a 6-10 record while passing for 4,051 yards, and 21 touchdowns, and rushing for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Additionally, Newton made the Pro Bowl in 2011 as a replacement for Eli Manning.
Newton is poised to have a good season 2012, as he continues to do his part to rebuild the Carolina Panthers.
In 1993 and 1998, the first two overall selections were quarterbacks and in 1999, the first three selections were quarterbacks.
In 1993, the Seattle Seahawks used the second overall pick to select Rick Mirer. Mirer had notably less success than first overall pick Bledsoe as Mirer played for five teams in his career, and finished with a 24-44 record as a starter, and he threw for 11,969 yards, 50 touchdowns and 76 interceptions.
In 1998, the San Diego Chargers used the second overall pick to select Ryan Leaf. Widely considered one of the biggest draft busts ever, Leaf spent three seasons in the league, posting a 4-17 record as a starter, while throwing for only 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions.
In 1999, the Philadelphia Eagles used the second overall pick to select Donovan McNabb. In 11 seasons with Philadelphia, McNabb passed for 37,276 yards, and 216 touchdowns. Additionally, McNabb led Philadelphia to the playoffs seven times but was unable to win the Super Bowl.
After 11 seasons, Philadelphia cut ties with McNabb trading him to the Washington Redskins. McNabb spent one season in Washington, where his disputes with coach Mike Shanahan got him benched and eventually led to him leaving town.
In the start of the 2011 season McNabb was the starter for the Minnesota Vikings, but after starting the yea 1-5, he lost the starting job to rookie Christian Ponder, and was released later in the season.
The Cincinnati Bengals used the third overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Akili Smith. Smith spent four years in the league, posting a 3-14 starting record while throwing for 2,212 yards, five touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
In the last 22 years, the Indianapolis Colts used the No. 1 pick to select Jeff George, and Peyton Manning. One was a dud and the other a superstar. In the end, both Indianapolis and Washington will need to weigh the pros and cons, understanding that drafting a quarterback is a risky proposition, and hope for the best.