For most NFL franchises, the key to a Super Bowl win starts with the quarterback position. During the first round of the NFL Draft, some franchises are looking to add the long term solution behind center. But by writing and reading this article it has become apparent that in the last 15 years there hasn't been that ultimate success by the first quarterback drafted in the first round. Some of that has to do with the constant success off Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers led teams. But a lot of it has to do with over coveting the position in the draft. There has been just ONE quarterback that was the first of the position drafted in the last 15 years that went on to win the ultimate prize.
That doesn't go to say that there has not been a fair share of success by these quarterbacks. Some of the quarterbacks mentioned have gone on to Pro Bowls, MVPs, and Rookie of the Years. The majority of the quarterbacks drafted first at their position are still holding starting spots, but of course there are some exceptions. Some have already floundered out of the league and earned their spot on the bottom of our ranking. And in some drafts the first quarterback isn't taken until after the first half of the first round.
Taking into consideration draft position, winning, losing, sustainability, and leadership, we will countdown the first quarterback drafted in the past 15 NFL Drafts.
15 2007 - JaMarcus Russell
This was probably the easiest rank to figure out. Russell is often labeled as one of if not the biggest bust in NFL history. Taken number 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL Draft, Russell was coming of his career at LSU in which he wen 21-4 as a starter and was MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
Russell began his NFL career by holding out until he received a 6 year 68 million dollar deal with 32 million guaranteed. He didn't start a game until the 2007 season finale and finished his rookie year with 373 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. In 2008, Russell was named the full time started. The team would finish 5-10 that year with him as the starter. He threw for 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions but never really got the offense moving. In 2009 it would all come to a head. He threw 3 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 9 games started with a 2-7 record. Russell would not a start another game after 2009 and was released in 2010.
14 2013 - EJ Manuel
Taken at 16th overall, Manuel is the lowest draft pick on our list. The 2013 quarterback class was a weak one, and Manuel was picked by the Bills after the team had traded down in the first round. He started 10 games his rookie season actually going 4-6 in the process. Not bad for a rookie, but that would be the last time he started as many games for the rest of his Bills career. In 2014, he lost his job to Kyle Orton after a bad outing, then in 2015 was bested by Tyrod Taylor in training camp.
The Bills declined to pick up his option for the 2017 season and Manuel finished his Bills career with a 6-11 record as the starter, with 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 58.3 percent of his passes. It remains to be seen if Manuel will find another job in the NFL.
13 2017 - Jared Goff
Goff is the most recent pick on the list, and surely has a chance to better his position in our rank. Goff was the number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, taken by the Los Angeles Rams out of Cal. Goff was selected before rookie standouts Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. Goff would sit behind veteran Case Keenum for the first nine games of his career, before taking over the starting duty. During that seven game run, he went 0-7 with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, while completing 54.6 percent of passes. The Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher at the end of the season, and Goff has a chance to start fresh with new head coach Sean McVay. Although it can be said for most players on this list, there was a reason experts and the Rams had Goff as the number one overall pick, and now he gets a chance to prove it without any excuses. We'll see...
12 2002 - David Carr
Carr was put in a difficult situation from the start of his career. He was drafted number 1 overall by the expansion Houston Texans. Due to the sketchy offensive line that was put in front of him through the expansion draft, NFL Draft, and free agency, Carr was sacked 76 times his rookie season. He would go on to be sacked league leading times in both 2003 and 2004. After the franchise's and Carr's best season in 2005 in which the team went 6-10 and Carr completed 68.3 percent of his passes, the team would decided to move on from Carr, drafting Matt Schaub as his back up.
Carr would go on to play with the Panthers, Giants, and 49ers before his career ended in 2012. He was able to claim a Super Bowl title as a back up to Eli Manning, who we will get to later.
11 2006 - Vince Young
The college football standout at Texas University, where he brought a NCAA National Championship in one of the best title games of all time, Young was drafted with the 3rd pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He actually has two Pro Bowls and a NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to his credit. But Young was only able to stay on an active NFL roster from the time he was drafted through 2011 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He added off season/practice squad stints with the Packers, Bills, and Browns from 2012-2014. Young is still publicly making it known that he is looking at an NFL comeback. His career stats of 46 touchdowns to 51 interceptions and a career 74.4 passer rating are better off left untouched.
10 2014 - Blake Bortles
Another one that probably has a chance to make a case for being one of the best on this list. Bortles has been stuck in some bad situations in Jacksonville. He has gone a combined 11-34 in his NFL starts, with a 58.8 completion percentage. Bortles has put up a decent touchdown to interception ratio with 69 tds and 51 ints, but it has not translated to success in the NFL as of yet. With a solid receiving core, Bortles looks to start a new chapter under new head coach Doug Marrone.
The former UCF standout has started all but three games since the Jaguars made him the number three overall pick in 2014, and he figures to be in the plans for the future.
9 2010 - Sam Bradford
Bradford won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in 2008, and in 2010 he was taken with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft by the then St. Louis Rams. Bradford has actually had a pretty consistent career posting 98 touchdowns to 57 interceptions. But between not being able to stay healthy and never finishing better than 7-8-1 as a starter, he lands in at just average. He played his first four seasons in St. Louis, missing six games in 2011, 9 in 2013, and the entire season in 2014, before being moved to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Nick Foles. There it was more of the same, Bradford finished up 7-7 in the games he was able to start. After one season he was again on the move to Minnesota, where posted, you guessed it, 7 wins.
