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Evaluating production of rookie QBs in past five draft classes


Quarterbacks Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota of Oregon are going to be first-round selections in the 2015 draft, and Winston could go first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

» Charles Davis: Winston not a slam dunk to go No. 1 in draft

If Winston does indeed go No. 1, he would become the 11th quarterback to be the top pick this century (but also the first in three years).


Draft coverage:

For the most part, those quarterbacks have fared well, though if you want to make an Oakland Raiders fan shudder, whisper "JaMarcus Russell" in his ear. And even though most have fared well, only one of the 10 (Eli Manning) has won a Super Bowl, and guys like Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford and David Carr never lived up to the overall No. 1 billing.

It's also smart to temper your enthusiasm for rookie quarterbacks. Yes, Andrew Luck (chosen No. 1 overall in 2012) was an immediate star, and non-first-rounders Andy Dalton and Russell Wilson have become playoff regulars. But a look at the quarterbacks drafted in just the past five years reveals that rookie success for a quarterback is something special, not something that should be expected.

Players are ordered based on the number of starts made during their rookie season, not on order in which they were drafted. Players listed in the "other QBs drafted" category did not make any starts during their rookies season.

2014 (14 QBs drafted, three first-rounders)

Derek Carr

Drafted: 36th overall pick out of Fresno State, Oakland Raiders
Record as starter: 3-13
The skinny: The Raiders look to have found their quarterback of the future. He threw 21 TD passes and 12 interceptions, and needs to improve his completion percentage (58.1 percent), but he definitely looks to be a guy the Raiders can build around.

Blake Bortles

Drafted: 3rd overall pick out of UCF, Jacksonville Jaguars
Record as starter: 3-10
The skinny: Bortles was the first quarterback taken in the 2014 draft, but suffered through a multitude of growing pains. He threw 17 interceptions and just 11 TD passes, but he played behind a line that can charitably be called "porous" (the Jags allowed a league-high 71 sacks). There's no reason to think the Jaguars aren't convinced he is "the guy," but some signs of improvement need to be be shown in 2015.

Teddy Bridgewater

Drafted: 32nd overall pick out of Louisville, Minnesota Vikings
Record as starter: 6-6
The skinny: The Vikes traded up to nab him with the last pick of the first round, and at first blush, it appears to have been a good move. Bridgewater likely started before the Vikings truly wanted him to ( Matt Cassell got hurt), but he responded well. He is a good fit with coordinator Norv Turner, and three of Bridgewater's six wins came when he rallied the Vikings in the fourth quarter.

» Inside Slant: Making case for Mariota as top-five pick

Zach Mettenberger

Drafted: 178th overall pick out of LSU, Tennessee Titans
Record as starter: 0-6
The skinny: No one questions Mettenberger's arm talent, but there still were reasons he lasted until the sixth round. His arm would seem to indicate he has an intriguing upside, but he still looks to be at least a year away. The Titans have the second pick in the 2015 draft, and the assumption seems to be they will pass on a quarterback, which means Mettenberger will get a chance to prove he is their quarterback of the future in the fall.

Johnny Manziel

Drafted: 22nd overall pick out of Texas A&M, Cleveland Browns
Record as starter: 0-2
The skinny: Manziel was a polarizing figure in the run-up to the draft, and he looked ill-prepared in his two starts. Then, he entered treatment facility to work on some issues after the season. While the Browns have signed free-agent QB Josh McCown, they claim not to have given up on Manziel. At the least, McCown can provide veteran leadership for a team that certainly needs some. At this point, though, Manziel's future is far from assured.

Connor Shaw

Drafted: Undrafted free agent out of South Carolina, Cleveland Browns
Record as starter: 0-1
The skinny: If Manziel had come through, Shaw never would've seen the field as a rookie. Shaw has the ability to be an NFL backup, but he is not a starting-caliber quarterback in the pros.

Other QBs drafted: Jimmy Garoppolo (62nd overall pick out of Eastern Illinois), by New England Patriots; Logan Thomas (120th overall pick out of Virginia Tech), by Arizona Cardinals; Tom Savage (135th overall pick out of Pittsburgh), by Houston Texans; Aaron Murray (163rd overall pick out of Georgia), by Kansas City Chiefs; A.J. McCarron (164th overall pick out of Alabama), by Cincinnati Bengals; David Fales (183rd overall pick out of San Jose State), by Chicago Bears; Keith Wenning (194th overall pick out of Ball State), by Baltimore Ravens; Tajh Boyd (213th overall pick out of Clemson), by New York Jets; Garrett Gilbert (214th overall pick out of SMU), by St. Louis Rams.

