Analysis

NFL draft: Ranking every quarterback class since 2000

The 2021 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 2020 campaign.

NOTE: Pro Bowlers are denoted by bold/italics.

21) 2007

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. Longtime 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.

20) 2013

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 best known for catching a fist to the jaw from his own teammate when not touting fringy "flat Earth" theories. Joining Manuel and Smith in the ranks of backup journeymen is lanky/erratic passer Mike Glennon. Matt Barkley has thrown 97 passes since 2017.

19) 2002

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.

18) 2010

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 previous collective bargaining agreement rolling out a much-needed rookie pay scale. 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.

Long-term knee issues undid his career, but Bradford sits atop a class sprinkled with career backups -- 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.

17) 2009

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'm tempted to rank this class above the 2006 crop that handed us Jay Cutler and Vince Young, simply because of new Rams starter Matthew Stafford. 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 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 could be nearing its end unless he's snatched up in the coming months.

16) 2006

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 are 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.

15) 2015

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 has a chance to revive his career under Sean Payton in New Orleans. Can the brilliant Saints coach help reduce the ghastly turnovers while harnessing Winston's on-field upside? Marcus Mariota is backup material, but could steal starts from Derek Carr in Las Vegas if Jon Gruden's wandering eye acts up. The rest of this group is a hyper-bland muddled mess.

14) 2019

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. Adding star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to Kliff Kingsbury's offense helped in 2020, but Murray was an up-and-down field general for an 8-8 Cardinals team that's now under pressure to improve in 2021. 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 -- this season. Dwayne Haskins flatlined out of Washington to land in Pittsburgh as a backup. Drew Lock feels replaceable in Denver, but the Broncos appear poised to give him another shot. From a certain point of view, Gardner Minshew has played some of the group's best football as a newfangled Ryan Fitzpatrick type, but that won't stop the Jaguars from running to the podium to pick Trevor Lawrence. The 2021 season will serve as an acid test for this mixed bag of pro arms.

13) 2000

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. 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.

12) 2014

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's MVP-level play from 2016 feels pulled from a million years ago, but he's served as a starter for the Raiders. Jimmy Garoppolo set the Earth on fire in five starts for the Niners in 2017 -- aged fare of its own -- and more recently suffered the sting of a Super Bowl defeat. Another injury-riddled run in 2020 has the Niners looking for his replacement. 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's career was sideswiped by a devastating knee injury. Horrible pun intended, he's become an archetypal "bridge" passer that teams like but don't love. Just ask the Panthers.

11) 2016

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)

This boils down to how you feel about Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Goff authored a troubling, deer-in-headlights Super Bowl start and underwhelmed for a Rams team that shipped him off to Detroit. Wentz guided Philly to the postseason, but mirrored Goff by being sent packing to play for the Colts. In finer moments, both quarterbacks have doubled as MVP candidates during their young careers. I still believe in Wentz as a possible top-five presence. Dak Prescott has exceeded his fourth-round pedigree and deserved that big second contract from Dallas after throwing for nearly 1,900 yards in five games this past season before shattering his ankle. Paxton Lynch was a chilling whiff for Denver, while Cody Kessler is looking for work.

10) 2011

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 last season in a messy Patriots offense. 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 gave the Bengals nearly a decade's worth of perfectly average performances. He's currently locked in as Chicago's starter after they failed to swing a trade for Russell Wilson. Tyrod Taylor offers starting experience and could wind up as Houston's main man in 2021 with all of the uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson. 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.

9) 2008

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 four 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 remains a reliable starter for the Falcons, while Flacco floats as a low-wattage backup in Philly. 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 failed to become a QB1.

8) 2003

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. Four 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.

7) 2020

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)

What we saw over seven starts from Joe Burrow suggests a star in the making and the kind of player who could alter the fate of Cincinnati for years to come. What we saw of Justin Herbert says even more: a dazzling first-year campaign from an ultra-watchable young passer who looked poised to become one of the NFL's finest. Draped with questions during the pre-draft process and hardly making a dent on Hard Knocks, Herbert's play left Dolphins fans wondering if Miami should have grabbed him at No. 5 overall. Tua Tagovailoa's rookie year was an up-and-down affair, but adding weapons should help a player whose ceiling is unknown. Jordan Love scores points for lighting a fire under Aaron Rodgers, but he never threw a pass in 2020. Jalen Hurts showed enough moxie to compel Philly to trade away Carson Wentz. The rest of the group made little impact, save for a midseason taste of Ben DiNucci in Dallas. This class has a shot to become one of the best we've witnessed.

6) 2001

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.

5) 2005

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 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 die for. Announcing his retirement this week, Smith's courageous comeback in Washington 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.

4) 2012

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 Seattle's do-everything starter. Toss in Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles and 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.

3) 2018

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. Baker Mayfield's remarkable first-year campaign (he set a league-wide rookie record with 27 touchdowns, since broken by Justin Herbert) gave way to a bumpy sophomore slump on a chaos-filled Browns team. He bounced back last season inside Kevin Stefanski's play-action-doused attack and helped Cleveland to its first playoff win since 1994. Pull that off again and his detractors will be out of material. Sam Darnold now lands in Carolina as a mystery: Do we blame him or the Jets for his underwhelming handiwork? Josh Allen is one of the NFL's most exciting stories and a bona fide MVP candidate heading into his fourth campaign. His inconsistencies melted away in 2020, replaced by thrilling lobs and jaw-dropping dashes. Rosen is the less-fortunate Josh, onto his fourth team in as many years and 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.

2) 2017

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 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 career hangs in the balance due to off-the-field issues paired with his desire to part with the Texans. I like Taysom Hill more as a gadget-magician than a starter, but Sean Payton would happily write a book of sea poems about the man.

1) 2004

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 705 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 after his one-year stint with the Colts. Big Ben remains the finest of the bunch, but it's fair to wonder what he can offer come September after a rough-and-tumble ending to 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.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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