The 2022 NFL Draft offers yet another pool of potential franchise quarterbacks. Before we welcome those prospects into the club, let’s take stock of where we stand today. Marc Sessler has updated his rankings of each QB draft class since the turn of the millennium. Last offseason’s rankings have been altered to reflect a scenery-shifting 2021 campaign.
NOTE: Pro Bowlers are denoted by bold/italics.
Round 1: JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall), Brady Quinn (No. 22)
Round 2: Kevin Kolb (No. 36), John Beck (No. 40), Drew Stanton (No. 43)
Round 3: Trent Edwards (No. 92)
Round 4: Isaiah Stanback (No. 103)
Round 5: Jeff Rowe (No. 151), Troy Smith (No. 174)
Round 6: Jordan Palmer (No. 205)
Round 7: Tyler Thigpen (No. 2017)
Notable undrafted: Matt Moore
We begin our journey in grim territory. The 2007 NFL Draft was “headlined” by JaMarcus Russell, arguably the most severe quarterback bust of all time and a first-overall whiff who set the Raiders back years. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound LSU star produced a grotesque 7-18 mark as a starter and finished 2009 — his final year in the league — as the worst passer in football. Russell netted $39.4 million, while the Raiders, in return, were handed a raging headache. Same goes for the Browns, who reached for Brady Quinn at No. 22, only to turn around three years later and trade him to the Broncos for fullback Peyton Hillis — who at least managed to sneak onto the cover of Madden. Career backup Drew Stanton is one of the few to earn points inside a flatlining class that handed us John Beck, Trent Edwards and the overhyped Kevin Kolb. High-level busts and zero reliable starters make this the worst crop of them all.
Round 1: EJ Manuel (No. 16)
Round 2: Geno Smith (No. 39)
Round 3: Mike Glennon (No. 73)
Round 4: Matt Barkley (No. 98), Ryan Nassib (No. 110), Tyler Wilson (No. 112), Landry Jones (No. 115)
Round 7: Brad Sorensen (No. 221), Zac Dysert (No. 234), B.J. Daniels (No. 237), Sean Renfree (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Matt McGloin
Teams were surprised when the Bills reached for EJ Manuel with the 16th overall selection. Seen by most as a project with potential, the Florida State product was a turnover-prone flop in Buffalo — a player Doug Marrone replaced with Kyle Orton before Rex Ryan signed Tyrod Taylor to avoid leaning on Manuel. This class lacked a true first-round prospect, while the only second-rounder, Geno Smith, is a starter-turned-backup who was perhaps best known for catching a fist to the jaw from his own teammate before re-emerging in Seattle last year to post his first multi-start season since 2014. Joining Manuel and Smith in the ranks of backup journeymen is lanky/erratic passer Mike Glennon. Matt Barkley has thrown 97 passes since 2017.
Round 1: David Carr (No. 1), Joey Harrington (No. 3), Patrick Ramsey (No. 32)
Round 3: Josh McCown (No. 81)
Round 4: David Garrard (No. 108), Rohan Davey (No. 117)
Round 5: Randy Fasani (No. 137), Kurt Kittner (No. 158), Brandon Doman (No. 163), Craig Nall (No. 164)
Round 6: J.T. O’Sullivan (No. 186), Steve Bellisari (No. 205)
Round 7: Seth Burford (No. 216), Jeff Kelly (No. 232), Ronald Curry (No. 235), Wes Pate (No. 236)
Notable undrafted: Shaun Hill, Chad Hutchinson
Best in show? I side with Josh McCown, the enduring, fun-to-watch, sometimes starter who might wind up as a head coach someday. While David Carr never lived up to the status of being the No. 1 overall pick, his situation reminds me of what happened to Tim Couch in Cleveland: a young quarterback tossed into the fire on a wanting expansion team struggling to find its way. David Garrard produced a flock of flashy moments with the Jaguars, while Shaun Hill — an undrafted arm — spent 15 years in the league. This class was also yanked to Earth by two first-round nightmares, Detroit’s Joey Harrington and Washington’s Patrick Ramsey, who combined for a 28-51 record with the teams that mistakenly chose them. For diehards, this class also gifted us with undrafted mystery Chad Hutchinson.
