There could be five quarterbacks taken in the first round in this year's NFL Draft. That would be tied for the most taken since 1999 and second most in NFL history. And if you've scoured the internet for mock drafts the way I have, it's possible that five quarterbacks could be taken within the first twelve picks. With few exceptions, teams will only go as far as their quarterback can take them. So I completely understand the deep dive teams have taken with their evaluations.
But can all of these quarterback prospects be incredibly intriguing AND all be huge busts at the same time?
The 1983 draft had a record six quarterbacks taken in the first round. Three are Hall of Famers and household names (John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino.) The other three (Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason, and Ken O'Brien) had fair to average careers. In 1999, Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper had long and successful careers while Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Cade McNown were huge busts. That's a 50% and a 40% success rate. Numbers like that get coaches and general managers fired.
There are more questions raised the QBs in this draft class than I can remember. Baker Mayfield is a great competitor, but only six feet and has had behavioral issues. Sam Darnold has the size and athleticism teams want, but also the inconstancy that teams don't. Josh Rosen is the prototype QB that's hard to coach. Josh Allen has a once-in-a-lifetime arm without the accuracy. Lamar Jackson was incredibly productive in college and won the Heisman Trophy two years ago, but teams wanted to evaluate him at wide receiver.
At the same time, teams have been even more secretive than they usually are. The Browns are still looking for their franchise QB twenty years since they returned to the NFL in 1999 and have given little indication on whom they'll select. The Giants, Jets, Bills, Cardinals, and yes, even the Patriots are all waiting on Cleveland to start the ball rolling.
If I were Cleveland, I would take Josh Rosen with the first pick. He isn't my favorite of the group, but because they can't afford to make yet another mistake, Rosen is the safest choice. He can make all the throws an NFL player must make. The idea of him being a player that's "too smart for his own good" is a strange criticism. Wouldn't teams want their quarterback to be smart? Shouldn't a coaching staff want to engage their quarterback in the offense as much as possible?
The biggest gamble is Josh Allen. He's competitive, willing to learn, wants to be great, but has bad habits that need to be fixed. He stares down receivers and doesn't recognize defenses very well. But if, and that's a really big if, he can get the right coaching, he could be the best of the bunch.
Or maybe they're all busts and there's a kid out there that nobody's talking about who'll set the league ablaze. Who knows? This whole thing is more crap shoot than rocket science. But when was the last time anyone stayed glued to the TV to watch a space probe get built?
Who's the safe bet or the biggest gamble in this year's NFL draft? Comment below.