Summary: Carr, Bortles and Bridgewater have given their teams something to build on. The jury is out on Manziel and Mettenberger. Garoppolo is worth keeping an eye on as he continues in his apprentice role behind Tom Brady.

2013 (11 QBs drafted, one first-rounder)

Geno Smith

Drafted: 39th overall pick out of West Virginia, New York Jets
Record as starter: 8-8
The skinny: At one point, Smith was talked about as the potential overall No. 1 pick; as it was, he lasted until the seventh pick of the second round. He threw 21 picks as a rookie, exposing some of his shortcomings. Smith has had his moments, and perhaps a new coaching staff can help him become more consistent. Still, there is considerable doubt as to whether he is talented enough to get the Jets into the playoffs.

Mike Glennon

Drafted: 73rd overall pick out of North Carolina State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record as starter: 4-9
The skinny: He was thrown into the breach as a rookie when the Bucs tired of Josh Freeman, and the quarterback situation likely was one reason the Bucs changed coaches after the 2013 season. Glennon got five starts in 2014, but he does not look like a long-term answer. Hey, there's a reason Winston seems likely to be Tampa Bay's selection in the 2015 draft.

E.J. Manuel

Drafted: 16th overall pick out of Florida State, Buffalo Bills
Record as starter: 4-6
The skinny: Manuel was so-so as a rookie, then lost his starting job after just four starts as a second-year pro in 2014. A new coaching staff professes to have confidence in him, but is it real? The recent acquisition of Matt Cassel would seem to indicate it is not. The 2015 season -- and maybe even the 2015 preseason -- would seem to be a make-or-break campaign for Manuel.

College Football 24/7 is following four 2016 draft prospects as they pursue their NFL dreams.

Matt McGloin

Drafted: Undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Oakland Raiders
Record as starter: 1-5
The skinny: That he started six games in the NFL is a testament to current Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien. O'Brien coached McGloin for one season at Penn State and turned him from an overmatched college quarterback to a guy who actually started six games in the NFL. McGloin is an NFL backup, nothing more.

Jeff Tuel

Drafted: Undrafted free agent out of Washington State, Buffalo Bills
Record as starter: 0-1
The skinny: The start came in a late-November game against Kansas City. It seems extremely likely that it will be Tuel's only NFL start; heck, he might never again play in a regular-season game.

Other QBs drafted: Matt Barkley (98th overall pick out of USC), by Philadelphia Eagles; Ryan Nassib (110th overall pick out of Syracuse), by New York Giants; Tyler Wilson (112th overall pick out of Arkansas), by Oakland Raiders; Landry Jones (115th overall pick out of Oklahoma), by Pittsburgh Steelers; Brad Sorensen (221st overall pick out of Southern Utah), by San Diego Chargers; Zac Dysert (234th overall pick out of Miami of Ohio), by Denver Broncos; B.J. Daniels (237th overall pick out of USF), by San Francisco 49ers; Sean Renfree (249th overall pick out of Duke), by Atlanta Falcons.

Summary: An underwhelming class. Does anyone think Manuel has a long-term NFL future? Or Smith, for that matter?

» Conway: Mariota could be Chip Kelly's Andrew Luck

2012 (11 QBs drafted, four first-rounders)

Andrew Luck

Drafted: 1st overall pick out of Stanford, Indianapolis Colts
Record as starter: 11-5
The skinny: All quarterbacks taken with the No. 1 overall pick are expected to be "franchise quarterbacks." He has lived up to expectations. He threw for 4,374 yards, 23 TDs and 18 picks as a rookie, guiding the Colts to the playoffs. Luck should be one of the NFL's unquestioned best at the positon for the next decade.

As the 2015 NFL season approaches, Bucky Brooks is poring over film to determine the best of the best in the NFL. Click on each group below for full analysis and rankings.

Russell Wilson

Drafted: 75th overall pick out of Wisconsin, Seattle Seahawks
Record as starter 11-5
The skinny: At just under 5-foot-11, Wilson was considered too short by numerous draft analysts but seems destined to go down as one of the best third-round picks in draft history. He has started every game in his career and has guided the Seahawks to two Super Bowls. As a rookie, he threw for 3,118 yards and 26 TDs (with 10 picks) and completed 64.8 percent of his passes; he played with a veteran's flair and showed then that Seattle would have no issues at quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Ryan Tannehill

Drafted: 8th overall pick out of Texas A&M, Miami Dolphins
Record as starter: 7-9
The skinny: Tannehill started at quarterback for just one full season at A&M, and the Dolphins surprised more than a few folks by taking him with the eighth pick in the draft. Tannehill had the expected growing pains as a rookie, with 12 TDs and 13 picks, but made some definite strides in his second and third seasons. He is athletic and has a nice arm. Still, there is some doubt about his long-term viability, and 2015 is important for him and the coaching staff.

