The signal caller is more often than not the face of the franchise in the NFL. Teams often sell the farm in order to acquire a QB they believe can lead their franchise for years to come. In the 2016 NFL Draft we saw both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles give up an allotment of picks in order to select QBs they deemed to be of premier talent.
In the Rams’ case, they gave up their 2016 first-rounder, two 2016 second-rounders, a 2016 third-rounder and their 2017 first- and third-rounder. In the Eagles’ case, they gave up their first-rounder in 2016, which was the eighth overall pick along, with their third and forth round picks in 2016. In 2017, they will be giving the Browns their first-rounder and in 2018 they will be giving them their second-rounder.
It’s only year one, but the Rams’ decision to sell the farm and draft Jared Goff looks regrettable. On the contrary, the Eagles’ decision to trade up for Wentz looks like it was a good decision.
Here, we take a look at the eight best and seven worst QBs since 2000.
15. BEST: Aaron Rodgers
Every time the San Francisco 49ers hear or see the name Aaron Rodgers they wish they selected him first overall in 2005 as opposed to Alex Smith. Where the Niners have been burnt by not selecting Rodgers, the Pack have been blessed. Rodgers led Green Bay to a Super Bowl Championship in SB XLV, is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time NFL MVP. Rodgers also holds the NFL record for the highest passer rating with 122.5 for the 2011 NFL season, which unsurprisingly was an MVP season for the Chico, California born signal caller. The thirty-three year old Rodgers has thrown for 36,527 yards and 293 TDs in his twelve year career. Although it’s more like a nine year career since Rodgers didn’t get his start until 2008 when Brett Favre finally departed. Rodgers is on the younger side of thirty-three as opposed to the older side of it.
14. WORST: Mark Sanchez
To New York Jets fans Mark Sanchez was a thorn in their side for four plus years. The Jets and Rex Ryan gave Sanchez all the opportunities in the world to succeed, especially in his first two seasons as the team had a promising run game and intimidating defense. As a Jet, Sanchez never threw less than thirteen picks in a year. Sanchez finished his Jets career with 72 TDs and 73 INTs in 62 regular season starts. He never had a completion percentage higher than 56%. Sanchez had a decent year in 2014 for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s now thirty years old and he is a backup for the backup as he sees himself third on the Dallas Cowboys’ depth chart behind Dak Prescott and Tony Romo.
13. BEST: Kurt Warner
It’s hard to find a more unique success story than that of Kurt Warner’s. In 1994 he went undrafted but was invited by the Green Bay Packers to training camp. However, he didn’t make the team’s final roster. From there Warner went to stocking shelves at a grocery story and the Arena Football League. In 1998, Warner was given a shot by the then St. Louis Rams. Two years later Warner rewarded the Rams with a Super Bowl title. Warner would lead the Rams to another Super Bowl in 2002, where the Mike Martz led team would fall short to some guy named Tom Brady. Warner would play with the Rams until 2003 when he was released. Warner would spend a year playing for the New York Giants and would conclude his career spending five years with the Arizona Cardinals. Warner reached the Super Bowl once with the Cards as well. The Iowa native finished with 32,344 career passing yards, 208 TDs and a respectable 9-4 playoff record.
12. WORST: J.P. Losman
Poor J.P. Losman was drafted in the first round of the 2004 draft alongside fellow QBs Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. While his draft mates are still playing in the league and at a high level, Losman has been out of the league since 2011. Losman was given a fair shake in Buffalo as he was on the team’s roster for five seasons. Losman never proved to be the long term solution for the Bills as he not only turned it over often by airing it out but by fumbling as well. After five seasons in Buffalo, Losman would serve as a backup in Oakland and Miami where he only saw the field once and twice respectively for both teams. Losman finished his career with 33 TDs, 34 INTs and 24 fumbles.
11. BEST: Donovan McNabb
The Philadelphia faithful may shower Donovan McNabb with boos, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Philadelphia sports star sans Allen Iverson that didn’t win a title for Philly that isn’t hounded with boos. McNabb was never able to bring the Eagles their first ever Super Bowl title but the team was highly competitive throughout his stint. McNabb had the team reach the NFC title game four straight years from 2001-2004, despite only reaching the Super Bowl once. He also led them to the NFC title game once more in 2008. McNabb is the Eagles all-time leader in pass yards with 32,873 yards, 216 TDs and 2,801 completions. McNabb is now forty years old and has been out of the league since 2011 after unmemorable stints with the Washington Redskins in 2010 and the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.
10. WORST: Joey Harrington
The 2002 NFL Draft featured three first round QBs who just didn’t pan out. First, David Carr was cursed by having the worst offensive line in NFL history when taken first overall by the Houston Texans. Secondly, Joey Harrington struggled to be the Detroit Lions franchise QB. Third, Patrick Ramsey didn’t prove to be the future for the Washington Redskins. Harrington could accumulate yardage, but he was a feast or famine type of QB as he’d frequently turn the ball over. Harrington finished his career with 85 interceptions and 79 touchdowns. He only totalled over 3,000 yards once in his career and ended up playing his final game in 2007. He was signed by the New Orleans Saints in both 2008 and 2009 but never played for the team.
9. BEST: Eli Manning
Eli Manning has always been looked at as Peyton’s baby brother who is talented but isn’t as talented as his older brother. The first pick of the 2004 NFL Draft has been mighty successful in his own right as he has amassed two Super Bowl titles along with two Super Bowl MVP’s to accompany the Lombardi trophies. He’s a 4x Pro Bowler who holds a number of Giants records. Manning has the most passing yards, most completions in a season, and most consecutive completions in a game for the G-Men. Manning showcases his clutch gene in the forth quarter as he led his team to six game-winning drives in 2007 and 2011 and set an NFL record with fifteen forth quarter TD passes in a season.