Round 1: Sam Bradford (No. 1), Tim Tebow (No. 25)
Round 2: Jimmy Clausen (No. 48)
Round 3: Colt McCoy (No. 85)
Round 4: Mike Kafka (No. 122)
Round 5: John Skelton (No. 155), Jonathan Crompton (No. 168)
Round 6: Rusty Smith (No. 176), Dan LeFevour (No. 181), Joe Webb (No. 199), Tony Pike (No. 204)
Round 7: Levi Brown (No. 209), Sean Canfield (No. 239), Zac Robinson (No. 250)
You could argue that Sam Bradford was a major factor in the institution of a much-needed rookie pay scale in 2011. Bradford’s six-year, $78 million rookie contract came packed with an outrageous $50 million in guarantees. As an unconvincing Offensive Rookie of the Year winner, the snakebitten signal-caller missed 25 games over his final two seasons in St. Louis due to a string of disastrous injuries.
Daily reminder that SAM BRADFORD made $129,982,500 to go 34-48-1.
Never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. Never started a playoff game.
Very possibly lives in a castle right now off the coast of some majestic ocean.
Long-term knee issues undid his career, but Bradford sits atop a class sprinkled with career backups — hard-working Colt McCoy and out-of-the-league Jimmy Clausen — and one memorable first-round reach in Tim Tebow, who operated as a worldwide sensation during a magical run with the Broncos in 2011 before flaming out entirely and winding up as a minor leaguer with the Mets.
Round 1: Vince Young (No. 3), Matt Leinart (No. 10), Jay Cutler (No. 11)
Round 2: Kellen Clemens (No. 49), Tarvaris Jackson (No. 64)
Round 3: Charlie Whitehurst (No. 81), Brodie Croyle (No. 85)
Round 4: Brad Smith (No. 103)
Round 5: Ingle Martin (No. 148), Omar Jacobs (No. 164)
Round 6: Reggie McNeal (No. 193), Bruce Gradkowski (No. 194)
Round 7: D.J. Shockley (No. 223)
This class boils down to what you think about Jay Cutler. While the strong-armed passer logged 153 total starts, his 51-51 regular-season mark with the Bears is apt. He unfurled plenty of big plays — some of his throws were pure beauty — but we’d struggle to come up with Cutler’s top-five list of inspiring come-from-behind victories. He never came close to morphing into a transcendent player at the position, but he soldiered on long after fellow first-rounders Vince Young and Matt Leinart faded. Charlie Whitehurst was nothing special, but he gets points in this space for his flowing mane and ability to snag the songstress Jewel as a paramour.
Round 1: Jameis Winston (No. 1), Marcus Mariota (No. 2)
Round 3: Garrett Grayson (No. 75), Sean Mannion (No. 89)
Round 4: Bryce Petty (No. 103)
Round 5: Brett Hundley (No. 147)
Round 7: Trevor Siemian (No. 250)
Jameis Winston melted away in Tampa, but he has a chance to revive his career in New Orleans. He played with promise during a seven-start season cut short by a torn ACL in 2021. Can Winston keep it up in a post-Sean Payton world? Marcus Mariota rests as Atlanta’s for-now starter on a terrible roster, but I fully expect the Falcons to draft a quarterback. The rest of this group is a hyper-bland muddled mess.
Round 1: Matthew Stafford (No. 1), Mark Sanchez (No. 5), Josh Freeman (No. 17)
Round 2: Pat White (No. 44)
Round 4: Stephen McGee (No. 101)
Round 5: Rhett Bomar (No. 151), Nate Davis (No. 171)
Round 6: Tom Brandstater (No. 174), Mike Teel (No. 178), Keith Null (No. 196), Curtis Painter (No. 201)
Notable undrafted: Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer
I bumped this class up one spot simply because Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford proved himself a rainmaker for the Rams. There’s just nothing else happening here, though, unless you’re swayed by the early success of Mark Sanchez. He generated a handful of special moments during back-to-back trips to the AFC title game with the Jets, but he was fully exposed as a starter by 2011. Josh Freeman was a wayward first-round flameout, while the Dolphins whiffed by using the 44th pick on Pat White, who never started a game for Miami — or anyone — under center. Chase Daniel earns points for hanging around. Meanwhile, Brian Hoyer’s nine lives as a hot/cold journeyman currently see him nestled back home in New England.
