How many people would disagree with the statement that the quarterback position is the most important position on the field in football? Most likely no one. Quarterbacks control the game, helping both sides of the football. Without a good quarterback, a team is more likely to fail. Quarterbacks control the offense, the pace that they go at, they help outplay other defenses. Some of the best quarterbacks are able to read defenses and call audible that set up for a play more geared towards success against the defense. Good quarterbacks, also know how to control the time of possession, trying to keep the opposing offense off the field.
There are some good quarterbacks, but there are a lot more bad quarterbacks. Nothing is more disappointing than when a team picks a QB in the first round and they proceed to flop in the pros. First round quarterbacks are drafted, sometimes based on their success at their university, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can succeed at a professional level. The NFL is much faster and requires these quarterbacks to be much smarter. You can’t make the same level of mistakes in the NFL that you would be in college.
We’re going to analyze quarterbacks from the past few drafts, that were drafted in the first round. Let’s see which of those quarterbacks have struggled, and who those teams would have rather drafted. Rather than forcing another quarterback onto a team, we'll simply go by best player available at the time these flops were drafted.
20 Flop: Tim Tebow - Denver Broncos
It wouldn’t matter if Tim Tebow was a primarily mobile quarterback at Florida; everyone believed he could play quarterback in the NFL. Tebow was drafted as the 25th overall draft pick of the Denver Broncos and became a fan favorite by his second season. He took over late in his second season, and went 7-4, leading the Broncos to a late playoff push.
Tebow was smart with the football, even if he wasn’t a gunslinger. He used his ability to run against defenses, which made him so successful. It wasn’t Tebow’s fault that he never got another chance. He led the Broncos to a playoff win with a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, but that wasn’t good enough for another team to give him a chance.
19 New Pick: Rob Gronkowski (TE)
Many times, second-round draft picks fare better than first. Tight ends aren’t the sexiest position to draft, but Rob Gronkowski is a special player. The Broncos moved on from Tebow for Peyton Manning, and just imagine him with Gronkowski.
Yes, Julius Thomas became a legitimate tight end with Manning there, but Gronkowski and Thomas would be an unreal duo. If you put Gronkowski with Manning, there’s a good chance they win more than one Super Bowl. Remember, the Broncos Super Bowl victory under Manning came when the defense was at its best, and Manning was playing the worst football of his career.
18 Flop: Jake Locker - Tennessee Titans
Drafting Jake Locker was a mistake, and it wasn’t just a mistake because he was bad. Since the Titans didn’t score with Locker, they drafted Marcus Mariota in 2015, who also hasn’t been very good. But let’s regress.
Locker was not good. His career numbers finished with a 57.5 completion percentage, 9-4 record, and 27 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. He turned the football over, struggled to make passes, and couldn't stay healthy. It was a mixture of a complete nightmare for Titans fans, who thought they would find themselves a franchise quarterback. Instead, they now believe in a quarterback who also hasn’t been very good.
17 New Pick: J.J. Watt (DE)
You can’t deny that the Titans needed a quarterback, but what if it wasn’t the right match? Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton turned out to be much better quarterbacks than Locker, but we’re talking about a top-10 draft pick. The Titans can go with top-5 talent here, and draft J.J. Watt. Besides being injury prone, there’s really not much to critique Watt of.
The Titans get themselves a monster of a pass rusher and aren’t forced to break the bank on a quarterback. Instead, maybe they could look in the later rounds at a quarterback and sign a capable, mid-tier veteran quarterback for the time being.
16 Flop: E.J. Manuel - Buffalo Bills
Quarterbacks from Florida State haven’t favored well in the first round recently, and EJ Manuel certainly is no exception. Manuel is only 28-years-old, young enough to very well be in the prime of his career had he been good enough to continue playing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
In the 18 games that Manuel started throughout his career, he had a 6-12 record. Maybe he didn’t get enough playing time, as he started at most 10 games in a season throughout his career. He had a below 60% completion percentage and was not a threat in the ground game. Maybe it was that the Bills needed more weapons, but then again, he struggled in Oakland as well.