Robert Griffin III

Drafted: 2nd overall pick out of Baylor, Washington Redskins
Record as starter: 9-6
The skinny: He was excellent as a rookie, making big plays and guiding the Redskins to the playoffs by throwing for 3,200 yards, 20 TDs and just five interceptions. He also rushed for 815 yards and seven TDs that season, and his strong performance led a lot of folks to reason that "spread quarterbacks" could succeed in the NFL. But his mediocre play -- and his injuries -- the past two seasons have caused some of those people to reconsider. In the past two seasons combined, he has thrown 20 TD passes and 18 picks and rushed for only 665 yards and one score; he also has missed eight games because of injuries and poor play. He has been anointed as the Redskins' starter for 2015, but he faces a ton of scrutiny. The '15 season will determine how long Griffin remains with the Redskins.

Brandon Weeden

Drafted: 22nd overall pick out of Oklahoma State, Cleveland Browns
Record as starter: 5-10
The skinny: Weeden was a surprise first-round selection and opened the season as the starter. In a harbinger of sorts, Weeden tossed four picks in a season-opening loss. To be fair, he did have a few games where he looked OK and ended the season with 3,385 yards, 14 TDs and 17 interceptions. He opened the 2013 season as the starter, was injured in the second game, then reclaimed his starting job when Brian Hoyer was hurt in Week 5. But he played poorly and was benched in favor of Jason Campbell. He did start one late-season game, throwing for 370 yards and three TDs in a loss to Jacksonville, but suffered a head injury in that contest and didn't play again that season. He started one game in place of an injured Tony Romo for Dallas last season; it was a loss to Arizona. He has a good arm, but he is not an NFL starter.

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"Path to the Draft" previews the 2016 NFL Draft by providing in-depth expert analysis of the top prospects and each teams' needs.

Nick Foles

Drafted: 88th overall pick out of Arizona, Philadelphia Eagles
Record as starter 1-5
The skinny: Foles performed admirably, if not all that successfully, when he was pressed into duty late in his rookie season after Michael Vick suffered a concussion. Foles became the starter midway through the 2013 season after another Vick injury and performed way beyond expectations, guiding the Eagles to an 8-2 record in games he started; he finished the season with 27 TDs and just two picks. Not surprisingly, he began the 2014 season as the starter but was inconsistent before being lost for the season with a broken collarbone in the eighth game. So, which is the real Nick Foles -- the one who carved up defenses in 2013 or the guy who struggled in '14? The answer -- or at least the Eagles' version of the answer -- might come in the 2015 draft.

Ryan Lindley

Drafted: 185th overall pick out of San Diego State, Arizona Cardinals
Record as starter: 1-3
The skinny: Despite being nowhere near ready to start in the NFL, he was pressed into starting duty late in his rookie season and predictably struggled, throwing seven interceptions and no touchdowns. He saw no regular-season action in 2013, then was cut by the Cardinals in early 2014. He signed with the San Diego Chargers and was placed on their practice squad. But the Cardinals re-signed him late in the 2014 season after a spate of quarterback injuries. He started the final two regular-season games and also a playoff game; all three were losses. He threw three TDs and six picks in those three outings. While he is a cerebral quarterback, he is not an NFL starter.

Kirk Cousins

Drafted: 102nd overall pick out of Michigan State, Washington Redskins
Record as starter: 1-0
The skinny: He was taken in the same draft as RGIII and remains inextricably linked. Cousins' one start as a rookie came when Griffin was injured and he performed well, throwing for 324 yards and two TDs in a win over Cleveland. Cousins started the final three games of the 2013 season after Griffin was benched; all three were losses and Cousins tossed seven picks in the three games. Cousins again became the starter early in the 2014 season after a Griffin injury, and threw for 1,460 yards and seven TDs in five starts. But he also threw nine picks in those outings and was benched midway through the fifth start; he didn't see any action after that. Can he be an NFL starter? He seems likely to get another chance to beat out Griffin during training camp.

Other QBs drafted: Brock Osweiler (57th overall pick out of Arizona State), by Denver Broncos; B.J. Coleman (243rd overall pick out of UT Chattanooga), by Green Bay Packers; Chandler Harnish (253rd overall pick out of Northern Illinois), by Indianapolis Colts.

Summary: Luck and Wilson in one draft class? Not bad at all. Griffin and Tannehill -- and, to an extent, Foles -- might turn out all right, too; each already has had his moments. Weeden is a first-round bust, though.

