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Drafting a Quarterback in the top three picks has been a disaster for most teams

Publish Date: 10/17/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Recent NFL drafts have demonstrated the perils of selecting quarterbacks early, as those chosen at one through three have failed at an alarming 70% rate, only 15% exceeding expectations and performing as anticipated.

Over The Last Decade, 9 Of 13 Quarterbacks Drafted Top-3 Have Been Cut or Traded. Over the past ten years, the allure of landing an elite quarterback prodigy in the top three draft picks has often ended in disappointment; an incredible 70% of quarterbacks taken at these prime spots have either been traded away or released within six months of being selected – leaving these young players facing harsh reality checks in NFL environments.

Mitchell Trubisky, Blake Bortles, and Sam Darnold exemplify what can go wrong when making such high draft picks. Teams are desperate for a franchise quarterback and tend to take risks that are not necessary.

Only 15% Of Quarterbacks Drafted Within Top Three Picks Have Met Expectations In the NFL. Only two quarterbacks have shown resilience amid unmet expectations and lived up to their draft hype: Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence are shining examples of hope on an often uncertain journey through early quarterback drafting. Even Lawrence has struggled to be consistent at times.

Their achievements underscore what can be accomplished with accurate scouting and an inclusive team environment, yet success stories remain scarce, emphasizing the risky nature of early draft quarterback selection.

Kyler Murray and Zach Wilson may be starting for their respective teams, yet all is not as it seems. Aaron Rodgers joined the Jets, making Zach Wilson a backup until Rodagers got hurt; at Arizona, however, Kyler Murray has failed to meet expectations as there have been reports that the organization tried to trade away its young quarterback this past offseason, not surprising there were no takers.

Bryce Young’s Slow Start is causing concern For the Panthers mes. The Carolina Panthers gambled on Bryce Young in their most recent draft with high draft capital allocated. His lackluster debut has raised many concerns for Carolina, especially considering they sacrificed so much draft capital on him.

Given their poor success rates over the last decade, we must ask whether drafting strategies should be reviewed.

The data from the last decade’s drafts is truly shocking and speaks to the precarious nature of drafting quarterbacks so early. The 70% rate at which high-picked quarterbacks have either been traded or released speaks to this risk, while only 15% success rates further underscore such decisions as crucial draft decisions.

Teams may require alternative strategies to address these risks, including trading down from high first-round picks involving quarterbacks if it can help increase overall talent accumulation while avoiding an unsuccessful quarterback selection. Remember, most teams drafting this high have needs well beyond the quarterback position and should consider getting a decent offensive line before taking a shot at a young, unproven quarterback.

The NFL is evolving, and perhaps its traditional quarterback drafting approach must be reconsidered. There may not be easy solutions available, but discussion on alternative strategies may provide more successful draft outcomes in future. In many cases, like Trubisky, it is a total reach as not many teams thought he was a slam dunk pick that high.

Quarterbacks Drafted in Top Three at NFL Draft Over the Last Decade

  • 2023 (Not included in analysis):
    • Bryce YoungΒ (1st, Panthers)
    • C.J. StroudΒ (2nd, Texans)
  • 2022:
    • (No quarterbacks drafted in the top three)
  • 2021:
    • Trevor LawrenceΒ (1st, Jaguars) – Starting for Jaguars
    • Zach Wilson (2nd, Jets) – Backup before Aaron Rodgers injury
    • Trey LanceΒ (3rd, 49ers) – Traded to Cowboys
  • 2020:
    • Joe Burrow (1st, Bengals) – Starting for the Bengals
  • 2019:
    • Kyler Murray (1st, Cardinals) – Underperforming trades have previously been discussed
  • 2018:
    • Baker MayfieldΒ (1st, Browns) – Traded to Panthers
    • Sam DarnoldΒ (3rd, Jets) – Traded to Panthers
  • 2017:
    • Mitchell TrubiskyΒ (2nd, Bears) – Cut in 2021
  • 2016:
    • Jared GoffΒ (1st, Rams) – Traded to Lions
    • Carson WentzΒ (2nd, Eagles) – Traded to Colts
  • 2015:
    • Jameis WinstonΒ (1st, Buccaneers) – Cut in 2019
    • Marcus MariotaΒ (2nd, Titans) – Cut in 2019
  • 2014:
    • Blake BortlesΒ (3rd, Jaguars) – Cut in 2018
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