Round 1: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1), Zach Wilson (No. 2), Trey Lance (No. 3), Justin Fields (No. 11), Mac Jones (No. 15)
Round 2: Kyle Trask (No. 64)
Round 3: Kellen Mond (No. 66), Davis Mills (No. 67)
Round 4: Ian Book (No. 133)
Round 6: Sam Ehlinger (No. 218)
This one’s a chore — and maybe more of a projection. I don’t love leaning on potential, but I see a group that could hopscotch into the top 10 a year from now. They largely flatlined a year ago.
Mac Jones emerged as a reliable starter for the Patriots, though, while Trevor Lawrence is bound to grow with Doug Pederson replacing chaos magnet Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. Trey Lance is a mystery but armed with one of the game’s great quarterback tutors in Niners coach Kyle Shanahan. Justin Fields finds himself on an ugly Bears team, but he’s the most exciting prospect Chicago’s possessed in eons. Zach Wilson was often messy and wandering, but it’s too early to judge, considering the bleak Jets environment he suffered in as a rookie. After making 11 starts for the Texans, Davis Mills should stick around for years as a spot starter.
Round 1: Kyler Murray (No. 1), Daniel Jones (No. 6), Dwayne Haskins (No. 15)
Round 2: Drew Lock (No. 42)
Round 3: Will Grier (No. 100)
Round 4: Ryan Finley (No. 104), Jarrett Stidham (No. 133)
Round 5: Easton Stick (No. 166), Clayton Thorson (No. 167)
Round 6: Gardner Minshew (No. 178), Trace McSorley (No. 197)
Notable undrafted: David Blough, Devlin Hodges
Kyler Murray brought good vibes to Arizona as a rookie, flashing his powerful arm and jitterbug mobility. His late-season swoon in 2021 — capped by a hideous playoff performance — left Cardinals faithful concerned. Same goes for his ponderous contract tussle with a franchise that doesn’t appear fully convinced he’s the long-term answer. Still, none of that negates his physical magic. Daniel Jones struggles in spurts with turnovers but also dazzles with big-boy lobs. He could be out of work if he fails to flip the switch — and find some consistency — under new coach Brian Daboll.
Drew Lock is the dictionary definition of a patch for a post-Russell Wilson Seahawks squad. From a certain point of view, Gardner Minshew has played some of the group’s best football as a newfangled Ryan Fitzpatrick type.
We lost Dwayne Haskins far too soon in this month’s terrible and fatal tragedy.
Round 1: Chad Pennington (No. 18)
Round 3: Giovanni Carmazzi (No. 65), Chris Redman (No. 75)
Round 5: Tee Martin (No. 163)
Round 6: Marc Bulger (No. 168), Spergon Wynn (No. 183), Tom Brady (No. 199), Todd Husak (No. 202), Ja’Juan Seider (No. 205)
Round 7: Tim Rattay (No. 212), Jarious Jackson (No. 214), Joe Hamilton (No. 234)
Notable undrafted: Doug Johnson, Billy Volek
You could argue this group should rank higher … or much lower. While it’s littered with nonsensical names who barely made a blip on the radar, the 2000 class also boasts the greatest quarterback of the 21st century — and, for me, ever — in seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady. It’s completely surreal that he floated to Tampa at age 43 to lift another Lombardi. Brady is far from done after predictably unretiring to return to a Bucs team that bumped Bruce Arians up to the front office.
Chad Pennington is lost in Tommy’s shadow, but the group’s only first-rounder was a rare find for the Jets and produced nicely for most of his 11-year career. An anonymous sixth-rounder, Marc Bulger went on to start 95 games for the post-Kurt Warner Rams over eight seasons. It’s incredible the 49ers made Giovanni Carmazzi the second quarterback off the board with Brady — a Bay Area resident — still available, but the blame falls on every single team in the NFL who failed to recognize what the future Patriots star would become. Pennington, Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Bulger and Spergon Wynn all found homes before fate intervened to pair TB12 with Bill Belichick.