» Draft winds: Rumors connecting prospects to NFL teams

2011 (12 QBs drafted, four first-rounders)

Cam Newton

Drafted: 1st overall pick out of Auburn, Carolina Panthers
Record as starter: 6-10
The skinny: Newton had a memorable 2010 season for Auburn, winning the Heisman and leading the Tigers to the national title. His rookie season with the Panthers was far rockier, though. There was a learning curve going from Gus Malzahn's version of the spread to a far more sedate pro-set offense, and while Newton showed off his athleticism and strong arm (a then-rookie-record 4,051 yards, 21 TD passes), he also tossed 17 interceptions and made a number of poor decisions. Still, he showed enough to let people know the Panthers had made a solid choice with the top pick, and he has helped the Panthers make the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. Newton still isn't a finished product, and it would help if he had more receiving weapons.

Andy Dalton

Drafted: 35th overall pick out of TCU, Cincinnati Bengals
Record as starter: 9-7
The skinny: He outperformed expectations as a rookie, leading the defense-minded Bengals to the playoffs; that was the first in a string of four consecutive playoff berths with Dalton at quarterback for Cincinnati. As a rookie, Dalton wasn't spectacular but he was steady; he threw for 3,398 yards (somewhat incredibly, that is the exact amount he threw for in 2014, too), with 20 TDs and 13 interceptions. He also completed 58.1 percent of his passes. The INT total has remained relatively high each season (he has 66 in his career), but the completion percentage has been above 60 in each of the ensuing three years. Actually, the not-spectacular-but-steady tag remains, and until he shakes that, it is fair to wonder how far Cincinnati eventually can go in a postseason with him at the helm.

Blaine Gabbert

Drafted: 10th overall pick out of Missouri, Jacksonville Jaguars
Record as starter: 4-10
The skinny: There were numerous analysts -- and even a lot of casual fans -- who thought Gabbert went too early, and those folks seem to have been right. Gabbert completed barely 50 percent of his passes, with 12 TDs and 11 interceptions, and he looked far from a finished product as a rookie. Frankly, he had no business starting as a rookie. Unfortunately, his second season was just as bad, and the Jaguars traded him to the 49ers after the 2013 season. At this point, he looks like a career backup, at best.

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Christian Ponder

Drafted: 12th overall pick out of Florida State, Minnesota Vikings
Record as starter: 2-8
The skinny: He was another picked-sooner-than-expected guy, and as with Gabbert, he has struggled. As with Gabbert, he shouldn't have been asked to start as a rookie and threw as many TD passes as picks (13) that season in a non-explosive passing attack. Unlike Gabbert, he had an OK second season in 2012, guiding the Vikes to a playoff berth. But the Vikes' offense was centered on the rushing attack, and he fell out of favor in 2013. Bridgewater is Minnesota's quarterback of the future, at least for now, and Ponder probably is, ahem, pondering his future.

T.J. Yates

Drafted: 152nd overall pick out of North Carolina, Houston Texans
Record as starter: 2-3
The skinny: Yates was pressed into late-season duty because of injuries and performed admirably. He led the Texans to a playoff-clinching win over the Cincinnati Bengals, then led them to a first-round playoff victory, again over the Bengals. (The Bengals featured Dalton at QB.) But that looks to have been Yates' final NFL moment in the sun. Yates finished the 2012 season as the Texans' third-string quarterback and now is a backup with the Atlanta Falcons.

Other QBs drafted: Jake Locker (8th overall pick out of Washington), by Tennessee Titans; Colin Kaepernick (36th overall pick out of Nevada), by San Francisco 49ers; Ryan Mallett (74th overall pick out of Arkansas), by New England Patriots; Ricky Stanzi (135th overall pick out of Iowa), by Kansas City Chiefs; Nathan Enderle (160th overall pick out of Idaho), by Chicago Bears; Tyrod Taylor (180th overall pick out of Virginia Tech), by Baltimore Ravens; Greg McElroy (208th overall pick out of Alabama), by New York Jets.

Summary: Newton is a keeper, and while Dalton is limited, he also has guided his team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons. There's also Kaepernick, who did not make a start as a rookie but has assumed the reins of the 49ers' offense and been brilliant at times. But Locker, who didn't start as a rookie; Gabbert; and Ponder are going to go down as massive busts.