15 New Pick: DeAndre Hopkins (WR)
You can blame quarterbacks all you want in Buffalo, but the reality is that even if they aren’t great, neither is the remainder of the team. Unless you consider Sammy Watkins to have been a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, it’s been a long time since the Bills had a true No. 1 that stayed. Well, they could have one of the best in the game in DeAndre Hopkins.
If you draft Hopkins, you can further evaluate your quarterbacks as they have a true No. 1. This also helps open up the rest of the offense. This draft pick completely changes the future of the Bills.
14 Flop: Brandon Weeden - Cleveland Browns
Let’s just say, pick No. 22 has not been a lucky one for the Cleveland Browns. Brandon Weeden would become just another Browns quarterback that would fail to succeed. He played two years in Cleveland, finishing with a 5-15 record, and a 55.9 completion percentage. Weeden struggled to move the football and continuously turned the football over.
Weeden is now a backup and has been since then. He has had to come in at certain times to start due to injuries and struggled like he did in Cleveland. Weeden may have been one of the most disappointing Browns draft picks in the last 10 years.
13 New Pick: Russell Wilson (QB)
Russell Wilson slipped all the way to the third round, to the Seattle Seahawks. Granted, a large part of Russell Wilson's success is that he went to a team that was on the verge of a major breakthrough and just needed a quarterback to get them to the next level. Would Wilson have been anywhere near as successful in Cleveland? Who knows, but he definitely couldn't have been worse than Brandon Weeden was for them. The Browns, as we know, spent much of this decade in the bottom tier of the NFL and drafting Wilson back in 2012 could've turned their fortunes around.
12 Flop: Blaine Gabbert - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars couldn’t have failed more miserably than by drafting Blaine Gabbert. Expectations were high for Gabbert, and he never came close to achieving them. The Jaguars continued to struggle, and Gabbert wasn’t helping. It was really his final season in 2013 when the Jaguars realized he needed to go. That season, he threw only one touchdown pass along with seven interceptions, finishing with a passer rating of 36.0, the lowest of his career.
Gabbert played some in San Francisco, but become a full-time backup throughout the rest of his career. The Missouri alum just became another Jaguars quarterback.
11 New Pick: Andy Dalton (QB)
It may not be the sexiest move, but a smart move for the Jaguars would’ve been to trade back into the draft and select Andy Dalton. At TCU, Dalton wasn’t a gunslinger, but he was smart with the football. Only once in his college career did he throw over 10 interceptions in a season, and that was in his freshman year.
If the Jaguars drafted Dalton, there’s a very good chance they would have made it to the Super Bowl last season. There’s also a good chance that this team would have a winning record in 2018. The quarterback position has torn the Jaguars apart, and Dalton could’ve saved them.
10 Flop: Robert Griffin III - Washington Redskins
There are very few quarterbacks that had a better rookie season than Robert Griffin III. In 2012, RGIII may have shown what the future would be like for quarterbacks. Quarterbacks coming out of college are now almost all mobile, or at least have the ability to run. That was one of Griffin’s greatest strengths, but also what ended up ending his career.
There are arguments that if he never got hurt, he could be one of the better quarterbacks in the career. Due to his injuries, he’s not as effective in the ground game, and he doesn’t have the same arm strength. Still, one can also say RGIII didn't have the drive to follow up on his rookie season and come back strong enough from his injuries. His rookie season was great, but his career as a whole is looked at as a meme.
9 New Pick: Luke Kuechly (LB)
Robert Griffin III was a pick that was almost impossible to pass up, but now looking back at it, the Redskins would likely go about things a different way. Maybe they choose to not draft a quarterback, as Luke Kuechly is as good of a draft pick as you can make. Throughout his career, Kuechly has been arguably the best linebacker, if not one of the best in the NFL.
With all the talented running backs in the NFC East, the Redskins have struggled to stop the run. Lately, the defensive line has done their part, but Kuechly behind them makes this one of the most enticing defenses in the NFL.
8 Flop: Paxton Lynch - Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos have been subpar at acquiring quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired. The likes of Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum, and of course, Paxton Lynch, failed to make an impact, or in Keenum's case, are failing to. Lynch was supposed to be the future of the organization, considering they used a first-round draft pick on him. Now, Lynch is currently a free agent only a few years after being drafted.