Round 1: Jared Goff (No. 1), Carson Wentz (No. 2), Paxton Lynch (No. 26)
Round 2: Christian Hackenberg (No. 51)
Round 3: Jacoby Brissett (No. 91), Cody Kessler (No. 93)
Round 4: Connor Cook (No. 100), Dak Prescott (No. 135), Cardale Jones (No. 139)
Round 5: Kevin Hogan (No. 162)
Round 6: Nate Sudfeld (No. 187), Jake Rudock (No. 191), Brandon Allen (No. 201), Jeff Driskel (No. 207)
Round 7: Brandon Doughty (No. 223)
A depressing group. Jared Goff authored a troubling, deer-in-headlights Super Bowl start and underwhelmed for a Rams team that shipped him off to Detroit. Carson Wentz stumbled out of Philly before imploding down the stretch in Indy. The Commanders still believe he can spin it. In finer moments, both quarterbacks have doubled as MVP candidates during their young careers.
Dak Prescott has exceeded his fourth-round pedigree and deserved that big second contract from Dallas. He’s the best of the bunch and a bona fide star. Now a USFL arm, Paxton Lynch was a chilling whiff for Denver, while Cody Kessler never materialized.
Round 1: Blake Bortles (No. 3), Johnny Manziel (No. 22), Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32)
Round 2: Derek Carr (No. 36), Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 62)
Round 4: Logan Thomas (No. 120), Tom Savage (No. 135)
Round 5: Aaron Murray (No. 163), AJ McCarron (No. 164)
Round 6: Zach Mettenberger (No. 178), David Fales (No. 183), Keith Wenning (No. 194), Tajh Boyd (No. 213), Garrett Gilbert (No. 214)
This class dots the spectrum, with high-profile starters and unforgivable draft mistakes mixed into one chaotic soup. Derek Carr is coming off his finest campaign with a fresh contract and big hopes under new Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. Jimmy Garoppolo is a beloved teammate and good-but-not-great NFL starter currently twisting in the wind as San Francisco looks to elevate Trey Lance.
Blake Bortles fizzled out in Jacksonville to take his rightful seat as a clearly defined backup. Johnny Manziel remains a haunting, awful quarterback selection by the Browns. Taken 10 picks later, Teddy Bridgewater had his career sideswiped by a devastating knee injury. Horrible pun intended, he’s become an archetypal “bridge” passer whom teams like but don’t love. The Panthers and Broncos moved on, but who would be surprised if he made starts for Miami?
Round 1: Cam Newton (No. 1), Jake Locker (No. 8), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10), Christian Ponder (No. 12)
Round 2: Andy Dalton (No. 35), Colin Kaepernick (No. 36)
Round 3: Ryan Mallett (No. 74)
Round 5: Ricky Stanzi (No. 135), T.J. Yates (No. 152), Nathan Enderle (No. 160)
Round 6: Tyrod Taylor (No. 180)
Round 7: Greg McElroy (No. 208)
Supplemental draft: Terrelle Pryor (Round 3)
Another class littered with starting talent and franchise-altering busts. Back in 2011, the Panthers wisely ignored their selection of Jimmy Clausen the previous April, going all in on Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the draft. With an MVP award and Super Bowl appearance under his belt, Newton largely met expectations while making the Panthers a relevant franchise. That all feels Old Testament after Carolina kicked Cam to the curb, leaving Newton to toil in New England in 2020 before (weirdly) returning to a fading Panthers squad last season. Superman’s cape was stolen years ago.
Ace Boogie’s success is offset by a trio of first-round whiffs — Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder — that would be enough to shuttle this class down the list if it weren’t for the supporting cast. Andy Dalton is no Joe Burrow, but he gave the Bengals nearly a decade’s worth of perfectly average performances. Tyrod Taylor offers starting experience, but anyone starting him rests in hot water. Colin Kaepernick’s career morphed into a radioactive talking point, but he brought the Niners within one completed pass of a Super Bowl title and was seen by many as the most exciting quarterback in football for a two-season stretch.