8. WORST: Kyle Boller
The Baltimore Ravens were three years removed from winning a Super Bowl with arguably the worst starting QB to ever win a Super Bowl in Trent Dilfer. The team still featured a staunch defense that was one of the league’s most fearsome and intimidating. Boller didn’t have to be great, heck he didn’t even have to be good; he just needed to be serviceable. Boller proved that he wasn’t serviceable as he was a turnover machine. In his pro career Boller only ended up throwing 48 TDs as opposed to 54 INTs. Boller had stints in St. Louis and Oakland after donning the purple and black of the Ravens for the first five years of his career. Boller only hit over 2,000 once in his career and never threw for more than 13 TDs in a season. He retired in 2012.
7. BEST: Drew Brees
The former San Diego Charger departed “America’s Finest City” at the conclusion of the 2005 season for the “Big Easy” to join the New Orleans Saints. Brees was a promising QB in SD but he really hit his stride when he became a Saint. In just his first season he eclipsed his highest annual passing total by close to 900 yards and led the Saints to the NFC Championship game before they were topped by the Chicago Bears. Two years later Brees led the Saints to the franchise’s first ever championship. The thirty-seven year old Brees is a 9x Pro Bowler, has led the league 6x in passing yards in a season and sits third overall behind Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for all-time passing yards. Brees also set the record for most completions in a season with 468 in 2011. At thirty-seven years of age and being part of an inconsistent Saints team it’s not likely that Brees will be playing much longer.
6. WORST: Matt Leinart
Winning the Heisman Trophy doesn’t always, and recently hasn’t translated into success for QBs. Troy Smith, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, the list is lengthy. Leinart was taken tenth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. Leinart struggled mightily in the big leagues and only threw for 14 TDs and 20 INTs that he’d rather not remember in a five year career. In four seasons with the Cardinals, Leinart didn’t receive much playing time as a starter, sans 2006 as Kurt Warner took over the reigns for the team from the “Valley of the Sun”. Leinart then spent two seasons with the Houston Texans as a backup where he saw very minimal playing time as he was a backup to Matt Schaub. Leinart has been out of the league since 2011.
5. BEST: Ben Roethlisberger
The 2004 NFL Draft bought us the likes of Eli Manning (first), Philip Rivers (forth), Ben Roethlisberger (eleventh) and J.P. Losman (twenty-second) overall in the first round. Which one of those names doesn’t seem to belong? Probably Eli. Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl in only his second season in 2005 against the Seattle Seahawks and went on to win his second Super Bowl just three years later in 2008 against the Arizona Cardinals. Roethlisberger reached the Super Bowl for a third time in 2010 but came up short against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Roethlisberger has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, won the offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2004, and tied for the league lead in passing yards in 2014. He sports a stellar 120-60 career regular season mark and a respectable 11-6 record in the playoffs.
4. WORST: Johnny Manziel
The Cleveland Browns are no stranger to having dismal QBs, but Johnny Manziel is the creme de la creme of dismal Browns QBs. The irony of the Manziel pick is Manziel texting then Browns QBs Coach Dowell Logains that he wanted to “wreck the league”. In fairness, Manziel wasn’t bluffing; he did wreck the league, just not in ways the Browns were hoping for. Controversy followed Manziel throughout his tenure in “the Land” as he was demoted to third string after video of him partying during the team’s bye week surfaced, video of an altercation with his then girlfriend Colleen Crowley surfaced, and he missed a mandatory team check in as he was rumored to be gambling in Las Vegas. In fifteen games and eight starts, Manziel amassed a paltry 1,675 yards, 7 TDs and 7 interceptions. He’s only twenty-four and currently out of the league.
3. BEST: Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning is in a league of his own as he’s the lone QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with two franchises (Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts). In addition to the two Vince Lombardi trophies Manning has raised he also is a 14x Pro Bowl selection, a league leading 5x NFL MVP, the NFL’s leader in passing yards with 71,940 and the leader in passing TDs with 539. He also has a 3-0 record against younger brother, Eli which makes for great bragging rights at family gatherings. Manning retired following the 2015 NFL season and has been relatively quiet since stepping away from the game. Maybe he’s busy with his dozen plus Papa John’s franchises? By the way, he’s a unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame in 2021 when he is first eligible. Bank on it.
2. WORST: JaMarcus Russell
Prior to the Oakland Raiders having a young promising QB in Derek Carr, they had a conundrum when they selected JaMarcus Russell number one overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell may not only be the worst QB of the 2000s, but likely the biggest QB bust of all time. That’s music to Ryan Leaf’s ears. Russell’s inaugural season saw him receive limited playing time as he only started one game while appearing in four. In his second season, Russell was named the Silver and Black’s opening day starter. Russell struggled as he only mustered 2,423 yards and 13 TDs in fifteen games. It would get even worse in the following season as Russell only threw 3 TDs and a staggering 12 picks in twelve games. He only accumulated a lackluster 1,287 yards as well. Russell was released after the season, his third, and has been out of the league ever since.
1. BEST: Tom Brady
Tommy Terrific is not only the best QB of his time, but the GOAT. To the Joe Cool fans, Brady has you beat in every facet statistically and had the same amount of rings. Let’s not forget, Brady doesn’t have the privilege of playing in an era when the salary cap wasn’t in effect like Montana did. Brady was taken with the 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft out of Michigan which makes him one of, if not the biggest steal in all of sports. Brady has four Super Bowl rings to his name, ranks fifth in all-time passing yards, most NFL playoff wins, two-time NFL MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler. He also claims to feel better at thirty-nine years of age then he did at twenty-nine. Brady is truly a wonder to marvel at.