Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jamarcus Russell, and Brady Quinn — What do all of these players have in common? They are the NFL Quarterbacks drafted in the first round in the past five drafts.
Eight of these QBs are currently starting, four of them are currently backups, and one (Jamarcus Russell) is out of the league. These players are drafted by their teams and counted on to eventually lead them to a Super Bowl. Four of the past five Super Bowl winners (Steelers won it twice), were led by a quarterback that they had drafted in the first round. Saints QB Drew Brees (drafted by the Chargers in the 2nd round) is the only aberration.
Needless to say, the stakes have risen for these quarterbacks that are drafted early. Big plays are everywhere and 300/400 yard passing games have become more normal signaling that the NFL is becoming more of a passing league. This year, rookie Cam Newton opened up his NFL career by passing for 400+ yards in his first two games, setting the NFL record for most passing yards in a player’s first two games with 854. The previous record was 638 held by former Raider QB Todd Marinovich.
Out of the thirteen 1st round quarterbacks that were drafted in the past five years, none of them have won or even taken their teams to the Super Bowl. Mark Sanchez has come close, getting his team to the AFC Title game twice and Joe Flacco also made an AFC Title game appearance as a rookie. Matt Ryan has taken the Falcons to the playoffs twice but sports an 0-2 record in the postseason. As a rookie, Sam Bradford came within a win of taking the Rams to the playoffs. So these quarterbacks have experienced success in some capacity. However, the one 1st round QB that I think will win the Super Bowl first is Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When the Bucs drafted him out of Kansas State with the 17th pick in the 2009 draft, I thought they had reached for a player that would probably be available in the second round. However, I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong. In his second year in the league, he passed for over 3,400 yards and threw for 25 TDs along with 6 interceptions to lead the young Buccaneers to a 10-6 record. More importantly he established himself as a player you can count on in the clutch to deliver.
This year, he’s already pulled off one comeback — defeating the Vikings in Minnesota after being down by 17 points in the 3rd quarter. Not only does he have talent, he also seems to have the intangibles that you look for in a champion.
What do you think? Which one of these quarterbacks will lead their team to a Super Bowl victory first? Is it Cam Newton or will Tim Tebow make a miraculous climb up someone’s depth chart on his way to the Lombardi Trophy?
Time will tell.