The NFL has become an incredibly lucrative business, in which more and more teams will do anything in order to contend for a coveted playoff spot, and who could blame them? Winning games put fans in the seats and jerseys on their backs. However, this trend is ruining the careers of College Quarterbacks who make the jump to the pros, most of whom fall off after 3 or 4 years. To prove that theory, look at the 2011 NFL Draft Class. 12 Quarterbacks were drafted, 11 after Cam Newton was taken first overall by the Carolina Panthers. After Newton, only 2 of the remaining 11 are still starting quarterbacks in the NFL. The compiled 2014 record of the 2 teams those Quarterbacks still play for today is 18-13-1. The remaining 9 Quarterbacks are either backups, or out of the NFL entirely.
At first glance, 18-13-1 isn’t a bad record. However, if we do a little math, you’ll find that it isn’t a good one either. 18-13-1 split in half is 9-7, and 9-6-1. Take 2014 as an example, as it is the most recent year we can judge. Not one team out of the 12 participating in the postseason had less than 10 wins. Both of those players started within one season out of college. Even the best of the best don’t cut it anymore.
Now, you may be asking yourself “Why didn’t he account for Cam Newton in that stat?” It’s very simple. Every so often, there is a Quarterback taken that is a once-in-a-lifetime talent that is going to win games for whatever team he plays for. Additionally, there are occasionally teams who have bad years and get high draft picks even though they aren’t a bad team (see Andrew Luck below). In 2011, the Panthers fell into both categories. They already had a decent defense, a solid receiving corps, and a good coaching staff. Newton was the piece they needed to wipe away the nightmare that was Jimmy Clausen, and he did with multiple playoff berths. It would be wrong to factor in Newton-type talents with other decent college quarterbacks. There is always the chance that a team can draft that franchise player, but more often than not, they don’t.
Over the last four years, the top Quarterbacks taken (in ascending order) were Andrew Luck, EJ Manuel, Blake Bortles, and Jameis Winston. Andrew Luck is an isolated example, as a team who was playoff ready drafted him, and he is a once-in-a-generation talent (see above). However, look at Manuel, Bortles, and Winston. Manuel lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014. Fitzpatrick was cut after the 2014 season. Manuel is still on the roster, but has again lost his starting job, this time to Tyrod Taylor. After one season, Bortles, who started 14 of 16 games, lead the Jaguars to a 3-13 record, and Winston has played in 3 preseason games, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns. Quarterbacks who jump right into the league don’t succeed because, contrary to popular belief, winning in college means next to nothing in the National Football League.
NFL teams need to start drafting Star QB’s to sit them. Nobody can teach somebody how to be an NFL quarterback more than an NFL quarterback. The only way teams will build Quarterbacks to win games is by doing what I like to call the Green Bay Packer effect. Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre from 2005-2007. He waited his turn, learned from a talented, seasoned Quarterback, and now has a Super Bowl Ring, and two MVP awards sitting on his Wisconsin mantle. His team consistently makes the playoffs, and he is consistently in the running for league MVP. If you don’t agree with me, pick any other top Quarterback. Tom Brady? He sat behind Drew Bledsoe. Drew Brees? Started his first year in the NFL (2001), but was then replaced by veteran Doug Flutie.
The bottom line is Rookie quarterbacks can’t get it done anymore. I don’t hate Rookies; in fact, I have the utmost respect for any player that has enough talent to even get invited to an NFL training camp. However, the only time a Rookie should start in the NFL is during their 2nd season.
Written by: Max Mirkin, Everybodyhatesdallas.com
Max Mirkin covers the NFL and its teams for Everybodyhatesdallas.com; his opinions and content is not at the consent of the NFL or its teams