» Jeremiah: Rams can't rely on Bradford, can't pass on Mariota

2010 (14 QBs drafted, two first-rounders)

Sam Bradford

Drafted: 1st overall pick out of Oklahoma, St. Louis Rams
Record as starter: 7-9
The skinny: Bradford had a relatively strong rookie season, starting every game and throwing for 3,502 yards and 18 TDs. While he also tossed 15 interceptions, he set an NFL rookie record with 354 completions and was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. But he suffered through an injury-plagued 2011 season in which the Rams were 1-9 in games he started. He bounced back in 2012, throwing for 3,702 yards and 21 touchdowns as St. Louis went 7-8-1. He got off to a solid start in 2013, throwing for 1,687 yards and 14 TDs (with four picks) but suffered a torn ACL in the seventh game. He suffered another injury to the same knee in the 2014 preseason, and there is ample concern about Bradford's perceived fragility (he also missed most of his final season at Oklahoma with a shoulder injury), to the point where some wonder if the Rams will go for a quarterback in the 2015 draft.

Jimmy Clausen

Drafted: 48th overall pick out of Notre Dame, Carolina Panthers
Record as starter: 1-9
The skinny: Clausen was one of the most highly hyped high school quarterbacks in the past 20 years; he also was hyped coming out of Notre Dame after his junior season, but after being discussed as a potential first-round pick, he lasted until midway through the second round in the 2010 draft. He became the starter early in the '10 season, but was benched for poor play. He regained his job late in the season but didn't stand out; he finished the season with three TD passes and nine interceptions, and struggled with his accuracy and decision-making. He didn't see action in another regular-season game until the 2014 season, and he made a start in December for the Chicago Bears. He appears to be best-suited for a backup role.

Colt McCoy

Drafted: 85th overall pick out of Texas, Cleveland Browns
Record as starter: 2-6
The skinny: Injuries to the Browns' top two quarterbacks led to McCoy becoming the starter in Week 6 of his rookie season, and he ended up starting eight times. He threw six TD passes and nine picks, but was effective at times -- effective enough that he began the 2011 season as Cleveland's starter. He guided the Browns to a 4-9 mark before missing the final three games with a concussion. He saw scant time as a backup with Cleveland in 2012, threw one pass with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, then started four times last season with the Washington Redskins after injuries and/or poor play resulted in Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins losing the starting job. He seems a solid backup, but nothing more.

John Skelton

Drafted: 155th overall pick out of Fordham, Arizona Cardinals
Record as starter: 2-2
The skinny: Skelton began his rookie season as the third-team quarterback but started the final four games. He didn't do anything to distinguish himself, completing less than half of his passing attempts with two TDs and two picks. But he did show enough to be kept around, and was 5-2 as the starter in 2011, though he had more interceptions (14) than TD passes (11). He began the 2012 season as the starter but was hurt in the opener; he eventually regained his job but struggled mightily and was released after the season. He hasn't played in an NFL game since and recently signed a deal with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.

Tim Tebow

Drafted: 25th overall pick out of Florida, Denver Broncos
Record as starter: 1-2
The skinny: Tebow was a great college quarterback, but still was a surprise first-round selection because of his issues as a passer. He started the final three games of his rookie season; he ended the campaign with five TD passes and three interceptions and also rushed for 227 yards. He became the Broncos' starter five games into the 2011 season and guided them to a 7-4 mark in the games he started; he led the Broncos on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter in six of those outings. He also threw an OT TD pass to lift Denver to a first-round playoff win. Denver lost in the playoffs the next week, and Tebow was traded in March 2012 to the New York Jets. He threw eight passes for the Jets in a backup role in 2012 and was cut by the New England Patriots at the end of the 2013 preseason. He currently is an analyst for the SEC Network.

Rusty Smith

Drafted: 176th overall pick out of Florida Atlantic, Tennessee Titans
Record as starter: 0-1
The skinny: He made one late-season start, a shutout loss in which he threw three picks, because of injuries to the Titans' top two quarterbacks. He has played in one regular-season game since, in 2013, and that might end up being his final NFL appearance.

Other QBs drafted: Mike Kafka (122nd pick out of Northwestern), by Philadelphia Eagles; Jonathan Crompton (168th pick out of Tennessee), by San Diego Chargers; Dan LeFevour (181st pick out of Central Michigan), by Chicago Bears; Joe Webb (199th pick out of UAB), by Minnesota Vikings; Tony Pike (204th pick out of Cincinnati), by Carolina Panthers; Levi Brown (209th pick out of Troy), by Buffalo Bills; Sean Canfield (239th pick out of Oregon State), by New Orleans Saints; Zac Robinson (250th pick out of Oklahoma State), by New England Patriots.

Summary: Bradford is going into his sixth season, but it's still hard to get a read on the guy because of his injuries. Then again, that he is heading into his sixth season and there is no read on him might say it all. Tebow had that miracle run in the second half of the 2011 season, but he still was ill-suited to play quarterback in the NFL.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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