Winners & Losers: Drafting a QB No. 1

By Daniel Hutchinson
April 10, 2012 4:37 pm
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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.


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