Round 1: Matt Ryan (No. 3), Joe Flacco (No. 18)
Round 2: Brian Brohm (No. 56), Chad Henne (No. 57)
Round 3: Kevin O’Connell (No. 94)
Round 5: John David Booty (No. 137), Dennis Dixon (No. 156), Josh Johnson (No. 160), Erik Ainge (No. 162)
Round 6: Colt Brennan (No. 186), Andre’ Woodson (No. 198)
Round 7: Matt Flynn (No. 209), Alex Brink (No. 223)
Notable undrafted: Caleb Hanie
The 2008 group gave us Matt Ryan — now five seasons removed from an MVP campaign — and Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title with a month of pristine postseason play. Ryan is starting over with the Colts, while Flacco floats as a low-wattage backup with the Jets. The names lack sizzle from there, with Chad Henne underwhelming as a starter and Brian Brohm serving as a second-round disappointment. Matt Flynn offered hopeful moments, but he failed to become a QB1.
Round 1: Carson Palmer (No. 1), Byron Leftwich (No. 7), Kyle Boller (No. 19), Rex Grossman (No. 22)
Round 3: Dave Ragone (No. 88), Chris Simms (No. 97)
Round 4: Seneca Wallace (No. 110)
Round 5: Brian St. Pierre (No. 163)
Round 6: Drew Henson (No. 192), Brooks Bollinger (No. 200), Kliff Kingsbury (No. 201)
Round 7: Gibran Hamdan (No. 232), Ken Dorsey (No. 241)
Notable undrafted: Tony Romo
The best passer in this class wasn’t even drafted. Tony Romo was brought to Dallas when former Cowboys assistant Sean Payton pitched him to Bill Parcells. The rest is history, with Romo taking the starting job from Drew Bledsoe in 2006 and never looking back. Heavily critiqued early in his career for the occasional high-profile gaffe, Romo ultimately retired as one of the NFL’s most reliable quarterbacks. Five years later, he’s quickly become television’s premier color analyst. No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer proved to be well worth the selection, with some of the best work of his 14-year career coming later on with Arizona. Byron Leftwich gave the Jaguars 44 up-and-down starts, while Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman were largely annoying. Still, Grossman is the only passer from this class to start on the game’s biggest stage, helping guide Chicago to Super Bowl XLI, where the Bears were blown to pieces by Peyton Manning’s Colts.
Round 1: Michael Vick (No. 1)
Round 2: Drew Brees (No. 32), Quincy Carter (No. 53), Marques Tuiasosopo (No. 59)
Round 4: Chris Weinke (No. 106), Sage Rosenfels (No. 109), Jesse Palmer (No. 125)
Round 5: Mike McMahon (No. 149), A.J. Feeley (No. 155)
Round 6: Josh Booty (No. 172), Josh Heupel (No. 177)
Both Mike Vick and Drew Brees changed perceptions of how the position could — and should — be played. Vick’s rare scampering ability and off-the-charts athleticism refocused the league on the potential of running quarterbacks. It’s impossible not to wonder how Vick’s career would’ve progressed without his dog-fighting scandal and subsequent prison stint — though he did make one more Pro Bowl with Philly in 2010. The now-retired Brees, meanwhile, served as a constant reminder that height-challenged quarterbacks aren’t always a minus. In his case, Brees operated as a top-tier superstar after he landed with the Saints in 2006, winning a storybook Super Bowl for New Orleans and making that offense a treat to watch every fall. He’s an easy Hall of Fame selection and an icon under center. The class had its issues, too, with second-rounders Quincy Carter and Marques Tuiasosopo fading fast. Chris Weinke doesn’t help, finishing with a 2-18 record as a starter, while A.J. Feeley is remembered as a mere patch in Miami.
Round 1: Andrew Luck (No. 1), Robert Griffin III (No. 2), Ryan Tannehill (No. 8), Brandon Weeden (No. 22)
Round 2: Brock Osweiler (No. 57)
Round 3: Russell Wilson (No. 75), Nick Foles (No. 88)
Round 4: Kirk Cousins (No. 102)
Round 6: Ryan Lindley (No. 185)
Round 7: B.J. Coleman (No. 243), Chandler Harnish (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Case Keenum
Had all gone right, this class might be remembered as an equal to the all-star cast from 2004 — maybe even 1983. Andrew Luck is a Hall of Fame talent who won’t reach Canton after his stunning retirement. A troubling case, Robert Griffin III was the most exciting quarterback in football during his rookie campaign — before a knee injury changed his path forever. Washington found RGIII’s replacement in that same draft by nabbing Kirk Cousins. Who knew he’d become the prize of free agency in 2018 and Minnesota’s current starter? In Round 3, the Seahawks altered their franchise by taking a chance on Russell Wilson. Dinged by some for his diminutive stature, Wilson won the starting job in his first training camp and hoisted the Lombardi in Year 2. Few players in the league are relied on more than Denver’s new do-everything starter. Toss in Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles and 2019 Comeback Player of the Year honoree Ryan Tannehill, and this emerges as a wildly productive class, even amid the wreckage of Griffin, ultra-bust Brandon Weeden and the underwhelming Brock Osweiler.