8 2015 - Jameis Winston
Winston is back in the news again for some negative reasons, but we will focus on how he climbed halfway up our list in just two years. Winston was drafted number 1 overall in 2015 ahead of fellow Heisman Trophy winner Marcos Mariota. Winston's career got off to a shaky start, throwing a pick-6 on his first ever NFL pass attempt. Things got better from there. On November 22 2015, Winston threw five touchdown passes against the Philadelphia Eagles and landed a spot in the Pro Bowl following his rookie campaign.
In his second year, Winston led the Buccaneers to a 9-7 record. He helped the team play meaningful football games throughout the ending of the season, eventually losing the last playoff spot to the Detroit Lions. The Bucs with Winston are trending upward and he should be adding more accolades in the near future.
7 2005 - Alex Smith
Smith has been called a game manager for most of his career, but after some dismal years in San Francisco, he has also proven to be a winner. After bouncing in and out of a starting role his first five years in the league, the number one overall pick in the 2005 draft led the Niners to an NFC Championship in 2011 following a 13-3 regular season. The following year, after a 6-2-1 start he was injured and Colin Kaepernick took over permanently as San Francisco's starter.
Smith currently resides with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he has helped lead the team to four straight winning seasons, while adding his two Pro Bowl appearances. Smith goes into the 2017 with another chance to chase that Super Bowl ring.
6 2009 - Matthew Stafford
The Detroit Lions made Stafford the number 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft following an 0-16 season. Since then Stafford has helped the Lions to three playoff appearances, and two ten win seasons. He has thrown for 4,000 plus yards in each of his past six seasons, including 5038 in 2011. In those six seasons, Stafford has also not missed a start. The Lions probably hoped for bigger things with the pairing of Stafford and Calvin Johnson up until last season when Johnson somewhat prematurely retired. Even then, Stafford was able to lead the Lions to a 9-7 record and another spot in the NFL Playoffs. He has not made it out of the first round as of yet but his 30,303 career passing yards lands him a top 6 spot on our list.
5 2003 - Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer is sporting the longest career on our list, being David Carr has been out of football. The former Heisman Trophy winner and 2003 first overall pick out of USC has played for the Bengals, Raiders, and Cardinals since entering the league. He sports three Pro Bowls, a Second Team All-Pro, a Comeback Player of the Year, and led the league in touchdown passes in 2005. His career numbers are 285 touchdowns and 180 interceptions with 44,269 yards. Palmer is set to return to the Arizona Cardinals following a bit of a down year for the team. The team will figure to again be a favorite to make the playoffs, and maybe Palmer can add a Super Bowl ring before his career comes to a close.
4 2012 - Andrew Luck
Luck was drafted number 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 in effort to move on from the Peyton Manning era. And Luck has done a commendable job. He appeared in three straight Pro Bowls in each of his first three seasons, and led the NFL in touchdowns during the 2014 campaign. During the three year span, he led the team to three straight playoff appearances including a AFC Championship before being ousted by the New England Patriots.
His 2015 season was plagued by injuries, and the team failed to put much around him in 2016. Luck will be looking for a bounce back year in 2017. A year in which he will more than likely eclipse 20,000 passing yards for his career.
3 2011 - Cam Newton
Newton was the number 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft following his National Championship at Auburn. A dual threat with tremendous size and a cannon for an arm, I think this is what the Raiders were looking for in JaMarcus Russell. Newton has helped the Panthers to three playoff appearances during his tenure, including a spot in Super Bowl 50 where the Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos after a 15-1 regular season.
Newton is a three time Pro Bowler, an NFL MVP, First Team All-PRO, Offensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. He has thrown for 136 touchdowns while running for another 48 throughout his young but successful NFL career. Another player who has a shot to get back to the Super Bowl and get his ring.
2 2008 - Matt Ryan
The Atlanta Falcons selected Matt Ryan out of Boston College with the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He took over starting reigns from the beginning and even led the Falcons to an 11-5 record his rookie season. Ryan led the team to four playoff appearances in five years, and even added an NFC Championship appearance in 2012. In 2016, Ryan would lead the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl before being bettered by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in overtime.
Ryan is a four time Pro Bowler, a first team All-Pro, Offensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and 2016 NFL MVP. He is currently at 37701 passing yards and 240 touchdowns, and who knows what those numbers will grow to.
1 2004 - Eli Manning
Manning may not have any NFL MVPs and he may be known on some days more for his interceptions than for his accomplishments, but he does have 2 Super Bowl Championships to his credit as well as 2 Super Bowl MVPs. The number 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft has led the Giants to the playoff six times. In his two Super Bowl appearances he has defeated perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time Tom Brady both times. Manning has also sprinkled in four Pro Bowl appearances during his time in the league and thrown for 320 touchdowns compared to 215 interceptions. His career passing yards currently sits at 48.214. A knack for showing up with big plays, Manning is till commanding the Giants quarterback position. With a young and talented wide receiving corps, Manning may be able to take the Giants on one more run.