Lynch never showed any signs that he could take over this offense, but he also wasn’t really given the chance. Throughout his career, he only started in two games. Lynch’s career was short-lived, and now may be over. When teams weren’t high on him in the draft, that is when the Broncos should’ve backed off.
7 New Pick: Dak Prescott (QB)
While Dak Prescott doesn't rank among the elite quarterbacks in the league, it's clear that he was a steal as a fourth round pick. As far as being a first rounder, was Dak worthy of being one, looking back on it? Well, grabbing a QB with the skillset of Prescott towards the end of the first round isn't the end of the world, and Prescott definitely would've been an upgrade over what the Broncos have fielded at quarterback the past three years. We're very comfortable in saying Prescott could've at least kept the Broncos in playoff contention the past few seasons.
6 Flop: Blake Bortles - Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s time for the Jaguars to admit they have held on to Blake Bortles for too long. On this list, Bortles is the only quarterback to actually get an extension from his team. If that’s the case, how is this pick a flop?
Truth be told, the Jaguars got excited after Bortles led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game. It’s been a struggle trying to find a quarterback in recent years, and they didn’t want to give up on what they had. Bortles continued to struggle after signing a large extension and was benched for backup quarterback Cody Kessler, who, while slightly better than Bortles has been in 2018, is as far as you can get from a long-term solution.
5 New Pick: Khalil Mack (LB)
You can’t pass on Khalil Mack. It doesn’t matter how good the defense is in Jacksonville, Mack is a one-of-a-kind player. Maybe Jon Gruden didn’t think so, but Mack has proven that he’s worth every penny and every draft pick that was given up for the Bears to acquire him. You could say that the trade for Mack made the Bears a playoff team.
While offensive help was needed, Mack would still be more of a help than Bortles. Imagine that defense with Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack behind him. You may be talking about one of the greatest defenses to ever play in the NFL.
4 Flop: Johnny Manziel - Cleveland Browns
Of course, the infamous Johnny Manziel was a flop of a draft pick. Manziel took the world by storm with his money signs and success at Texas A&M, but it didn’t transition into the NFL. No one doubted Manziel’s ability to play football, but it was the off-the-field issues that were concerning.
It got to a point where Manziel’s family was concerned for his well-being. Once a star in college, Johnny Football couldn’t mature into a professional athlete. The Browns quickly gave up on Manziel, as his career was going down the drain, and nothing they could do would save him.
3 New Pick: Teddy Bridgewater (QB)
A team like the Browns would want to draft the next best player, considering Manziel’s career went down the drain, but what if the next best player was a quarterback? Maybe Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t the next best player, but it would’ve made too much sense for them to draft, had they not drafted Manziel.
Bridgewater was quiet, not someone you had to worry about. Yes, he ended up sustaining a major injury, but he came back and looks solid. If the Browns drafted Bridgewater, they could’ve possibly been in the playoffs by now. He wasn’t great, but he was good enough, and still has the potential to improve.
2 Flop: Josh Allen - Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is still in his rookie season, still starting, but we’re predicting that he becomes a flop. Allen has incredible arm strength and has the ability to use his legs as a weapon, but there’s more to the story, and it all boils down to that one thing that often determines one's ability to succeed in the NFL – fundamentals, or lack thereof.
Allen makes poor decisions on the field and has continued to turn the ball over this season and has a completion percentage that is hard to fathom in today's NFL. He may be able to wing the football down the field during warmups, but that doesn’t make him a good quarterback. The Bills will be looking for another quarterback in the near future.
1 New Pick: Josh Rosen (QB)
If you look at the numbers, Josh Rosen hasn’t been much better than Josh Allen, so why should the Bills have drafted Rosen? The Cardinals’ offense struggled under their old offensive coordinator but has improved since Byron Leftwich took over. As the weeks go by, Rosen has improved. In the NFL, signs of improvement are huge in analyzing the progression of an NFL quarterback.
Rosen continues to make impressive throws, even if he turns the football over. With a full offseason as the starting quarterback, hopefully, with Leftwich as the offensive coordinator, Rosen takes it to the next level and becomes the second-best quarterback of the 2018 NFL Draft.