Round 1: Alex Smith (No. 1), Aaron Rodgers (No. 24), Jason Campbell (No. 25)
Round 3: Charlie Frye (No. 67), Andrew Walter (No. 69), David Greene (No. 85)
Round 4: Kyle Orton (No. 106), Stefan LeFors (No. 121)
Round 5: Dan Orlovsky (No. 145), Adrian McPherson (No. 152)
Round 6: Derek Anderson (No. 213)
Round 7: James Kilian (No. 229), Matt Cassel (No. 230), Ryan Fitzpatrick (No. 250)
The first round produced a pair of long-range starters in Alex Smith and back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers. We all know how Rodgers fumed while watching 21 teams (the Vikings and Cowboys each picked twice in the top 23) pass him by before the Packers added him to a roster already equipped with Brett Favre under center. The chance to sit and learn helped Rodgers, who went on to win a Super Bowl and emerge as one of history’s most talented quarterbacks. With what we know now, Rodgers should have gone ahead of Smith — and all other humans in the 2005 draft — but Smith’s commendable career record of 99-67-1 is something plenty of passers would trade anything for. Smith announced his retirement last offseason; his courageous comeback in Washington in 2020 is the stuff that makes Earth a finer place. Beyond the big two, this class offered unusual longevity. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a pure delight, pairing with Matt Cassel as two of the more productive seventh-rounders in memory. This group also gave us Derek Anderson and the whirlwind known as Kyle Orton. It’s crazy to think Washington was forced to settle for Jason Campbell one pick after Rodgers went to Green Bay.
Round 1: Joe Burrow (No. 1), Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5), Justin Herbert (No. 6), Jordan Love (No. 26)
Round 2: Jalen Hurts (No. 53)
Round 4: Jacob Eason (No. 122), James Morgan (No. 125)
Round 5: Jake Fromm (No. 167)
Round 6: Jake Luton (No. 189)
Round 7: Cole McDonald (No. 224), Ben DiNucci (No. 231), Tommy Stevens (No. 240), Nate Stanley (No. 244)
It’s not too early to fall in love.
Joe Burrow morphed into a heroic household name while tugging the long-lost Bengals to Super Bowl LVI. Last year’s Comeback Player of the Year never complained about endless punishment behind a shattered offensive line. He’s the kind of old-school, unflappable leader set to change Cincinnati forever.
So much of that applies to Justin Herbert, too, arguably the most exciting young quarterback league-wide. Equipped with a dazzling rocket for an arm, ideal size and fiery toughness, Herbert is everything we dream of from the position. Though he was draped with questions during the pre-draft process and hardly made a dent on Hard Knocks, Herbert’s play left Dolphins fans fuming that Miami should have grabbed him at No. 5 overall. Tua Tagovailoa’s first two seasons were an up-and-down affair, but adding Tyreek Hill beside Jaylen Waddle turns the Fins into a juicy treat under brainy first-year coach Mike McDaniel.
Jalen Hurts showed enough moxie to compel Philly to trade away Carson Wentz. He rewarded them with a flashy second season anchored by his 784 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Can he keep the Eagles from seeking another starter in the near future?
Jordan Love scores points for lighting a fire under Aaron Rodgers, but he’s clearly not ready for prime time. The rest of the group made little impact. This class has a shot to become one of the best we’ve witnessed.
Round 1: Baker Mayfield (No. 1), Sam Darnold (No. 3), Josh Allen (No. 7), Josh Rosen (No. 10), Lamar Jackson (No. 32)
Round 3: Mason Rudolph (No. 76)
Round 4: Kyle Lauletta (No. 108)
Round 5: Mike White (No. 171)
Round 6: Luke Falk (No. 199), Tanner Lee (No. 203)
Round 7: Danny Etling (No. 219), Alex McGough (No. 220), Logan Woodside (No. 249)
Notable undrafted: Kyle Allen
Lamar Jackson is a former MVP and one of pro football’s most electric operators. Baltimore’s run-heavy offense has its critics — and the Ravens have struggled in January — but defensive coordinators know what Jackson presents: a skull-shaking headache on turf. Josh Allen is one of football’s most watchable forces of nature and a bona fide MVP candidate heading into his fifth campaign. His inconsistencies melted away over the past two seasons, replaced by thrilling lobs and jaw-dropping dashes for a Super Bowl-or-bust Bills club.
Baker Mayfield’s better moments (he helped Cleveland to its first playoff win since 1994 and set a league-wide rookie record with 27 touchdowns, since broken by Justin Herbert) gave way to complete chaos as the Browns viciously dumped him for Deshaun Watson. Could Mayfield wind up in a bizarre quarterback competition with first-round flop Sam Darnold in Carolina? Rosen is the less-fortunate Josh, reduced to nothing more than backup fodder. Mason Rudolph is more cold than hot and no reason for the Steelers to discontinue their search for Big Ben’s successor.
Round 1: Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2), Patrick Mahomes (No. 10), Deshaun Watson (No. 12)
Round 2: DeShone Kizer (No. 52)
Round 3: Davis Webb (No. 87), C.J. Beathard (No. 104)
Round 4: Joshua Dobbs (No. 135))
Round 5: Nathan Peterman (No. 171)
Round 6: Brad Kaaya (No. 215)
Round 7: Chad Kelly (No. 253)
Notable undrafted: Taysom Hill, Nick Mullens
Bears fans will spend the next decade-plus absorbing constant reminders of ex-general manager Ryan Pace trading up for Mitchell Trubisky while Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went overlooked. Mahomes rides a trajectory to become the finest player of his generation. Already an MVP and Super Bowl champion, the bucket list is thinning.
Watson is a Pro Bowl talent whose serious off-the-field issues didn’t stop the Browns from handing him more guaranteed money than any quarterback in history. While he’s an obvious upgrade over Mayfield, it’s unclear when he will be available to play, with no publicly known timeline for the NFL’s ongoing investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct. From a pure talent standpoint, though, Watson and Mahomes form the top single-class duo on this list.
I like Taysom Hill more as a gadget-magician than a starting quarterback, but the retired Sean Payton would happily write a book of sea poems about the man.
Round 1: Eli Manning (No. 1), Philip Rivers (No. 4), Ben Roethlisberger (No. 11), J.P. Losman (No. 22)
Round 3: Matt Schaub (No. 90)
Round 4: Luke McCown (No. 106)
Round 5: Craig Krenzel (No. 148)
Round 6: Andy Hall (No. 185), Josh Harris (No. 187), Jim Sorgi (No. 193), Jeff Smoker (No. 201)
Round 7: John Navarre (No. 202), Cody Pickett (No. 217), Casey Bramlet (No. 218), Matt Mauck (No. 225), B.J. Symons (No. 248), Bradlee Van Pelt (No. 250)
The gold standard for quarterback classes of the 21st century. The 2004 collection of signal-callers boasts four Super Bowl wins, while the group’s big three — Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger — can all make cases for the Hall of Fame. The trio’s 721 regular-season starts also tell the tale of ironman passers counted on to dress game after game and year after year by their respective teams. The Chargers and Giants will always be linked because of the draft-day trade that sent Manning to New York and Rivers to San Diego. Deep history today, though, with Eli dipped in retirement and Rivers calling it quits in 2021 after a one-year stint with the Colts. Of the group, Big Ben put together the finest career, which he was able to end on a relatively high note last season following a rough-and-tumble 2020. The first round also included a titanic bust in J.P. Losman, but third-rounder Matt Schaub beat the odds to play for 17 seasons. Shame on those of you who don’t recall the feats of Matt Mauck. If this class came around every year, the league would be turning signal-callers away at the door.
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